The seven Sacraments
The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments. Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation are the three Sacraments of Initiation.
The Sacraments of Healing are: Reconciliation & Anointing of the Sick.
The Sacraments of Service are: Holy Orders & Matrimony
The Sacrament of Baptism is often called "The door of the Church", because it is the first of the seven sacraments not only in time (since most Catholics receive it as infants) but in priority, since the reception of the other sacraments depends on it. It is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the other two being the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
Once baptized, a person becomes a member of the Church. Traditionally, the rite (or ceremony) of baptism was held outside the doors of the main part of the church, to signify this fact. Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel.
It’s a big occasion for Catholic families. The day of Baptism is one filled with family, friends, and feasting after the sacred event has taken place in church.
Note: Parents should be active parishioners three months prior to seeking a date
for their child's baptism. Parents must also attend one baptismal preparation
classes. Please call the rectory office (810.664.8594) for details.
Communion (The Eucharist):
First Holy Communion, is a ceremony of mostly the Latin (Roman) Rite of the Catholic Church. It is the colloquial name for a person's first reception of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and in Roman Catholic churches occurs typically at age seven or eight.
When boys and girls make their First Holy Communion (usually in second grade), it’s a big occasion for Catholic families. Like their Baptism, the day of First Communion is one filled with family, friends, and feasting after the sacred event has taken place in church. Girls typically wear white gowns and veils and often look like little brides, and boys wear their Sunday best or new suits and ties bought for the occasion.
The children are generally too young to appreciate all the theological refinements, but as long as they know and believe that it’s not bread or wine they’re receiving but the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, then they are old enough to take Holy Communion.
By the sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.
Many people think of the laying on of hands, which signifies the descent of the Holy Spirit, as the central act in the Sacrament of Confirmation. The essential element, however, is the anointing of the confirmand (the person being confirmed) with chrism (an aromatic oil that has been consecrated by a bishop, accompanied by the words "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit". This seal is a consecration, representing the safeguarding by the Holy Spirit of the graces conferred on the Christian at Baptism.
Each bishop is a successor to the apostles, upon whom the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost—the first Confirmation. The Acts of the Apostles mentions the apostles imparting the Holy Spirit to believers by the laying on of hands (see, for example, Acts 8:15-17 and 19:6). Those being confirmed are in a direct line in the laying on of hands reaching all the way back to the original apostles.
Please contact our Director of Religious Education Kenlin Botello if you wish to schedule classes for the Confirmation.
Kenlin can be reached at 810.664.0808.
In addition to Immaculate Conception Church's Confirmation Mass, at the Easter Vigil, the bishop presides over a special liturgy at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament (Detroit) to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation for those adults who have not yet been confirmed. Baptized Catholics who have received Eucharist and are interested in being prepared for confirmation, are asked to contact our office: 810.664.8594
Sacrament of Reconciliation
Three names are commonly used interchangeably for the Sacrament in which sins are forgiven. The Sacrament is called “Confession” because the penitent makes a verbal confession of his or her particular sins. It is called “Penance” from another element of the Sacrament – the good action that the priest asks the penitent to perform as a token of his or her sincerity, and as a way to bring some good into the world in reparation for the sin committed. And finally, “Reconciliation” refers to the final effect of the Sacrament: the penitent is reconciled with God and the Church.
It is no exaggeration to say that the very reason that Jesus Christ came into the world was for reconciliation: to reconcile us to the Father and to one another. The very first message in the New Testament, on the lips of John the Baptist, was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2) After the death of John the Baptist, this message was taken up by the Lord Jesus. During His life on earth, the Lord forgave the sins of various people He encountered. And after His Resurrection, he told His Apostles to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins in His name to all the nations. (Luke 24:47)
This sacrament is founded on the clear instruction of the Lord. After His Resurrection, the Lord appeared to His Apostles, breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:22-23)
Christ instituted the Sacraments as He did because we are physical creatures living in a visible world. We know by seeing and hearing. All of the Sacraments involve an actual encounter with a person who speaks and acts in the name of Christ (in most of the Sacraments, a priest) so that we can know what is happening. In most of the Sacraments, no one objects to that. For example, no parent ever wants to internally ask God to give their new child the grace of rebirth; they want the priest and the water and the words, because then they know their child has been baptized.
