What are Sacraments?



Theologian Fulton Sheen said no one can understand the sacraments unless they have a “divine sense of humor.”  In order to understand the sacraments, one has to be able to “see through things.” In order to understand a pun or a joke, we have to get beyond the words to a deeper meaning. As Sheen points out, a horse can listen to a joke, but he can never understand the meaning.


The world is sacramental, in that things often represent something else: A kiss is more than two lips touching, a handshake is more than two hands touching. There is a deeper meaning between the actions themselves and what these actions represent.


A Sacrament in the Church is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof."  Sacraments are a way that Christ provides what we need to live a life of grace – that is, life lived within the embrace of God’s unmerited favor. Through them, we receive strength for the journey.


Why Sacraments?

Every life needs certain things: We need to be born into a family. We need to be fed. We grow up into adult responsibilities and freedoms. We need guidance and governance. We need to have our wounds bound through healing. We need to have our consciences assuaged through confession. We need companionship and we need to procreate.


Sacraments correspond to these basic needs.  

• Just as we’re born into a human family, we need to be born into a spiritual family (for we are spiritual as well as physical).  

• We need to be fed continually, which is Holy Communion.  

• We need healing from time to time, which is Annointing of the Sick, commonly called Unction. 

• We need healing from the results of sin, which is Reconciliation of a Penitent, commonly called Confession.  

• Ordination is the sacrament of guidance and governance. 

• Holy Matrimony unites two people to provide companionship and self giving, procreative love.


While a brief outline is provided below about the Sacraments, there is much more that can be said in this brief introduction. We invite you to participate in an Enquirer’s Class or speak to one of our clergy to find out more.  


Holy Baptism

Holy Baptism is administered at Good Shepherd during one of our scheduled worship services, especially at the Easter Vigil, on the Day of Pentecost, on All Saint’s Day, and on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the first Sunday after the Epiphany).  



As children, our parents make decisions for us based on what is best for us. Confirmation is reaffirming the promises our parents made on our behalf and taking on adult responsibilities in the Church.  The Bishop lays hands on the heads of those being confirmed, conferring authority, spiritual gifts, and power to live out their baptism as adult members. If you are ready to take this step, please call the church office or speak to one of our clergy about this step.


Confirmation requires preparation.  Enquirer’s or Confirmation classes are held to help us become disciples of Jesus.



Holy Communion

All baptized Christians, whether a member of this church or another, are welcome to come to the Lord’s Table. We believe that Christ is truly present in the 


Reconciliation of a Penitent

Reconciliation, commonly called Confession, is taking counsel with another person, focusing on your failures and shortcomings, commonly called sins. Who should make use of this sacrament?  One answer is:  All may. Some should. None must. While making reconciliation is “optional” in our church, many find that confession of sins is cleansing and liberating, making God’s forgiveness real and palpable, and in immediate experience. . Please call the church office and ask to speak to a priest if you would like to take this important step in your spiritual journey.


Anointing of the Sick (Unction)

The Bible tells us to call on the ministers of the church if we are sick. If you are ill, about to be hospitalized, or facing surgery, please call the priest or the church office to arrange a pastoral visit. One of our clergy will be happy to pray for you and anoint you with holy oil as a sign of God’s healing and forgiving touch.


The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage

Christian marriage is more than a wedding. It is the union of two people that reflects Christ’s self-giving  love for the Church (God’s people).  Since Christian marriage involves pledges made to each other but witnessed by others, this is rightly done within the Church.



If you perceive that God may be calling you into ordained ministry, please make an appointment with the Rector to begin the discernment process.



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