The Sacraments

 

The seven sacraments are the activity of the Church.  Therefore they always involve the community and its life together.  They provide us with an identity as a Church.  In a different way, each sacrament affirms the life Christ has invited us to share with Him, a life He shares with the Father and the Spirit, united in perfect love.  Each of them affirms the work of Christ’s life, death and resurrection in our life as a community, and they help us to see that pattern in our own lives and faith journey.

            As they are so important to our life together, the Code of Canon Law requires that we see to it that people who receive them, understand them, and have the opportunity to grow in that understanding. 

Canon 843 states: “A] Sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law (canon law) from receiving them.  B] According to their respective offices in the Church, both pastors of souls (priests primarily) and all other members of Christ’s faithful have a duty to ensure that those who ask for the sacraments are prepared for their reception.  This should be done through proper evangelization and catechetical instruction, in accordance with the norms laid down by the competent authority.”

            Sacraments are celebrations of the community.  The Church encourages us to celebrate them in the context of the community with whom we worship.

Baptism

This is our entrance into the life of the Church, our active participation in the life of the community, and Christ’s life active among us.  It does not so much make us children of God, it affirms and celebrates that we are children of God.  It is available for all ages but preparation varies in its expectations:

Infant Baptism (birth to 6 years of age) – Parents are asked to make contact at least two months before the date they propose to have their child baptized.    Set up an opportunity to meet with the pastor to prepare for this celebration.  This preparation must be completed before a date can be set.   Preparation can begin before the child is born.

RCIC – Rite of Christian Initiation for Children.  If you have a child who is 7 years old or older, please make contact with the pastor to discuss your child’s participation in preparation.

RCIA – Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  If you are 18 or older, and you are interested in becoming a Catholic (either you have never been baptized or you were baptized in another denomination), there is a nine month preparation process beginning in late September progressing through Pentecost.  This process is designed to help individuals make an informed discernment about the faith and its practice.  At Easter the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are celebrated for adults.  Please contact the pastor if you are interested.

First Eucharist

            This preparation process is open to children who have participated in a minimum of one year of religious education prior to the year they seek to celebrate the Eucharist for the first time (typically for this means 1st grade).  It is generally coupled with First Reconciliation.  Contact with the Religious Education Director is necessary for this to begin.

Confirmation

            This preparation is available to children beginning in 8th grade through High School.  A minimum of one year of religious education is required prior to participating in the program.

Marriage

            The Archdiocese of San Francisco requires the couples who are planning to be married should make contact with the pastor no less than six months prior to the proposed date of the marriage.  Preparation consists of meetings with the pastor and participation in one of the marriage preparation processes in the Archdiocese provided by married couples.

            The Church asks that we celebrate sacraments in the context of the communities we worship with.  If you are not registered in a parish (or are not active in a parish community) your parish is designated by geography.  We can help you find out which parish you belong to if you should need that assistance.  Nevertheless, we must ask that you celebrate your wedding in the context of the community to which you belong.

Ordination

If you are a fully initiated man (baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist), 18 or older, and feel drawn to the priesthood, please call the pastor to discuss what might meet your needs best in discerning that vocation.

Sacrament of the Sick

            For those who have a life-threatening illness or a progressively debilitating illness, the Church extends her love and prayer in the Sacrament of the Sick.  Unlike what many grew up believing, this sacrament can be received more than once.  It is not encouraged to be received more than once or twice a year in most cases, but is intended to bring the comfort and peace that encourages healing.  Last Rites (Extreme Unction is how some of us knew it) or Viaticum (“food for the journey”) is actually focused on the reception of Eucharist as we near death.  This can also be received again.  Only the last time before death is the last time to receive Eucharist in this life.  In neither case are you encouraged to wait till the last moment.  Both aspects of this sacrament are best celebrated when we can still swallow and are conscious.

Reconciliation

            This sacrament is the celebration of Christ’s love for us which is expressed in forgiveness.  By participating in the sacrament we do not come to be forgiven, as much as to accept and celebrate the mercy and forgiveness which is already ours. 

The first reception of the sacrament is usually joined with the first reception of Eucharist.  If you have not had the opportunity to celebrate it please contact the pastor to talk about receiving the sacrament.  Currently the sacrament is celebrated on Saturdays from 4 to 5 pm.  Twice a year, before Christmas and before Easter, we celebrate the sacrament as a community, recognizing that sin (hearts closed) plagues all of our lives, yet God’s love for us heals all divisions, making us the Body of Christ.


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