Q. What are the sacraments?
A. The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.
(The Catechism of The Book of Common Prayer, p. 857)
The Church teaches that the sacraments are the means of grace—that God is really present in them. Just as God humbly assumed humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, God is also present—known to us—in the sacramental elements. The waters of Baptism are not just any waters, nor are the elements of Communion merely bread and wine. They are the means by which the Father graciously unites us to the Son by the power of the Spirit.
The Holy Eucharist
The Holy Eucharist is “the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day,” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 13) and it is “the Church’s sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” (BCP, p. 859) Through the words of Scripture, songs of praise, and prayer, we lift our hearts to the Lord as we celebrate The Great Thanksgiving—the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood. All the community of the baptized, young and old, are invited to receive this holy food and drink. We do this so that we would evermore dwell in Christ, and he in us.
Click here to learn more about what Sunday mass is like at St. Paul’s.
Holy Baptism is “the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church.” (BCP, p. 858) It is the sacramental rite of passage by which a person becomes a Christian—marked as Christ’s own, forever. Holy Baptism is administered to adult converts to the faith and also to infants; this reminds us that, before any choice of our own, God chooses us. It is right and good to baptize an infant and make Christian vows on their behalf, and to raise them up so that they will one day confirm what the Spirit has already begun in them. Because Baptism is union with Christ and his Body, it is not for the faint of heart. Parents who wish to baptize their children bear the responsibility of raising them up to know God and find a home in the Church. The Christian life is a journey that we cannot make alone; we can only do it alongside one another, and with God’s help.
To learn more, or to inquire about Holy Baptism at St. Paul’s, contact us.
Other Sacramental Rites
In addition to the Holy Eucharist and Holy Baptism, the Church recognizes five additional sacramental rites: Confirmation, Marriage, Confession, Unction, and Ordination. Courses preparing candidates for Confirmation are periodically offered at St. Paul’s. To inquire about one of the other sacramental rites, please contact us.