The Latin word sacramentum means “a sign of the sacred.” The Catholic sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians.
Members of the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican/Episcopal traditions call seven of their religious ceremonies sacraments. Sacraments are celebrations of Christian tradition, of Christian life and of Christian hope. They share the dimensions of past, present and future that give ordinary celebrations meaning.
Each sacrament dramatizes and points to something that is happening in the lives of people who belong to the celebrating community. For example, Eucharist strengthens the unity of Christians as they receive it. It celebrates God’s nourishing presence with us now. Sacraments celebrate the community’s life now.
Children who make their first Communion or first Confession are expressing a desire to get closer to God. People who get married in church or who are ordained to the priesthood are saying something about their future in relation to God and the Christian community.
But sacraments imply more than just a personal future. They also point to the possibility and hope that the realities they celebrate will someday reign over all the earth. Eucharist looks forward to the time when all will be one. Reconciliation speaks the possibility of peace among all families and nations. Anointing of the Sick points to the hope that illness and disease will someday be no more.
Through baptism we become members of the Church, the family of God.
Our parish community welcomes each child and offers support to the parents and godparents in their responsibility as the first teachers of their child in the ways of the faith. The Godparents can help the parents in living their example of faith, and they join with parents in making the act of faith on behalf of the child. As the child grows older, our community tries to help parents prepare their child to celebrate the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
In most parishes there is usually a meeting or two that the parents are asked to attend to help them prepare for the celebration.
Please contact the Parish Priest or Parish Deacon, details to be found here.
In the Eucharist, the heart of the Church’s life, the Church shares in the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving made by Christ to the Father on the cross.
When we receive Holy Communion, we receive the body and blood of Christ, who is really and truly present under the forms of bread and wine.
Such communion increases our love for God.
It also strengthens the unity of the Church, also called the Body of Christ.
We have all heard the saying, “Faith is caught, not taught!” This tries to convey the idea that it is through our lifestyle and attitude towards faith that our children’s faith will develop and grow.
Parents are their children’s primary teachers in the ways of faith and as such, the Sacramental Programme for Reconciliation and First Communion is designed to assist them in that task.
With the help of the priests, catechists and the whole community, information and guidance is offered in order for parents to prepare their children to receive these Sacraments.
The programme consists of a series of Parent Meetings, Children Sessions, Communal Celebrations and Family Activities. Work books are provided, as well as various other materials which are designed to help parents focus on the central theme of each session.
The meetings start each year around September and continue until the Summer.
If your child will have reached the age of seven by the 31st of August, and you feel your family is ready to make a commitment to the programme, please contact the Parish Priest or Parish Deacon, details to be found here
In this Sacrament, the grace first received in baptism is perfected.
By the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are united more closely to Christ and our relationship with the Father as adopted sons is strengthened. As our connection with the Church is increased, so is our responsibility to take part in her mission deepened – by our words and deeds we bear witness to the Christian faith.
All those who have been baptised are encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation, since it completes the initiation process begun in Baptism, and of which the apex is the celebration of the Eucharist.
By Confirmation a person declares their faith openly in the middle of the community and commits, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live out that faith every day. Preparation to receive the Sacrament involves various meetings and a weekend retreat.
The aim is to deepen the candidates personal relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit and to awaken in them a sense of belonging to the Church
in whose life they are invited to take an active part.
Those who are 14 years of age on the 1st September (Year 10) are invited to prepare by joining the parish programme.
Please contact the Parish Priest or Parish Deacon, details to be found here
The Sacrament of marriage mirrors the love of Christ for the Church and strengthens Christian husband and wife in their commitment to each other. By nature marriage is for the good of the couple and for the procreation and education of children.
In both of these aspects, Christ’s love for the Church enriches the gift of the spouses to each other.
Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, where love, fruitful, faithful, and for life, is both promised and received. The family is known as the ‘domestic Church’ because it is here that children will first experience the faith. In a community of love and prayer, they can thus grow in their own faith, and in love of God and neighbour.
Preparation for this Sacrament includes a Saturday organised by Marriage Care.
If you would like to be married in the Church please contact the Parish Priest or Parish Deacon, details to be found here
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of healing celebrated by the Church. This calls to mind the ministry of Jesus where healing miracles are often accompanied by the forgiveness of sins. Sin damages both our own human dignity as children of God, and our relationships with God, who is love, and those around us. Through the confession and forgiveness of sins we are reconciled to God and to the community of the Church, and we are renewed in our striving to live faithfully the Christian life. Reconciliation is thus a personal encounter in humility with the love and mercy of God, admitting our weaknesses but trusting in the Lord’s help in order to overcome them.
Please visit the Parish News web page for details.
Anointing of the Sick
In this Sacrament the healing power of God’s love is experienced by those who are seriously ill. They receive peace and strength to bear the burden of their illness, and courage to unite themselves with the sufferings of Christ for the good of the whole Church.
Together with this healing of soul, God sometimes grants healing of body. As part of the healing, the sick person also receives forgiveness of their sins.
Christ sent the apostles out to preach the Good News and to heal, continuing his own ministry. When the Church celebrates this sacrament, the healing touch of Christ is brought to the aid of those who suffer.
This sacrament is rightly celebrated by anyone who suffers a serious illness, not only by those who are near to death. It may be repeated each time a person falls ill, or if their illness worsens. Near to death, it may be accompanied by the giving of Holy Communion as food for the final journey towards God.
Please contact the Parish Priest or Parish Deacon, details to be found here.
All the baptised share in Christ’s priestly ministry. At the service of this ‘common priesthood of the faithful’ is the ‘ministerial priesthood’ – bishops, priests, and deacons. Those in Holy Orders serve the Body of Christ by teaching, leading worship, and pastoral care.
Ordination occurs through the laying on of hands by a Bishop and the prayer of consecration – a prayer which requests the gift of the Holy Spirit for the particular tasks ahead.
The Bishop receives the ‘fullness of the sacrament’ – he is thus the leader of the particular Church entrusted to him. The Bishops together are successors to the apostles, and, with the Pope as their head, continue the mission given by Christ to the apostles.
The Priests are the Bishops co-workers, helping to carry out his mission in a particular parish or task. Deacons, whilst receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders are not ordained to the priesthood – they have their own ministry of service in the Church.
– A vocation (call) to Holy Orders is a gift from God, and is confirmed by the Church.
If you are thinking about a vocation to the priesthood, or diaconate, or would like to know more, please contact the Parish Priest or Parish Deacon, details to be found here,
or the Diocesan Vocations Director, Fr Terry Martin on 01293 524329
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow him on his Vocations Blog or his Vocations Facebook Page – ArundelBrighton Vocations or on Twitter – @AandBVocations.
You are also welcome to visit the Vocations Website.
By post contact Fr Terry at
Crawley RH11 7QD.
We often hear people talking about the meaning of the sacraments as though it were a simple thing, as though each sacrament had a single simple meaning. We see now, however, that the actual meaning of any sacramental celebration is rich and complex, for it has multiple dimensions – past, present and future.
Sacraments are special occasions for experiencing God’s saving presence. The sacrament calls people to get in touch with the sacred realities it celebrates. The more people respond to this call (for example, Reconciliation’s call to forgive and accept forgiveness), the more they will find meaning in the sacrament.