Part III. Hey Father, I want to get (Baptized, Confirmed, Married, etc.)!

BAPTISM is one of two sacraments “ordained by Christ himself.” So what does it mean? What are its benefits? What happens if I don’t know if I was baptized or not? Why kids?

It means, like many sacraments many things but, chiefly it is a spiritual cleaving between the Holy Trinity and the very soul of the baptized. The intention is to make certain representations of faith AND to the community. The Catechism says this, “Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.” It is the first step to fullness of faith in spirit and in fact. It is therefore not just an initiation rite although it does have some of those aspects.

What are the benefits? First and foremost a sacred union between the baptized and the full Body of Christ and God’s church. Secondly, it is the gateway through which we promise to study and inwardly digest the word of God. Finally, it is also the sacrament that opens the doors to receiving Holy Communion (the other sacrament ordained by Christ himself).

Are you baptized? If you do not know the answer to this there is the rite of “Provisional Baptism.” There is also a lovely rite of “Renewal of Baptismal Vows.”

Here is the challenge. So many today want the baby baptized but seem to avoid the covenant of teaching, raising, and joining the church. It is problematic. For adults St. Anna’s requires a time of training and learning before baptism of an Adult. Current policy for infant baptism is that the parents, or God Parents, must be regular in attendance before the sacrament will be offered. As Rector, I believe that a child’s soul is NOT in peril without baptism. This sacrament must be understood fully and in a sacred sense. It should never become simply an event to celebrate a child and have a party. Adults will therefore, as sponsors for a child, be required to attend at least 4 pre-baptismal teaching sessions.

Certain Times are set aside for Baptism. The preferred dates for baptisms are: Easter Sunday and all Sundays during Easter Season (early spring), Pentecost Sunday(late spring), All Saints Sunday (early November), and the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord (early January). Private Baptism is not encouraged unless an emergency exists. ONCE BAPTIZED YOU MAY RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION.

CONFIRMATION is a sacrament of the Church. Its outward and visible sign is the laying on of hands of the Bishop who is the chief Priest of the Diocese.

Confirmation is open to all Baptized Christians who seek a greater and more profound experience within the Body of Christ and His Church. We offer this sacrament to those aged 9 and above.

For children a one year course of study is required and will be hosted on Sundays during Sunday School.

For Adults an 8-10 week course of study is required, regular in attendance at worship, and an agreement to “mark, study, and inwardly digest” the articles of faith of the Episcopal Church. The class is called “Inquirers Class.” This course of study is offered at least twice yearly.

By confirmation you will renew your own Baptismal Vows as a person of majority (maturity) and you will be admitted to the full membership of the Episcopal Church, entitling you to hold office, vote, and perform more service to the Lord. NO, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE CONFIRMED TO RECEIVE COMMUNION.

The Episcopal Church recognizes as valid Confirmations those of the ELCA (Lutheran) and Roman Catholic Church; in such cases you would be “Received” all others would be confirmed.

Confirmations are done during the Bishop’s Annual Visitation to St. Anna’s or, if so desired, a confirmation class may elect to join at another church where the Bishop is “visiting” and receive this sacrament.

A FINAL NOTE ABOUT BAPTISM AND CONFIRMATION: One is not “Baptized Episcopalian” you are baptized as a Christian. But you are fully Episcopalian when you are confirmed. Baptisms by most recognized denominations are also recognized by the Episcopal Church.

MARRIAGE is a sacrament of the Church and therefore should not be entered into lightly. Here are some of the basic guidelines for marriage:

  •  One of the parties must be Episcopalian. If one of the two is an atheist or non-Christian this sacrament may be problematic. The short quip is, “we are not a wedding chapel.”
  • Both parties must attend at least 4-6 meetings with the priest prior to marriage.
  • If divorced more than once the Bishop must give his/her approval. Not a major obstacle.
  • Marriages are not performed during Lent or Advent.
  • Fees are charged for ancillary personnel. However, no fee is charged by the Priest for Members of the Church (but other fees may be added).
  • Our wedding coordinator is Luigi Mandile – Parish Administrator.

BLESSING OF SAME SEX UNIONS are permitted in the Diocese of Louisiana and are offered and indeed encouraged at St. Anna’s Church. This wonderful covenant ceremony is not a sacrament. However, many of the aspects of the ceremony mirror the same requirements as that of the Sacrament of Marriage.

  • At least one of the two parties must be a practicing member of an Episcopal congregation. [Because this sacred service is based in part upon the support and affirmation of the community and Body of Christ].
  • Both parties must attend at least 4-6 meetings with the priest prior to the Blessing.
  • If divorced more than once the Bishop must give his/her approval. Not a major obstacle.
  • Blessings are not performed during Lent or Advent.
  • The same fee policies for Blessings follow that of matrimony.
  • Our coordinator is Luigi Mandile – Parish Administrator.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY … TALK TO US…do not assume and don’t be afraid.