Monday, October 23, 2017

Sacraments and Liturgy

Liturgies & Sacraments

In our Christian tradition, when we speak of the word liturgy, it is understood to mean the People of God participating in “the work of God.”  Through the liturgy, Christ continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church.

At its best, liturgy engages the faithful in the life of the community and involves the “conscious, active, and fruitful participation” of everyone.

At St. Francis Parish in Greenwood, we are a Catholic community comprised of various races and cultures. However, we are nourished by the Word of God in the Sacred Scriptures, and are united by the one Bread and one Cup as we celebrate and participate in the Eucharist. From this, we are empowered to go forth with others to bring about the Kingdom of God, a world of peace and justice.

To serve the needs of our parishioners, the parish offers a full array of opportunities for preparation and reception of the church’s sacraments.

OVERVIEW OF THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS
 

Most people know that much of Roman Catholic teaching and practice is based on sacraments. The Catholic Church, they say, is a Sacramental Church.

The word “sacrament” means a sign of something sacred. We believe, first of all, that the Church itself is a sign of Christ’s continuing presence among us. So in this most general sense the Church itself is a sacrament because the Church as the People of God signifies Christ as risen Lord present in our world today. Through the sacraments, we also encounter that divine mystery which we know as God.

The Church is a special kind of sign, not some lifeless symbol. The Church very actively lives out its role as a sign of Christ’s presence by helping us encounter Christ. One specific way – among others – that the Church acts out its sign function is through seven rituals or ceremonies. Through these seven actions we worship God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and through them we encounter Christ. Thus these seven actions hold a very privileged place in the life of Catholic Christians. They are called the seven sacraments. Each of these sacraments in its own way signifies Christ reaching out to encounter his people.

Think of the seven sacraments, therefore, as privileged actions of our sacramental church. The traditional definition of sacraments - “outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace” - expresses the essence of the mystery but not the dynamism. Sacraments are celebrated at particular times in our lives to communicate grace, which is God sharing his life with us. Sacramental grace supports us in responding to Christ’s invitation to follow him as disciples.

The seven sacraments can be grouped together under various headings to show the connections between them.

The sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are called Sacraments of Initiation. We say that receiving these sacraments “initiates” one into the life of the Church.