Jesus promised the apostles that he would give them the courage they needed to face any fears about serving him. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It was a promise Jesus kept. As the disciples were gathered together in fear in the upper room at the time of the feast of Pentecost they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and with great courage and conviction went forth to preach the good news of Jesus Christ.
The word confirmation means a "strengthening." Confirmation confers the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we need to be witnesses to Christ in our daily lives. The Holy Spirit comes and strengthens those gifts we received at baptism. We are called to use these strengthened through the power of the Holy Spirit to go forth and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred by the laying on of hands followed by anointing with chrism on the forehead. In the Gospels there are many examples of Jesus healing people with his touch. When the women with the hemorrhage touched Jesus’ cloak she was healed of her affliction and Jesus experienced power going out of him. That power, that spirit, healed and strengthened the woman. We too are strengthened by this symbolic touching by the priest during the confirmation rite. Chrism is olive oil mixed with balsam that has been consecrated by the Bishop. The oil since ancient times has been a symbol of strength; the perfume is a symbol of the “fragrance of Christ” which the Catholic Christian must spread. The word “Messiah” and “Christ” both mean “Anointed One.” The Israelites anointed priests and as a sign that they were chosen by God. Like them we are chosen by God. And like them, we are each being anointed or chosen by God for a purpose.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic Christian faith. Eucharist is derived from "eucharistia" which means thankfulness in Greek. We gather together as a community of faith at the celebration of the Mass to be fed by both the liturgies of the Word of God and the Eucharistic. Led by the celebrant of the Mass, the community gathers at the table to partake in this joyful thanksgiving meal. We are thankful for the gift of God’s all embracing love given us through his son Jesus Christ. At this meal we gather to recall the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We believe that Jesus is truly present in the bread and wine we consume. Why? Because he told us so, “Where two or more are gathered I am there also” and at the Last Supper he took bread …. . When we receive Holy Communion we receive the whole Person of Christ, as he is at the present moment, that is, as risen Lord, with his glorified body and soul and his full divinity. The community can experience this presence of Jesus, their Lord and Master, both in the consecrated bread and wine and in those gathered around the table.
The Last Supper was Jesus’ farewell meal with his apostles. During this meal Jesus spelled out --- by his word, “this is my body…..this is my blood” and action the breaking of the bread--- how the Father’s forgiveness and the New Covenant would come about. Imagine a Jewish family coming into the temple to offer sacrifice. The sacrifice occurs not when the priest puts the fruits or blood on the altar and the people make an internal offering of themselves. The most important part of all of this is what goes on in people's minds and hearts-the offering of their lives to God.
The Christian community has always acknowledged that Jesus’ death on the cross was the greatest of all sacrifices. Again, this is so because of what went on in his mind and heart. He really made an offering of himself. And that's where the Mass derives its value, in its relationship to this free sacrificial offering of Jesus. But the Mass is clearly not trying to replicate either the ancient sacrifices of the temple ritual or the bloody events of Calvary. The ritual gestures performed by the principal celebrant at Mass are not a stylized reenacting the slaying of Jesus. Christ our Lord could only die once; he will never die again. Rather, it is in celebrating this family meal, which we call the Mass, that we try to unite ourselves with Jesus’ act of will and attempt to summon ourselves closer to that same total self-dedication that Jesus had when he died upon the cross.
On the other hand, if people are able to take those words of Jesus to heart, the words that define the meaning of this action, This is my body….. This is the cup of my blood, and begin to comprehend what they mean-- that this is all tied into the life and death of Jesus-- and make them their own, then they, along with Jesus, can legitimately say: This is MY body; this is the cup of MY blood. It is for him the words of consecration are also words of an internal disposition that keeps reminding the community what its sharing must mean. And when we make those words our own, people ought to say: “Yes, now I see how Christ is present in these people gathered for this meal – it is through each one of these people that nourishment is given to others. As St. Augustine put it: "we must be what we have eaten." We are already the body of Christ as Church but we must become that Body still more. We must be bread for others just as Jesus is bread given for us. We are God's people only insofar as we are willing to become bread and wine, nourishment and life, body and blood for all other human beings.