Only in regard to Reconciliation are people inclined to become very “spiritual” and want everything to be internal, and only between them and God. This is on account of our pride – which is also the root of every sin. Humility is the way back to God; and the confessional is a great school of humility. This sacrament is a wonderful gift from Jesus to us. Confessing out loud to another is highly cathartic, and the counseling one receives from a priest can be priceless.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most unique and beautiful aspects of Catholicism. Jesus Christ, in His abundant love and mercy, established the Sacrament of Confession, so that we as sinners can obtain forgiveness for our sins and reconcile with God and the Church. The sacrament “washes us clean,” and renews us in Christ.
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, 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’” (John 20:21-23).
Experience peace and love
If you haven’t been to Confession in a while, the Catholic Church wants to welcome you back, and invites you to participate in this beautiful sacrament of healing. Take a step in faith. You’ll be surprised about how free you feel after taking part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So many Catholics describe incredible feelings of peace, joy, relief, and love that they never expected. Jesus is calling you to experience His mercy in this way too.
- Confession helps us to better “know thyself.”
St. Augustine and countless other saints and doctors of the Church talk about the importance of knowing ourselves well. Through coming to know ourselves better, we realized how fallen we are, and how badly we need God’s help and grace to get through life. Frequent Confession helps remind us to rely on God to help rid us of our sins.
2. Confession helps us overcome vice.
The grace we receive from the Sacrament of Confession helps us combat our faults and failings and break our habits of vice much more easily and expediently than we could otherwise do without the sacramental grace.
3. Confession brings us peace.
Guilt from the sins we commit can make us feel all mixed up inside and cause us to lose our peace and joy. When we hear God’s forgiving words to us from the lips of the priest in Confession, a burden is lifted off our shoulders and we can again feel the peace of heart and soul that comes from being in a good relationship with God.
4. Confession helps us become more saintly, more like Jesus.
Jesus was perfectly humble, perfectly generous, perfectly patient, perfectly loving—perfectly everything! Don’t you wish you could be as humble, generous, patient, and loving as Jesus? Saints throughout history have felt that way too, and they have frequented the Sacrament of Reconciliation to help transform them into people who are more like Christ. Little images of Christ—that’s what saints are!
5. Confession makes our will stronger.
Every time we experience the Sacrament of Confession, God strengthens our will and our self-control to be able to resist the temptations that confront us in our lives. We become more resolute to follow God’s will and not our own whims.
Of course, the list of benefits of the Sacrament of Confession goes on and on! But you have to go to reap the benefits! Going to Confession regularly will truly change your life. What’s keeping you from Reconciliation?
The words of absolution in the Confessional are truly beautiful: “I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus is waiting to forgive you—all you have to do is ask! Don’t miss out any longer on the healing power of Confession.
Why do I have to confess to a priest?
Confession is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ providing a means for those
who fall into sin after Baptism to be restored into God's grace. It involves the
admission of one's sins made to a duly approved Priest in order to obtain
Confession is called the "sacrament of Penance" as:
the recipient must be truly repentant of his sins,
be determined to try to avoid this sin in the future, and
be willing to make reparations as appropriate with any/all injured parties.
Only God can forgive sin. The sacrament of Penance is the way which God has
chosen to administer that forgiveness. Jesus exercised the power to forgive sins
"that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mt
8:6). And Jesus to the Apostles in Jn 20:21-23 reads: "... As the Father has sent Me, so
I send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them:
'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins
you retain are retained." Note that this power bestowed upon the Apostles is
different than the power previously given Peter of binding and loosing, which is the
broad power in matters of faith and morals; this power is specific to sin. Knowing
that the Apostles, mere men, were incapable of handling such a responsibility on
their own power, Jesus Christ gave them a special communication with the Holy
Spirit (pneuma) for this special work. In all of the Bible, there are only two instances
where God breathed on man, the other was when He gave man a living soul in Gen
2:7 - thus emphasizing the importance of the sacrament of Penance. And as this
power was bestowed upon the Apostles, it was to be inherited by their successors,
continuing His presence throughout time (Mt 28:19-20). Yes, Jesus is the one
Mediator, but that does not deny Him from choosing others to assist Him in his
The Apostles certainly understood what Jesus Christ had commissioned them
to do. Paul, in the name of Jesus, exercised the power of binding and loosing from
sin and the effects of sin in the case of the incestuous Corinthian. In 1 Cor 3, Paul
says: "I have already judged him that hath done so"; and in 2 Cor 2:10, Paul justifies
his forgiveness of the repentant man by saying "If I have pardoned anything, I have
done it in the person of Christ". Further, in 2 Cor 5:18, Paul writes: "All this is from
God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of
reconciliation". And in 2 Cor 5:20, Paul confirms "So we are ambassadors for Christ."
