Many people are inclined to say ‘all churches are much the same and we are all doing the same thing and we are all hoping to eventually get to Heaven.’ It may seem that way to some, but let’s be honest, there are many big differences.
For Catholics, our principal act of worship is through the sacrifice of the Mass. Our Lord Jesus instituted the Mass on Holy Thursday night while celebrating the Passover with His Apostles. By His changing bread into His Body and wine into His Blood He gave to us the means to celebrate His death on Calvary and the remembrance of how He died - His Body and Blood separated - as it was on the cross.
Through the Mass we offer praise and reparation to God our Heavenly Father and seek His continued Blessings.
Through the Mass, we are also invited to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ into our very own souls to be our Grace and Strength for our pilgrim journey to Christ’s Heavenly Kingdom.
Through the Mass we are united with all Catholics throughout the World in seeking closer union with our Heavenly Father and with each other.
After the Mass as our principal act of worship, we seek God’s Grace and help through the Sacraments. A Sacrament is a visible sign through which Jesus Christ offers His redeeming Grace and help to His followers.
Through the Sacrament of Baptism and the visible sign of washing with water accompanied by prayers etc. we become Christians and members of His Church.
Through Confirmation we are anointed with Holy Oil and imprinted with a spiritual mark or indelible character on our souls. Through Reconciliation we receive God’s forgiveness for sin. We express our sorrow for all sin in our lives and seek absolution from the Priest. Through Holy Orders, Priests are ordained to offer Mass, celebrate the Eucharist, preach God’s Word and administer the Sacraments.
Through Matrimony marriages of Catholics are Blessed and Grace is offered to couples for their married life together.
It is true most Christians rely on God’s Revelation and messages obtained in the Bible. Unfortunately because of our lack of perfect knowledge, the Bible is open to many interpretations. We Catholics allow the Church to guide us as to what is the acceptable translation and meaning. Certainly all Christians can come together to pray together and ask God’s Blessings on ourselves, our families, our communities and our World.
THE SACRAMENTS OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION
From the Catholic Catechism:
1212: The Sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. ‘The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the Sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these Sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.’
1315: ‘ Now when the Apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 8:14-17)
1316: 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.
1317: Confirmation, like Baptism, imprints a spiritual mark or indelible character on the Christian’s soul; for this reason one can receive this Sacrament only once in one’s life.
All of the Sacraments have their importance, however, Baptism is especially important because without it we cannot validly receive the others. Through Baptism we become members of Christ’s Body, the Church. In fact, we become one in Christ, we accept Christ as our Saviour and commit ourselves (through our Parents and Godparents) to following Christ as faithfully as possible. Through Baptism we receive a character identifying us as Christians. We also receive the seeds of Faith, Hope and Love which we are meant to nourish through prayer and good works all our lives. When a child is baptised it is necessary that the Parents and God parents are to have a commitment to supporting and helping that child in the way of Faith. Regrettably, we do not live in a very Christian environment in these times so we just can’t say ‘as long as I get the child Baptised, everything else will work out alright’. All too often Baptism is just a social occasion - this should never be. It is all too important for the child and for the family that we take this Sacrament seriously. The child’s name should be that of one of the Saints or one of the Holy people of the Bible and the Godparents should be chosen because of their connection with the family and their interest in the child. It is desirable that the Godparents be Catholic, which is obvious from the very nature of this responsibility. A child can have several Godparents, but at least one of these must be Catholic.
Those Parents who have a baby to be baptised should contact the Parish Priest and ask him to guide them in the matters of the Baptism.
FIRST RECONCILIATION / CONFIRMATION / FIRST COMMUNION
In this Parish we use Parent Centred Programmes in order to prepare children for the reception of these Sacraments. This is where the Parents are instructed and given a Programme which they go through with their child. We recommend that the child be at least 8 years old, in consultation between the Pastor and Parents. The First Reconcilliation usually takes place in the earlier part of the year and First Communion and Confirmation around the middle of the year. The Sacraments can be received outside of these times if there are special circumstances. The Wellington Archdiocesan Synod voted to return Confirmation to its correct position in the Sacraments of Initiation and is now administered between the Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Eucharist. The starting times of the preparation programmes are advertised in the Parish Newsletter and any enquiries can be directed to the Parish Priest.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is available as per the timetable at the front of this book. This Sacrament was given to us by Our Lord (John 20: 22) for the forgiveness of our sins and personal peace, by being reconciled to God and His people. There is a Community Celebration in our Parish twice a year - before Christmas, before Easter and occasionally at other times.
The Church sees Marriage as a mutual Covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life.
Those intending to marry in the Church are required to give the Priest at least 3 months notice, preferably 6 months. Because the Church takes marriage seriously, it requires couples intending to marry to undergo some form of preparation. In our Parish the programme and other requirements are discussed with the Priest. The Church endeavours to support couples throughout their married lives and provides “Marriage Enrichment” and “Marriage Encounter” week-ends from time to time.
COMMUNION TO THE SICK
We certainly do make a point of attending to the sick. We see that they receive Holy Communion every week. All we ask is that someone notifies us when someone has become housebound. Our Eucharistic Ministers assist the Priest in taking Communion to the sick, during the week or after Sunday Mass, and we are very grateful to them. What preparation is necessary? We would like to see a table with a cloth, a crucifix (or a set of Rosary Beads), a glass of water (if the sick person requires this).
The sick are commended to our prayers and Masses. By a long tradition in our Church we have asked the Priest to offer a Mass for a particular intention or for our dead. It has been a custom to make an ‘offering’ to the Priest on such an occasion, but this is not essential.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
This Sacrament is administered to those whose health of mind or body is affected by ill health, strains or worry and who recognise their need for God’s special grace to help them on the road to recovery. The Sacrament is best administered during Mass and is accompanied by the Scriptures and prayers for all the sick. The Priest will also come to the home for the anointing of the sick person. In our Parish we have a community celebration of this Sacrament around three times a year. Lent, mid-year and Advent.
Catholics are very much encouraged to ring the Priest in their Parish whenever they know of anyone very sick. When a member of your family dies you should
- notify the Priest as soon as possible.
- Ring for the Doctor as he or she has to give a certificate of death.
- Ring the Funeral Director.
The form of the funeral will be discussed with the Priest as to whether there will be a Requiem Mass or a simple Funeral Service.
See also our parish procedures and customs