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Sacraments

Understanding

Baptism celebrates the love God has for each of us. Through its celebration, the Church welcomes a new member and affirms him/her as a child of God, a follower of Christ, a member of the Body of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Beyond Baptism, the journey of faith is to become what we already are – daughters and sons of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. We make this journey in our daily lives, hopefully with the support of family and Church community. When we celebrate Baptism the whole community is called to welcome this new member. The celebration reminds us of the need to support one another in our journey of faith. Baptism invites us to be active members of the Body of Christ – the Church. Of course, the central role in passing on faith belongs to parents/guardians. It is they who will be the role models of faith for their children. It is in the home that children need to learn and experience trust, love, faith, hope and commitment in order for their faith to grow. Within the rite of baptism itself the presence of godparents reminds parents/guardians that they are not alone in this task. Their loving affection for the baptised child expresses the care of the whole Christian family. Baptism is the common starting point of all Christians. It means that there is a fundamental equality between us all – old and young, rich and poor, men and women, native and stranger. All Christians are graced with the same dignity. The valid Baptism of non-Catholics is respected as much as Catholic Baptism. This means that Baptism need never be repeated.

Celebrating

The Rite of Baptism contains a wonderful sequence of movement, symbols and gestures. It usually begins at the door of the Church, proceeds into the Church to hear the Word of God, moves to the font and concludes at the altar.

At the Ambo – Word of God

The people move to where the Word of God is proclaimed, to listen to the readings and to pray together. The Word of God is an ongoing source of nourishment for all of us on our faith journey.

At the Font – Anointings and Baptism

Before Baptism the priest prays to God to protect the children from evil and then anoints them. The baptismal water is blessed. Parents/guardians and godparents profess their faith in Christ. The children are then baptised.

Accompanying Rites – Symbols and Actions

A series of gestures follow. These are joyful ways of expressing what we mean by baptism. Each child is anointed on the head with the perfumed oil of Chrism. The children are clothed with a white garment and their baptismal candles are lit from the Easter candle. Finally, the priest prays over the mouth and ears of each child that they may come to hear and proclaim the Gospel.

At the Altar – Final Blessing

All join in praying the Our Father and this is followed by blessings for the parents/guardians and all present. We pray for and look forward to the future celebrations of Confirmation and Eucharist that will bring these children to full membership of the Church.

Preparation

baptism_resource_backPreparation is a key element of any significant celebration in our lives. Baptism is the first significant moment of celebration in our journey of faith. So, when a child is presented for baptism the family will be invited to participate in some form of preparation. In this diocese there are a number of ways that families are assisted in this preparation. In many parishes it is now customary to have baptism teams – a group of parishioners trained by the parish for this task. The team undertakes either to meet people individually in their homes or to host a pre-baptism meeting in the parish. In both these instances parents/guardians have an opportunity to hear and chat about the meaning and practicalities of the ceremony. Publications, such as this one, are also made available to parents/guardians through the parish.

Godparents

Godparents must be baptised and confirmed Catholics who are committed to sharing their faith with their godchild. They must normally be sixteen years old or more. While it is possible to have one godparent, there is usually one male and one female godparent. It is permitted for a baptised non-Catholic to act as a “witness” (instead of one godparent).

Registration

It is usual for the name of the child to be entered in the baptismal book in the same form as in the civil register. The priest will confirm all such details with you before completing the entry in the parish’s baptismal register.

Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA)

RCIA is the process that is used for adults who seek baptism or full membership of the Church. This process is marked by a series of rites that, over time, take place in the local parish and that typically culminates with full initiation at the Easter Vigil.

Getting Ready

Contact your parish office/priest to arrange for the preparation and celebration of Baptism. Give plenty of notice. On the day of Baptism bring a white shawl and your child’s baptismal candle to the church. Keep this candle safe, it may be needed at the time of First Communion and Confirmation. This candle could also be lit on your child’s birthday or on other special family occasions. A Family Prayer Loving God, we ask your blessing on our family. Watch over us and guide us. Make our home a place of love and safety, a place of peace and joy, a place where we grow in faith together. Amen You can download our Guide to Baptism to help you prepare for the sacrament of Baptism.

