As the oldest online Sacramental Preparation organization, we hear a lot from interested non-Catholics on how they can study for their Sacraments. "How can I become Catholic," "How can I receive the Sacraments," and "…what do I need to do to join the Church" are questions we receive everyday.
We also receive related questions from Catholics who have been baptized but who — for one reason or another — never completed their Sacraments. They may need to receive First Holy Communion, make their First Confession, and/or receive the grace of the Holy Ghost in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
And lastly, we also hear from life-long Catholics who wish to better understand their Faith and who ask us for resources on better understanding the Sacraments in which they have been participating.
These are all great questions and few things give us more pleasure than helping answer these questions and help people on a path to receive their Sacraments. Thus, we have put together this short article to help you.
How do I receive the Sacraments?
Studying for your Confession, Confirmation, or First Holy Communion involves not only knowing the theology of that Sacrament but also knowing what it means to be a Catholic in general.
To receive the Sacraments, you must first be adequately prepared to receive a Sacrament. CatechismClass.com is a leading provider of Sacramental Preparation courses to do just that. Our program is done entirely at your own pace.
But that being said, we are a Sacramental Preparation provider. We do not confer the Sacraments. Only a validly ordained Catholic priest may administer the Sacraments including First Holy Communion or the Sacrament of Confirmation.
After completing a required preparation class (whether that be the ones offered at CatechismClass.com or those offered in a parish church near you), you will need to approach a priest and ask to receive the Sacraments. Again, only a validly ordained Catholic priest has the ability to administer the Sacraments.
Will this take time? Yes, but the best things in life are worth preparing for. Just like it is necessary to study before graduation, so too the Church requires a period of preparation that includes academic and spiritual preparation before you can be admitted to the Sacramental life of the Church. But unlike a school graduation, your obligation does not end when you first receive the Sacraments. You are then required to commit to living a Catholic life including frequent reception of the Sacraments such as Confession, weekly attendance at Mass on all Sundays and holy days, daily prayer, and the submission to the laws of God.
What are the Sacraments?
The Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ Himself as the chief means by which He confers grace on man. These Sacraments are truly life changing. For example, Baptism is necessary for salvation. You cannot be saved without Baptism. Other Sacraments like Matrimony and Confirmation — while not required for Salvation — still give great benefits and actual graces to the soul.
The 7 Sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, The Eucharist (also known as Communion), Confession (also known as the Sacrament of Penance), Anointing of the Sick (also known as Extreme Unction or Last Rites), Matrimony, and Holy Orders.
What is Baptism?
The Sacrament of Baptism is the first sacrament any of us ever experience. Baptism first and foremost clears all sin from our soul. This is why we are baptized — we want the sin of Adam (original sin) washed away. Every human being apart from Jesus Christ and Mary (i.e. Immaculate Conception) was born with original sin. Through Baptism original sin is washed away, and at the same time, if we are baptized after having committed sins ourselves (actual sin) those sins are washed away as well along with any temporal punishments for them (CCC 1263). If we would die immediately after Baptism, our soul would go straight to Heaven.
Most Protestants view baptism as the covering up of our sins. That is not the correct theological look at baptism. Baptism completely washes the soul clean. We receive sanctifying grace, which raises us up to a supernatural level; Baptism regenerates and saves the person. In this respect, an indelible mark is placed on the soul that initiates him into the life of the Church, and allows him to receive the other Sacraments. Even if a baptized person goes to Hell, this mark will remain for all eternity on the soul.
Through Baptism was become sharers in the Divine Nature of the Blessed Trinity. We become sons of God and tabernacles of the Most Holy. Most literally, we become temples for the Holy Spirit. In Baptism, we are born again as St. Peter writes of the divine sonship in Baptism as "…Being born again not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the word of God who liveth and remaineth for ever" (1 Peter 1:23). In Baptism, we are buried in Christ so that we might rise with Him (Romans 6:3-4). Jesus' entire mission from the Incarnation to the Cross was to redeem us and make us worthy of divine sonship. Through Baptism, we are "enlightened" and become a "son of light" (CCC 1216).
The Catechism of the Council of Trent states, "…it should be taught that by virtue of this Sacrament we are not only delivered from what are justly deemed the greatest of all evils, but [we] are also enriched with invaluable goods and blessings. Our souls are replenished with divine grace, by which we are rendered just and children of God and are made heirs to eternal salvation" (187).
What is Holy Communion?
