ABOUT THE SACRAMENTS
“The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions” (Catechism #1131).
We can summarize that important definition of the Sacraments from the Catechism of the Catholic Church by simply saying: “A sacrament is visible sign instituted by Christ which effectively communicates the grace it signifies.”
But, to better understand even that definition, it is important to break down the important elements of a sacrament to help us understand what they are.
The sacraments have both visible and invisible elements.
Since the human person learns through the external senses, the sacraments employ sensible symbols to help us understand the deeper spiritual truth that they signify. For example, we use water in Baptism, oil in Confirmation, as well as bread and wine in the Eucharist.
The sacraments produce the grace they signify.
However, the sacraments are not just signs and symbols, but actually produce the grace that they signify. For example, the physical element used in Baptism is water, and just as water is often used to cleanse so water in Baptism doesn’t just signify cleansing but actually produce the grace that it signifies (i.e., cleansing the soul from original and personal sin). St. Thomas Aquinas sais that the sacraments achieve what they signify “ex opera operato” or “by the work worked.” By this, we mean that sacraments achieve what they achieve by virtue of the saving work of Christ accomplished once and for all. The sacraments are not contingent on the holiness of the minister.
The sacraments were instituted by Christ.
To this point, the Council of Trent (1600-1601) writes, “Adhering to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, to the apostolic traditions, and to the consensus . . . of the Fathers, we profess that the sacraments of the new law were . . . all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord."
The sacraments are the continuation of Christ’s work of redemption.
How do we have access to the what Christ did for us by His suffering, death, and resurrection? The answer is “by the sacraments.” The sacraments are the link between the Passion of Christ and our present needs on earth. They are channels by which His saving merits are conveyed to us.
THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS
“Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. the seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life:1 they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life” (Catechism #1210).
The Seven Sacraments are further categorized into three categories:
Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist
Sacraments of Healing: Penance and Anointing of the Sick
Sacraments of Service: Holy Orders and Matrimony
Baptism in Brief
“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission” (Catechism #1213).
“The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Catechism #1278).
“The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. By this very fact the person baptized is incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, and made a sharer in the priesthood of Christ” (Catechism #1279).
“Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized person for Christian worship. Because of the character Baptism cannot be repeated” (Catechism #1280).
Baptism at Saint John Vianney Parish
Congratulations on seeking Baptism! As a parish family, we rejoice as you or a loved one will become a member of the Catholic Church.
For children (ages 0-7), Baptisms are generally celebrated on the third Sunday of the month at 12:00 Noon. A Pre-Jordan Class for parents and godparents is a prerequisite for Baptism (unless the class has been taken within two years). The class will generally be held on the first Sunday of the month at 11:30 AM in the church hall.
In order to arrange for a Baptism and Class, contact the parish offices at email@example.com or 610-642-0938. We look forward to speaking with you!
For those seeking Baptism who older than 7 years of age, the Church asks for a period of formation before Baptism can be administered. In most cases, we call this period of formation “OCIA” or the “Order of Christian Initiation of Adults.” To find out more about the OCIA process, Please click here.
Confirmation in Brief
“Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds” (Catechism #1316).
“Confirmation, like Baptism, imprints a spiritual mark or indelible character on the Christian's soul; for this reason one can receive this sacrament only once in one's life” (Catechism #1317).
“The essential rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead of the baptized with sacred chrism), together with the laying on of the minister's hand and the words: "Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti" (Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.) in the Roman Rite” (Catechism #1320).
Confirmation at Saint John Vianney
In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Saint John Vianney, the Sacrament of Confirmation is typically celebrated during 7th grade. If your child is younger than 7th grade and has not been confirmed, we encourage you to visit our Parish Religious Education page to register or find out more information.
For those people or adults older than 7th grade, we encourage you to visit our OCIA page or contact our parish offices to find out more information on being confirmed later in life.
We welcome you and rejoice in your desire to receive the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
The Eucharist in Brief
Jesus said: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; . . . he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and . . . abides in me, and I in him" (Jn 6:51, 54, 56).
“The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church's life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church” (Catechism #1407).
“The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Passover, that is, of the work of salvation accomplished by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, a work made present by the liturgical action” (Catechism #1409).
“It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. and it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice” (Catechism #1410).
“By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity” (Catechism #1413).
“Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant's union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ” (Catechism #1416).
The Eucharist at Saint John Vianney
As stated in the Catechism, we believe that the most important thing that we do as a parish community is to gather together to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries of the Eucharist. We invite you to join us! Please visit our worship page to view our Mass schedule.
The Sacrament of First Holy Communion is typically received for the first time in Second Grade. If you would like to register your child for first or second-grade religious education, please visit here.
Those who have not received the Sacrament of the Eucharist are encouraged to contact the Parish Offices for information on the process. Jesus desires to nourish you with His Body and Blood and is inviting you to into a deeper relationship with Him.
