We understand and acknowledge that becoming Catholic isn't just a one-time event that happens at a person's Baptism. It is a whole lifetime of learning how to live in a way that reflects the message of Christ and the Scriptures and the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church. In a sense, we are becoming Catholic every day because we are always striving to understand how Christ would have us respond to the daily events of our lives. Each day, through all the stages and circumstances of our lives, we try to deepen our faith and grow in our likeness of Christ.
The way we learn how to do this is through prayer: with other Catholics in a parish community, with our families at home, and by ourselves through daily practices of faith. Prayer teaches us our faith, strengthens our belief, and stirs us to live it in concrete ways every day. Prayer must always lead to action; the action we take—the way we live each day of our lives—is our spirituality. So whether you're 7, 17, 47, or 97, a brand new Catholic or a life-long believer, we are always trying to grow deeper in our Catholic faith.
The seven sacraments (sacramentum in latin) are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God's saving presence.
The seven sacraments are:
For Catholics, the Sacrament of Baptism is the first step in a lifelong journey of commitment and discipleship. Whether we are baptized as infants or adults, Baptism is the Church's way of celebrating and enacting the embrace of God.
Eucharist/ First Communion
Catholics believe the Eucharist, or Communion, is both a sacrifice and a meal. We believe in the real presence of Jesus, who died for our sins. As we receive Christ's Body and Blood, we also are nourished spiritually and brought closer to God.
The Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Penance, or Penance and Reconciliation) has three elements: conversion, confession and celebration. In it we find God's unconditional forgiveness; as a result we are called to forgive others.
Confirmation is a Catholic Sacrament of mature Christian commitment and a deepening of baptismal gifts. It is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation for Catholics. It is most often associated with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God's values.
In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, or Ordination, the priest being ordained vows to lead other Catholics by bringing them the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), by proclaiming the Gospel, and by providing other means to holiness.
Anointing of the Sick
The Catholic Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, formerly known as Last Rites or Extreme Unction, is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for physical but also for mental and spiritual sickness.
Prayer & Sacraments
“The liturgical life of the Church revolves around the seven sacraments, with central emphasis on the Eucharist. Fundamental principles apply to catechesis for each of the sacraments. Catechesis for a sacrament should:
- Present a comprehensive and systematic formation in the faith, one that integrates knowledge of the faith with living the faith
- Center on initiation into the life of the Triune God, and present Christian life as a lifelong journey
- Be appropriate to the age level, maturity, circumstances, language, and ethnic background of those being catechized
- Be directed to all members of the Christian community, and be offered within and through the whole community of faith
- Involve parents in the formation of their children
- Be integrated into the total catechetical program
- Focus primarily on the symbols, rituals, and prayers contained in the rite for each sacrament
- Enable the believer to reflect on the meaning of the sacrament received by implementing a thorough experience of mystagogia following the celebration”
National Directory for Catechesis, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, #35 B., pages 113-114.