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Sacraments

Holy Baptism

Baptism is the sacrament of entrance into the Christian community. By it we become members of God's family and inheritors of his Kingdom, receiving the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is normally administered on four occasions in the year: the Sunday after All Saints Day (November 1); the First Sunday after the Epiphany (January 6); the Day of Pentecost (Whitsunday) and the Great Vigil of Easter. The Great Vigil is a particularly appropriate time for adult baptisms. Baptisms may be scheduled at other times, at the discretion of the Rector. Except in cases of emergency, Baptism is not administered in the seasons of Advent and Lent.

 

Each candidate for Holy Baptism is presented by one or more sponsors (also known as godparents), who must be themselves be baptized and practicing Christians. The choice of sponsors is subject to approval by the Rector.

 

The Rector gives pre-baptismal instruction to adults to be baptized, and to the parents and sponsors of infants. It is expected that the parents of infants to be baptized are active, participating members of this congregation, or practicing Christians with a family connection to this parish.

 

Holy Communion

Holy Communion is the Sacrament commended by Christ for continual remembrance. It is the central act of worship of the Church, and of this parish.

Who may receive Communion in the Episcopal Church? Visitors or newcomers to the parish sometimes ask this question. If you are a member of an Episcopal or Anglican parish anywhere you are, naturally, received as a communicant here. If not, there are four guidelines:

  • You must be a baptized person;
  • You must have been admitted to Communion in some congregation or denomination;
  • You should recognize, with us, that the Holy Communion is not just a memorial meal but a partaking of the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ;
  • You should be spiritually prepared, in your judgement, to receive this holy Sacrament.

If you have doubts or questions, please feel free to ask the Rector. In any case, be assured that no one is ever refused at the Communion rail.

 

The usual practice at St. Mary's is that children are admitted as Communicants at about fourth-grade age. The Rector schedules a series of classes during Lent ot prepare children to begin receiving Communion during Holy Week or at Easter.

 

Holy Matrimony

Christian Marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman who ask God's blessing and help to fulfill their vows.

 

Weddings at St. Mary’s are normally performed only for regularly attending parishioners and members of their immediate families.

 

All couples contemplating marriage are required to meet with the Rector for at least three sessions of pre-marital instruction on the Church’s teaching concerning marriage and family life. Additional sessions may be required at the Rector’s discretion. By canon law, the Rector must be satisfied that the couple intends and is able to undertake a Christian marriage before he consents to conduct the wedding.

 

Divorced persons seeking to remarry while their former spouse is still alive are required to undergo additional counseling with the Rector. The permission of the bishop must be obtained for remarriage in church.

 

All weddings take place in the church using the authorized liturgy in The Book of Common Prayer. Flash photography is strictly prohibited during the service.

 

Couples planning a wedding are urged not to schedule the reception until the Rector has agreed to conduct the service on the anticipated date.

 

Weddings may not be scheduled for Sundays, or during the seasons of Advent and Lent.

 

There is no charge for weddings at St. Mary’s. However, fees are payable to the organist, other musicians and participants, and for certain services. Many couples also wish to make some additional offering to the church in thanksgiving.

 

Reconciliation

Reconciliation of a Penitent, also called Confession, is the sacrament by which we are offered assurance of the forgiveness of sins. It is available by appointment with the clergy. It is also offered at regularly scheduled times before Christmas and Easter, and at other times as announced.

 

Confessions are normally heard at the Altar Rail in the church, but may be heard in other private locations as well.

 

The traditional Anglican rule concerning Confession is “All may; some should; none must.” If any serious sin is bothering your conscience, you should definitely make your confession to a priest and receive absolution before receiving Holy Communion. Also, many parishioners find the discipline of regular confession an immense comfort and aid to spiritual growth.

 

You may consult with the Rector for guidance on how to prepare for and make your confession.

 

Anointing of the Sick (Holy Unction)

Anointing (Unction) with blessed oil is administered to those who are sick in body, mind or spirit, as a sacramental sign of God's healing presence and power. It is available by appointment or upon request. It is normally also administered as part of the Low Mass at Noon on the first Friday of each month.

 

Please ensure that the Rector is notified immediately if you are taken to the hospital or are otherwise seriously ill or injured.

 

Confirmation

Confirmation expresses a mature commitment to Christ, and is a sacrament of strengthening by the Holy Spirit. It is administered through the laying-on of hands by a bishop. Inquirer's Classes for adults and Confirmation Classes for young people will be offered preceding a visitation by the bishop.

 

Those already confirmed by a bishop in the apostolic succession – including individuals confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church or chrismated in the Eastern Orthodox Church – are not confirmed again but should be formally received into the Episcopal Church by the bishop during the Confirmation service

 

Pastoral Services

Christian Burial

When a parishioner is near death, the priest should be notified so that the Last Rites may be administered. Please also notify the priest at the time of death so that the “Ministration at the Time of Death” may be said over the body. Calls for these purposes can and should be made at any time of the day or night.

 

After a death, the Rector will meet with the next of kin to plan the details of the funeral service. All church members are encouraged to record their wishes concerning their funeral service and file them with the parish office, as surviving family members may not be familiar with Anglican burial customs.

 

The funeral service is normally held in the church. Where possible, we strongly encourage bringing the body to the church for the funeral before it is taken for burial or cremation. A Requiem Mass is the appropriate service for one who was a communicant member of the Church.

 

If desired, Old St. Mary’s Church may be used for “calling hours” prior to a funeral.

 

Funerals and memorial services may be scheduled for any time of the year, except Sundays and times when the church is being prepared for major liturgies (for example, on Christmas Eve or Holy Saturday).

 

The form of the service will be the authorized liturgy found in The Book of Common Prayer. Only readings from Holy Scripture are permitted. Hymns are restricted to those in the Episcopal Church’s authorized hymnal.

 

The Rector or officiating priest will give a brief homily during the service. “Eulogies” are not part of the Anglican tradition.

 

Excessive floral displays are discouraged. Instead of sending flowers to the church, it is appropriate to make a donation to the church or to charity in memory of the deceased.

 

There is no charge for funerals at St. Mary’s. However, fees are payable to the organist, any other musicians, and the chimer (if applicable).

 

Pastoral Counsel

If you are experiencing personal problems of any kind, or if you are having doubts and questions concerning your faith, please do not hesitate to call the Rector for an appointment. He is always available as a spiritual father and friend to offer whatever assistance he can.