Breathing on them, he said: "Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained." -John 20:22-23
Why Reconciliation? We need healing from the effects of Sin.
When Adam and Eve committed the original sin shame and uneasiness replaced openness and confidence. When we act contrary to our true selves, we too experience self-alienation and shame. Like Adam and Eve, when we sin, the nakedness of trust is replaced by a cloak of defensiveness. No matter how attractive and pleasurable sin may seem, it has a diminishing and disintegrating effect on our inner selves and impacts those around us. We all know only too well how self-centered behavior alienates us from family, friends and acquaintances. Sin is a subversive force in the community because it introduces division and problems.
Where did Reconciliation come from? Jesus gives us this sacrament.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation was instituted by Jesus on Easter Sunday, when Christ first appeared to the apostles after his Resurrection. Breathing on them, he said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). For us, the sacrament begins with an examination of conscience. Our conscience is where we are alone with our God and where those monumental and not so monumental decisions we are all faced with in our lives are made. The aim of the examination is not so much to weigh our good and bad deeds as it is to reflect on how generous our responses to God and people have been. We are examining what we have done and what we have failed to do in our thoughts, in our deeds and words.
Christ brings us to healing through the priest.
We Catholics confess our sins to a priest who comes representing the Church which is the Body of Christ. Confession is psychologically healthy. By naming and confronting our sinful acts and habits they lose much of their power over us. The priest helps draw out those issues that are disrupting our relationships with God and others and assists the faithful in taking corrective actions to make up for the damage our sin caused the community.
Confessing our sins is a part of our prayer life in addition to the specific Sacrament.
When the faith community of Espiritu Santo gathers each Sunday as a community to celebrate Mass we communally pray “I pray to the Lord our God and to you my brothers and sister for God’s for all I have done and failed to do …..” Confessing our sins as a community is part of our preparation to embrace Christ in the scriptures and in the Eucharist.
Communal Reconciliation Services are held during the season of Advent and Lent and individual reconciliation is held each Saturday at 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. If you wish to schedule an appointment with a priest please call the Parish Office at 727.726.8477.
Jesus was concerned not only about people’s spiritual health but also their physical health. By healing people’s bodies as well as their souls, Jesus showed that the entire human body is touched by God’s salvation. The Gospel of Mark (see 6:13) makes it clear that Jesus shared his healing ministry with his apostles. James 5: 14-15 tells us of the early church’s ministry to the sick including anointing with oil, prayer and forgiveness of sins. The priest prays for the individual while touching him/her which symbolizes and confers the giving of the special grace of the Holy Spirit. As the individual is being anointed with oil it is absorbed into the skin, so does the Holy Spirit “enter” the person; claiming, empowering, enlivening and rejuvenating in the name of Jesus.
The Rite of Anointing today is much the same as in the early church. It is important to note that this sacrament is encouraged for all who are afflicted in some way by a health issue. Should you need to avail yourself of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick there are many opportunities to do so. Contact Espiritu Santo’s Pastoral Care Ministry for additional information. In the case of an emergency or imminent death requiring last rites, please call the Parish Office at 727.726.8477. After regular business hours call the main phone number and follow the prompts. Our priests are on call at all times.
RCIA is a journey of faith that assists adults in discovering the presence of Jesus in their lives. It is a conversion of heart and mind that leads to full communion with the Catholic Church. This occurs through the prayers and support of the faith community of Espiritu Santo. Parish members as volunteers share their faith and gifts with those attending. Sponsors assist the candidates through the formal part of the process and to assist in the many special events that are a part of the RCIA process. Candidates choose a sponsor who will attend all meetings and special events.
Who should attend RCIA?
The Faith Journey:
The Rite is divided into four distinct periods. The periods are separated by public rites which serve as thresholds, or decision points, on your journey of faith.
