The seven sacraments of the church are divided into sacraments of initiation, healing and sacraments of service to the community, the latter being those dedicated to the service of the people of God.
sacraments of service
Over time, as we grow, there are more and more situations where we have to decide, we find ourselves making decisions almost daily.
When we are not yet adults, our parents are the ones who choose or help us choose.
Gradually each person begins to choose for himself, for example, the choice of friends, the school to attend, the career to study, the sport or hobby to practice, the work we will do, etc.
God gives us precious gifts, riches, qualities and abilities that we should not keep to ourselves or even bury under the ground!
Regardless of what we decide to do, God asks us to use those gifts to the best of our ability, also putting them to the service of others.
As we grow up and become adults, we will find many ways to follow, paths that will mark a fundamental step in our lives.
The sacraments of service are two sacraments that determine the life of the Christian with a particular vocation, which guides the path and choices both personal and within the Christian community itself.
But what are the sacraments of service ? The Catholic Church tells us that the sacraments of service to the community are: Holy Orders and Marriage.
Ordained for the salvation of others and not just personal salvation, sacraments of service focus primarily on serving others, achieving salvation, through work for others.
The sacraments of service grant a special and punctual mission in the Church, which allow us to contribute to building up the people of God.
The sacrament of orders
Before returning with God the Father, the Lord Jesus entrusted his apostles and those close to him with the mission of continuing his work and teachings in the world, through the preaching of the word of God and the administration of the sacraments.
Thus, the apostolic ministry continues from those times to our days in the Church, thanks to the men whom the Lord calls to follow him in a particular and exclusive way for the service of devout and faithful Christians.
Those who respond to this call, prepare for a reasonable time and receive the sacrament of orders, joining the group of priests or deacons by placing the hands of the bishop and the prayer of ordination.
This sacrament, included among the sacraments of service, implies three degrees:
- The episcopate where the responsibilities and powers of a bishop are received.
- The presbytery, which refers to the third of the priestly orders, in charge of administering the sacraments, officiating at the Eucharist, evangelizing, etc.
- The diaconate, which receives the second of the major orders and whose function is to assist the priest at the altar, but does not possess sacramental power or authority.
Some priests are chosen by the Holy Father for guidance and service to a church in a particular locality, they receive the sacrament of orders in the degree of episcopate.
“This sacrament configures Christ by virtue of a special grace of the Holy Spirit, in order to serve as an instrument of Christ for his Church.
By means of ordination, one can act as representatives of Christ, the Head of the Church, in his threefold role as priest, prophet, and king” (CCC 1581).
Like the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, the sacraments of service, in this case ordination is given once, is indelible, and cannot be repeated or given for a limited period of time.
“As in the case of baptism and confirmation, this participation in the function of Christ is granted once for all.
The sacrament of holy orders also confers an indelible spiritual character and cannot be repeated or conferred for a limited time ” (CCC 1582).
However, it is necessary to clarify that if an already ordained individual wishes to be released from his functions, this can happen, but the sacrament received, even when it is no longer exercised, is an indelible mark.
“ Of course, a validly ordained subject can be released from the obligations and functions related to ordination or can be prohibited from exercising it, but he can no longer become a layman in the strict sense, since the character imprinted by the ordain remains forever .
The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently ” (CCC 1583).
But what does the term order mean ? In ancient Rome, this term designated a group of people or bodies for the particular tasks they performed.
The body of those who ruled any area was generally known as an order . This even showed up in the Church, these leading bodies were soon established.
In addition to the order of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was the order of catechumens, virgins, wives, widows, etc.
They were admitted to these bodies through an ordination, that is, a religious and liturgical rite that consisted of a consecration, a blessing or a sacrament.
Ordination is a sacrament reserved for bishops, priests and deacons, granting a particular person a gift or grace from the Holy Spirit, which gives him the authority to use or exercise a power that comes from Jesus Christ, for the benefit of the people of God.
The rite of ordination
The structure of the celebration of this sacrament, both in the degree of episcopacy and in the degree of priesthood and diaconate, is very similar, really almost identical.
Ordinations are always presided over by the bishop and normally take place in the cathedral.
Before the homily or sermon of the ecclesiastical authority, the people who are going to be ordained present themselves. The rite of priestly order occurs after the proclamation of the Gospel.
When a bishop is to be ordained, the Veni Creator or another song dedicated to the Holy Spirit is sung after the proclamation of the Gospel.
Subsequently, the candidate is presented for ordination, for which it is necessary to have the mandate of the Pope beforehand.
When it comes to the ordination of priests and deacons, the rite is usually a little simpler, generally the candidates appear before the Bishop and the community, so that this authority chooses them for the service of the Church.
