The sacraments are the way we focus and celebrate our life together in the Church, and grow into the Body of Christ. They are actions of Christ, celebrated by a bishop, priest or deacon, in which Jesus enters into our lives and gives grace for Christian living. They are the tangible presence of Christ made a reality for us here and now. Every Sacrament is celebrated in a particular way and has a particular effect. Below you will find a short explanation for each of the seven sacraments of the Church, along with information about their availability.
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.”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1213
Effects of Baptism
Baptism is a sacrament that can only be celebrated once. The reason for this is baptism bestows upon us a gift that can never be lost, we call this (1) the baptismal ‘character.’ What this means is that the sacrament of baptism maps on to the human soul the image of Christ, his likeness drawn at the centre of who we are, and that can never be lost. Now because in baptism we are given the likeness of Christ several other things happen as a result of this. (2) We are freed from original sin, because we now bear the image of the Jesus, the new Adam, rather than the old Adam who first sinned. If someone is baptised as an adult all their other sins up until that point are forgiven as well. (3) We become children of God. Because our soul has been marked with the image of the only Son of God we now share in that relationship with God, he becomes our Father, because we are a part of his Son. (4) We become members of God’s Church, the Church is the ‘body of Christ’ and so by sharing in his image we are made a part of it. (5) Finally we are bonded to other Christians. The same image of Jesus that is drawn on the soul when we are baptised is found at the heart of everyone who has been baptised. We share something very precious in common and that creates a special bond between us.
Availability of Baptism
If you wish to have your child baptised you first need to attend a baptism preparation course. At Saint Philip Neri, Mansfield, a two part baptism course is run regularly and is advertised in the newsletter or times are available from the parish office. If you want baptism at the churches of Saint Bernadette’s, Bolsover, Saint Joseph’s, Shirebrook, or Saint Teresa’s, Market Warsop, then please contact the parish office to arrange for baptism preparation. Please note that baptism should take place within the parish at which you reside, or otherwise the church at which you regularly worship. Please do not make plans for the baptism until a date and time has been agreed with the priest, which will happen after the completion of the preparation classes.
Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds.
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1316
Effects of Confirmation
Confirmation completes the sacrament of baptism and makes someone a full member of the Church. Like baptism, confirmation is a sacrament that can only be received once because it confers a (1) ‘character.’ What this means is that at Confirmation the Holy Spirit is poured out upon as and effects a permanent change to our souls. In baptism the image of Christ is drawn at the heart of who we are. In confirmation that image is further drawn out and completed. (2) By a special pouring out of the Holy Spirit confirmation is each Christian’s personal pentecost, where we receive the fulness of the gifts of the Spirit. These gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. (3) These special graces are given so that we might be strengthened for the work of Christ, namely to grow in holiness and share the Gospel with others.
Availability of Confirmation
The usual age for confirmation is around 13 and preparation programs are advertised periodically in the parish newsletter. However, if you missed confirmation in your teenaged years and still haven’t been confirmed then don’t miss out! Please let one of our priests know you haven’t yet been confirmed, no matter what age you are, and we will make arrangements for you to receive the sacrament.
Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and abides in me, and I in him” (Jn 6:51, 54, 56). The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church’s life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church.
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1406, 1407, 1419
What is the Eucharist
The Eucharist is not a ‘thing’, but rather an action. When we celebrate Mass, another word for Eucharist, the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is made present in our place and time. In our great thanksgiving offered to God both the sacrifice of Jesus at the Last Supper and on the cross, and the heavenly banquet to come at the end of time are made present for us. The Mass is both a meal and a sacrifice. Jesus, our High Priest in heaven, eternally offers the one sacrifice, his crucifixion, for our redemption. When we celebrate Mass we are united to this one heavenly offering and are fed with Jesus’ body and blood under the form of bread and wine, Holy Communion.
Effects of Communion
Receiving Holy Communion (1) brings us into closer union with Jesus, (2) forgives us our venial sins, (3) gives us grace to avoid future sin, (4) unites us more closely to other Catholics, (5) commits us to serving Christ in the poor and needy, and (6) gives us a longing for all Christians to be united in the one Church.
Holy Communion is a pledge from God that we will one day be with him in heaven. We eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus, a personal and intimate moment with the Lord where he enters into our lives both physically and spiritually, and by doing so we share in his eternal life. It is a foretaste of our future reality.
