CHRISTIAN

INITIATION
THE SACRAMENTS
OF

BAPTISM

CONFIRMATION

EUCHARIST

The sacrament of baptism ushers us into the divine life, cleanses us from sin, and initiates us as members of the Christian community. It is the foundation for the sacramental life.  It celebrates the very essence of our Christian faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Like all the Sacraments, Confirmation is a moment of encounter with Jesus Christ. By receiving this Sacrament, we are joined more closely to Christ and are more fully conformed to Him.  The imposition of hands by the bishop, therefore, is the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation which perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church.

Baptism and Confirmation are the first two sacraments of Christian initiation, and they find their fulfillment and perfection in the source and summit of the Christian life: the Most Holy Eucharist.  In the other six sacraments, God gives us a gift of grace; in the Holy Mass He gives us the gift of Himself.  

The sacrament of baptism ushers us into the divine life, cleanses us from sin, and initiates us as members of the Christian community. It is the foundation for the sacramental life.  It celebrates the very essence of our Christian faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

Baptism is one of the greatest gifts that Christ has given us, and one of the greatest gifts that parents can give to their children.  Through baptism, a person is united to the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; or, to put it another way, what Jesus did for us by dying and rising is applied to the person baptized.

 

When someone is baptized, the risen life of the Lord Jesus begins to live in that person’s soul.  This person begins the adventure of the Christian life, in which he or she is called to become like Jesus Himself.  It is our union with the Lord Jesus, which begins with baptism, that gives us the hope of heaven.

 

Baptism then is far more than a "naming ceremony" or even just a blessing for a new child.  It should be the highest priority of every Christian parent to see that their children are baptized very early in their lives.  Because of the importance of baptism, this Sacrament is approached with great reverence and care in the Church.

 

Baptism is a Sacrament.  In our Anglican tradition, the Sacraments have a tremendous importance.  We believe that Jesus Christ instituted the seven Sacraments as the means by which He would share His life with us.

 

As great a gift as baptism is, it is only the first moment of the Christian life.  Consider this parallel: a child who has been given the gift of (natural) life must continue to be fed in order to survive. Likewise, a child who has been baptized must be brought up in the practice of the Faith in order for the life of Jesus that has been received to survive and flourish.

 

Like all the Sacraments, Confirmation is a moment of encounter with Jesus Christ. By receiving this Sacrament, we are joined more closely to Christ and are more fully conformed to Him.

 

Holy Baptism is the first sacrament of initiation, and Confirmation is the second.  In Confirmation, the baptized continue to grow in the Lord Jesus and His Church, where they are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (or martyrs) of Christ and the truth of His Gospel.

 

On several occasions in His preaching, the Lord Jesus promised an outpouring of God the Holy Spirit on His disciples, and this promise was fulfilled first on the Day of Resurrection and then more strikingly to the Church at Pentecost.  St. Peter declared this outpouring of the Holy Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.  From that time on and in fulfillment of Christ's command, the Apostles imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands, the gift of the Holy Spirit to complete the grace of Baptism.

 

The imposition of hands by the bishop, therefore, is the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation which perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church.  Very early in the Church's life this apostolic laying on of hands was accompanied by an anointing with perfumed oil called sacred chrism, the better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit who anointed the Lord Jesus at His own Baptism.  This anointing highlights the name Christian, which derives from the sacred title of Messiah (or Christ from the Greek translation), meaning "the Anointed One."

 

In the Eastern Churches, Confirmation or Chrismation is administered together with Baptism, even to infants.  But in the Western Church, the two first sacraments of initiation [Baptism and Confirmation] became separated in the early Middle Ages, and to this day Confirmation is administered after the age of reason for indiduals who were baptized as infants.

 Baptism and Confirmation are the first two sacraments of Christian initiation, and they find their fulfillment and perfection in the source and summit of the Christian life: the Most Holy Eucharist.  "At the Last Supper, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood.  This He did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal Banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us" (Sacred Constitution on the Liturgy, 47).

 

At the heart of the Holy Eucharist are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, truly and substantially become the Body and Blood of the risen and glorified Lord Jesus.  In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of gratitude to God, but they also received a new meaning by the Exodus of Israel from slavery in Egypt.

 

The unleavened bread of Passover recalls the haste of departure on pilgrimage to the promised land, and manna in the desert testifies that God always fulfills His promise to sustain His people.  Moreover, blood is the sign of fidelity to God's covenant with Israel and of sorrow for sins which violate God's law.

 

And finally, the cup of blessing at the end of the Jewish Passover meal transforms the simple human joy in wine into a sign of God's saving action in history: the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  All of these meanings were taken up and transformed by the Lord Jesus, the true Lamb of God, when He instituted the Holy Eucharist and commanded the Church to celebrate this sacrifice until He comes again in glory.

 

In the other six sacraments, God gives us a gift of grace; in the Holy Mass He gives us the gift of Himself.  The Lord Jesus urgently invites us to receive Him in this wondrous sacrament: "Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." (John 6:53).  

Video:

Sacraments on Christian Initiation

Video:

Sacrament of the Eucharist

Title: "Summer Solitice" 

Album: A Celtic Dream

Artist: Michele McLaughlin