Sacraments are vital expressions of who we are as Catholic Christians. Each time we receive a Sacrament we respond in a deeper way to Jesus’ call to discipleship. Since Sacraments are so important to us, we take them very seriously and prepare to receive them thoughtfully and thoroughly. All Sacraments are community events and this is reflected in the preparation and celebration of the Sacraments.
Sacraments of Initiation - Introduction
All Sacraments are an encounter with Christ, who is Himself the original Sacrament. Young people and adults alike undergo periods of preparation before encountering Christ in the Sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist) and Reconciliation (one of the two sacraments of healing, the second being the anointing of the sick) for the first time.
Baptism is the Sacrament of spiritual rebirth. Through the symbolic action of washing with water and the use of appropriate ritual words, the baptised person is cleansed of all sins and made part of the Mystical Body of Christ, receiving the graces of the supernatural life.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we celebrate God's forgiving and healing love. In preparing children to celebrate the Sacrament for the first time we have the wonderful opportunity to open them to the joy of God's unconditional love and mercy.
If there is one mystery of faith around which the life of a Catholic and their Church revolves, it is the Eucharist. The Eucharist (from the Greek eucharistia, "thanksgiving") is the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, in which He is present under the forms of bread and wine offering Himself in the Sacrifice of the Mass and giving Himself as spiritual food to the faithful. The appointed words of consecration must be used by a priest in order for the change known as "transubstantiation" to take place, in which the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. The reception of the Blessed Eucharist for the first time in a child's life is a wonderful moment.
In the Archdiocese of Birmingham the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation generally occurs in Year 6, in young people aged 10-11. Confirmation completes the Sacraments of initiation for our young people. The challenge is to help our young people to recognise and to fruitfully draw on the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they grow into adult Christians.