First Holy Communion
At the age of 8, or thereabouts, children receive Holy Communion for the first time. Preparation for receiving Holy Communion, and as a part of that making first Confession, is organised through our primary schools. If your child is not at St Philip Neri’s or St Joseph’s primary schools then please keep an eye on the newsletter for information about first Holy Communion, or contact the parish office.
Holy Communion when sick or housebound
If you are unable to attend Mass through serious illness, or are housebound, we will bring Holy Communion to you. Please contact the parish office to make arrangements for an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to bring you Holy Communion at home, and thus be united to Christ, his Church, and our church communities which pray for you.
Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offence 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 labours for their conversion.
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1422
Confession is a sacrament that people sometimes find daunting, or even scary. So our priests would like to say to you:
When we hear confessions our interest is not in your sins, but in giving you God’s forgiveness and mercy. We don’t remember what you say, and we’ve no interest in it beyond giving you Christ’s forgiveness and helping you to know that you are loved by God! So we promise not to be scary, but always kind.
Effects of Confession
When we confess our sins, are sorry for them, and wish to dust ourselves off and try again, God promises that through the absolution given by the priest he will act. (1) He forgives us and welcomes us back to himself as a loving Father. (2) Our relationship with the church is restored. (3) We need have no fear of hell. (4) Our time in purgatory is shortened. (5) We are given peace, it’s a clean slate so our conscience needn’t trouble us and God will console us. (6) We are also given grace by God to fight the good fight and he’ll help us to avoid sin in the future.
Availability of Confession
Monday: After 7.00pm Mass @ Saint Joseph’s
Wednesday: 7.00pm to 7.25pm @ Saint Teresa’s
If you can’t make any of those times, or you are sick or housebound, please just ask one of our priests.
“Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15). The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick has as its purpose the conferral of a special grace on the Christian experiencing the difficulties inherent in the condition of grave illness or old age.
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1526, 1527
Effects of Anointing
When someone falls seriously ill, is about to undergo surgery, is feeling the effects of old age, or is close to death it is time for Holy Anointing. In this sacrament we are (1) united more closely to the passion of Christ and (2) given spiritual strength, peace and courage to endure the sufferings and/or illness we experience. (3) If we are unable to confess our sins then our sins are forgiven, although we must confess before Holy Anointing if we can. (4) We also hope that it be in God’s divine plan to restore us to health by this sacrament, perhaps physically but certainly spiritually. (5) If we are close to death then through the sacrament of anointing God prepares us for the approaching moment when we will enter into eternity with him.
The sacrament of the sick is readily available, simply ask one of our priests. If you are housebound then phone the parish office and we’ll arrange to come to you. If you need a priest in an emergency and are in the hospital ask a member of hospital staff to arrange a visit from a Catholic priest.
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 baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1601
Effects of Matrimony
When two Christians are sacramentally married before a priest or deacon in church, God enters in and blesses their union. (1) A life-long and unbreakable bond is created between the spouses that no power on earth can break. (2) Through this sacrament God gives special graces to a husband and wife to live this union of love and life-long fidelity. (3) He may also gift them with children and by grace aid them in raising their children to be happy and holy.
Christian families are in a special and sacramental way icons of the Kingdom of God in our world, images of divine life and love that witness to the Gospel and bring vitality and joy to our society. A truly wonderful gift!
Availability of the Sacrament of Matrimony
When you fall in love and decide to get married it is a beautiful thing, and something the Church celebrates. The Church is with you on this journey and our priests will help you prepare to enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony. If you would like to get married in one of our churches please talk to the priest or contact the parish office at least six months before your hoped for wedding date.
If you’ve been married before, or you’ve got married outside of the church and now want to come home, please don’t shy away from talking to us about it. Life can be complicated, and we understand that, and there may be some way we can help. There’s no harm in having the conversation.
The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the “common priesthood of the faithful.” Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community.
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1591
Discerning the call
If you think you might have a vocation to be either a permanent deacon or a priest then please have a chat with one of our priests or our parish deacon. More information about the various vocations that God creates us for can be found on the Diocese of Nottingham Vocations website, including information about the permanent diaconate and diocesan priesthood and contact details for the Vocations Director.