Seven Sacraments of the Anglican Church
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The Thirty-Nine Articles recognises seven sacraments. Two sacraments that are "ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospels" are:
The remaining five are "commonly called Sacraments but not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel":
- Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession and absolution)
- Holy Matrimony
- Ordination (Holy Orders or Sacred Ministry)
- Anointing of the Sick (Healing or Unction)
The Sacrament of Baptism is the initiation rite for any Christian, especially in the Anglican Church. Whether infant or adult, baptism is done usually by the Parish Priest or a Deacon. However, any lay person may perform an emergency baptism. That person must inform the Church, besides having the consent from the infant's parents to administer the emergency baptism.
A valid baptism is done with water, and the Trinitarian formula recited: I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. How the water is used may vary from parish to parish. This includes:
- Water being sprinked on the forehead
- Water being poured onto the forehead
- The candidate being submerged in the river
- The candidate being submerged in the sea
Check out my other hub on Baptism in the Anglican Church.
The Holy Eucharist is central in Anglican corporate worship. We come together to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, both Wine and Bread of Life.
Presided over by a priest or bishop, who would be assisted by altar servers and subdeacons, with the congregation together feeding on Him.
Confession and Absolution
Humans are frail beings. No matter how strong we may be at times, often we find ourselves falling short or deviating. But God is Holy and, we who are created in His likeness, are required to be holy. Since we no longer have blood sacrifices or offerings, there must be ways for us to have our sins absolved. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one way.
The Anglican Church position on this sacrament can be expressed as: all may, some should but none must.
In the Sacrament of Confession, we are given an opportunity to confess our sins. We are able to talk about our problem in confidence knowing that anything and everything we say will be kept a secret by the priest. This is an opportunity, not only to admit our weakness, but to get a different perspective from a non-judging person.
Absolution is not the sign that the priest acts as God. Rather, it is a reminder that God forgives us. Knowing that we are forgiven, especially for something grievous we have committed, releases us from the guilt.
However, the sacrament should not be abused: we shouldn't partake in the sacrament to enable us to commit the same wrong over and over again. The other point also is this sacrament does not remove us from temporal or secular punishments.
Matrimony is a joyous occasion: when two souls commit to become one - connected together with God. A celebration which involves their loved ones and the Holy Mother Church. Together, this husband and wife will embark on their journey of love, commitment and faith, perhaps bringing new life into the world and sharing God's love with their children.
Civil Marriage Blessings
In a mixed society such as Malaysia, wedding may happen at the National Registrations Department where a civil servant presides. While the legal certificate is in force, before the eyes of the Church the couple remains no different than a committed girlfriend and boyfriend with legal rights.
Thus, to aid civil marriages, the Church performs Marriage Blessings. Unlike Holy Matrimony, where the couple will wed, Marriage Blessings cater to those whose marriages are legal, but not made through Holy Matrimony. The liturgy is pretty much the same, just with different wordings.
The Sacrament of Confirmation is when a baptised Anglican is confirmed in faith and in the Church. This sacrament is not automatic. Candidates must first be prepared through Confirmation Class. While preparing for confirmation, the catechumen would be baptised by the vicar. Later, these newly baptised adults and the confirmation candidates would participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. They must also have attended Mass regularly in that time frame.
In St. Columba's Parish, Miri, Confirmation Class begins around September and end in mid to late May. Confirmation is done by the Lord Bishop of Kuching, our ordinary and bishop, on June 16th, or the Saturday closest to it. June 16th is the Feast Day of St. Columba, our Patron Saint.
In the Anglican Church, specifically the Diocese of Kuching, only a Bishop - whether the Lord Bishop of Kuching or the Assistant Bishop - may administer this Sacrament of Confirmation.
The Anglican Church recognises and practices the threefold ministries, or holy orders, of the Bishop, the Priest and the Deacon. Admission and anointing into these orders is called ordination.
A Deacon and a Priest are ordained by the Bishop, who is validly consecrated in apostolic succession. A bishop, however, must be consecrated by at least three other Bishops who were validly consecrated in their own right.
The Bishop is the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese. In the State of Sarawak, the Lord Bishop of Kuching is the legal entity for the Anglican Church. He is likened to the Chief Executive Officer of the Diocese, spiritually and temporally. The Bishop decides the practices and doctrines adapted in the Diocese.
Unlike the Roman Catholic Bishops, Anglican [Lord] Bishops are all autonomous. They are not subjected to the direction of a primate, unless they are suffragans. The Archbishop of Canterbury, for instance, is purely a first among equals with respect to the Provinces and Dioceses outside his jurisdiction. In the Province of South East Asia, for instance, we have four Dioceses:
The Archbishop of the Province does not have effective authority in the dioceses other than his own. Presently, the Archbishop is also the Lord Bishop of Kuching. Except in rare cases, the Archbishop does not intervene in the affairs of other Dioceses.
Most of the clergy come from the order of Priests. These are the shepherds who tend the flock. They have been ordained by the Bishop and assigned to a Parish.
Priests may have many titles, in addition to the Parish Priest. Some are also Vicars or Priests-in-Charge. Four, in the Diocese of Kuching, are known as Archdeacons. In the Cathedral, we have a Dean. Senior priests may have been collated as "Canons".
No matter what job title they go, the basic job description remains the same. They lead the parish spiritually and temporally. They preside over the celebration of Mass and the Holy Matrimony. They counsel the leaders and the laity. Priests are invited to bless a house or lead thanksgiving. They pray and anoint the sick at home or at the hospital.
Deacons are ordained by the Bishop to assist him. After ordination, deacons may be assigned to a parish. There are two forms of Anglican Deacons: vocational and transitional.
Vocational deacons are those ordained to the diaconate permanently. Presently all vocational deacons are non-stipendiary. This means that they are not paid a salary by the Diocese, i.e. volunteers.
Transitional deacons are those who would be ordained as priests later. They have completed their theological training at an approved seminary.
Unlike priests, the deacons functions are relatively limited. While Deacons have the right to proclaim the Word in Mass, they may not preside it. They visit the sick at the hospital or at home. They are licensed to preach.
In the Diocese of Kuching, there are Sub-Deacons. These are not deacons per se, but senior lay readers who have been licensed by the Lord Bishop to act as deacon in a particular parish. In Mass, their vestments are the amice, the cassock or alb and the cincture/girdle. They do not wear a diagonal stole. Also, unlike deacons, they are not ordained.
Deaconess in the Anglican Church, with respect to the Diocese of Kuching and the Province of South East Asia, are senior lay persons. The Diocese does not practice, and to a certain extent doesn't recognise, the ordination of women priests.
Anointing of the Sick
In times of weakness, we need God to comfort us. In the Anglican Church, the priest, through the sacrament of unction or anointing of the sick, we are given that assurance that God is with us.
In this Sacrament, the priest would anoint the sick with Holy Oil. Usually accompanied by prayer and some short form of worship. This is an equally meaningful Sacrament to remind the sick - whether at home or in the hospital - that they are not alone.
It's equally important to remind the caregivers and family members to be strong and have Faith in the Almighty. No matter how bleak the situation may be, being comforted by knowing a greater Being is looking out for us, and we have hope in Him, helps give us courage and comfort.
Similar but not the Same
These are the seven sacraments of the Anglican Church. Yes, because of the Catholicity and Traditions continued by the Anglican Church, we continue to practice these today. However, how we use the sacraments have changed. Application of these Sacraments are similar but not the same as those of the Roman Church.
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