- Meaning - Baptism comes from a Greek word meaning to dip, bathe or wash. In baptism, the old life is washed away and a new one is entered.
- At baptism a person becomes part of the Christian Church and so the baptised person can be called a Christian and is joined in faith with other Christians.
- Baptism is the first of the sacraments marking the beginning of the sacramental life which is essential for Catholics.
- In infant baptism the original sin with which the child is born is washed away, leaving the baptised person free of sin.
- Importance - The Catechism teaches that baptism is the basis of the Christian life and, without it, a person cannot receive the other sacraments.
- Through baptism, a person becomes a full member of the Church and is helped by the Church to begin a new life in the Holy Spirit and grow in faith.
- Baptism washes away original sin so that the baptised can achieve salvation.
- The Catechism says baptism is necessary for salvation and without it you can't enter heaven.
- Against - Holy orders are more important as without priests there can be no sacraments.
- The Mass is more important as it brings Christ into the lives of Catholics each week.
- Reconciliation is more important as it forgives the sins you commit after baptism.
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- Meaning - The sacrament of confirmation is the final sacrament of initiation and means that the person has fully joined the Catholic Church.
- The sacrament gives grace which is needed in order to live a Christian life and so eventually receive salvation.
- Confirmation joins people more closely to the Church so that they learn to live in the way the Church teaches.
- By retaking the baptismal vows for themselves, Catholics make a public declaration of their faith.
- Importance - Confirmation makes the person a full member of the Church.
- Only those who are confirmed can take on lay ministries.
- Part of confirmation is the gift of the Holy Spirit which gives strength to develop faith and live the Christian life.
- In baptism, promises were made by the person's parents and godparents, while in confirmation it is the individual's own choice to declare his or her belief.
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- Meaning - The sacrament of reconciliation allows someone to recognise that they have separated themselves from God and that they need God's forgiveness for their sins and his help not to commit sins again.
- The sacrament gives grace to avoid sins that lead away from salvation.
- As part of the sacrament, advice is given about how to overcome temptation and follow the path to salvation.
- Receiving the sacrament of reconciliation at least once a year is one of the Precepts of the Church (rules Catholics are expected to follow) and Catholics believe that following the Church's Precepts will lead to salvation.
- Importance - It gives opportunity for the penitent to strengthen their relationship with God.
- The gift of grace given during confession makes it easier for penitent to live Christian life.
- Attending the sacrament allows the penitent to be reconciled with community and with God.
- The sacrament brings the forgiveness of serious sins necessary to receive the Eucharist, receive salvation and enter heaven.
- Against - God loves us and will forgive our sins if we ask him directly without having to go through a priest. The Penitential Rite in the Mass forgives Catholics their sins every week. Many Catholics only go to confession once a year, at Lent, so it cannot be needed very much.
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Anointing of the Sick
- Meaning - The sacrament of the sick is a strengthening sacrament for those in danger of death.
- The sacrament is a gift of grace that helps a person deal with their illness.
- The sacrament can be used to prepare very ill people for death.
- The sacrament reminds the sick person and the community that the Church today can still heal like Jesus and the disciples in the early Church.
- Importance - The person gives grace, spiritual strength and healing to the person and so is a very supportive sacrament.
- The sacrament makes all Christians holy, not only the person receiving the sacrament.
- The sacrament is a reassuring one by showing the love of the parish for the sick person.
- The sacrament allows the person's sins to be forgiven, so they can enter heaven.
- Against - It is just as effective if all the parish prays for whoever is sick.
- It is hard to believe that a loving God would stop Catholics from going to heaven just because they had not had the 'last rites'.
- The shortage of priests means that many sick people do not get the full sacrament, just a visit and prayers from a lay minister with pre-consecrated bread and wine.
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- Nature - The Mass is a re-enactment of Last Supper and celebration of Jesus' resurrection
- The first part of the Mass, the penitential rite, makes Catholics aware that they are sinners and need the forgiveness of God on a regular basis.
- Next is the liturgy of the word with Bible readings and usually a homily explaining the readings and relating them to Catholic life today.
- In final part of Mass, Catholics give thanks and receive a blessing to help in the week ahead.
- Importance - During mass, bread and wine are turned into the body and blood of Christ so Jesus is really present during Mass.
- It is a celebration of the resurrection, reminding all Catholics that there is eternal life and that one day they too will be able to receive eternal life.
- Receiving the body and blood of Christ join Catholics with Jesus and so brings them closer to salvation.
- The first Precept of the Church says Catholics should attend Mass every Sunday and on holy days.
- Against Mass being the most important Catholic celebration - For a priest and his family, ordination would be the most important celebration as it is a total change of life. For many Catholic families, First Confession and Communion is the most important as it sets their children off on the Catholic life. For many couples, marriage is start of new family.
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Meaning of Eucharist to...
- Eastern Orthodox Church - It is a sacrament where the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus by a holy mystery.
- It is part of the Divine Liturgy during which heaven comes to Earth in the bread and wine.
- It fills the people with the presence of Christ and with every grace and blessing from God.
- It follows the actions and words of Jesus during Last Supper, remembering the sacrafices.
- Nonconformist Protestant Churches (call Eucharist Holy Communion) - It is a commemoration of the Last Supper, where bread and wine are symbols that don't change.
- It fills Christians with the presence of Christ and with every grace and blessing from God.
- It brings unity as the worshippers share the one Body of Christ.
- It is a reminder of the Last Supper and the crucifixion of Christ.