Sacrament of Eucharist The Eucharist (Holy Communion) is one of the seven sacraments of the church. It was instituted by Jesus Christ during his Last Supper. Giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to “do this in memory of me” while referring to the bread as “my body” and the wine as “my blood”. The Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus which He instituted to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until His return in glory. Thus He entrusted to His Church this memorial of His death and Resurrection. The Tabernacle On entering a church, we genuflect to the tabernacle that holds the consecrated host in order to respectfully acknowledge the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, a presence to which a votive candle or sanctuary lamp kept burning close to such a tabernacle draws attention. First Holy Communion As well as an important year in the life of each child, this is also an important year for their class, their teachers, and for parents/guardians. It is also a special time too for the parish community. A child’s faith journey began the day they were baptised.  First Holy Communion takes them on another step in their faith journey. As part of our preparation for First Penance and First Holy Communion, we run a parish based programme, ‘Do this in Memory’. Information on this programme will be shared with classes preparing for First Penance and First Holy Communion. There are some resources available on our Primary RE resource page

Sacrament of Confirmation What is it? Confirmation celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the Acts of the Apostles chapter 2, verses 1 to 13, we read of the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit. They had been hiding after Jesus’ death, afraid and uncertain. The coming of the Holy Spirit with his gifts inspired them and enabled them to take the step of preaching the good news. We are made members of God’s family at Baptism. At Confirmation, our Baptism is completed or “sealed” by the Holy Spirit and we are called to be Christian witnesses, just like the apostles. The whole of our Christian living and the life of the Church, too, are sustained by the same Spirit. Who Can Receive? Any baptised Catholic wishing to advance on the path of developing their faith. For young people, this is usually part of the 5th/6th class primary school programme. For adults who were not confirmed as children, it means taking part in the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.) Sponsor A sponsor stands behind the candidate for Confirmation at the Confimration ceremony and places their hand on the shoulder of the candidate as a sign that they will support them in living out their baptismal promises. However, the role of the sponsor is not just for one day. The sponsor undertakes to assist the confirmed person in growing in the fullness of their faith and in their membership of the Catholic Church. A person qualifies as a sponsor by being a reasonably mature adult, who is at least 16 years old, and has already received the Sacraments of Initiation, (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) themselves. The Confirmation sponsor may be one of the people who was a sponsor at Baptism (subject to the notes here). Choosing a sponsor: (Ref. Code of Canon Law §874) To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must:

  • be appointed by the candidate, or by the parents or whoever stands in their place, or failing these, by the parish priest or the minister; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it;
  • be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made;
  • be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken;
not labor under a canonical penalty, whether imposed or declared;
  • not be either the father or the mother of the candidate.

Name The tradition of taking a new name at Confirmation emphasises the new identity of a Christian being called to witness to their faith. People are encouraged to take the name of a saint or a person from the Bible who inspires them in some way. Oil The oil used is called the Oil of Chrism. It is olive oil mixed with balsam that is blessed by the bishop and priests of the diocese in the Cathedral at the ‘Chrism Mass’ on Holy Thursday. The Sacrament is conferred with the anointing with this ‘Oil of Chrism’ on the forehead as the Bishop says ‘Be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit’.   For resources to help in the preparation of children for the Sacrament of Confirmation please see our Primary RE Resources page

