What are the Sacraments?
The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given
by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. It is God’s
benevolence toward the human race. There is no way that we can merit or earn
grace; it is a gift. If grace could be earned, then “grace would no longer be grace”
(Rom 11:6), it would no longer be a gift. The ultimate sacrament is Jesus Christ,
the greatest outward and visible sign of God’s love. Since the Church is the Body
of Christ (I Cor. 12:27), then it is the continuation of his earthly presence.
The Sacraments of the Church, then, are Sacraments or powers that come forth from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. The Seven Sacraments include Holy Baptism, Holy Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Holy Unction, Holy Confession, Holy Matrimony, and Holy Orders. While God’s grace is not limited to these, they are sure and certain ways that we can know we are meeting God face to face. May God allow Holy Comforter to be a parish where all seven Sacraments are celebrated as vital to a healthy parish.
The sacrament of Holy Baptism is the beginning of the spiritual life. Baptism by water, in the name of the Holy Trinity conveys new birth in Christ and the forgiveness of sins (Matt 28: 19; John 3:5; Romans 6:4; Acts 2: 38; 1 Peter 3:21).
Following the practice of the ancient church, Holy Comforter extends the Sacrament of Holy Baptism to infants as well as adults. While the sacrament is powerful it is not magic, and a child must also be raised in a Christian home, nurtured in the Christian Faith. If you are interested in having your child baptized, Fr. Woodall would be happy to speak with you about the joys and obligations of presenting a child for Holy Baptism.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is administered by the laying on of hands and anointing
with oil by our Bishop. This sacrament conveys the full strengthening gifts of the Holy
Ghost, and completes what was begun at Holy Baptism. (Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-7;
The Holy Eucharist, also called the Mass or Holy Communion, was instituted by Our Lord at the Last Supper when He said: “Take eat this is my body…this is my blood.” This is the sacrament by which Christ feeds His people with His own Body and Blood (1 Cor 11: 24; Matt 26: 20-28; Mark 14: 17-25; Luke 22: 14-20; John 6: 41-59).
We believe that the Eucharist is not merely a mental remembering of Christ's passion, but that in the Holy Eucharist we ascend to heaven where Christ Jesus eternal offers himself as an oblation to the Father, we are united to him, and made acceptable to God. We receive the fruits of that sacrifice by partaking of his Body and Blood in the Holy Communion.
"The Eucharistic rite, which is the source and centre of the Church's life, is both a symbol and a foretaste of the gathering of the human race into Christ and the transformation of the material world in him. The conversion of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is the symbol and foretaste of the transformation of the material world; the feeding of Christ's Body the Church with the Eucharistic gifts is the symbol and the foretaste of the gathering of the human race into Christ, for in communion, as St. Augustine says, we are what we receive. But here we must recall a truth . . . namely that, although from one aspect the Church is the ark of salvation in which the saved are protected from the flood outside, from another aspect the Church is not sealed off from the world at all, but is the source from which grace flows into the world to heal and transfigure it. Every time the Eucharist is celebrated, the full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction which Christ offered throughout his life and on Calvary, and which is now a perpetually efficacious reality in the heavenly realm, is made a present and active power of redemption and sanctification in our world of time and space, and by their sharing in it the members of Christ's Body the Church are sent out to their life in the world renewed and strengthened for their share in the work of the world's transformation."
- E.M. Mascall The Christian Universe
(Darton, Longman & Todd, London, 1966) p. 163
A significant part of Jesus’ earthly ministry was healing, a sign of his power and the coming
of the Kingdom of God (Mark 6:13). Today, his Church continues that ministry through the
sacrament of Holy Unction. Thissacramental laying on of hands and anointing with oil is available
for all Christians who are suffering from serious sickness of Body, Mind, or Spirit (James 5:14).
Fr. Woodall offers unction in the home, in the hospital, and upon request.
The Sacrament of Confession or “Reconciliation” is available as a powerful spiritual aid to all Christians (James 5:16). In this sacrament the penitent Christian confesses his sins to God in the presence of the priest (symbolizing all the church), and receives the gift of absolution from the priest. The priests of the Church continue Jesus’ healing ministry by absolving penitents of their sins. Before he ascended into heaven, the risen Christ appeared to the apostles and imparted the most significant part of their ministry. He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld” (John 20:22-23). St. James encourages this practice as well: “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Anything confessed to a priest is “under the seal” and will never, under any circumstances, be revealed by that priest. The Scriptures tells us to "confess our sins" not that we have sinned. It's not consistent with Scripture that the General Confession during Mass covers the responsibility to make confession for grave sins as that is not an occasion to verbally announce our sins.
The 1st Saturday of each month (unless otherwise posted) is devoted to Confession beginning at 11:00 am. You may also schedule confession with the priest. If you wish to make your first confession please meet with the priest for spiritual counsel, and assistance in the examination of your conscience.
Because we resemble the Catholic Church of former centuries, the priest is often asked if it is required to go to confession before receiving communion. That is the discipline they uphold. But we consider this a healing that begins within. Does one Have to go to the doctor? No. but it is unwise and dangerous not to do so. So it is with this Sacrament. A priest cannot force you to understand that you need to cleanse your soul. I cannot examine your conscience for you. That is your work. Once your have done that and realize the danger you are in by presuming to come to the Lord's table trusting in your own righteousness, come and confess your sins and receive absolution. "Take out the trash" as it were.
"Human diseases in the first place are not easy for a man to see; for 'no one knows the things of a man save the spirit of the man which is in him.' How, then, can anyone provide the specific for a disease if he does not know its character and often cannot tell whether the man is ill at all? When it becomes apparent, then it is all the more intractable to him. You cannot treat men with the same authority with which the shepherd treats a sheep. Here too it is possible to bind and to forbid food and to apply cautery and the knife, but the decision to receive treatment does not lie with the man who administers medicine but actually with the patient. That wonderful man, Paul, knew this fact when he said to the Corinthians, "Not that we have lordship over your faith, but are helpers of your joy." For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumbling of sinners by force. When secular judges convict wrong-doers under the law, they show that their authority is complete and compel men, whether they will or no, to submit to their methods. But in the case we are considering it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have authority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice. If a man wanders away from the right faith, the shepherd needs a lot of concentration, perseverance, and patience. The man who practices asceticism helps no one but himself. But the advantage of a shepherd's skill extends to the whole people. The man who distributes alms to the needy or in other ways defend the wronged, has done some good to his neighbors; but less than the priest, as the body is less than the soul. It is not surprising, then, that the Lord said concern for his sheep was a sign of love for himself." - St. John Chrysostom
Marriage or Holy Matrimony is the union of one man and one woman for life before God. By entering into this union with the Blessing of God, it is a source of grace and strength for the couple in their spiritual lives. This sacrament, St Paul tells us, also signifies to us the mystical union between Christ and his
Church, a relationship of love and self-offering (Ephesians 5: 31-32). Holy
Comforter does not rent its facility as a wedding chapel, but baptized
Christians who are already a part of this church community or who wish to
become a part of this community are welcome to begin the process towards
the celebration and blessing of their marriage at Holy Comforter.
We are more eager to prepare the couple for the purpose of marriage
than to arrange a ceremony for anyone who is unsure what biblical marriage
is all about. One of the finest explanation on marriage comes from St. John
Chrysostom's commentary on Ephesians chapter 5.
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission that Jesus Christ
entrusted to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of the
world: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry.
It includes three Orders: bishop, priest, and deacon.