- The Church of England - Those who believe in priests and seven sacraments have similar beliefs to Catholics.
- Those who believe in ministers and two sacraments (baptism and Holy Communion) have Nonconformist Protestant beliefs about the Eucharist.
- The Salvation Army and Quakers (have no Eucharist) - Jesus is the only priest.
- Worship should be direct contact with God without symbols.
- They can lead holy lives without the use of sacraments.
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Catholic Church Features
- The altar is the centre of attention because the priest offers Mass on the altar as a symbol of Christ offering himself as a sacrafice to God on the cross. It is positioned so that the priest can face the congregation as he celebrates the Mass. On or near the altar are candles whose light represents the belief that Jesus is the light of the world.
- The tabernacle has a place of honour, usually next to the altar because it contains the consecrated hosts of the Blessed Sacrament reserved there for distribution to the sick. Catholics believe Jesus is really present in the Blessed Sacrament and show their reverence for Jesus by genuflecting towards the tabernacle whenever they walk past it.
- The baptismal font containing holy water is usually at the the entrance (the back) of the church to remind Catholics that baptism is what makes a person a member of the Church.
- The confessional is a small room set aside for the sacrament of reconciliation. By penance and absolution, Catholics are reconciled to God and to each other.
- The lectern is a book-stand from which the liturgy of the word takes place showing the belief that faith and truth come from the Bible (readings) and the teaching of the Church (homily).
- All Catholic churches have statues of Mary and some of the saints. They are visual aids to help the congregation in their prayer. Catholics do not pray to the statues.
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- Meaning - Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation (God took human form in Jesus)
- Catholics believe that through the incarnation (which led to the life, death and the resurrection of Jesus) it became possible for humans to have a full relationship with God and to go to heaven after death.
- Christmas tells Christians that God showed his love by sending his son to show humans what God is like and to teach them how to live.
- Christmas is a time of hope and peace, when Catholics pray for the coming of God's kingdom.
- Importance - Without the birth of Jesus Christ, there would be no Christianity.
- Through the incarnation, God began the salvation of the world so making it possible for humans to go to heaven after death.
- Celebrations such as Christmas Mass remind Catholics they're part of a worldwide community.
- It is a time to celebrate families, reflecting that Jesus was born into a human family.
- Against Christmas only being celebrated by Christians - Non-Christians celebrating Christmas might make them think about Christianity.
- Christmas cards, presents and parties spread the joy of Christmas to everyone.
- Joining in all religious celebrations helps to promote community cohesion.
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- Meaning - On Ash Wednesday Catholics go to church for a special Penitential Rites and get a cross of ashes on their forehead as a sign of penitence by the priest to remind them that during Lent they should pray more, fast more and give more to charity.
- Catholics give something up to make them better people and show devotion to God.
- Catholics try to pray more and strengthen their faith by acts of mercy such as visiting the sick.
- There are special meetings to think about Easter and what it means to be a Christian today.
- Importance - It is a time when Catholics concentrate on improving their Christian lives.
- It is a chance to think about the teachings of Jesus and what they mean for today.
- The readings during Mass are based on the later part of Jesus' life and these help Catholics work out what they need to do in their lives in order to achieve salvation.
- It is a time when Catholics try to increase their faith through extra prayer, study, fasting and giving to charity.
- Against Lent bringing closer to God - Fasting mkes you irritable and think about food rather than God. Praying and helping more brings you spiritual pride. Thinking more about faith can make you doubt it.
- Against importance - Attending Mass is important but Lent doesn't make much difference. Ash Wednesday is the only bit some Catholics observe. There are other ways to be reminded of the Passion of Christ.
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- Meaning - Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, includes Maundy Thursday & Good Friday.
- During Holy Week Catholics remembe the final week of the life of Jesus, recalling what Jesus did and taught from his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to his death on Good Friday.
- During Holy Week there are special liturgies such as Stations of the Cross and re-enactments of Last Supper on Maundy Thursday and the arrest, trial and crucifixion on Good Friday.
- Holy Week is a time of reflection and prayer on the sufferings and death of Jesus which saved Catholics from sin and allowed entry to heaven.
- Importance - It reminds Catholics that they need to serve one another and put themselves last as well as be public witnesses to their faith.
- It should inspire Catholics to think about their role in the world, especially when they are asked to stand up for others in the cause of justice and peace.
- It reminds Catholics of the suffering Jesus experienced, which helps them to face suffering.
- It reminds them of the salvation brought by Jesus. It was the death of Jesus that overcame sin and during Holy Week Catholics try to do things to make up for their sinfulness (reparation). Against - It's more important for Catholics to live out their Christianity every week of the year rather than just one. It's more important for Catholics to attend Mass every Sunday so they are reminded of the sacrafice and Last Supper of Jesus every week.
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- Meaning - Easter is the most important Christian celebration because the resurrection of Christ proves his identity. If Jesus rose from the dead, he must have been both human and divine.
- The resurrection is the final part of salvation because through the resurrection, forgiveness of sins is assured and people can be restored to God.
- The resurrection proves that death has been overcome and assures Christians that they will have eternal life.
- Easter gives Catholics a chance to think about the mysteries of their faith and deepen their personal belief.
- Importance - It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus which proves that Jesus is God, since no one but God could rise from the dead.
- It proves that there is life after death. If Jesus rose from the dead, his faithful followers will have life after death in heaven.
- It celebrates Jesus' victory over death and evil, which is why new Catholics are often baptised on Easter Day.
- It proves that Jesus is still alive and working in his Church.
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