At this point in the ceremony the priest offers his short speech or homily, after a brief silence, he asks the candidates certain questions about the level of commitment and the sacrament they are about to assume.
These questions vary depending on the type of ordination, that is, they are different with respect to the bishop, the priest and the deacon. They generally reflect the commitments that the new position or responsibility that the ordained person will have in charge entails.
Some of the questions refer to the promise of celibacy that the Latin Church asks of those who wish to receive ordination, the promise of obedience to the bishop and legitimate superior.
After the candidate has voiced his response, the litanies of the saints are sung and the one being ordained prostrates himself on the ground.
After the singing of the litanies of the saints, the bishop places his hands on each one of those who are going to be ordained, a gesture that is considered of the utmost importance, since with it the gift of the Holy Spirit is transmitted or communicated for this new stage. or state of life.
The ordination prayer is then recited. In the case of the ordination of a bishop, the one who presides over the celebration is assisted by two other bishops and all must place their hands on the head of the ordained.
The presiding bishop then places the open book of the Gospels on the heads of the elect and recites the ordination prayer.
At the ordination of priests, all the presbyters place their hands on the heads of the elect and the bishop announces the ordination prayer.
As you can see, the laying on of hands and the accompanying ordination prayer are the focal point or main aspect of the ordination ritual.
After this, there are some rites that explain or clarify what happened. In the case of the new bishop, he receives the anointing of chrism on the head, the book of the Gospels and the insignia, which is made up of the ring, the miter, the pastoral.
He must then sit on the chair and receive the embrace of peace from all the bishops who are present at the ordination.
There is an ancient tradition, where the new bishop can preside over the Eucharistic celebration and after the whole celebration, the Christian hymn Te Deum (To you, God) is sung as thanksgiving to God.
In the ceremony of the priests, after the ordination prayer, the following rites are foreseen:
- Dress in priestly clothing (stole and chasuble)
- Anointing hands with chrism oil
- Delivery of bread and wine, offerings of the holy people for sacrifice.
Then the Eucharist is performed and finally, the embrace of peace to the new order of priests by the presbyters as a sign of welcome.
For deacons, after performing the prayer, you must:
- Dressing in diaconal clothing
- delivery of the gospel
- Embrace of peace from all the deacons present.
The ordination rites that have been briefly mentioned are currently not a very common and frequent celebration as occurs with the other sacraments, being organized when required by the authorities to whom they are responsible.
When that special call from God is received, those who feel it in their hearts can receive this sacrament, having the firm commitment to give their lives totally to God and therefore to the service of others.
Our Lord Jesus called his disciples and turned them into fishers of men, into disseminators and faithful preachers of his teachings.
They went around the world baptizing, celebrating the Eucharist, comforting the afflicted, and forgiving those who wanted to draw closer to God.
Those who receive the sacrament of holy orders are those whom Jesus calls today, so that they leave everything they have and follow him, taking care of his people, as the good shepherd does with the sheep.
the sacrament of marriage
Among the sacraments of service, we find marriage. This can be defined as the alliance or pact between a man and a woman, who are united by the same love and determined to share life together.
The history of these agreements or covenants between God and humanity, which were sealed by the love of Christ who gave his life for us, is clearly and fully revealed in this covenant.
This sacrament sanctifies the union of a man and a woman, placing this love between spouses in the loving heart of God, who does not abandon humanity.
Marriage is a commitment made before God and the dignity of this commitment is based on four pillars that are sealed in the exchange of consents: freedom, fidelity, indissolubility and fertility.
It is important that to receive this sacrament, each of the couple must be aware and totally free to make this commitment.
Spouses promise loyalty, this promise being the source of mutual trust, which must exist in the remaining time of their lives.
The marriage of the members of the church, of those who were baptized, has a symbolic meaning, since it represents the love and alliance of Christ and the Church.
The man who is the husband symbolizes Christ and the woman who will be the wife symbolizes the Church, this union of both man-woman is the expression of the love of Christ and his church.
But it is important to understand that the sacrament of marriage does not stop at its celebration, but extends to everything that unites and lives the couple.
It is through self-giving that the grace of Christ is given to spouses, this sacrament being a source of grace.
Through the sacrament of marriage, God makes possible the love of a couple, by presenting to both a new dimension and form of love, which is received from a creative and divine source.
Giving oneself to one another, through the exchange of consents, welcomes the divine gift that is the very Spirit of God.
The sacrament of marriage is a generous gift that God makes to spouses so that they live according to the law of love, every day of their lives.
A valuable gift, which they will have to strengthen greatly with prayer, frequenting the sacraments that are also sources of life and also by their way of living and treating others.
