|in the Catholic Church of the Americas
The Church is the fundamental sacrament of God’s promise and deliverance of the
Reign of God in Jesus Christ. It is the “sacrament of universal salvation”. The
sacraments of Eucharist, Baptism, Chrismation, Penance, Anointing of the Sick,
Marriage, and Holy Orders are acts of God, but also act of the Church in that they are
sacraments is meant to be a working document with which we of the Catholic Church
We as a church have much to do and if we approach this work with hope, faith and
charity, then there will be room for the Holy Spirit to guide us all.
St. Augustine was the theologian who gave us the first technical definition of a
sacrament as a sign of grace. This definition continued until St. Thomas Aquinas they
signify. According to Aquinas the purpose of a sign is to instruct and to call to mind
the reality that it signifies. In using the sign, we, from our side, express our faith in the
unseen reality underneath the sign. Sacraments are then signs that proclaim our
faith. Also, sacraments express our worship, our unity, and Christ’s presence among
us as those who proclaim the Gospel. The sacraments signify, celebrate, and effect
what God is, in a sense, doing everywhere and for all. But, the sacraments also
mandate and equip specific members of the human community to be the corporate
sign and instrument of God’s presence and saving activity in Christ. Sacraments,
then, establish a relationship ultimately with God and with Christ but immediately with
the Church. Thus, in every sacrament there is the sign or ritual, grace or immediate
effect and lasting effect that disposes the recipient to grace.
The sacraments not only signify and communicate grace for the recipient, but they also disclose
something fundamental about the Church that celebrates them. Thus baptism incorporates one
into the Church, associates one with the death and resurrection of Christ unto new life, effects a
forgiveness of sins, and orients one to the worship of God and the wider mission of the Church. In
baptizing, the Church reveals itself to itself and to the rest of the world primarily as a community, the
Body of Christ, and only secondarily as an institution. The Church identifies itself with the
sufferings and death of Christ and so points the way to a share in His Resurrection and Liturgy for
was administered as close to baptism as possible. However, because of space and time
the sacrament of Chrismation became separated from baptism and episcopal visits these
sacrament after the fact of its separation from the baptismal rite. Today, there is a
movement to rejoin the sacraments into one rite where it essentially belongs. The
Catholic Church of the Americas places Chrismation with Baptism and the ordinary
minister of this sacrament is the presbyter.
As a continuation and/or ratification of the Christian’s baptismal commitment, Chrismation expresses the essential missionary character of the
Church and its nature as the Temple of the Holy Spirit. It is a community called to manifest “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of
Confirmation). It is a principal moment when the Church reveals itself to itself and to the rest of the world as a particular kind of community, filled
with the Holy Spirit and committed to the Spirit’s release for the transformation of the world of creation.
effectively makes it present at the time of remembrance. This comes out of the Jewish
remembrance of their Passover meal. When our Jewish sisters and brothers celebrate the from
slavery. In the same way, we celebrate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ and we are
present there through the sacred action of anamnesis. There is only one Eucharist and we enter
into that Eucharist when we gather as a community to celebrate the mysteries.
The Eucharist, also a sacrament of initiation, establishes the communion that exists not only
between the Church and Christ but also within the Church. It is an eschatological moment when
the Church celebrates what has happened before, but also what will come to happen when the
Church enters into its fullness and the Reign of God is fulfilled in its entirety. Christ’s presence in
the Eucharist is the presence not only of the Crucified and Risen One, but also the presence of the
One Who is to come.
Transubstantiation was first used at the Fourth Lateran Council to explain how Christ was present in the consecrated species. This belief holds
that the substance of bread and wine is changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. The Second Vatican Council affirmed this, but the council
also taught that the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not confined to the consecrated elements of bread and wine. Christ is present first in the
is present in the Sacred Scripture that is proclaimed. Finally, Christ is present in the sacred species themselves (Constitution on the Sacred our
the Christian community in that being human in nature we are prone to sin and vulnerable to illness and ultimately death. The call to Christian
existence is a call to perfection, and because of our weaknesses the Church offers sacraments that help us to realize our potential in the fullness of
God’s reign in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Sacrament of the Sick. The Church celebrates these sacraments as a sign of God’s and of
Christ’s abiding healing power.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is for those who are in communion with the Church, and are in
relationship with God and Christ, and because of weakness have severed their relationship with
others and God. The purpose of this sacrament is to heal and restore the separated member to
full communion with the Church so that that member might fully participate in the life and
mission of the Church. The minister functions as a healer and proclaimer of God’s word in
forwarding the message of salvation through laying on of hands and the words of absolution.
