Sacraments

"Sacraments are powers that comes forth from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in His Body, the Church, They are the masterworks of God in the new and everlasting covenant."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1116

The Sacrament of Baptism

Baptism

Baptism is the first of the sacraments of initiation into the Catholic church. It makes us adopted children of God, incorporates us into Christ, pardons all our sin, and forms us into God’s people. It confers a permanent relationship ("character") with Christ and his Church which lasts even should one cease to be an active member of the Catholic community. For this reason a validly baptized Christian is never re-baptized and has the right to a Christian funeral.

Bishops, priests and deacons are the ordinary ministers of baptism, although anyone with the right intention may administer the sacrament in case of imminent death. The words for conferring baptism in the Latin Church are: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit".

All baptized persons who have not been confirmed and only they are capable of being confirmed. It is required, if the person has the use of reason, that he/she be suitably instructed, properly disposed and able to renew his/her baptismal promises (canon 889).

Anyone wishing to have their child baptized are asked to attend mass on Sundays and obtain a baptism package from the pastor or associate.

The Sacrament of Confirmation

Confirmation

In the Archdiocese of Toronto, the Cardinal Archbishop has recently delegated authority to pastors to confirm their parishioners due to the large size of the diocese and to enable young people to be confirmed on or close to the Feast of Pentecost.

Sponsors for this sacrament are ideally, the same persons who served as one’s baptismal sponsors. They are intended to be models of faith and so must be Confirmed themselves, be practising their faith, and be mature enough (usually sixteen years or older) to carry out the role of sponsor. A sponsor can be either male or female. Parents cannot be sponsors for their own children (canons 874 and 893).

Young people in the Archdiocese of Toronto are ordinarily Confirmed in their grade eight year. This applies as well to children of catechetical age (7 to 14 years) who were not baptized as infants but as young children.

The Sacrament of Eucharist

Eucharist

If from the beginning Christians have celebrated the Eucharist and in a form whose substance has not changed despite the great diversity of times and liturgies, it is because we know ourselves to be bound by the command the Lord gave on the eve of his Passion: "Do this in remembrance of me."

We carry out this command of the Lord by celebrating the memorial of his sacrifice. In so doing, we offer to the Father what he has himself given us: the gifts of his creation, bread and wine which, by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ, have become the body and blood of Christ. Christ is thus really and mysteriously made present.

We must therefore consider the Eucharist as: thanksgiving and praise to the Father; the sacrificial memorial of Christ and his Body; the presence of Christ by the power of his word and of his Spirit.

The decision concerning an individual child’s readiness to receive First Communion rests in the first place with the child’s parents in consultation with the child’s parish priest and teacher(s). However, it is the duty of the parish priest to see to it that children who have not yet reached the use of reason, or whom he has judged to be insufficiently prepared, do not come to Holy Communion (canon 914).

Adequate preparation (in the Archdiocese of Toronto) is understood to be the successful completion of the initial preparation for this sacrament (either in a Catholic school or in a parish) and of the immediate preparation provided by the parish for all First Communion candidates (e.g. enrolment of all candidates for First Eucharist and, where these exist, additional classes). (Norms for Sacramental Preparation, Archdiocese of Toronto, 76)

Registration for first communion takes place in the months of September/October either in school or at the parish office.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation

Reconciliation

The church encourages church goers to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance at least monthly throughout our lifetime so that we can benefit from the graces obtained through reception of this sacrament.

This sacrament reconciles us with God and joins us to him in intimate friendship. It also reconciles us with the Church and revitalizes her life which we have weakened by our sin.

Reconciliation is available on Saturday afternoons from 3.45 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. or by appointment with the pastor or associate.

The Sacrament of Matrimony

Matrimony

In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholics normally takes place during Mass because of the connection of all the sacraments with the death and resurrection of Christ.

The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent. The Church holds "the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that ‘makes the marriage’" (Catechism,1626). If there is no true consent, there is no marriage.

A couple wishing to marry should contact their parish priest one year prior to the anticipated date of the wedding. Couples are required to engage in a marriage preparation process provided or arranged by the parish. Such preparation allows the couple to come to a deeper knowledge of each other and of the sacrament they will receive, including the reasons for its indissolubility.

Your Wedding Music

During this time of preparation for your joyous celebration of the sacrament of marriage, we wish to help you to plan the music for your wedding liturgy. Like all of the Church's sacramental celebrations, the wedding liturgy directs our hearts and minds to the praise and glory of God. The music must thus be chosen with care, according to sound liturgical principles. The guidelines that we use to select music for marriage are the same as those that we use for the Sunday Eucharist. The information below provides the preliminary guidelines for choosing music for your wedding liturgy.

