“No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”
The Sacrament of Baptism is the foundation of Christian life, the entrance to the life in the Spirit and access to the other Sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from original sin, become heirs to the Kingdom of God, are incorporated into the Church and become sharers in the Mission of the Church.
During the celebration of Baptism a priest or deacon blesses the water that will be used as a sign of rebirth. The celebrant prays “We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the water of this font. May all who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism rise also with him to newness of life.”
The priest or deacon then pours the water on the heads of the people being baptized or immerses them, saying, “Name, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The water and these words are the signs of the sacrament of Baptism. At this moment, those being baptized are reborn of water and the Holy Spirit. They are reborn into the divine life of God’s grace, become members of the Church, the Body of Christ.
The newly baptized are next anointed with holy oil just as Christ was anointed as priest, prophet and king. This shows that they share in Jesus’ work of bringing about God’s peace and justice in the world.
The newly baptized are given a white garment and a candle. The white garment shows that they have put on the new life of the risen Christ. A candle is lit from the Easter candle and given to the newly baptized as a sign that they are to keep the light of Christ burning brightly by always following the ways of Jesus.
“This is my body that is for you Do this in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
The Sacrament of the Eucharist is both a sacrifice and a meal. It has its origin at the Last Supper when on the night Jesus was betrayed, He instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood. This He did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until He comes again. In this Sacrament, Jesus entrusts to his Church a memorial of His death and Resurrection, the sacrament of love, a sign of unity and a bond of charity, in which Christ is consumed, and our minds and souls are filled with grace and a pledge of future glory. The Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith through the actions of the Holy Spirit and the Real Presence of Jesus; His Body and Blood become present under the form of bread and wine. It is through the Eucharist that each of us is nourished by Jesus to seek God’s will.
At Mass, our gifts of bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is really present under the appearance of bread and wine. Our participation in Mass is a sign of our full initiation into the Church, the Body of Christ.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”
It is not always easy to be a witness to our faith. We need special help from God just as Jesus’ disciples did. As the disciples were blessed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit and received the Gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we receive the sign or the seal of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. When we were baptized we began our initiation into the Church. Through Conformation, we continue with one more step into the Body of Christ. We are called to give public witness to the good news to the Catholic community. We are then sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit and strengthened to live our baptismal promises. Because, like Baptism, Confirmation imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, like Baptism it can never be repeated.
When we are confirmed, we may choose another name in addition to the one given at Baptism. This additional name may be the name of a patron saint we admire.
Confirmation is celebrated during a Mass with a bishop or his representative presiding. During the celebration, the bishop extends his hands over those to be confirmed and prays to God, the Father, “Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their Helper and Guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.”
The bishop then makes the sign of the cross on their foreheads and anoints them, saying, “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” This anointing is the most important sign of the sacrament of Confirmation. The Sacrament of Confirmation perfects baptismal grace and through the gifts of the Holy Spirit helps us grow to Christian maturity. This sacrament strengthens our bond with the Church, associates us more closely with her Mission and helps us bear witness to the Christian faith in words and deeds.