The Seven Sacraments of the Church
The seven sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all stages and all the important moments of Christian life. There is a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of spiritual life.
Sacraments of Christian Initiation
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Baptism is the Sacrament by which we are initiated into the life of Christ and become a member of God's household. Baptism may take place at any age .
The Catholic Church requires 2 Sponsors for Baptism, commonly referred to as “Godparents.” The Church asks that there be one male sponsor and one female sponsor. At least one of these must be a Catholic who has received the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist and be at least 16 years of age. If the individual is married they must have been married in a Catholic Ceremony recognized by the Catholic Church. If you choose one of the sponsors who is not a Catholic that person must be a Christian who has received the Sacrament of Baptism. They are referred to as a “Christian Witness.”
The purpose of the sponsor is to assist the child in the development of their faith. For this reason you are asked to choose someone who practices their faith and not simply as an award to a faithful friend or relative. Once a godparent has been chosen and the baptism has been performed the record cannot be altered later if you have a falling out with the godparent or Christian witness. You are urged to take this seriously and choose wisely.
Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian Initiation". In the Sacrament of Confirmation, the baptized person is "sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit" and is strengthened for service to the Body of Christ. Confirmation deepens our baptismal life that calls us to be missionary witnesses of Jesus Christ in our families, neighborhoods, society, and the world. . . . We receive the message of faith in a deeper and more intensive manner with great emphasis given to the person of Jesus Christ, who asked the Father to give the Holy Spirit to the Church for building up the community in loving service.
The First Eucharist is the Sacrament of Initiation in which we give praise and thanks to God for giving us Jesus Christ. We receive the Body and Blood of Christ, bread and wine.
Sacraments of Healing
Sacrament of Penance
The sacrament of Penance (Confession), not only frees us from our sins, but it also challenges us to have the same kind of compassion and forgiveness for those who sin against us. The sacrament of Penance is God's gift to us so that any sin committed after Baptism can be forgiven. In confession we have the opportunity to repent and recover the grace of friendship with God.
Anointing of the Sick
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick's purpose is to bestow special grace on Christians going through deadly illnesses and old age. The people who can receive it must be Christian and close to death. Arrangements should be made through the parish office for those who are homebound. Call the Parish Office at (732) 446-6661. If after hours, or on weekends, and the person is in imminent danger of death, leave a message. The phone is checked periodically throughout the day. If you are having surgery you may ask a priest to anoint you before the surgery. Call the office to schedule an appointment. Please do not arrange for someone else to be anointed unless you are immediately related to the person in need and know they desire to receive the sacrament. This avoids embarrassing the priest and the ill person avoiding an otherwise awkward situation. Please note: It is best not to wait until the very last moment to call for a priest. There are situations when no priest is available and might be several hours away from responding.
Sacraments at the service of communion and mission of the faithful
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to His apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. This Sacrament has three degrees within it: Diaconate (Permanent and Transitional), Priests and Bishops. Those who feel called to the Order of Deacon may contact the Pastor to discern the Call to this vital ministry in the Church. St. Thomas More currently has 3 active Permanent Deacons. The permanent Diaconate is open to married or single men over the age of 35 who have gone through the Trenton Diocese Diaconate Classes (currently a 4 year program). For men not married at the time of Ordination the vow of celibacy is required for life. For those who are married, should your wife pre-decease you the vow of celibacy will be required upon the death of your spouse.
Those men who are not married who wish to pursue studies to the priesthood may contact the of the Diocese of Trenton at 609-393-2801 or view information on the web site www.godiscallingyou.com. The Office of Vocations also has an interactive CD- Rom available and regular discernment meetings held monthly throughout the Diocese. The Diocese also has a House of Formation for those men not sure or who are in transition in preparation for Seminary.
The Parish follows the Common Policy for Marriage for the Province of New Jersey. The Catholic Church of New Jersey has the same policies throughout the State by agreement of the Bishop's of New Jersey. Those wishing to Marry must contact the Pastor at least one year in advance. You must be a registered member of the Parish. No “wedding date” is discussed until an initial meeting with the pastor is successfully completed and it has been determined that both bride and groom are free to marry in the Catholic Church. We do not take "cold" calls for those looking for a Church "rental". As part of the preparation for this lifetime commitment the couple has four instructional meetings. They are administered the FOCUS instrument to assist them in a assessing the strength's and weaknesses of their relationship. They are required to attend a Pre-Cana instruction. Since Marriage is a Sacrament and a religious institution the ceremony is a thoroughly Catholic one. Those individuals who are planning on marrying a non-baptized person (Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, etc…) or Individuals who are marrying another Christian who is not a Catholic (Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist, etc.) are asked to speak to the priest regarding these special circumstances. In preparation for marriage couples will be asked to provide a recently issued copy of their Baptismal, First Eucharist, and Confirmation Certificates. Please call the Church where you were Baptized and/or Confirmed and ask that a newly issued copy be mailed to St. Thomas More Parish. If the Church where you were baptized or Confirmed no longer exists you may call the Diocese in which the Church was located to ascertain where the records are kept. If your sacraments were administered at St. Thomas More or Our Lady of Mercy we will have the record and you do not need to obtain a copy.