The Latin word sacramentum means “a sign of the sacred”. The seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God’s saving presence. That’s what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God’s grace.
Baptism is one of the three sacraments known as the Sacraments of Christian Initiation. The other two are Confirmation (Meron) and Holy Eucharist. Jesus taught us that “no-one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” Jn 3:5. Thus, it is the gateway to heaven. As Catholics we take Baptism so seriously that we baptise even infants that they may have an access to the Kingdom of God. After all, the Kingdom of heaven is meant for them (See Mt 19:14).
As children cannot grasp the importance of what is happening in their life during their baptism, their parents have to take a preparation course prior to their children’s baptism. Our Chaplaincy conducts baptisms every third Sunday of the month.
2. HOLY EUCHARIST
One of the three Sacraments that initiate a person into the Christian life, Holy Eucharist is the greatest sacrament that shows Christ’s love so visibly to us. The Lord instituted this sacrament, just before He was handed over for execution and He ordered His disciples to do it in remembrance of Him. The Church took that instruction very seriously and she has carried on celebrating the Eucharist all through the last twenty-first centuries and it will do the same until Christ her Lord comes in glory.
Preparation for First Communion is given to our children who are eight or above on a weekly basis. While the rest of the children are having their liturgy, those who are to receive their First Holy Communion are instructed by our dedicated catechists thoroughly. First Holy Communion usually takes place in early summer time just before school break.
With Baptism and Holy Eucharist, Confirmation (Meron) is part of the Rite of Christian Initiation. Once a child is baptised, he becomes the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit. He will be immersed in the Trinitarian life; God the Father is his Father, Jesus is his Lord and he receives the Holy Spirit Who indwells him. But there comes a time for the child to decide for himself to follow that Trinitarian life which he had been initiated into as a baby without his knowledge. It was his parents’ decision that made him a Christian; now it is his turn to confirm his faith through the Sacrament of Confirmation. By the power of the Holy Spirit which he receives through this Sacrament, he is confirming his faith not receiving what he had not already got.
In our Chaplaincy, when candidates to Confirmation reach the age of 13+ they will be enrolled as candidates and have to take the Confirmation Courses for about 7-9 months depending the availability of confirming Bishop. Applicants for Confirmation are challenged to request for it personally as it should be their personal decision to follow Christ.
One of the greatest Sacraments of our salvation, this is one of those Sacraments that are known as the Sacraments of the dead; the other one is Baptism. Both resurrect people from spiritual death. Instituted by Jesus Himself, it is one of the most effective Sacraments in bringing God and us very closely. Jesus warns us, “unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Lk 13: 3 & 5) But how can we effectively repent? Jesus has given us the way to repentance by instituting this Sacrament. On the morning of His resurrection, He gave His Apostles the power to forgive sins. ‘“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”’ (Jn 20: 21-23) He deliberately gave the power to forgive sins to His Church through this Sacrament. That is why we have to confess our sins to an ordained priest or bishop as they represent Christ Himself while they officiate in His Name.
In our Chaplaincy, this Sacrament is celebrated at any time if there is a request from the faithful. During main feasts, the faithful are encouraged to celebrate this Sacrament so that they can really and truly obtain the benefits of their devotions.
5. HOLY MATRIMONY
Through this wonderful Sacrament, a man and a woman are joined together as one in love forever to imitate the greatest Mystery of Christ’s and His Bride, the Church’s Marriage. (See Eph 5: 22-33) Created by God in the gardens of Eden, Matrimony is intended to be the normal way of living and passing on life to the next generation. (See Gen 1: 27-28, 2: 18, 20b-25) It is the real foundation of society and the perfect atmosphere of development for children. Matrimony had never been so much attacked as in this age of ours. Personal pleasure seems to rule over the people of our time. Sex and procreation are divorced by the so called Sexual Revolution. God intended both to be inseparable. The clear teachings of the Lord Jesus regarding Matrimony need to be taught and adhered very faithfully; and very much so in our own time. The wonderful example of the Holy Family of Nazareth (i.e., Jesus, Mary and Joseph) needs to be imitated in our modern families if we want to have stable and holy family life.
In our Chaplaincy, preparation for Holy Matrimony is given on individual basis as a couple, so that the couples would get the most out of their preparations. Anyone who plans to get married needs to contact the Chaplain (priest) at least six months before the intended marriage. If there are some complications involved, it would be advisable to contact him even before six months (a year is ideal). If a couple intends to get married abroad (e.g. In Eritrea, the paper work takes quite a considerable amount of time). In any case contacting the priest in good time is indispensable.
6. HOLY ORDERS
Before our Lord ascended to heaven, He made sure that what He begun on the earth should be continued. Thus He instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders to ascertain the continuity of His mission on earth. His commissioning of His Apostles is a clear sign of this truth. This Sacrament is very closely associated with the rest of the Sacraments as without the ordained ministers there could not be the celebration of the Mysteries (Sacraments). We can read in the Gospels how the Apostles were chosen and sent by Jesus to administer the Sacraments and spread the Good News (Mt 10:1-4; Mt 28: 18-20; Mk 6:7-13; Lk 22: 17-20; Jn 20:21-23). The Church has been faithful to her Spouse’s wishes and commands throughout the centuries by praying for vocations, nurturing and cultivating the culture of vocations and ordaining trained men to the priesthood that they may be worthy to serve the people of God.
It is our utmost wish that all our faithful should pray earnestly for vocations to the priesthood that many youngsters may respond to the call of our Saviour in charity.
7. ANOINTING OF THE SICK
Through this Sacrament of healing, Christ our Lord gives unsurpassing comfort spiritually and physically to the ailing. When the Lord Jesus commissioned His Apostles to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness, the latter went and anointed the sick with holy oil and they were healed (Mk 6:12). St. James, one of the Twelve Apostles, tells us the importance of holy oil in the Sacrament of the Sick (James 5:14-16). Following the Lord’s command and the Apostolic Traditions, the Church anoints the sick with holy oil for their healing.
Our faithful are encouraged to let their priest know if there is any sick member so that he/she should receive God’s healing touch through this wonderful Sacrament. The recipients of this Sacrament should not necessarily be only those who are on the verge of death but anyone who is gravely sick. This Sacrament is not meant to send off the sick but to heal them physically, spiritually and psychologically. The recipient will receive all or at least some of these healings mainly the spiritual one and that is the most important part of the Sacrament.