Where Do We Begin?

We recommend that you discuss music with your parish priest when you first meet with him about your wedding. He can answer your initial questions and inform you of any parish policy regarding wedding music and the use of musicians other than your parish music leaders. He can also give you the name(s) of parish music leaders who will help you to choose the music for your wedding, as they are familiar with both the policies and the musical repertoire of your own parish. They will also assist you in securing musicians and a cantor.

It is very important that you know the parish policy about music and musicians before you choose music or hire musicians.

Why Music at Weddings?

Music is one of the finest expressions of joy that comes from the heart. It speaks a language that is understood by all cultures and traditions. Music:

Unites a people of faith in praise and thanksgiving to God, who touches our lives in so many wonderful ways. Fosters the ecclesial dimension of a celebration, bonding individuals into a community, heightening their sense of worshipping as a people, the people of God. Unity of voices brings about unity of hearts. Helps people to express with more meaning and conviction the words of the liturgy especially the acclamations such as 'Alleluia' or 'Amen'.

Gives deeper meaning to prayer: to sing well is to pray twice.

By choosing to be married in the Church, you are expressing your desire for a sacred and sacramental celebration of your vows of mutual and lasting fidelity. The music that you choose should lift the congregation's hearts in praise and thanksgiving for this joyful and holy beginning of your lives together.

Music for Worship

It is important to keep in mind that your wedding music is first and foremost prayer; it is worship of God. For this reason, secular music, however expressive of love, is not used in Catholic wedding liturgies. A document published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops notes:

"There are very deeply religious songs which have a "secular" origin, and many so called "religious" songs are trashy and sentimental. What is being brought to expression in a wedding liturgy is the mystery of human love as a covenant relationship…Songs which express the religious dimension of love explicitly, of course, have pride of choice. Songs which imply this religious dimension are also suitable. But a song which denies this dimension either explicitly or implicitly must be avoided at all costs, for it belies the mystery: it is a falsehood in liturgy."

If you are unsure of the origin or context of a particular piece of music, your parish music leader(s) will be able to help you. Secondly, the selection and arrangements of music in the wedding liturgy should respect the role of the assembly as full, active participants in the liturgy. The music chosen should enable the believing community to express the faith of the universal Church. Your parish music leaders will help you to select music that will foster this expression. The music chosen for the wedding liturgy should be familiar to the people of the church where the celebration takes place, and familiar to those attending the wedding. Be sure to inform your music leader if your wedding involves another religion or Christian denomination so that music may be chosen from a common repertoire. The primary resource for your wedding music is normally your parish hymnal; if you choose something that is not in the hymnal, a music programme should be provided so that the assembly will be able to participate.

The essential rite of this sacrament for all three degrees consists in the bishop’s imposition of hands on the head of the ordained and his specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry to which the candidate is being ordained. It is desirable that the ceremony take place within the Eucharistic liturgy and that as many of the faithful as possible take part.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders

Holy Orders

If you wish more information on the priesthood or assistance with discerning whether or not God is calling you to this vocation, contact the Parish Office or the Rector, Serra House, 226A St. George St., Toronto, Ont., M5R 2N5. Phone: 416-968-0997.

If you wish information concerning the permanent diaconate, contact the Catholic Pastoral Centre, 1155 Yonge St., Toronto, Ont., M4T 1W2. Phone: 416-934-0606, ext. 304.

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick

The sacrament of the sick is given to those who suffer from serious illness or infirmity and is not only for those at the point of death. It is a continuation of the work of Christ who was moved by the suffering of people. Sickness also unites us to the redemptive work of Christ. Through this sacrament we are strengthened, our sins are forgiven, health restored, we receive peace and courage and we are prepared for passing over to eternal life.

The sacrament can be administered just prior to a serious operation and can be repeated if a person’s condition worsens or if they recover from illness and become sick again. It is particularly applicable for the elderly whose frailty becomes pronounced.

The sacrament can be administered by a priest or bishop either in the family home, a hospital or church for a single person or group of persons. As far as possible it should be a communal celebration where the sick are surrounded by family and church members through their prayers and presence.

At all hospitals in the archdiocese there are assigned priest chaplains who are available to administer the sacrament. One may also request a visit from your pastor or associate once the person is a member of the parish. Please contact the parish office.