The Sacraments are the avenues through which God mediates his mercy and himself to his people. They encompass the basics of the Christian life from initiation to identity, from healing to vocation, from food to mission.
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Joining the Catholic Church is not like signing up for a gym membership. For one thing, the gym does care if you use your membership, we do. The process of joining the Church is called RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. This, usually, year long process not only introduces a person to the fundamentals of the faith but also introduces him/her to the community in which he/she is about to become a member. The true rites that go with the process opens up the person to a life of faith and guides them through stages to that pivotal moment in which the person is brought into the life of God and made a member of His Church.
If you are interested in entry into the Catholic Church or simply want to ask about the process, have some questions, or arre intrigued by what we believe, contact Fr. Cody.
The Sacrament of Baptism is the way a person enters the Church and becomes one of God’s faithful people. Through the washing of water, the person is cleansed of sin, brought to new life in God, grafted into Christ, and enters life in the Christian community. This first and most important Sacrament begins one’s life as a Christian person and opens avenues into the other Sacraments and life with God. The Church has two different routes for those who are interested in Baptism: Infant baptism and Adult Baptism. Infant Baptism: Since Baptism is necessary for salvation and not limited to a personal choice, parents can make the choice for their children to become Christian while their children are still infants. The parents then promise to raise their child in the Church and teach them the ways of faith. If you are interested in having your child Baptized, set up an appointment with Fr. Cody and we will discuss the process of preparing for Baptism. For those who actively attend Mass and are involved with the parish, a series of six videos and a few meetings with Fr. Cody are the requirements for Baptism. For those not active in the Church, the preparation for Baptism is a great way to explore your faith and help you along the route to becoming Christian parents and helping your children to know our God. Adult Baptism: after the age of 7, a person is considered to have the ability to make their own choices. Thus the route towards baptism is different for adults than children. Adult baptism is the culmination of a series of rites called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). These rites are designed to help the person enter into the life of the believing community and explore the faith he/she is desiring to profess. If you are interested in being Baptized, set up an appointment to meet with Fr. Cody and we will discuss the route towards your baptism. This process usually requires some classes on the Catholic faith, meetings with the pastor and members of the community, and several rites that guide you along the process.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith; the eucharist is the consummation of our faith. During the Mass we come to know what Jesus did for us, represent the central events of his life, and learn to live as his followers. The central point of the Mass is the moment in which we eat the Body and drink the Blood of Jesus allowing God to enter our bodies. This meal provides us with the spiritual food necessary to continue our life of faith. For those children who are interested in receiving their first communion, see Fr. Cody. The route towards first communion is rather simple. If the child is involved in Religious Education classes and regularly attends Mass, the requirement is a series of six videos, 15 minutes of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and a few meetings with Fr. Cody. A child of any age can begin the process towards 1st Communion. Once the parents, the child, and the pastor agree that the child is ready, we will set a date for 1st Communion. For those who are not active in the Church or Religious Education classes, the process will be a little more involved. It is important for the child to understand the beauty of what he/she is to celebrate and to understand what he/she believes. For this reason the process will be tailored to the needs of that specific child.
The Sacrament of Confirmation seals the gifts from Baptism and completes the Sacraments of Initiation. Upon being sealed with the Sacred Chrism oil, the Spirit received at Baptism is now sealed in the person and that person becomes a full member of the Catholic Church. For those adults interested in Confirmation, see Fr. Cody for specifics on preparation for Confirmation. No specific classes exist for preparation neither is there a specific timeline. Whenever some is ready, we will begin the process of both educating the person on the teachings of the Church and preparing for the reception of the Sacrament. This can take place at any point in the year. For those high schoolers who are interested in Confirmation, the Diocese of Helena requires that the high schooler be active in Religious Education for two years prior to being Confirmed. The specific requirements of Holy Cross Church are two years of active participation in Religious Education, three meetings with Fr. Cody for preparation, evidence of involvement in the life of the parish, and a one-day retreat.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is our chance to hear and feel God’s forgiveness. Jesus came into the world, suffered, and died so that the sins of everyone may be forgiven. We know this on an intellectual level, but we are not simply people locked in our minds. The Sacrament of Reconciliation offers people the chance to say whatever sins he/she has committed in a completely confidential way and that person can not only know of God’s forgiveness but hear the words “you are forgiven.” Emphasizing the last point, if you are afraid of this Sacrament, rest assured the priest will help you to celebrate it well and the priest cannot under any circumstance say anything about what you said during your confession. For those preparing for 1st Communion, Confirmation, and Matrimony, it is highly recommended that you celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving the other Sacraments. If you have not been to Confession or have not received the Sacrament of Reconciliation before, contact Fr. Cody and he will help prepare you to receive this Sacrament.