The sacraments of service are a gift from God, which require commitment and dedication.
Christian marriage is a demanding path, a path of constant learning, which we must illuminate with the light of the Holy Spirit, to help us master our selfishness, only then will we learn to love better and live in freedom.
prepare for marriage
Marriage implies a free choice, a strictly personal decision.
To make this choice, it is good that it be made without restrictions, without blindness and with total good sense.
It is also necessary and important to take time to discern, to reflect, a time for deeper knowledge of the other.
On many occasions, to be sure of the commitment to acquire, advice and support are necessary, which for many can be invaluable.
The Church asks couples, who take this commitment very seriously, to seriously prepare for marriage.
That is why the preparation prior to the sacrament is essential, meeting with a priest or deacon and with other married Christian couples, is a useful guide for those who are about to undertake this great commitment.
The church usually offers several complementary accompaniments to engaged couples, through the different parishes.
These offer courses that bring together, for several days or nights, all the couples who are preparing for marriage.
These exchange times are usually highly appreciated by those who participate, as this type of marriage preparation offers comprehensive support for engaged couples.
Experience shows that it is not always easy for partners to see clearly.
The more invasive the affectivity is, the more the couple is idealized and in many cases we do not see how they really are, but rather how we would like them to be.
Feelings need to be clarified and for that it is important to take the time to recognize if they are made for each other, if they have common interests and if they can build something together.
Committing yourself to someone else, with the intention that it be for life, is an important decision.
Thus, communication, from the first moments of the love relationship, plays an essential role, so time together is extremely necessary. Spend time together to talk, listen and discover each other.
It is also good to reflect and ask yourself certain questions related to the common life project, such as:
- What are our aspirations?
- How do we imagine our family life?
- What do we really care?
- Do we want to have children? How many children do we want?
We cannot say that our lives are completely planned, because that would be impossible, everything changes and so do we. However, there are things that must be considered and agreed upon, as it will allow us to establish what we have in common, if we share dreams, desires and future projects.
It is important to question our love, because truly loving is loving the other for himself, it is wanting him to be happy.
This implies freely deciding if I really want to share my path with him, if I want to include him in my life.
If I just like him or really have the desire to love him. Well, love more than a feeling is also a decision, a choice, a “desire to love”.
That is why emphasis is placed on a clear decision and choice, which is made without restrictions, without blindness, without conditioning and with maturity.
The Catholic Church asks all young people to take real time to sincerely prepare for marriage and offers them her constant support.
It also invites Christians to refrain from sexual relations, in order to freely choose the other, without confusion or ties and with greater clarity of mind and heart.
It may sound a bit rigid, but all this preparation is simply necessary to live a greater love.
In cases where they are already living with a partner, the church advises that they look for anything in their common life that prevents them from making this decision freely, that they live a period of preparation before getting married, where they can have the necessary means and information to make a right decision,
Experience shows that a well-prepared marriage is like a house built on rock.
Never hesitate to seek support from your religious guides, because God, who is the source of all love, puts all the means to help us.
Remember that a Christian can always turn to God, so that he may enlighten him through prayer, especially when we decide to receive one of the sacraments of service, which imply a decisive commitment in life.
In prayer you will find peace and courage, which you need. Peace, to decide freely, courage and bravery, either to commit or to end a relationship with no real future, even when it is pleasant.
Do not see in prayer a way to complicate your decision. A prayer allows you to enlighten your conscience and make the choice that best suits you.
Remember that a committed couple must be able to honestly say to themselves, “I believe we will succeed together,” and truly feel that way.
The book of Genesis tells us that God created man and woman, a couple, and put love in their hearts.
Since the beginning of time, the union of a couple through the sacrament of marriage has been a vocation of love and dedication.
Catholic marriage rite
The rite can be offered in three different forms:
- Marriage ceremony with mass
- Ceremony without mass
- Ceremony for mixed marriages
This is done throughout the world with the same form and intention, and consists of three parts:
- Monitoring and scrutiny, it is the moment where the bride and groom make their intentions public, affirming their intention to unite in total freedom and of their own free will, declaring their desire to be faithful, have offspring and educate her as a Catholic Christian.
- Consent and confirmation of consent, the couple indicates that they give their consent to carry out the union and says their vows.
- Blessing and delivery of the rings, the priest blesses the rings and the couple puts them on, the man to the woman and the woman to the man.
The rite may have some variations, but that usually happens only in the words that the priest uses to address the couple. The rite of the sacraments of service is usually similar in any parish.
They are visible signs of God’s love for human beings, testimonies that he loves us all, with an infinite feeling, the love of a Father for his children.
