By faith in Christ, with repentance and thanksgiving
In the catechism a sacrament is defined as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. God gives us the sign as a means by which we receive that grace and as a tangible assurance that we do in fact receive it.
The two sacraments ordained by Christ that are “generally necessary to salvation” (1662 Catechism) are Baptism and Holy Communion (also called the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Eucharist). These are sometimes called “sacraments of the Gospel.”
Baptism is the first sacrament. No other sacraments can be received until after Baptism. Jesus said, “Except one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Through faith, repentance, and Baptism we are spiritually united to Jesus and become children of God the Father. In thus being made his child, we are given all the rights and privileges of the Father’s family. Baptism is the entry into the Church’s fellowship and marks the beginning of this new life in Christ. In the Nicene Creed, we declare ‘I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.’ Baptism is once-for-all, not to be repeated, but valid for all time. Baptism is the forgiveness of sins, not their removal. And yet, sin remains with us; we constantly fall away from the new life we have received. We constantly need to repent (turn around) and return to his forgiveness and love. In the catechism, a sacrament is defined as ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.’ God gives us the ‘sign’ as a means by which we receive that ‘grace’ and as a tangible assurance that we do in fact receive it. In Baptism, the outward and visible sign is water, in which our sins are washed away, and in which candidates are baptized ‘in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ The inward and spiritual grace is death to sin and new birth to righteousness, through union with Christ in his death and resurrection.
Holy Communion, Holy Eucharist, the Lord's Supper
Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion for the continual ‘remembrance’ of the sacrifice of his atoning death, and to convey the benefits of that sacrifice to us. We offer the world and ourselves to God, but we do so in Christ and in ‘remembrance’ of him. ‘Remembrance’ properly means not just recalling a past event but bringing that event into the present here-and-now. When we come together as Baptized Christians, as The Church, we have left ‘the world’ and entered into the liturgy of the Eucharist, to receive Christ’s gift to us of His Body and Blood and to celebrate the joyous ‘remembrance’ of the Sacrament. We offer our whole lives, and receive everlasting life from him. The transformation of simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus is a mystery. Eucharist is a celebration of that mystery, the sacrament of unity and the moment of truth by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is this Holy Communion, the joining of us, as the Church, with the Holy Spirit that is the Sacrament, the “outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. God gives us the sign as a means by which we receive that grace and as a tangible assurance that we do in fact receive it.” A non-baptized person is welcome to come to the altar and receive a blessing by the priest at the time of Communion. Such person is encouraged to seek catechism (training) and commitment to be Baptized as a full member of the Church. Once the bread and wine have been Consecrated in the liturgy of Eucharist, they are always consecrated and must be consumed or returned to the earth, not just thrown or flushed away. The elements may be ‘Reserved’ to be distributed to the sick or for home communion as needed.
Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation
When we are baptized, we receive the full ‘rights and privileges’ of the Father’s family and are adopted as a Child of God. In the case of baptism of infants and young children, the Church has provided a time of the person taking on the vows made by his parents and God-parents for himself. He then ‘Confirms’ or ratifies his vow as a Christian. More importantly, he comes to ‘be confirmed’ by the Church, who promise to uphold him in his life in Christ. Confirmation is clearly grounded in Scripture: The Apostles prayed for, and laid their hands on those who had already been baptized. The Anglican Church requires a public and personal profession of the Faith from every adult believer in Jesus Christ. Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation by a Bishop are its liturgical expressions. Confirmation: Through the Bishop’s laying on of hands and prayer for daily increase in the Holy Spirit, God strengthens the believer for Christian life in the service of Christ and his kingdom. Grace is God’s gift, and we pray that he will pour out his Holy Spirit on those who have already been made his children by adoption and grace in Baptism. Reception: At the direction of the Bishop, and after public reaffirmation of their baptismal promises, those having made adult professions of faith in other Christian traditions (including those confirmed in other traditions) are received into the Anglican Church with prayer and the laying on of hands by a Bishop. Reaffirmation: Confirmed believers who are already members of this Church (including those received from other traditions as above, those returning to active Christian discipleship after lapsing, and those experiencing a renewal of Christian commitment or significant life transition) may also reaffirm the pledges made to Christ and his Church with prayer and the laying on of hands by a Bishop. (see page 174 ACNA Book of Common Prayer 2019)
Holy Matrimony (Marriage)
The essential element of the Sacrament of Matrimony is the full, mutual, deliberate and voluntary consent of a man and a woman who are free to enter into such a union. The consent must be set forth in a formal, external manner, and must involve a contract which takes permanent effect immediately, not a promise only. Holy Matrimony is the sacrament by which small families live and provide children for God’s large family, The Church. The couple promise solemnly before God at their marriage to care for each other, and for the children God gives them to bring up for Him. Its meaning is not that it merely gives a religious sanction to marriage and family life, but that by taking the ‘natural’ marriage into the ‘great mystery of Christ and the Church’ (See Ephesians 5:32), the sacrament gives marriage a new meaning, transforms not only marriage as such, but all human love.