You are a:
Prior to the Rite of Acceptance you must select a sponsor to accompany you on this journey. They are to serve you as your guide and role model in living the Christian faith. The person selected must be a baptized, practicing Catholic Christian. Sponsors are encouraged to attend our catechetical sessions and all Rites discussed above. They do not have to be a member of the Espiritu Santo faith community. If you are new to the area or are unable to find a sponsor the RCIA Team will assist you.
|Volunteer Positions||Catechists and Assistants|
|Required of Volunteer||To instruct and to facilitate faith sharing.|
|Experience Necessary||No, but a background in education and a firm understanding of the Catholic Religion and experience in faith sharing is helpful.|
|Training Required||Workshops provided on a national and diocesan level.|
|When is Training||Different times of the year.|
|Time Commitment||Class preparation time and regular meeting times; special events such as Rite of Acceptance, Rite of Election, and a Retreat.|
|Required of the Volunteer||Practicing Catholic.|
|Training Required||Two 1-hour classes.|
|When is training||Scheduled as needed.|
|Time Commitment||Sponsors attend all meetings with RCIA candidate; they also attend the rites.|
There are three levels of Holy Orders – bishop, priest and deacon. The Bishop leads a diocese and is the principal teacher in the diocese. He is first among preachers and governs the people as the Vicar of Christ. All the bishops of the world form a “college” or united group by virtue of their being successors to the apostles. The principal bishop is the pope, the Bishop of Rome.
In the early Church, the bishops ministered to everyone. As the number of believers grew the bishops were unable to care for all of them. They ordained men to serve in their place and these men were called priests. The Second Vatican Council noted that the priest’s chief responsibilities are to bring about the presence of Christ in the Church and to share in Christ’s mission as teacher, sanctifier and leader. He is chosen to act in the person of Christ. He is to preach the gospel, give pastoral service to his community, and celebrate the Mass and sacraments. His ministerial priesthood is distinct from the universal priesthood of the faithful who called to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.
The word deacon comes from a Greek word that means “servant” or “helper.” There are two types of deacons. The transitional diaconate is the step before priesthood. The permanent diaconate is made up of men who are called by God to serve the faithful on a permanent basis. Deacons can baptize, distribute the Eucharist, be the ministers of the Word and officiate at weddings and funerals. Permanent Deacons may be married.
Just as Jesus came to ‘serve not to be served’ these men are called by God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be servant leaders for the faithful. Their powers and responsibilities are conferred through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Feeling the call to service? Contact the diocesan Office of Vocations for additional information.
Why receive the sacraments?
Simply put, Christ gives us the sacraments so that we can experience Him. The sacraments are physical and tangible signs of the invisible grace, which is the out pouring of God's love, that He freely gives us. God uses our human senses to make us aware of His presence. The sacraments give us strength for our life journey, they initiate us, heal us, and they remind us of our unity with the Creator and one another.
The gift of love and life-long commitment that a man and woman share in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a physical sign that assists those of us called to the married life to experience the all embracing, gratuitous love that God has for us. It is through this love that the children of this union also learn of God’s love.
Christian marriage is a personal relationship of life giving love in which man and woman make the love of Christ present to each other and become a sign of the love of Christ to those around them. In marriage, the relationship of the couple is the sacrament that reveals the love of God for his people. Jesus taught his disciples about marriage see Mark 10:6-9 as an example. It is by discovering what love really means and being faithful to it that married Christians come closer to Christ and show something of Christ’s love to others. Founded on God’s giving of god’s self, married love is based on giving. Total loving means total giving. It is our hope and prayer that love will produce love. God’s forgiveness for us is reflected in the way a couple reconciles their differences, forgive hurts and heal each other. Their willingness to heal each other again and again is an example of the desire for reconciliation that God has for us. Love is faithful. God’s faithfulness to people is evident in the commitment a couple makes to love each other for a lifetime. God’s love is passionate and joyful and intimate; and it is relected in the couple’s passion for each other. The intimacy enjoyed in marriage is sexual, emotional and spiritual. Because they share in God’s creative love a couple is privileged to share in the most exalted part of God’s creative work – the creation of another human being. Their generosity and love is surely a reflection of the Creator’s love when God first brought the world into being. It is impossible to totally understand the oneness of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But it is possible to recognize the strength and beauty of a couple who is truly one. Each person is distinct and yet together they are a more complete whole.
Because marriage is a sacramental relationship of the utmost importance to the community and the Church, Espiritu Santo provides a Marriage Preparation Programfor engaged couples.