We cannot see his close presence with our eyes, but he wanted to give us signs that we could see and that would allow us to feel his ever-close presence in our lives.
These signs are what we know as sacraments and were left by Jesus, who in his earthly life lived and walked with men, experiencing their joys and sorrows, closely seeing their fears and weaknesses.
He left us these signs so that we could continue to feel his presence on earth, even after his death and resurrection, for when he would be reunited with our Heavenly Father.
It is important to understand that because they are signs from God, when we gather to receive a sacrament, it is God who comes to us to give us a wonderful and special gift: the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit whom we will learn to know well during our journey and journey through the paths of God, the one who immediately after the resurrection of Jesus, was given to the apostles and close friends of Jesus, to give them the strength and courage to carry the Gospel to the world.
God’s love was expressed in the seven sacraments, just as it was expressed in the rainbow that appeared to Noah immediately after the flood.
The sacraments of the church are classified into three groups, the one that we have explained initially that are the sacraments of service to the community and two other groups.
The seven sacraments are divided into:
- sacraments of initiation
- healing sacraments.
- Sacraments of service to the community.
sacraments of initiation
When we receive these sacraments we become part of the great Christian family, the church.
They allow us to get to know Jesus Christ better, follow his teachings, and give us the strength to bring his good news to those around us. These sacraments include:
It represents the first sacrament we receive, it welcomes us and opens the door to all the other sacraments. Through baptism the family of God, the Church, receives us into its bosom.
The usual thing is that it is administered to children when they are still very young, being the father and mother who request it. However, it can also be given to adults who want to get closer to Jesus and are part of the church.
Baptism can only be received once and marks an important stage in the life of a person of any age, whether child or adult, it is an indelible mark that does not need to be repeated.
Eucharist or Communion
Communion is a sacrament that allows one to receive for the first time the body and blood of Christ, represented by the bread and wine consecrated at Mass.
It is generally received by a child who has fulfilled the prerequisite of baptism and penance, but who has also been prepared beforehand.
Let us remember that Jesus left this sacrament to his disciples on the afternoon of Holy Thursday during his Last Supper:
“ While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, gave it to his followers and said:
-Take this bread and eat, this is my body.
Then he took the cup and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and said:
-Drink all of you from this cup, because this is my blood that establishes the new covenant, which is shed to forgive the sins of many.”
Communion is how we remember him and the Consecration represents the most important moment of the entire Mass.
We know this sacrament as the reaffirmation of our faith, through which we receive a very important gift for every Christian: the Holy Spirit.
We have seen that the Holy Spirit is present in each sacrament, in fact, he is always invoked before celebrating them.
But in this case it is particularly important, because it reminds the disciples and Mary on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit with his presence gave them strength and courage.
Through this sacrament the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to follow Jesus and take his message to others, making our participation in the Christian life more active,
sacraments of healing
They are those sacraments that we receive when our body is sick or we have made mistakes. They represent the presence and love of God that never abandons us in difficult times.
He is close to us when we are sick and feel helpless, he hugs us when we have erred and sincerely ask for forgiveness. The two sacraments of healing are:
It is the sacrament that allows us to live the experience of forgiveness. The Lord invites us to reflect and look inside our hearts, to see our mistakes and faults, but he also gives us the opportunity and the desire to return to his path, to his arms and to his love.
Through the figure of the priest we come clean, we open our hearts and tell about everything that prevents us from feeling calm, our mistakes and most secret sins, asking for forgiveness.
Confession frees us from the sins we have committed and for which we feel real displeasure and regret.
It is a sacrament that we can receive whenever we want, when we feel overwhelmed, when we have made a mistake and regret what we have done.
To confess is to ask for forgiveness and God the Father will embrace us again, just as the father did in the parable of the prodigal son.
Remember that even if we make mistakes and make you suffer, God never leaves us alone, never abandons us. He always waits for us with open arms, because he wants us to return to him.
Anointing of the Sick
This sacrament consists of anointing with blessed oil or holy oils a person, who may be in danger of death or very close to it.
Being pain and suffering a very difficult test for the human being, God leaves us a sign that even in these moments God does not abandon us, he never leaves his children alone.
Pain can be physical, when it comes to some illness or serious injury, but it can also be spiritual pain, when despite not being sick, people suffer due to difficult situations.
We know that during his years on earth, Jesus was always very close to the sick and we also know that many times he healed them, performing miracles.
Jesus himself suffered terribly, dying on the cross for all of us.
Even when we always expect a miracle, because for God nothing is impossible, with this sacrament Christians do not ask for a miracle, we ask for the strength to endure our suffering. our cross.
The anointing of the sick is a sacrament that must be administered by a priest and that can be requested whenever we need it.