Anointing of the Sick
Jesus came for several reasons: to bring people into the life of God (Baptism), to forgive the sins of the people (Sacrament of Reconciliation), to show his love for us (Marriage), and to bring healing to those who are sick (Anointing of the Sick). Many people view this Sacrament as for those who are dying or in danger of death. At one point it was called Last Rites or Extreme Union, which is reserved for those who are dying. Last Rites is a combination of three Sacraments: Anointing of the Sick, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Eucharist. Anointing of the Sick is for those who are ill and in need of God’s healing power. The Anointing of the Sick has three main parts: the reading of Scripture, the laying on of hands, and the anointing with oil. The oil, which covers and soothes the skin, represents Jesus' healing power covering the person and soothing their wounds. The laying on of hands represents the power of the Holy Spirit coming down upon the person. Through the Anointing of the Sick the sins of the person being anointed are forgiven. The Anointing of the Sick is for those who are sick. These situations include: chronic illnesses, mental illnesses, serious physical illnesses, surgeries, and old age. Whenever someone fits into one of these conditions, they generally qualify for receiving the Anointing of the Sick. A person can be anointed several times granted that they receive a new diagnosis, the chronic condition worsens or some other situation warrants another anointing. Please contact the parish office if you would like to receive the Anointing of the Sick.
God shows his love to us in many ways. Matrimony, marriage, is one specific expression of God’s love for us. Through the vows of the couple and their shared life, God shows his love for us and his fidelity to us in the visible expression of love and fidelity shared by the couple. Therefore marriage is not simply an institution but a Sacrament – a visible expression of God. For those who are interested in being married in the Catholic Church, contact Fr. Cody to begin the process. The process takes at least six months, so please plan in advance. The process of preparing for marriage is designed to allow the couple to work through some of the issues they may have in their life ahead, develop communication skills, to meet other married couples who can journey with them, and to understand the beauty of the Sacrament they are about to receive. The marriage preparation can be catered to the needs of the couple.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders is ordered towards sacrifice and service. The role of the priest is to offer the sacrifices on behalf of the people of God and act as intermediary between the People of God and God. The priest as a consecrated person points people to the heavenly reality to which he signifies through giving his life for the people of God and through celibacy. The Sacrament of Holy Orders contains three tiers: deacons, priests, and bishops. Bishops contain the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Similar to marriage, this Sacraments is ordered toward the service of God’s people. Deacons, priests, and bishops consecrate their lives to the service of God’s people through the preaching of the Word, the celebration of the Sacraments, and the ministry of pastoral service. The primary ministry of deacons is service and word. This includes serving at Mass, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, baptisms, funerals, and weddings. Priestly ministry includes everything a deacon does with the inclusion of celebrating Mass, hearing confession and the forgiveness of sins. Bishops are responsible for shepherding a diocese. The additional Sacrament that a bishop can celebrate is the ordination of deacon, priest, or bishop. The Sacrament of Holy Orders is directed towards service of God’s people. If you feel called to the deaconate or priesthood, please contact your pastor or the vocation director for the Diocese. The processes of understanding and living a call to this form of life and ministry takes time and prayer.