In Christian tradition, liturgy is understood as the participation of the People of God in “the work of God.” Through the liturgy, Christ continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church. At its best, liturgy engages the faithful in the life of the community and involves the “conscious, active, and fruitful participation” of everyone.
At Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, we are committed to creating an environment in which liturgy draws together a diverse community of the faithful. Nourished by Word and Sacrament, we are empowered to live the Eucharist in the world through our interactions with others and through our work for justice.
To serve the needs of our parishioners, the parish offers a full array of opportunities for preparation and reception of the church’s sacraments.
Most people know that much of Roman Catholic teaching and practice is based on sacraments. The Catholic Church, they say, is a Sacramental Church.
The word “sacrament” means sign. We believe, first of all, that the Church itself is a sign of Christ’s continuing presence among us. So in this most general sense the Church itself is a sacrament because the Church as the People of God signifies Christ as risen Lord present in our world today.
But the Church is a special kind of sign, not some lifeless symbol. The Church very actively lives out its role as a sign of Christ’s presence by helping us encounter Christ. One specific way – among others – that the Church acts out its sign function is through seven rituals or ceremonies. Through these seven actions we worship God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and through them we encounter Christ. Thus these seven actions hold a very privileged place in the life of Catholic Christians. They are called the seven sacraments. Each of these sacraments in its own way signifies Christ reaching out to encounter his people.
Think of the seven sacraments, therefore, as privileged actions of our sacramental church. The traditional definition of sacraments – “outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace” – expresses the essence of the mystery but not the dynamism. Sacraments are celebrated at particular times in our lives to communicate grace, which is God sharing his life with us. Sacramental grace supports us in responding to Christ’s invitation to follow him as disciples. The seven sacraments can be grouped together under various headings to show the connections between them. The sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are called Sacraments of Initiation. We say that receiving these sacraments “initiates” one into the life of the Church.