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Sacraments in the Community

Sacraments in the Community

Sacraments are sacred events, in which we enter more fully into the mysteries of our Catholic faith.  They are community events, which remind us of the role of the community in our faith life.

We are a community of faith, and we journey together to God.  The sacraments use things that are part of life.  This reminds us that God is present in our life.

The sacramental life of the Catholic community is meant to affirm the presence of God in our ordinary everyday situation.  The sacraments provide the support that we need to live out our faith commitment.

The sacraments, gifts of Christ’s love and forgiveness, are offered to us through the Church.  When the Church - the community of believers - celebrates a sacrament, Christ himself is present in the celebration.

The Sacraments of Initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist - welcome, incorporate and unite us with Christ, into, the Body of Christ.

Following the revision of the liturgical rites of the Second Vatican Council Second Vatican Council the order of the Sacraments of Initiation in the Diocese of Broken Bay follows the traditional order of reception:

Baptism-Accepting Christ’s invitation to belong to the Christian community.

At Baptism the child enters into a relationship with Jesus and with the community of those who believe in Jesus.  They become a brother or sister of Jesus and a child of God.

A child’s initiation begins at Baptism and it is then that the parents promise to share their faith with their children and to bring them to the other sacraments.

The Church has always taught that the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation confirms and perfects what we receive in Baptism.  The reception of Christ in the Eucharist gives to the disciples of Christ, the full status of a Christian.

Hence the order of the three sacraments of Christian Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.  They are the three stages in our initiation.

Confirmation-Sealing and confirming our spiritual birth in the Church.

In the early centuries the practice of the Church was to baptise and confirm in the one celebration.  However, the unity of this celebration was put to the test by the rapid growth in the Church.  Difficulties arose with the great increase in numbers, and the rising incidence of the initiation of children.   This led to two developments:

In the Eastern Rite Churches the Bishops delegated their priests to administer the three sacraments together.  This practice still holds today.

Bishops in the Latin Rite delayed the Confirmation of the newly baptised until they could be present.

In the New Testament we find a multiplicity of patterns in regard to Baptism and the gifts of the spirit, which in later times became identified with Confirmation.  The only thing we can be sure of in the scripture evidence is that the waters of Baptism and the gifts of the spirit, though in some way distinguishable, they can never be totally separated.  The separation of Baptism and Confirmation into two separate ceremonies occurred in the fifth and sixth centuries in the Roman Rite.

Eucharist-Receiving Christ, under the signs of bread and wine, thus fulfilling our initiation to a life of communion and service.

Actually, the sequence of celebrating Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist is a long-standing tradition in our Church.  Pope Pius X in the early part of the last century lowered the age for the reception of First Communion from the approximate age of 15 to the age of reason.  While the age for First Communion was changed, the age for Confirmation was not moved.

The Eucharist is the culmination of initiation into Church life and not a stage on the way.

It was not until the revision of the Rites following the Second Vatican Council that it was once more made clear that the order for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation is Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

The returning to the old order, better expresses the true meaning of the sacraments.  The celebration of our Christian initiation begins at Baptism, is then sealed at Confirmation and is completed by our sharing at the Eucharistic table.  This order restores the Eucharist or First Communion as the high point of a child’s welcome into the Christian community.

The Church clearly states that a child, who has reached the age of reason, usually has the capacity to be taught the meaning of Christ’s action in the sacraments of Confirmation, Eucharist and Penance. Baptism entitles them to be prepared for these sacraments.

Sacrament of Penance

Although not a sacrament of Initiation the Sacrament of Penance offers the experience of forgiveness and healing.  It holds a significant place in this life long process.  The Church has made a pastoral judgement that, prior to receiving Eucharist they are presented for the Sacrament of Penance.

It is important to remember that the reception of these sacraments is just the beginning of a journey of sharing in the sacraments which continues right through life.  Further education in faith through the home, school and parish, will help the children to grow in their appreciation of these sacraments.

Hospitality

Hospitality
 
We saw a stranger yesterday.
We put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
Music in the listening place,
And with the sacred name
of the triune God.  
He blessed us and our house,
Our cattle and our dear ones.
As the lark says in her song:
Often, often, often, goes the Christ
In the stranger’s guise.
True evangelical faith
cannot lie dormant
it clothes the naked
it feeds the hungry
it comforts the sorrowful
it shelters the destitute
it serves those that harm it
it binds up that which is wounded
it has become all things to all creatures.
- Menno Simmons, 16th century
 
The above old Celtic poem ( The Record, Spring 2013 ) is somewhat in line with Vinnies' mission statement: The St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation that aspires to live the gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice, hope and joy, and by working to shape a more just and compassionate society.
 
However, promoting and carrying out these aims may sometimes involve changes in attitude towards strangers who need help, particularly the homeless, the mentally or physically disabled and asylum seekers.

Away in a Manger

Away in a Manger

The Summer 2013-2014  edition of Vinnies' magazine The Record is now available on the website www.vinnies.org.au The front cover of it is surprising as it contains a picture of the Nativity with an empty manger. The Child Jesus  is missing. The mistake was intentional as it was to be a discussion point in the Frontlines article Away in a Manger" written by our National President,Anthony Thornton, who thought it was time to reflect upon what Christmas has become as opposed to what it is supposed to be.

In summary, Mr. Thorntorn says that Christmas nowadays is a dream-come-true for department stores and online marketers whereas the first Christmas was a dream-come-true for humanity.The manger is now now full of dazzling ,gift-wrapped presents whereas initially the manger held the presence of Jesus, born on the margins of society. This means God is on the side of the poor. He concludes."Christ in the manger offers a way to live our lives that is of immeasurably greater value than all the baubles and gift wrapped presents in the world.So, come let us adore Him  ! ".

P.S. Vinnies wishes Father George Kolodziej SDS pp,  Father Dariusz Basiaga SDS, Pittwater Parish Staff and parishioners  a  Christmas Season and New Year filled with hope and blessed with love.