Living the Jubilee Year of Mercy - A FRESH UNDERSTANDING OF THE SACRAMENTS
Each of the seven sacraments is a unique encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is present to us and with us at the special times in our lives, offering us the particular gift that we need, in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Ordination. But Jesus also offers himself to us regularly in the sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing and the Eucharist: These three are always available to us so that we can experience his help and grow in his friendship.
In the past, the Sacrament of Anointing was known as Extreme Unction or The Last Rites and was given only to those who were dying in preparation for their death. But now it is offered to all who are sick to be a source of strength, comfort and healing for them. If we are unwell we should not hesitate to ask for the Sacrament of Anointing, for in this sacrament Jesus continues his ministry of healing among us.
Even though it may not be used as frequently today, the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be a powerful experience of what friendship of Jesus really means. A true friend is always compassionate and forgiving, and Jesus is no different. Indeed, his forgiveness is unconditional: There is nothing we do that he will not forgive. When we fail and fall he is there for us. To be told this in the Sacrament of Reconciliation by the Church through its official minister is reassuring and encouraging.
Perhaps the sacrament that most nourishes our relationship with Jesus is the Eucharist: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in them” (Jn. 6:56) To share in the Eucharist, to receive the life of Jesus, is an experience of real and deep communion with him. The description of the Eucharist as “the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation” says it all. When we share in the Eucharist, the life and love of Jesus flow into us and through us to others.
The sacraments provide us with wonderful opportunities to bring us into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Their primary purpose is to help people meet Jesus. And there are signs that this, rather than any former sense of duty or obligation, is the reason why people want to celebrate the sacraments. This change can only be good for the life of the Church.
Philip McParland in “The Pastoral Review” January 2016
The churches offer a large programme of sacrament preparation, including Baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation and Marriage preparation. Please see the newsletter and Website for dates of when applications should begin.
Update April 2016:
SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION: CHANGING BACK
Towards the end of last year, Archbishop Malcolm invited feedback from us about the order in which we celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism soon after birth and (for the last few years) Confirmation and First Holy Communion together at Primary School Year Four age. Based on the results of the feedback he has received from clergy, schools, parents and catechists, the Archbishop has decided that we should return to the previous practice of Baptism soon after birth, with First Communion and First Confession in Year Four (as now) but with Confirmation returning to Secondary School Year Nine age or above and celebrated by a bishop. So, as from next year, we shall be returning to this schedule for celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation in the parishes of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
A new programme of preparation meetings with parents and children for First Communion (but now excluding Confirmation) will be released by the Archdiocese during the summer for use in the next School Year. Future preparation for First Communion will continue to involve parents and catechists working with the children, but parental involvement will not be expected in preparing teenagers for Confirmation.