Sacraments and Sacramental Rites of the Church
Our parish church sanctuary is the center for celebrating all of life’s passages. At St. John’s, the Holy Eucharist, “the principle act of Christian worship on Sundays and other major Feasts” is at the core of who we are. The primary mission of the Church, God’s Mission, is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Through our corporate worship, we unite ourselves with others to acknowledge God’s holiness, in hearing God’s Word spoken in Holy Scripture, by praying together and in the celebration of the Sacraments. All persons are welcome to participate in the fullness of this life in Christ.
Our relationship in Christ is established in the covenant of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. The Sacrament is the first critical step in a lifelong journey and relationship with Christ and His Church. By water and the Holy Spirit, the sacrament is the full initiation into Christ’s Body, the Church. At. St. John’s we celebrate Baptism within the context of our Sunday Holy Eucharist. The Church commends five days in the Church Calendar as especially appropriate for administering the Sacrament: at the Easter Vigil, Pentecost, All Saints’ Day or the Sunday after All Saints’ Day, and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, and may be celebrated at other times during the year. Except in cases of emergency, baptism is not administered during the liturgical Seasons of Advent or Lent. Persons interested in being baptized or having members of their families baptized are invited to contact St. John’s Rector for information and scheduling.
The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood, and the principal act of worship in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. Our Anglican theology of the Eucharist upholds the Doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the consecrated elements of bread and wine. The Eucharist is also known as: the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, and the Divine Liturgy. The Holy Eucharist is celebrated at St. John’s each Sunday at 8:00 am and at 10:00 am from September through June. During July and August, one Sunday Eucharist is celebrated at 9:00 am. Each week, we celebrate a community Holy Eucharist of Healing with Anointing on Wednesdays as announced.
The Sacramental Rite of Confirmation is the service in which Christians express a mature commitment to Christ. Confirmation services for St. John’s parishioners are held, usually, once a year, with the Bishop of Connecticut or his representative presiding.
Ordination or Holy Orders
Ordination is the rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being ordained bishops, priests, and deacons, through prayer and the laying on of hands by bishops. Persons who aspire to serve the Church in ordained ministry are screened and evaluated through a process of discernment by the Commission on Ministry. A comprehensive list of gifts, qualifications and passions that the Commission looks for in candidates for Holy Orders is found on the ECCT website. Episcopal deacons, priests and bishops are married, single, women, men, married, single, gay or straight.
Holy Matrimony is the Sacramental rite of Christian marriage in which two adults enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows. Also, when it is God’s will, marriage is intended for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. At. St. John’s, the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is celebrated within the Holy Eucharist, most appropriately in St. John’s church sanctuary but, in certain circumstances may be celebrated outside of the church sanctuary. Couples who have been regularly attending this church or who have recently joined here are welcome to plan their wedding here in close consultation with the Rector. The Episcopal Church requires that the couple planning marriage participate in a series of “Intentional Pre-Marital Christian Counseling” sessions.
St. John’s Episcopal Church is not to be used as a wedding “site of convenience” for persons attempting to avoid the marriage standards, requirements or prohibitions of their own Christian denomination.
Christian Re-marriage after Divorce
When a marriage is planned between persons (one or both) who have been divorced from a previous spouse, additional steps are taken in addition to the standard requirements for preparation. An application for permission to marry and supporting documentation must be submitted to the Bishop of the Diocese by the Rector or other priest or bishop planning to officiate in this Diocese. Official permission, when granted, is delivered in a Letter of Episcopal Consent. The Diocese does not welcome personal appeals by those hoping to be married here. All communications are appropriately sent from St. John’s Rector to the Bishop’s office.
Reconciliation of a Penitent or “Confession”
The Sacramental Rite of Reconciliation, commonly called Confession, is available to all who desire it. The ministry of reconciliation has been committed by Christ to his Church through the common prayer of Christians in public worship and through the priesthood of the Church, by ordained bishops and priests when declaring absolution. For Anglican (i.e. Episcopal) priests and bishops, the Seal of Confession is absolute, and must under no circumstances be broken by them.
Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, Confession or Reconciliation of a Penitent is not mandatory, but available. When referring to the practice of auricular Confession, we often say, “Some may, none must, all should”. At. St. John’s, we put particular emphasis on Private Confession of Penitents during the Season of Lent, and make it available by appointment then, as well as it being available all throughout the year. (See “The Reconciliation of a Penitent”, Book of Common Prayer, p 447.)
Unction of the Sick- often called Last Rites
Sacramental ministry to a sick and dying Christian, may include Confession and Absolution, laying on of hands, extreme unction, (anointing) and Communion. St. John’s Pastoral Care Lay-Ministers assist the clergy in bringing the Reserved Blessed Sacrament to the sick and dying and may anoint with blessed oil. Sacramental Confession and Absolution is administered only by a Priest or Bishop.