Key moments in the lives of Catholic people are celebrated within the community of the Church. These sacred moments are celebrated as Sacraments. Sacraments are sacred events and actions that allow us to see and experience the Spirit of Jesus at work in our lives. They nourish and strengthen us and call us to nourish one another. Our experience of God is not limited to the Sacraments for God reaches out to us in many ways. For Catholics however the Sacraments are real, personal and dynamic moments of meeting with the God who loves us through and through.
The Church specifically identifies seven such “moments” in a person’s life beginning with birth itself and reaching a climax as a person receives for as many times as necessary the love and support of Jesus in the anointing of the sick. These are the seven sacraments of the Church.
Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist;
Healing: Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick;
Vocation: Marriage and Holy Orders
We recognise the importance of welcome, of feeling comfortable with the new situation and learning what the group expects of us. situations. Baptism is the Church’s way of celebrating entry into the life of the Christian Community which is called upon to further the Reign of God and work for justice peace and love in the world. We are invited in baptism to receive as gift what it is that God is offering – unconditional love – and rely on the promise God makes to us that anything and everything that we will ever need in life to carry out our share in the mission of Jesus will be given us.
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Confirmation is closely linked to Baptism when parents and godparents are invited to be examples of faith to inspire their child until such time as they are old enough to stand and make an act of faith for him/herself in the Sacrament of Confirmation. This event will usually take place in the early teen years at a time when the awareness is growing within the young person of the difficulties and challenges of living out the Christian way of life. Through the gifting of the Holy Spirit, the Sacrament strengthens or deepens in the young person the awareness that God is inviting him/her to be more committed and make their own, the promises that were made on their behalf at Baptism by parents and godparents.
Meals give nourishment to our bodies and keep us alive. Preparing and sharing meals together also nourishes our relationships. When we eat together we share more than food. It was in the context of a shared meal – the Jewish Passover – that Jesus fully revealed to his disciples the meaning of his life and death. Catholics believe that when they gather together for a celebration of the Mass, Jesus continues to share his life and death with them in the Eucharistic meal, and calls them to share themselves with others. At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the gifts of bread and wine which, through prayer and the calling down of the Holy Spirit, become for us the Body and Blood of Christ and is shared out in Holy Communion. On our own, we cannot effectively carry out the share in Christ’s mission that we have been given. When we draw strength from the Word proclaimed in the Mass and in the food of the Eucharist, all things become possible.
Parents wishing to know how and when children approaching Year 4 in our schools can receive their the First Holy Communion can find out more information by clicking here
We know how much we depend upon other people for our intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual well being. We know the joy and contentment that comes to us when we are at peace with self, others and God. As much as we would love it if there was no conflict in our lives or in the world, we know that this is not the case. We know all too well what it means to be at odds with ourselves and those around us. When our actions or lack of actions are unloving there is a need to be reconciled with those in the family of God whom we have offended. The Church provides us with the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we might place our lack of love before God and experience for ourselves his forgiving love through the ministry of the Church, and through that encounter, find peace once again with ourselves, our brothers and sisters and God. An individual who wishes to celebrate this Sacrament can either make an appointment with a priest on a one to one basis or take part in the communal celebrations which take place in the Wallsend and North Tyneside coastal parishes twice a year in Advent and Lent.
Anointing of the Sick
At those moments in our lives when we realise that we are aging, vulnerable and experiencing the onset of physical, psychological or spiritual illness, God invites us share in a ministry of healing. The appropriate time to celebrate this sacrament is at that point in our lives when we first discover that we have an illness which could result in death. Those in need can be anointed with the oil used in this Sacrament any number of times. In our parish community we call parishioners together twice a year to celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick in church with the sick and housebound, a beautiful symbol of the concern all in our community have for the sick and elderly. We also take the opportunity after Mass to share a meal with them and it invariably proves to be a great social occasion as old friends meet up again and find joy in each other’s company.
It would be especially helpful if a priest or hospital chaplain (Fr David Nixon tel 08448118111 ext 4268) could be informed if a family member is admitted to hospital and would welcome either the Sacrament of the Sick and/or Holy Communion while they were in hospital.
The Church firmly believes that marriage is a gift from God and the love of a young couple, expressed most powerfully in the exchange of consent with each other in the marriage ceremony, is held up by the whole community as a visible sign of God’s love, mirroring the love that God has for the Church.
A programme of preparation for those intending to marry takes places annually in the deanery for those considering marriage in church. At least six months notice needs to be given to a parish priest of a couple’s intention to marry and is best done at the same time as they start making other practical arrangements associated with their forthcoming wedding. Each couple will be notified well in advance when and where the course of preparation is to take place.
Holy Orders is a call from the church to an individual after a long period of formation to a position of spiritual leadership within the Church and is considered to be a lifetime commitment. Unlike marriage or religious profession, the Sacrament of Holy Orders signifies a ministry of leadership and service rather than a way of life.
If you feel that you have a call from God to share in the priestly ministry, contact the Director of Vocations, Fr Andrew Downie, St Patrick’s Church, Consett, Co Durham (01207 502196). Also, Our House of Hospitality at Penshaw (0191 3852434) continues to offer the possibility each month for people to come together in an atmosphere of trust and sharing to discern their vocation.