++ IN GENERAL ++
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us (n. 1131).
In other words, they are the chief and most certain ways by which God communicates his grace or divine life to us. But in order to fully benefit from their reception, one must be properly disposed, i.e., living a life full of faith and free of serious sin. Thus while the parish and school may partner with parents and assist them in fulfilling their duties, it is important to recognize that parents are the first ones responsible for handing on the faith to their children and helping them to develop their own personal relationship with God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ instituted seven sacraments and entrusted them to the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage, Holy Orders. Six of these sacraments can be administered within the parish and are described below.
++ BAPTISM ++
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission.
This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature” (CCC 1213-1214).
- When is it administered? Typically after the 4pm Mass on any given Saturday. For serious reasons, another day and/or time can be arranged.
- When should we contact the parish? Preferably during the latter months of pregnancy or, if needed, soon after birth. Depending on circumstances, at the very least, two to three weeks of notice is needed.
- Who administers it? Either a priest or deacon.
- To whom is it administered? Most commonly to infants in Catholic families registered at either St. Thomas or St. Mary parishes. Adults seeking baptism should contact the pastor and plan to attend special classes (RCIA). Parents who desire baptism for a child older than two years old should contact the pastor. Families associated with another parish will need to have permission from their own pastor (cf. Can 857 §2).
- What is required? Parents should contact the parish office (684-5107) to complete a registration form over the phone. Parents themselves must be ready to accept the responsibility of raising their children in the practice of the faith. At least one Godparent is typically required who should be a practicing Catholic in good standing and at least sixteen years old. A second Catholic Godparent of the opposite gender is common but not required. Alternatively, a non-Catholic (baptized) Christian of the opposite gender may be a “Christian witness.” Parents wanting their first child baptized should plan to meet with a priest or deacon so that he can properly explain the dignities and duties associated with the sacrament of baptism.
++ CONFIRMATION ++
The sacrament of confirmation strengthens the baptized and obliges them more firmly to be witnesses of Christ by word and deed and to spread and defend the faith. It imprints a character, enriches by the gift of the Holy Spirit the baptized continuing on the path of Christian initiation, and binds them more perfectly to the Church. (Can. 879)
In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission. The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God. . .This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people. . .Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn. . .From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ’s will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. . .Very early, to better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This anointing highlights the name “Christian,” which means “anointed” and derives from that of Christ himself whom God “anointed with the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1286-1289).
- When is it administered? Typically in September, but preparation is usually a one or two year process
- Who administers it? The bishop or his delegate.
- To whom is it administered? In the diocese of Peoria, upon those baptized Catholics who have completed at least the fifth grade. At our parishes, confirmation is typically conferred on high school freshmen at the beginning of the fall semester. Children (eight years and older) and Adults who desire to become Catholic and therefore desire to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation should see contact the pastor and plan to attend special classes (RCIA).
- What is required? Besides the one to two years of preparation, a candidate for Confirmation must be baptized and living in the state of grace. This means they are regularly attending Sunday Mass and living a life free of grave sin. Normally, the candidate would make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation before being confirmed. Finally, a sponsor is required (not a parent) who is a practicing Catholic in good standing and who has already received the Sacrament of Confirmation and is also at least sixteen years old.
++ First Holy Communion ++
The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.
At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.’ (CCC 1322-1323)
- When is it administered? At our parishes, First Holy Communion is celebrated during the Easter Season, often on or around the third Sunday of Easter.
- Who administers it? The pastor.
- To whom is it administered? Children who have been baptized, who have attained the age of reason (~ eight years old) and who understand the nature of the Sacrament are eligible to make their First Holy Communion.
- What is required? Baptism and a regular participation in the faith, i.e., regular attendance at Sunday Mass. Second grade children will participate in special preparation either at St. Thomas School or at CCD and be given the opportunity to make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.
++ Reconciliation, Penance, Confession ++
Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification (CCC 1446).
- When is it administered? At our parishes, First Reconciliation is celebrated during the seasons of Advent and Lent for children in the second grade. For others wishing to receive the sacrament, regular times are offered which can be found on our welcome page.
- Who administers it? The pastor or another priest
- To whom is it administered? Children who have been baptized, who have attained the age of reason (~ eight years old) and who understand the nature of the Sacrament are eligible to make their First Reconciliation. Other children and adults can receive the sacrament as log as they desire to make a “firm purpose of amendment,” promising to do their best to avoid sin in the future.
- What is required? Baptism and a regular participation in the faith, i.e., regular attendance at Sunday Mass. Second grade children will participate in special preparation either at St. Thomas School or at CCD and be given the opportunity to make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion for the first time. All penitents are required to have contrition, to confess all their sins since their last Confession (as best as they can), and to perform satisfaction or penance to make up for the harm they have committed.
++ ANOINTING OF THE SICK ++
The Church believes and confesses that among the seven sacraments there is one especially intended to strengthen those who are being tried by illness, the Anointing of the Sick: This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord.
From ancient times in the liturgical traditions of both East and West, we have testimonies to the practice of anointings of the sick with blessed oil. Over the centuries the Anointing of the Sick was conferred more and more exclusively on those at the point of death. Because of this it received the name “Extreme Unction.” Notwithstanding this evolution the liturgy has never failed to beg the Lord that the sick person may recover his health if it would be conducive to his salvation (CCC 1511-1512).
- When is it administered? Those who are in danger of death even if not at the moment of death itself. Thus, whether in danger of death due to sickness or old age, “the fitting time for one to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived” (CCC 1514)
- Who administers it? The pastor or another priest
- To whom is it administered? Those who are in danger of death may have this sacrament administered to them.
- What is required? One must be in danger of death though not necessarily at the point of death. In other words, a quite serious illness/diagnosis is required of either a physical or mental nature or the individual must be preparing for some form of serious surgery, e.g., heart surgery.
++ Holy Matrimony ++
The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures.
God who created man out of love also calls him to love, the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator’s eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: “And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it'” (CCC 1603-1604).
- When is it administered? After a couple has met with a priest and fulfilled the parish and diocesan requirements, the couple is eligible to be married.
- Who administers it? The couple themselves are the true administers of the sacrament, but the pastor, another priest, or even a deacon must generally be present to officially witness the exchange of vows.
- To whom is it administered? Church law states that the groom must be male and at least 16 years old and the bride must be a woman and at least 14 years old. Those under 18 must have the permission of their parents (or the bishop if the parents are opposed or unaware).
- What is required? There are several requirements, the most basic of which is the intention on the part of both parties to enter into a marriage that is free, fruitful, faithful, and “until death do us part.” NOTE: Couples should meet with the pastor as soon as they are engaged and at least six months before the desired wedding date. No date should be set without first meeting with the pastor: 217-684-5107.