Encounters in faith
Click for the special ways God offers belonging and community in the Church (our sacramental life).
While God is present in our hearts, in our world, in all cultures and religions, and in the life of our Church, Catholics believe there are a number of special ways of experiencing God. These are called sacraments and are deep encounters in faith.
- Isn't it wonderful to belong? Citizenship recognises our attachment to a particular country through either birth or naturalisation. It entitles us to enjoy certain benefits and also comes with responsibilities.
- What about belonging to God? Jesus Christ brings the wonderful message that God loves us from the moment we enter this world.
- It is great to enjoy this relationship of love just like we can enjoy living in a country without being a citizen. Yet at some stage, we may seek to formalise our commitment.
- A Christian is one who desires to respond to God's free offer of love and surrender their life to God's care. While we can do this in our own hearts, Jesus Christ invites us to be baptised. Indeed, this is Jesus' final words to his disciples in Matthew's account: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Matt 28:19)
- Baptism formalises our membership in the community of God's love, the Church. Indeed, we say that for those to whom the Gospel is proclaimed, and who are able to ask for the Sacrament that baptism is necessary for salvation. But we also believe that God is not bound by the sacraments and we trust in the mercy of God.
- To be baptised literally means to be "plunged." Have you ever plunged into something? There is an element of risk, of adventure and of surrender. Baptism captures all these qualities. We no longer live for ourselves, but rather live in the Spirit of God. This Spirit also joins us to the Body of Christ, the Church, the People of God. Together with them we struggle to live in the way Jesus showed us.
- Baptism is the first of three initiation sacraments of the Catholic Church, the others being Eucharist and Confirmation.
- The Catholic Church addresses baptism of infants and baptism of adults differently. Each parish community has its particular practices and policies. If you have questions, contact the parish in which you reside.
- Baptism of Children - Ancient testimony regarding infant baptism dates back to the second century and actual practice may date back to apostolic times. It is a sacrament celebrated with the faithful of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism".
- A baptism can be performed by a bishop, priest or deacon. In cases of emergency or necessity, anyone can baptise.
- Baptism purifies one from sin, offers new and eternal life with God and is the first of the initiation rites into the Catholic Church. For more information or to arrange for a baptism of an infant or child, contact your local pastor.
- Baptism of Adults - Baptism of adults brings one's faith to maturity and recognises a conversion of heart which is divinely inspired. It welcomes a person into the Christian community.
- Adult baptism goes back to the very beginning of the Catholic tradition. The Second Vatican Council brought back into tradition the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA. This is a process of learning, worship, community life and prayer that leads up to one's baptism.
Jesus promised to send the Spirit to be our advocate and helper. At Pentecost this Spirit was poured out on the first believers, making them witnesses full of faith and courage. At Baptism the Holy Spirit comes upon us, and at Confirmation we are anointed in the strength of this Spirit to carry on Christ's mission.
The Spirit in us is the same Spirit who anointed Jesus to redeem the world and bring about the kingdom of the God the Father through loving service. The Holy Spirit and his gifts help us to live our baptismal promises, grow into the likeness of Christ, and share his mission. We are united with other Spirit-filled people in the Church, the Body of Christ. Together we spread the message of the Good News, we worship at the Eucharist, we support one another in community and we give service to those in need.
Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are called the sacraments of initiation. Through these sacraments we become members of the Catholic Church, a community of Spirit-filled people who have been saved by Christ and who witness Christ's love in the world. Discover how confirmation is a sacrament of mission and outreach.
The Eucharist is of course the source and summit of our Catholic faith. It is here that we partake of the Body and the Blood of Christ, and are made one through this holy communion. Find out more about what the Eucharist offers in healing and support.