We, in the Catholic Church of the Americas, do celebrate auricular confession and general
“The celebration of this sacrament is thus always an act in which the Church proclaims its faith,
gives thanks to God for the freedom with which Christ has made us free, and offers its life as a
spiritual sacrifice in praise of God’s glory, as it hastens to meet the Lord Jesus” (Introduction to
the new Rite, n.7).
Sacrament of the Sick
“Are there any sick among you? They should ask for the presbyters of the church. They in turn
uttered in faith will reclaim those who are ill, and the Lord will restore them to health. If they have
committed any sins, forgiveness will be theirs. Declare your sins to one another, and pray for one
Although this passage of Scripture does not “prove” the sacramentality of the Anointing of the Sick,
it does indicate that there was such a practice in the early Church, that it required the presence of
some leader of the community, that it involved prayers, anointing, and the forgiveness of sins, and
that its purpose was the restoration of the sick member not only to physical health but also to
spiritual health within the community of faith.
The present rite acknowledges that sickness prevents us from fulfilling our role in human society
and in the Church. On the other hand, the sick person participates in the redemptive sufferings of
Christ and provides the Church with a reminder of higher things and of the limitations of human life.
The sacrament provides the grace of the Holy Spirit, heightens trust in God, strengthens us against
temptation and anxiety, and may even restore physical health. The sacrament may also provide
forgiveness of sins, as a compliment to the sacrament of reconciliation. Anointing is not just for the
dying but for anyone who is ill in a variety of ways.
The Church discloses itself in this sacrament as the community of those who are on pilgrimage to the reign of God, with eschatological faith and time
a community in need of healing, a community subject to physical as well as spiritual infirmities.
|Sacraments of Vocation and Commitment
of Christ, as the sign that God is irrevocably committed to the human community in and through Christ. The
new community signified and effected by marriage is also a sign of what the Church is, a community of love,
as the Church comes into being at various levels of Christian koinonia.
The Catholic Church of the Americas sees the sacrament as a personal consent to a union that ideally will
last until death. In this sacrament “authentic married love is taken up into divine love and is ruled and
enriched by the redemptive power of Christ and the salvific action of the Church” (Pastoral Constitution on
and gracious to each other in fulfillment of their marriage covenant, so is the whole Church called to be
faithful to its covenant with God in Christ. As a sacrament, it is an act of worship, an expression of faith, a
sign of the Church’s unity, a mode of Christ’s presence. The sacrament involves the good of the whole
person in that it can enrich the expressions of body and mind with a unique dignity that is reflected in God’s
Church. Yet, like our Eastern brothers and sisters, we recognize that there are weaknesses in the human
situation and therefore we do witness the marriages of those who have been divorced.
All baptized Christians participate in some way in the priesthood of Christ even though the priesthood of ordination and priesthood of baptism differ is
essence and not only by degree. Still, all the baptized are related in one form or another to the priesthood of Christ. The ministerial priesthood of
Bishops are successors to the college of the Apostles and are the pastors of their respective dioceses. They are to oversee their diocese with
prudence, love, and stewardship. They are the principal teacher, liturgist, and guardian of the deposit of faith entrusted to the universal Church.
They are to be the example of Christ to their flock and they are to call people to ordination for the service of the Church in the name of the Church.
They are to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries for the building of the community of faith and for the sake of God’s Reign. They are to offer pardon on
behalf of Christ and his Church, they are to pray daily and practice what they teach and preach.
exception of ordaining other clergy. They are, in other words,
coworkers with the bishop.
The Diaconate is a ministry of service that reflects the servanthood
of Christ. Deacons may baptize, witness marriages, preach, preside
at communion services, and assist the poor and needy.
Through the Church, the Catholic Church of the Americas offers the
opportunity for ordained ministry to all, admitting men and women to
orientation, race, ethnicity, or physical ability.
sacrament and acts according to its sacramental nature is the celebration of the sacraments themselves. But, in order for this to take place the
through Orders that the whole sacramental reality of the Church is expressed.
The good News of the Reign of God is preached, the Eucharist is celebrated, the death and resurrection of Christ are made real and effective for
individuals in Baptism, sins are forgiven, the sick are ministered to and healed, human love is sanctified, the Holy Spirit is poured forth, and the
mediating priestly work of Christ is continued.