On Sacraments

What are the Sacraments?

 The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. The Book of Common Prayer, p. 857

Seven Sacraments
There are 7 sacraments in the Episcopal Church: a brief description of each follows here. For a deeper look into the sacraments and the Episcopal Church in general, visit the Episcopal Church website.

Sacraments are central to the life of an Episcopal community such as ourselves. We believe that they remind us that we are beloved, forgiven children of God who are called to live in right relationship with God, ourselves, and each other. It is important to remember such a central truth frequently, as it is easy to forget the depth of our belovedness in a world of hustled and bustle and competing messages.

Baptism

Baptism is a ritual of initiation that indicates our desire to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church. We baptize infants and adults in the Episcopal Church on the belief that God's love extends to everyone regardless of their age or understanding of doctrine.  Any baptismal candidate is encouraged to have godparents or sponsors, who will pledge to teach their godchild about the Christian faith.

Baptism always takes place within the Sunday Eucharist because the community pledges to support the baptized in the development of their faith.

At the Redeemer, baptisms are held three times a year: All Saints’ Sunday in November, the Baptism of our Lord in January, and on Pentecost in May or June. A pre-Baptism family meeting is usually held the Thursday before each baptism.

If you or a loved one would like to be baptized, contact the Parish Administrator for more information,
617-566-7679

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Holy Eucharist

Also known as the Lord's Supper, Mass, or Holy Communion, the Eucharist is the center of our common worship as the church.  In the Eucharist, we as Christians receive the real presence of Christ. During the Eucharist we remember the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf, and glory in our union with him in his resurrection. We celebrate the Eucharist frequently, as we believe it  to be the spiritual food we need to sustain us in our spiritual journeys and everyday life.

In the Episcopal Church, all baptized Christians, regardless of denomination, are welcome to be part of this sacred meal. 

At the Redeemer, we celebrate the Eucharist three out of four Sundays a month, as well as all Sundays in Lent and Advent.

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Confirmation

In Confirmation, a baptized Christian makes "a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop." (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 857) 

One can be confirmed whenever he or she is ready to accept the promises made on their behalf at their baptism. At the Redeemer this usually happens during the eighth grade or high school, but adults of any age may be confirmed in the church.  One must be baptised before being confirmed.

Confirmation expresses not only a desire to live as an adult Christian, it also indicates a desire to do so in the Episcopal Church and the world-wide Anglican Communion.  

Confirmation class for 8th graders is held throughout the school year, leading to a Saturday confirmation service led by one of our Bishops in the spring. Click here for more information on youth Confirmation class.

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Reception into the Episcopal Church

While it is not a sacrament of the Church, the rite of reception is available for those who have been raised or baptised in another Christian denomination and wish to fully join the Episcopal Church. Receptions take place during confirmation services and require study akin to that of adult confirmation. 

To learn more about being received into the Episcopal Church, contact the Rev. Margery Kennelly at 617-566-7679 ext. 13.

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Marriage, or Holy Matrimony

The purpose of marriage is to accept Jesus’ invitation to have him be a part of a loving and life-giving romantic relationship.  A married couple, by the way they fulfill their marriage vows, will love, honor and nurture each other. But in Christian marriage, the relationship is also meant to be for others -- an example (or an icon) of what it means to be loving and faithful to another human being.

The Epsicopal Church requires extensive pre-martial counseling prior to conducting a marriage, either by the officiating priest, or an approved marriage counselor.

To learn more about being married at the Redeemer, please click here.

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Anointing the Sick, or Unction

"Unction is the rite of anointing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God's grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body."   The Book of Common Prayer, p. 859

This sacrament exists for the purpose of healing -- to restore a person to physical, emotional and spiritual wholeness. When we anoint and pray for people, we ask God to release them from anything that prevents a person from being whole. Christians recognize that there is a difference between being healed and being cured. In the sacrament of Unction, we pray for healing and wholeness, which may or may not include a cure.   

We at the Redeemer do many things to seek healing and wholeness for ourselves and those around us. Actual anointing of the sick is available from the clergy. Please contact them directly to arrange a time.

We also pray for those in need of spiritual sustenance during the Sunday service. Please click here to request that someone be placed on our prayer list.

Hospital or at-home visits by the clergy are always available. Our clergy love to visit people; it often makes their day to have a good conversation with someone.

Please click here for more information on visitation. To arrange a visit, contact the Rev. Margery Kennelly at 617-566-7679 ext. 130.

Reconciliation of a Penitent, or Penance

"Reconciliation of a Penitent, or Penance, is the rite in which those who repent of their sins may confess them to God in the presence of a priest, and receive the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution."   The Book of Common Prayer, p. 859

Also known as Confession, this sacrament is perhaps the least understood. Why tell God something that God already knows … in the presence of another person? Because there are times in our lives when things we do (or don't do) block us from growing spiritually. They stand between us and God and we can't get around them. Penance is a way of removing the barriers that our bad behaviors create. 

God already knows our sins even before we speak them, but it is a helpful practice for our spiritual journey to spend time comtemplating our sins and confessing them in the presence of others as it helps us to be clear-eyed about the realities of our bahavior. To share a confession with a person who is obligated to confidentiality -- and then hear that God loves and forgives us in spite of what we've done -- can be a very healing experience. It is meant to be a regular part of a Christian's spiritual development.

In the Episcopal Church, penance is not mandatory before receiving Eucharist as it is in some denominations.  However, a corporate confession of sin is part of the service of the Holy Eucharist before receiving Communion, with an absolution of sins following. Regardless of one’s Sunday attendance, individual confession with a priest on a regular basis is highly advised.

To share confession with a priest, please contact the Rev. Margery Kennelly at 617-566-7679 ext. 13.

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Ordination

God calls all people into a spiritual relationship and gives us particular gifts with which to live our lives as Christians. We use the word "ministry" to describe our response to God's call to live a certain way and do particular things. Everyone has a ministry because everyone is called in one form or another.

In the Episcopal Church, some are called to a special ministry within the church to train, equip and empower Christians to be effective. These are the clergy, called priests, and ordination is the sacrament by which men and women become members of the clergy. 

The ministry of a priest is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as pastor to the people; to share with the bishop in the overseeing of the Church; to proclaim the Gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and declare pardon in the name of God.

The ordination process is open to anyone who discerns a call from God to serve in this special ministry. It involves several years of special tutelage from priests and elder laity in order to become proficient in the practices, theology and resources of the church. Most people seek a Masters in Divinity, a three-year graduation degree, as part of their ordination preparation.

For more information on ordination, please contact the Rev. Margery Kennelly at 617-566-7679 ext. 13.

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Diaconate

Persons who feel called to special ministries but do not wish to serve as priests can be ordained to the diaconate, which involves a similar but shorter process. Deacons usually volunteer in local congregations as an assistant to the priest during the worship service and have a special ministry to the poor, the sick and the troubled.   

For more information on becoming a deacon, please contact the Rev. Margery Kennelly at 617-566-7679 ext. 13.

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In his book, Holy Baptism: A Guide for Parents and Godparents, Episcopal priest, John Westerhoff, says this about sacraments:

"The purpose of a sacrament is to make us aware of a truth that is not self-evident so that we might benefit from it. Sacraments are symbolic, ritual acts of revelation. Sacraments, importantly, make something that is already true and available, real for us so that we might fully benefit from it … When an invisible reality is realized, or made real, that is a sacrament.

Or to put it another way, a sacrament is a point of connection between the invisible and visible - an outward and visible material sign of an inward and invisible nonmaterial reality."