One Mediator redeemed us, Jesus Christ. The Catholic Priest, in the sacrament of
Penance does not redeem us; he is but an agent of the one Mediator, assigned and
empowered by the one Mediator. Confession is but one way of applying the mediation of Christ to men - Baptism is another. A prominent protestant.
A priest once mentioned that the loneliest time of his week was Saturday afternoon when he sat in the confessional waiting for parishioners to show up. Although his comment was humorous, it points to a real problem. And here are some reasons many of us avoid this sacrament:
- We may be afraid of looking foolish because we haven’t been to confession in a long time—and are uncertain about what to do. If you fall into this category, you can ask your confessor to guide you.
- We may have bought into the notion that we can confess our wrongdoings directly to God—and thus don’t need this sacrament. This belief goes against Catholic teaching, however, and it is not scriptural. Christ instituted the sacrament of reconciliation when he said to his apostles, the forerunners of today’s priests and bishops: “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven. Whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”
- We’re uncertain about what to confess. One solution is getting a good examination-of-conscience guide to help us discern our sins. Many parishes provide these guides in the narthex, or you can ask a priest or deacon to suggest one. An excellent one for teens can be purchased at the Life Teen website: http://store.lifeteen.com/comeclean.aspx. A good examination of conscience for adults can be found online following my column at the Georgia Bulletin website.
- We are embarrassed to mention our sins to another person. This is a common feeling because it is hard to admit our failures out loud. Praying ahead of time for the grace to be honest and courageous will help. It also helps to realize that the priest acts in persona Christi, which means that he is standing in for Jesus Christ, who knows our hearts so well.
- Many people have been taught there is no need to confess venial sins, and they have not committed any mortal sins—so they don’t go to confession. However, according to the catechism, confession of venial sins is strongly recommended, since it helps us fight against evil tendencies.
- Perhaps we struggle with the same sins over and over, and we are ashamed to admit this. It is true that part of a good confession is promising to avoid sins in the future—but we may fall short of the mark. Confession reminds us that God’s well of forgiveness is infinitely large.
- We may need more than just a few minutes because we require spiritual counseling about our sins. In this case, it is best to make an appointment to see the priest in his office.
- We are afraid of shocking the priest. Keep in mind many priests have heard thousands of confessions over the years. They surely won’t be astonished by what we confess. In fact, most priests are overjoyed that people are coming to confession, and they are eager to offer absolution.
- We may be hesitant to tell our sins to someone we also socialize with at church suppers. The confessional has a privacy screen, but if this isn’t reassurance enough, you can always confess to a priest at another parish. Keep in mind that priests will never divulge to anyone what you have confessed.
- We may be afraid the priest will ask us to make changes in our lives. For example, a confessor may tell a couple engaging in pre-marital sex that this is a mortal sin, or tell a married couple that using contraception is a mortal sin. It is hard to face the truth about ourselves and often it is difficult to change. But if we avoid doing this, our souls are in grave danger.
Anointing of the Sick
This Sacrament was instituted by Jesus and is administered for spiritual and even physical strength during an illness including near time of death. This Sacrament conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening by the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement and temptation. It conveys peace and fortitude. As Sacred Scripture tells us "by His wounds we are healed."
Note: Please notify the parish office of any need for a home or hospital visit.
In the Catholic Church, also called marriage, is the "covenant" by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring", and which "has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized." The focus on marriage is a free mutual agreement or contract, between a man and a woman. This covenant is considered by the Catholic Church to be indissoluble. This contract is for life.
In accordance with the guidelines of the Diocese of Detroit, engaged couples must contact the Parish Office six months prior to the desired date and complete required preparation. The Parish expects couples to be registered and active parishioners at least 6 months to one year prior to the wedding date. Contact the Parish office to begin marriage preparation.
Note: Engaged couples must contact the parish office six months prior to the desired date and complete required preparation. The parish expects couples to be registered and active parishioners at least 6 months prior to the wedding date. To begin marriage prep please contact the parish office.
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to His apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus, it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: bishop, priest and diaconate.