Sacraments: Our Life in the Church
Relationships grow through communication. Communication is more than just words. We also communicate with gestures such as smiles, handshakes, hugs, gifts, cards and flowers. In our relationship with God, we too can connect with him through words and also through gestures.
But how does God communicate with us?
In the same way really; in words and gestures. There are the scriptures which are God’s words to us and there are the sacraments which are gestures of God’s love. The Church has named and formally recognised seven sacraments as the powerful ways God reaches out to connect with his people here and now.
The Sacramental Life is an essential part of the Catholic faith. There are seven Sacraments some of which are received only once and others that are received over and over. Saint Pope John Paul II said that a sacrament made visible the invisible mystery of God. The Sacraments of the Church are visible signs that God’s presence is real and is among us. They are signs that God loves us. Each of the seven sacraments of the Church emphasises a different dimension of our relationship with our loving God.
The Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist) highlight our relationship with each person of the Trinity:
- In Baptism we become a child of God the Father as we are reborn spiritually. We use the symbol of water to signify this rebirth (recalling the waters of our natural birth). Many of the prayers of baptism express belonging, being part of the family of God, and being an heir in God’s kingdom, just like a real son or daughter.
- In Confirmation, we recommit to our baptismal vows (made on our behalf by our parents and godparents) and we receive the permanent gift (“seal”) of the Holy Spirit. We are empowered as adult members of the Church to live the Christian life with conviction.
- At our first Communion we unite with Jesus. When we eat his body and drink his blood, we become one flesh with him. That’s why it’s called ‘communion’; we become one body and one spirit with Jesus.
The Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick) highlight the merciful nature of God, while the Vocational (or Mission) Sacraments (Matrimony, Holy Orders) illuminate our call to intimacy with Him and to share his love with others.