The Eucharist — Holy Communion — is truly Jesus Christ's body, blood, soul, and divinity under the appearance of bread and wine. It is not a symbol of Christ, but rather, it is truly and really Jesus Christ! At the point in the Mass known as the consecration, the priest, acting in persona Christi, will say "This is my Body, which will be given up for you…" and "This is my Blood…". These were the words of Our Savior when He turned the bread and wine at the Last Supper into His Body and Blood, and, by the divine power of God in the priesthood, the bread and wine become Jesus Christ.
At the Consecration during the Mass everyone present except the celebrant should kneel in adoration because by God's divine power the bread and wine become His eternal Son, Jesus Christ (GIRM 21). The bread and wine become Jesus Christ's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as Our Lord Himself taught in Sacred Scripture specifically at the Last Supper. The only thing remaining of bread and wine is the appearance of bread and wine (called the "accidents"). Jesus Christ gave this awesome power to his disciples, the first bishops who have passed this down through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, a collection of all Catholic beliefs produced in 1992, calls the Eucharist the "source and summit of our faith" (1324). It is in that moment when we receive the Eucharist that our soul is in ecstasy because Christ is truly in us. Jesus Christ loved us so much at the last Supper, even though He knew His death was near, He gave us the joy of being with Him eternally.
We need Jesus Christ as He is the "…only way, truth, and life", and it is in the Most Holy Eucharist that the veil between Heaven and earth is the shortest and we receive Our Lord, Most High. That intimate moment cannot be put into words as it is only the soul that speaks with such fervent love that some are moved to tears. We truly are living Our Savior's Command: "Take ye, and eat. This is my body" (Matthew 26:26). Yet, only those who are baptized and in the state of grace may receive Holy Communion.
What is Confirmation?
The Holy Ghost is first introduced to a Catholic the day that he is baptized, because the entire Holy Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — are invoked at the ceremony. During the sacred Confirmation ceremony, God the Holy Ghost comes upon the person, accompanied by God the Father and God the Son, just as He did at Pentecost. Upon Confirmation, you will receive the 7 gifts of the Holy Ghost present in your soul.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, "It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost …Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the 'character,' which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness."
Do I have to be confirmed to be married?
This is a common question we get too and the answer is: it depends. Most dioceses do require couples to have been confirmed before they receive the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. For that reason, we instruct all of our students who need marriage in Confirmation if they are not yet confirmed. But this question is best directed to your priest who can advise on the implications of Canon Law (1065 §1) for your particular area of the country/world.
Why Choose CatechismClass.com?
CatechismClass.com is an online catechetical program aimed at giving families and parishes the opportunity to educate children and adults in the Catholic Faith and prepare them for the Sacraments. The Sacraments are life changing and CatechismClass.com has been a pioneer in online religious education — making the best in learning available for the edification of souls under our charge.
CatechismClass.com offers daily, online, continuous, year-round, religious e-education in the state of the art fashion. Using Sacred Scripture as it is given to us in the Scriptures, and Tradition as it is transmitted through the Catechisms, this innovative approach not only exposes families and students to the whole truth of the Catholic Church; it makes them interactive with the Church's Magisterium.
CatechismClass.com gives families and parishes an easy, inexpensive, convenient way to fulfill their obligation to know, love, and spread the Faith. This program currently offers programs for all grade levels and an adult education course, as well as book summaries of Catholic classics. Each subsequent level represents a transition deeper into the program. CatechismClass.com offers rolling registrations as students can be enrolled in any of our programs at any time. Online Sacramental Preparation classes including First Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation Preparation courses are also available for all children and for adults.
CatechismClass.com also offers a challenging Adult Education/RCIA program which gives adults the opportunity to enrich and deepen their Faith. The RCIA Program immerses the adult in a very serious, comprehensive, state of the art approach to faith and spiritual development. Through Scripture, Tradition, Apologetics, Prayer, and a thorough examination of the Moral and Ethical Issues, Catholic adults can finally achieve that Catholic education that may have eluded them for so many years. All takes place at their own pace and in the comfort of their own home. Whether you are using CatechismClass.com as a supplement to, or replacement of, a current religious education program, this is an excellent way to learn the Truths of the Catholic Faith.
We realize that today it's just not possible to coordinate family schedules with extracurricular activities, school, work, sports and other distractions that disrupt family life. Let the children in your spiritual care learn the facts, and experience the unfolding of Catholic formation online. CatechismClass.com is convenient, cohesive, complete, and conducive to family life and total spiritual development.
Choose CatechismClass.com to help prepare you or your family for the life-giving Sacraments of the Church.