The Sacraments: Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life:they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian’s life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life. (Catechism 1210)
Scheduled by appointment one month in advance
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), 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 and in the word.”
(Catechism 1213) Confirmation: 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.” (Catechism 1285)
Eucharist: 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. (Catechism 1322)
Sacrament of Reconciliation:
Saturday: 3:30 PM to 4:15 PM.
Thursday: After 7:30 AM and 11 AM Masses.
Any other time between 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM by appointment
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. (Catechism 1422)
Anointing of the Sick:
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. (Catechism 1499)
Rite of Viaticum
Suffering and illness have always been among the greatest problems that trouble the human spirit. Our faith helps us to grasp more deeply the mystery of suffering and helps us to bear the pain with greater courage. From Christ’s words we know that sickness has meaning and value for our own salvation and for the salvation of the world. For Christ himself, who is without sin, took on all the wounds of his passion and shared in all human pain (see Isaiah 53:4-5). While Anointing of the Sick is celebrated at the beginning of a serious illness, Viaticum is celebrated when death is close. Often misunderstood as the act of bringing Communion to the sick, Viaticum is a rite which can be celebrated outside of Mass. By receiving the consecrated food for the passage through death to life the dying have the pledge of the resurrection that our Lord promised, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day” (see John 6:54) and are united with Christ as they leave this world. A distinctive feature of the celebration of Viaticum is the renewal of the baptismal profession of faith by the dying since it was through baptism that we became adopted children of God and coheirs of the promise of eternal life. All baptized Catholics who are able to receive Communion are privileged to receive Viaticum when in danger of death. The rite is the completion and crown of the Christian life on this earth, signifying that the dying Christian follows the Lord into eternal glory and the banquet of the heavenly kingdom. It is equally important that all the faithful prepare for and participate in the Sacraments of Anointing and Viaticum so that we will understand more fully how these sacred Catholic rites nourish, strengthen and manifest faith more effectively. For the prayer of faith which accompanies the celebration of the sacrament is an expression of our union with Christ.
The Oil for the Sick
The Oil of the Sick, usually labeled OI (for Oleum Infirmarum), is often reserved with chrism and the oil of catechumens in an ambry. An ambry is a cabinet, usually beautifully ornamented and kept near the baptistery in the Church. In St. Mark’s parish, the ambry is located on the southeastern wall of the sanctuary in a recessed cabinet. Many priests keep a small supply of oil close at hand in a small metal tube called a “stock.”
Olive oil is blessed by the Bishops at the Chrism Mass during the Holy Week and distributed to all the parishes within their Diocese. In the Diocese of Trenton, the beautiful Chrism Mass is one time during the year when all 126 parishes come together to worship as a community and receive the blessed oil.
In the former rite, every sense of the body was anointed, accompanied by a prayer for forgiveness of sin. So, the eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, hands, and feet were all touched. Today, this is simplified to an anointing of the forehead and the hands, but generally today the oil is used more lavishly, and the symbolism of touch so central to the rite is enhanced. Often, a priest will invite everyone present to join in the “laying on of hands.” Sick persons are often pushed aside or feared in our culture, and to be reverently touched in love can be a profound experience of God’s healing, forgiving, accepting presence through the ministry of the Church.
The Sick and the Vital Role of the Laity
The Church desires that the Anointing of the Sick be celebrated fairly early in the crisis of an illness, and not as a last measure. In fact the Vatican Council II added that Extreme Unction—which may also and more appropriately be called ‘anointing of the sick—is a sacrament not reserved only for those who are at the point of death. The Council suggests that as soon as any one of the faithful begins to be in any danger from sickness or appears to be weakening from advanced age, “the fitting time for that person to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.”
By focusing on what only a priest can do, we may forget the fullness of liturgical care that the Church desires. For if one member suffers in the Body of Christ, which is the Church, all the members suffer with that member (1 Cor 12:26). Kindness shown to the sick and works of charity and mutual help for the relief of every kind of human want are held in special honor. It is fitting that we share in this ministry by helping the sick return to health, showing love, and by celebrating sacraments with them. If the sickness grows worse, the family and friends have a responsibility to inform the pastor and by their kind words help guide the sick for the reception of the sacraments at the proper time.
The family and friends of the sick and those who take care of them in any way have a special share in this ministry of comfort. It is their task to strengthen the sick with words of faith and by praying with them, to commend them to the suffering and glorified Lord, and to encourage them to contribute to the well-being of the people of God by associating themselves willingly with Christ’s passion and death.
The Sacrament of Matrimony is to be arranged with a priest at least 12 months in advance according to the common policy of the Dioceses of New Jersey. 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. (Catechism 1601)
Click here to review St. Mark’s Wedding guidelines: Marriage Policy
Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.” (Catechism 1667)
All the sacraments, and principally those of Christian initiation, have as their goal the last Passover of the child of God which, through death, leads him into the life of the Kingdom. Then what he confessed in faith and hope will be fulfilled: “I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. (Catechism 1667)
Click here to review St. Mark’s funeral booklet: Funeral Rites. For more information about cemeteries and the Catholic funeral rites, visit the Diocese of Trenton website at http://portal.dioceseoftrenton.org/catholic-cemeteries.