Sacrament of Penance What Is It? The Sacrament of Penance is also known as the ‘Sacrament of Reconciliation’ or traditionally called ‘Confession’. It is the rite by which sins are confessed and forgiven. Sin is failure to recognise and love God in the way we think or act. Sin is also not just a failure to love God directly but also a failure to love one another. This is referred to as “the community sense of sin”. Absolution In this sacrament people are forgiven their sins by the words and actions of the priest. We call this ‘Absolution’. The priest represents God and the community who is affected by sin and the priest ministers forgiveness on behalf of God and the community. Forms Of Celebration The sacrament can be celebrated in a one-to-one encounter with a priest: this is known as ‘individual confession’. Many parishes also organise ‘Penitential Services’ at special times; e.g. Advent, Lent and Parish Missions. In this form of celebration, which is communal, people prepare as a community and many priests hear the confessions individually and people receive absolution individually. Penance Penance is a sign of sorrow and a commitment to try to make amends. It is also a sign of our sincerity to change our lives. This is what is meant by conversion. When the Sacrament is a communal celebration, the penance is said as a community, once all have had the opportunity to confess. When celebrated in the traditional one-to-one form, a penance is given and the person takes on that penance privately. Who? Any person who has been baptised and prepared appropriately can celebrate this sacrament. You can access some helpful resources on our Liturgy page

Sacrament of the Sick What Is It? The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is exactly what it says. It is a prayerful celebration for someone or for a group of people who are ill and are blessed by the priest with Holy Oil. It is not a sign that someone is dying as it was perceived in olden times. It is not a magical ritual; the person doesn’t automatically gets better immediately after an anointing. God’s healing and loving presence are called upon that the sick person might be raised up and restored to health. Symbolism The words of blessing over the oil say it all. It is “oil intended to ease the sufferings of your people”. Oil soothes and heals. Oil blessed for the sick is a sign of the Anointed One (Messiah) of God. The person so anointed receives the healing, saving power of the One who saves (Messiah). Oil The oil that is used is Olive Oil. The Bishop and priests bless it at the ‘Chrism Mass’ on Holy Thursday in the Cathedral.The holy oils are then taken each year to each parish and hospital for use throughoout the year in the Sacrament of the Sick. How? A person is anointed on the forehead and the palms of the hands while the priest says: “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you by the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who heals you, save you and raise you up.” Who Can Be Anointed? Anyone in ‘serious illness’, those who are infirm, in advanced years, or anyone prior to surgery. (It is not only for when a person is in ‘danger of death’.)

Understanding

The Church honours and treasures the married love between husband and wife. For Christians, marriage mirrors the relationship between Christ and the Church. Thus married love was described by St. Paul as a “great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32) and came to be recognised as one of the seven sacraments. Marriage, like other vocations, calls us to reflect God’s love to the world in a particular way. Married people in their exclusive and life long commitment to each other witness to and draw strength from how Christ has loved us. The wedding vows that the couple exchange express what is at the heart of Christian marriage. The words – “for better or worse” – point to the truth that life together will have its challenges as well as its rewards. The grace of the sacrament inspires the couple to turn to the Lord not just in days of happiness but also in times of sorrow, to seek the strength to transform any situation with love and indeed forgiveness. It is important to state that, while upholding the value of perseverance and the hope of reconciliation, the Church does not demand that anybody remain in a situation that has become impossible. In the Catholic tradition, marriage requires a willingness on behalf of the couple to welcome the children with whom they may be blessed. At the same time, the church holds that married life is fruitful and life-giving of itself.

Celebrating

Marriage is an occasion of deep significance in the life of the Christian community and is celebrated as a liturgy of the Church. Usually it takes place during Mass. The Marriage Rite can also be celebrated outside Mass. This can sometimes be a more appropriate form of the ritual.

The couple as ministers of the sacrament

The marriage ritual, the two people marry each other. They are the ministers of the sacrament. It is they who will exchange vows before God and the assembled community. The priest’s role is to receive their consent, to act as a witness, to lead prayer and to bestow God’s blessing.

Planning the ceremony

As ministers of the sacrament, the couple should be involved in planning the ceremony. The priest has a responsibility to advise them couple in their choices regarding the liturgy – readings, prayers, music and choice of vows. Couples are encouraged to look for such guidance early in the process. Family and friends are also encouraged to participate in the ceremony.

Key elements of the Liturgy

Key elements within the Marriage ceremony include:

  • the Liturgy of the Word
  • the consent of the couple (vows)
  • the special nuptial blessing for the marriage
  • and, if during Mass, the reception of Holy Communion
When and Where

In this diocese, marriage can take place on any day other than Sundays and major feast days.

