What are sacraments? After the resurrection of Jesus, the Church experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which enabled it to both know and have the ability to continue the mission and ministry of Jesus. The Church discovered that in and through various actions they truly experienced the presence of the risen Christ, pre-eminently in and through Baptism and the celebration of the Eucharist. At first there was no attempt to sort out or number all of these actions but eventually such decisions had to be made. Which were essential? Which were necessary for the Church to live and act as the full Church of Jesus Christ? In the end the Church understood seven sacraments to be essential, core, necessary for the Church to be Church and for the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ to be safeguarded: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation (also known as the Rite of Penance), Marriage (when two baptized Christians are married), Orders (with deacons, priests, and bishops each a distinctive order), and Anointing of the Sick.
Being marked by and celebrating these sacraments of the Church are some of the most important ways a Catholic lives out his or her faith. It is the responsibility of every Catholic parent, to the best of their ability, to have their children baptized and raised in the Catholic faith. That means taking part in the preparation processes for Baptism, First Eucharist, and Confirmation (all three are needed for full initiation in the Church) and First Reconciliation. Adults who are seeking full initiation in the Catholic Church take part in a process called the R.C.I.A.: The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Those seeking Marriage enter into a process of preparation for the sacrament of Marriage. Anointing of the Sick does not require any particular preparation and should be celebrated as early into a serious illness as possible. Men who are being prepared for ordination as deacons and priests undergo a very detailed formation process.
Please click on any of the links on the navigation bar at the left for more information on how we prepare for these sacraments at SS. John and Paul.
Full initiation into the Catholic Church takes place through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist. For those who have not celebrated all three of these sacraments as yet, the following preparation takes place in addition to involvement in the mnthly G.R.A.C.E. sessions.
The process begins with a meeting with the pastoral associate or the pastor. Please call the Parish Office to set up an appointment. During the initial conversation what sacraments are needed and what process of preparation will be used are discussed. Each adult's journey of faiht is unique and so there is no "one size fits all" approach.
If someone was never baptized or was baptized in a Christian church other than the Catholic Church or was baptized Catholic as an infant but had no or very limited faith formation, then he or she will be invited into the R.C.I.A. process. If someone has been baptized Catholic and received first Eucharist but was never confirmed, he or she will be invited to prepare for adult Confirmation.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the most usual process that allows an adult to journey toward full initiation in the Catholic Church. Since each person's background and previous connection to the Christian faith differs, there is no set time table for adult initiation. Rather, there are distinct stages and rites that are celebrated when the person is ready to take the next step. The steps below are typical for someone who has not been baptized. It is adapted for those who have previous Christian baptism and formation.
- First Stage: Inquiry: Explore reasons for becoming a fully initiated Catholic; ask questions that are on one's mind and heart, especially any that might seem to be stumbling blocks to becoming Catholic, begin praying with the community.
- First Rite: Rite of Acceptance: At a Sunday Mass, when a person is ready, the parish celebrates this rite and welcomes them as official candidates for the sacraments of initiation. They are now called catechumens, if they have never been baptized.
- Second Stage: Catechumenate: meet with parish sponsors and catechists; explore the main doctrines and practices of the Catholic faith; share in the Liturgy of theWord on Sundays; attend monthly G.R.A.C.E. sessions; share in various parish events and prayer.
- Second Rite: Rite of Election: The parish community sends the catechumens to the cathedral Church so that they can join all the other adults in the diocese who are entering their final, more intense period of preparation. This is often done at the beginning of the Lenten season, so that the sacraments of initiation can be celebrated at the upcoming Easter Vigil.
- Third Stage: the Elect: continue the types of involvement in stage two, but now with a more prayerful focus on moving toward a full and final commitment to the Catholic faith and involvement with the Catholic Church.
- Third Rite: The celebration of the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil or other main parish Eucharist. Adults are baptized, confirmed and receive their first Eucharist.
- Fourth Stage: Mystagogy: the newly initiated (often called neophytes) reflect on the sacraments of initiation, continue to deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith, and are invited into active participation in the parish community.
CONFIRMATION FOR ADULTS
For Catholic adults who have been baptized, received first Eucharist, have had religious formation but have never been confirmed, we prepare them for Confirmation as adults. The celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation takes place either at the cathedral Church of the archdiocese on the feast of Christ the King (in November) or on Pentecost (late May, early June). To prepare for that sacrament the candidate meets with the pastoral associate several times, participates in some of the monthly G.R.A.C.E. sessions, and connects to the parish's Sunday Eucharist. In the process, the basics of the faith will be re-examined, as well as a chance to learn about and celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation.
CHILDREN OF SCHOOL AGE
When children have come into the parish and have either not been baptized or are past the usual age for one of the sacraments, the parish formation program works with them and their families to prepare them for all the appropriate sacraments. The family and child must be involved in the monthly G.R.A.C.E. sessions and the child must attend the additional age-specific G.R.A.C.E. sessions for two years (including the year that initiation is taking place). During the second year, the family and child meet with similar families/children in a few extra monthly sessions to prepare them for the celebration of the sacraments. For information please contact the Parish Office.
Parents with infant children are encouraged to contact the Parish Office, even during the pregnancy, to begin preparation for the sacrament of Baptism. Though it is not required, the parish would like to pray a prayer of blessing for the child, the mother and the whole family at one of the weekend Masses, during the time of pregnancy.
A family has to have at least three months involvement in the parish (or another parish, if moving into the parish). An initial interview takes place with the pastoral associate or other appropriate staff person. There are two sessions of baptismal prep, which can be taken even before the baby is born. Godparents are invited to attend these as well . In addition parents are strongly encouraged to attend any monthly G.R.A.C.E. sessions, if at all possible.
We celebrate baptism once a month, rotating among the Saturday 5 PM, Sunday 9:30 AM and Sunday 11:30 AM Masses. Please contact the for the schedule for upcoming months. Prior to the weekend of baptism the parish introduces the parents and child to the community, anoints the child with the oil of catechumens and asks the community to pray for the upcoming baptism.
The choice of godparents is very significant and is often misunderstood. To read some thoughts on what is involved in choosing godparents please read The Role of Godparents.