Penance in Brief
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, Jesus showed himself to his apostles. He breathed on them, and said to them: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20:19, 22-23).
“The forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism is conferred by a particular sacrament called the sacrament of conversion, confession, penance, or reconciliation” (Catechism #1486).
“The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God's mercy” (Catechism #1490).
“The sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of the penitent and the priest's absolution. the penitent's acts are repentance, confession or disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to make reparation and do works of reparation” (Catechism #1491)
“Only priests who have received the faculty of absolving from the authority of the Church can forgive sins in the name of Christ” (Catechism #1495).
The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
- reconciliation with the Church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle (Catechism #1496).
Penance at Saint John Vianney
The Sacrament of Penance is typically received for the first time in Second Grade. If you would like to register your child for first or second-grade religious education, please visit here.
Those who have not received the Sacrament of Penance are encouraged to contact the Parish Offices for information on how to receive. The arms of God, our Father, are outstretched, wanting to welcome you home in mercy through the Sacrament of Penance! As St. Augustine said, “there is no saint who does not have a past nor a sinner who does not have a future!”
The Sacrament of Penance is available every Saturday from 4:15 PM - 4:45 PM in the church. If this time does not work for your schedule, we encourage you to contact the parish offices to set up an appointment for Penance with the priest.
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
Anointing of the Sick in Brief
"Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (Jas 5:14-15).
“The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick has as its purpose the conferral of a special grace on the Christian experiencing the difficulties inherent in the condition of grave illness or old age” (Catechism #1527).
“The proper time for receiving this holy anointing has certainly arrived when the believer begins to be in danger of death because of illness or old age” (Catechism #1528).
“Each time a Christian falls seriously ill, he may receive the Anointing of the Sick, and also when, after he has received it, the illness worsens” (Catechism #1529).
“The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects:
- the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church;
- the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age;
- the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of Penance;
- the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul;
- the preparation for passing over to eternal life” (Catechism #1532).
Anointing of the Sick at Saint John Vianney
You are not alone in your suffering! Your parish family is here to help, support, and pray for you. If you would like to receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, whether at home, in a hospital, or in a nursing home, please contact the Parish Offices at 610-642-0938 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time for the priest to visit you.
Saint John Vianney also offers spiritual and pastoral support for those who are too sick or elderly to make it to Mass. If you would like to receive Holy Communion at home or wherever you may be, please contact the Parish Office. We are happy to bring you our Lord Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament and to spend time with you.
Matrimony in Brief
St. Paul said: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church.... This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church" (Eph 5:25, 32).
“The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament” (Catechism #1660).
The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life” (Catechism #1661).
“Since marriage establishes the couple in a public state of life in the Church, it is fitting that its celebration be public, in the framework of a liturgical celebration, before the priest (or a witness authorized by the Church), the witnesses, and the assembly of the faithful” (Catechism #1663).
“Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage” (Catechism #1664).
“The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called "the domestic church," a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” (Catechism #1666).
Weddings at Saint John Vianney
We congratulate and welcome those who are preparing for their nuptial celebration! This is a joyful moment in your life and we are happy to accompany you in this exciting and important time.
Generally, weddings are scheduled in our beautiful Church at Saint John Vianney on Fridays at 4:00 PM or Saturdays either at 12:30 PM or 2:30 PM. The Archdiocese requires that couples intending to marry contact the Parish at least six months before the wedding date. If you would like more information or to schedule a wedding and begin making preparations, please contact the parish offices at email@example.com or 610-642-0938.
Holy Orders in Brief
St. Paul said to his disciple Timothy: "I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Tim 1:6), and "If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task." (1 Tim 3:1) To Titus he said: "This is why I left you in Crete, that you amend what was defective, and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you" (Titus 1:5).
“The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the "common priesthood of the faithful." Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community” (Catechism #1591).
“The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching (munus docendi), divine worship (munus liturgicum) and pastoral governance (munus regendi)” (Catechism #1592).
“Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred and exercised in three degrees: that of bishops, that of presbyters, and that of deacons. the ministries conferred by ordination are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church: without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church” (Catechism #1593).
Holy Orders at Saint John Vianney
As a parish community, we encourage all our young men and women to consider a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. We know that it can be very difficult to hear the voice of God calling you to a life of service to the Church, but God will never give you a mission without also giving you the grace to accomplish it.
If you are considering a priestly or religious vocation, we invite you to contact the parish offices so that we can help you to hear God’s voice more clearly.
As a parish community, let us continue to pray as a parish community for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life!
O God, Father of all Mercies,
Provider of a bountiful Harvest,
send Your Graces upon those
You have called to gather the fruits of Your labor;
preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you.
Open the hearts of Your children
that they may discern Your Holy Will;
inspire in them a love and desire to surrender themselves
to serving others in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ.
Teach all Your faithful to follow their respective paths in life
guided by Your Divine Word and Truth.
Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,
all the Angels, and Saints, humbly hear our prayers
and grant Your Church's needs, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.