A church local to one of the couple is the usual choice but not essential. It should be noted that the sacrament can be celebrated very simply with two witnesses if a couple so choose, or with a small group of family and friends.

Preparing

marriage_guide_backMarriage is a profound commitment. It is a commitment that each party must choose freely, giving their full consent without reservation. Appropriate preparation is essential, both at the personal level and in regard to establishing that all is in order for the marriage to proceed. The first step in the process is for the couple to go to their local priest to make preliminary arrangements. Couples need to give at least three months notice to their own priest of their intention to get married. The meetings of the couple with their priest are a key part of the preparation process. These meetings have taken on a new significance in recent times, because it can no longer be assumed that seeking a Church wedding is an expression of Christian faith on the part of one or both partners. These meetings are an opportunity for a couple to reflect on what Christian marriage asks of them. Couples are strongly recommended to participate in a pre-marriage course (chiefly organised by Accord – the Church’s marriage service), which are available in different centres in the diocese. These courses are designed to help the couple to grow in clarity about and appreciation of the nature of the commitment that is Christian marriage.

Age

In this diocese, the bishop’s permission is required for a Church marriage involving someone under 18. Christian marriage requires the capability for a mature commitment and therefore such permissions are only granted in exceptional circumstances

Freedom to marry

The rules governing freedom to marry in the Catholic church can be complicated. The best advice when one party has been married previously (either in a civil or religious ceremony) is not to make arrangements until the diocesan office has been consulted.

Marriage Papers

Standard paperwork – the ‘pre-nuptial enquiry’ form – must be completed for each wedding, usually by your local priest. The priest must clearly establish that both parties are free to marry in the church. Catholics will need to provide a recently issued Baptism certificate and a Confirmation certificate.

Mixed Marriages

Special permissions are required for full church recognition of marriages between a Roman Catholic and a baptised non-RC or someone unbaptised. Applications are handled by the diocesan office once the priest of the catholic party has forwarded the standard paperwork.

Civil Marriage

The couple has ultimate responsibility for all arrangements regarding the civil aspect of their marriage. We have produced a four page downloadable Guide to Marriage

The sacrament of Holy Orders, often called ordination, is the sacrament by which the Church confers the grace to administer the sacraments on a particular person. There are three ordained ministries: bishop, priest and deacon. During the celebration of the sacrament the bishop places his hands on the head of the candidate who is to be ordained and prays that the Holy Spirit will come upon the person to assist them in their ministry of service. Being a priest in Kildare and Leighlin Priesthood in Kildare and Leighlin offers a diverse and challenging way of living a life devoted to God in service to his people. Priests journey with people as they celebrate the beginning of life and as they mourn its ending. They bless the joyous love of couples at Marriage and nourish the steps of children, schools and families as people are prepared for First Confession, First Communion and Confirmation. They are a constant expression of Christ’s selfless love and grace as they minister to people at times of illness, personal crisis, isolation or despair. The Eucharist, celebrated with the People of God, in church, chapel, classroom, or nursing home is the Christian Community’s source of life and our foretaste of the eternal life to come. It is also the central part of the life of the priest. Being a Deacon in Kildare and Leighlin The permanent diaconate is an ordained ministry, but unlike the other two ministries with Holy Orders (bishop and priest), married men may apply to be permanent deacons. Deacons can read the Gospel, preach, baptise, preside at funerals and weddings and bring Communion to the sick, but they may not say Mass or hear Confessions. As a general rule, ordained deacons will be appointed to a parish near their home, and entrusted by the bishop with specific responsibilities. Some deacons may take on specialised ministries in keeping with their gifts and experience. If you have an interest in finding out more about the path to priesthood or the permanent diaconate in this diocese, you are very welcome to contact our Diocesan Vocations Director

Rev. Ruairi O’Domhnaill

Newbridge, Co. Kildare Tel: 083 3343744