Sacraments of the Catholic Church

Sacraments at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish

Prior to preparing for the Sacraments of Baptism, First Reconciliation, First Eucharist or Confirmation, the Diocese of Richmond requires that families have completed registration, be regularly attending weekend Mass and be active in the life of the parish. Contact ssm@ssmrcc.org for all Sacramental information.

Baptism:
Children, youth and adults may be baptized. For young children (up through age 6), parents are asked to attend preparation which is scheduled during the year. If you’d like to have your child baptized, please contact the parish office. If you/your child is 7 years or older, please see the “Becoming Catholic” section for more information.

The Catholic Catechism explains: “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: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.” (CCC #1213)

Penance and Reconciliation:
The celebration of God’s forgiveness of sin, through which the sinner is reconciled with both God and the Church and strengthened through grace to grow in holiness of life. It is the Sacrament of new beginnings where Jesus, the High priest, acting through the priest, always offers forgiveness and a new beginning.

The Catholic Catechism explains, “Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.” (CCC# 1422)

Eucharist:
The Holy Eucharist, along with Baptism and Confirmation is a sacrament of Christian initiation. At the Last Supper, our Savior, Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. The sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated through the Eucharist and is a memorial of his death and resurrection.

The Catholic Catechism explains this wonderful Sacrament in these words, “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. The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.” (CCC# 1322 -1327)

Confirmation:
One of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ for the conferral of grace and the strengthening of the union with God, Confirmation unites us more firmly to Jesus Christ; increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us; renders our bond with the Church more perfect; gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Jesus Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross. Confirmation completes the Sacraments of Initiation.

The Catechism explains, “Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” (CCC # 1285)

Marriage:
The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament. (CCC #1601)

 Preparation before the Sacrament of Marriage is necessary for the couple. In order to have sufficient time for this preparation, the Pastor must be contacted six to twelve months prior to the wedding.

Anointing of the Sick:
The Sacrament of Anointing is the proper sacrament for those Christians whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age. One seeks the Sacrament for support in struggle against illness and to seek healing from Jesus Christ who continues His redemptive mission through His Body, the Church.

“By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ.” (CCC#1499)

Those in need of this Sacrament should contact the parish office or speak to our pastor.

Holy Orders/Vocations Vocations:
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate (Bishops), presbyterate (Priests), and diaconate (Deacons). (CCC #1536)

The bishop receives the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, which integrates him into the episcopal college and makes him the visible head of the particular Church entrusted to him. As successors of the apostles and members of the college, the bishops share in the apostolic responsibility and mission of the whole Church under the authority of the Pope, successor of St. Peter.

Priests are united with the bishops in sacerdotal dignity and at the same time depend on them in the exercise of their pastoral functions; they are called to be the bishops’ prudent co-workers. They form around their bishop the presbyterium which bears responsibility with him for the particular Church. They receive from the bishop the charge of a parish community or a determinate ecclesial office.

Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop.

The sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by the laying on of hands followed by a solemn prayer of consecration asking God to grant the ordinand the graces of the Holy Spirit required for his ministry. Ordination imprints an indelible sacramental character. The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men, whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. (CCC #1594- 1598)

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