Holy Orders (Ordination)
The word ‘ordo’ in Latin means ‘line’. Holy Orders is a sacrament, instituted by Our Lord, and means the line of priests which extend back through the ages to Jesus. On Easter Evening, Jesus appeared to His disciples and ordained them for the work of salvation (See John 20:21-23): “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.:” The new priest is chosen by God, trained by the Church, and placed in the Order, or line of the Priesthood by the laying on of hands of the Bishop. This shows the world that God has given the new priest the power to do the work Jesus has called him to do. Ordination conveys upon a person grace to perform these duties (See Acts 6:3,6) “and they chose [seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom]. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.” There are three offices in Holy Orders, each with specific responsibilities; Deacon, Priest and Bishop., Like Baptism and Confirmation, Ordination is conferred once for each office, not to be repeated. Because these offices are held is such high esteem by the Church, “no one might presume to execute any of them without being first called, tried, examined, and ascertained to have such qualities as are requisite. Candidates [are] approved and admitted to these offices by lawful authority, through public prayer and the imposition of hands by a Bishop.” ACNA Book of Common Prayer 2019
Absolution (Reconciliation of Penitents)
At Baptism, we are washed clean of our sins, but we know that we continue to fall into sin repeatedly. Although Baptism is once and all, not to be repeated, God has provided a sacrament whereby we can receive forgiveness every time we repent and confess to Him. When Jesus ordained his disciples on Easter evening, (See John 20:21-23) “he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.:” But He continued, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” The Church has recognized this power to convey God’s forgiveness by every ordained priest, since the beginning of Christianity. (See 2 Corinthians 2:10) [Paul said] “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ.” Any Christian may seek the sacrament of absolution from a priest, after self-examination and true contrition of one’s sin. Repentance is the intent to resist further sin, accept responsibility for one’s actions, and endeavor to repair damage that has been caused; and faith, by which one thankfully receives God’s forgiveness. In-person confession is always, absolutely confidential. The confessor is bound under the most solemn obligation of his priesthood never to reveal anything told him in Confession. In absolution, a priest, acting under God’s authority, pronounces God’s forgiveness in response to repentance and confession of sin. God conveys his pardon through the Cross, removes and cancels penitent’s sin, declares the penitent reconciled and at peace with him, and grants the penitent assurance of his grace and salvation.
Ministry to the Sick
Ministry to the Sick is the sacrament in which the priest anoints sick people with holy oil, praying for their healing and restoration to health. (See James 5:14-16) “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” While praying for the sick is the proper work of every Christian, Anointing is administered by a priest or bishop. The oil used for anointing is to be blessed by the bishop for distribution among the clergy, generally performed on Maundy Thursday. Healing is central to the ministry of the Church, the Body of Christ. Spoken prayer, anointing with oil, and the laying on of hands are the principal outward means employed by the Church for its ministry to those whose health is in any way impaired. (See Mark 6:7,13) “And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits… And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” The priest prays “I anoint you with oil and I lay my hands upon you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lord Jesus Christ, heal this your servant, sustain him with your presence, drive away all sickness of body, mind, and spirit, and give to him that victory of life and peace which will enable him to serve you both now and evermore. Amen.” ACNA Book of Common Prayer 2019 Ministry to the Sick may be used at the time of illness or injury, before surgery, during a prolonged incapacity, thanksgiving upon beginning of recovery, or ministry at the time of dying. Anointing may be accompanied by Reconciliation of Penitents, Communion of the Sick and other additional prayers.