PREPARATION FOR BAPTISM
About the Sacrament
Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble. (BCP page 298) In this sacrament “God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the Kingdom of God.” (BCP page 858)
Occasions for Holy Baptism
Holy Baptism is usually administered four times a year on the feasts recommended by the Prayer Book, in the context of the Holy Eucharist and in the presence of the faith community. The four occasions are: the Easter Vigil or one of the Sundays of Easter (March or April); the Day of Pentecost (May or June); All Saints’ Day or the Sunday following (November); and the Baptism of our Lord (January). It may also be administered when a Bishop is present, and on Saint Matthew’s day in September. (BCP page 312) Under special circumstances, Baptism is sometimes scheduled for other Eucharistic Sundays, but never in the penitential seasons of Advent or Lent.
Baptism of Adults and Older Children
If the candidate for Baptism is an adult or older child, he or she will have received instruction in the Christian faith and practice. Sponsors of adults and older children present their candidates and thereby signify their endorsement of the candidates and their intention to support them by prayer and example in their Christian life. All sponsors must be baptized Christians who regularly participate in the life of a parish.
Since the first century, the Church has baptized infants under certain conditions; that is, when their parents are active members of the Church and thus the child will be raised in the “household of faith”, sharing in the repentance, and the ongoing faith and practice of the faith community. Before the baptism, parents and godparents (sponsors) meet with the priest for a period of instruction on the meaning of the sacrament, their duties to help the new Christian grow in the knowledge and love of God, and in their responsibilities as members of this Church.
PREPARATION FOR CONFIRMATION
About the Sacrament
Confirmation is the rite in which a Christian, having been baptized as an infant or child, now expresses a mature commitment to Christ and receives prayer and laying on of hands by the Bishop. It is required of those to be Confirmed that they are sufficiently instructed in the Christian faith as outlined in the Baptismal Covenant, and are ready to be faithful in the worship, prayer, service, and fellowship of the Church.
Confirmation of Adults
Adults wishing to make a mature commitment of faith have the opportunity to prepare for Confirmation by making their interest known to the Rector
Confirmation for Young People
Youth may seek preparation for Confirmation if they are in the 8th grade or older and feel ready to make a mature affirmation of their faith in Christ. It is expected that they have been baptized and are regular in attending worship, and have a sincere desire to grow in their understanding and practice of the faith.
Youth Confirmation Class
The class assumes both past and future participation in the worship and education programs of the parish, which, along with a Christian home environment, are the primary preparation for Confirmation. There are sessions with the clergy and mentors when the Bishop’s visit draws near.
Each youth will be expected to choose and complete 10 or more hours of service in the community. They will be expected to engage in regular prayer and scripture reading to build a personal devotional life, and memorize the 10 Commandments, the Apostle’s Creed, the 23rd Psalm, and several definitions from the Outline of the Faith.
PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE
About the Sacrament
“Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God” in which they enter into a life-long union for the purpose of:
- Their mutual joy and spiritual nurture,
- The help and comfort given one another,
- That their life together might be a sign of Christ’s love, to this sinful and broken world, and
- When God wills, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of God.
“Christian marriage signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commend it to be honored among all people.” (BCP pages 422-423)
Preparation for Marriage
It is expected that those who choose to marry before a priest, in the midst of a Christian congregation, are doing so because of Christian conviction. Therefore, it is expected that at least one person in the proposed marriage be a baptized Christian and a regular participant in the worship life of this parish. Further, it is also expected that the couple’s intention is to live together as a couple within the life and love of the Christian community. It is important that the couple be known to the clergy and parish for a significant period of time before the wedding.
The Canons of the Church regarding marriage will be observed carefully. This includes the requirement of pre-marital counseling, as directed by the priest. The Bishop’s permission is required if either party has been divorced. The marriage must be attested to by at least two witnesses and conform to the laws of the state. (BCP page 422)
As the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage is a service of worship, plans concerning the ceremony, flowers, and music are under the direction of the priest. The couple helps the priest in planning the service.
Before any arrangements are made, be sure to speak with the priest regarding the use of the church and clergy availability. This is to be done at least three months prior to the wedding. Weddings will not be scheduled during Advent or Lent. Weddings may be held at most reasonable times. Usual times for weddings are: Saturday morning or afternoon or any evening. Rehearsals are usually held in the evening before the wedding, and typically require one hour.
The priest will meet with the couple for pre-marital instructions and counseling at least three times prior to the marriage. Topics for the sessions will include: the Christian life; Christian marriage; exploration by the couple of some elements of their relationship. Pre-marital assessment, available through local professional counselors, is highly recommended for all couples.
The service usually includes the Holy Eucharist with hymns. This is an appropriate celebration of the presence of Christ in the life of the newly married couple and of their participation in the life of the Body.
When music is desired the following customs will be observed. “Any music used in connection with a wedding should be suitable for a church service, as distinguished from a social gathering. As in all services of the Church, it should be an aid to worship. Secular music does not fit the serious nature of the ceremony and is far better used at the wedding reception.” The Book of Common Prayer (page 14) states that the words of anthems (this includes solos) are to be from the Holy Scripture, Music for Church Weddings (an official publication of the Joint Commission on Church Music of the Episcopal Church), the Book of Common Prayer, or from texts congruent with them.
There will be a fee for the organist if their services are required. There is no fee for the use of the church or for the services of the priest charged to members. You may make an offering to the priest’s Discretionary Fund which is used to assist persons in need.
AT THE TIME OF DEATH
About the Liturgy
“The liturgy for the dead is an Easter liturgy. It finds all its meaning in the resurrection. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we, too, shall be raised. The liturgy, therefore, is characterized by joy, in the certainty that ‘neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ This joy, however, does not make human grief unchristian. The very love we have for each other in Christ brings deep sorrow when we are parted by death. Jesus himself wept at the grave of his friend. So, while we rejoice that one we love has entered into the nearer presence of our Lord, we sorrow in sympathy with those who mourn.” (BCP page 507)
Call Your Parish Priest
When there is a death in your family, or a family member is near death, call your priest. He or she can stand with you in your pain and share with you the strength of the Christian faith in the face of death.
Prior to the Funeral
Prior to the funeral it is appropriate that family members and the clergy meet together for prayers and to discuss the burial liturgy. We suggest that you do not have a “viewing”. While it does make sense for those closest to the deceased to see the body, general “viewings” are not a necessary part of Christian burial and may be an unnecessary emotional strain and financial burden. Bereaved persons may wish to have hours to receive visits of love and condolence from family and friends. Time and place may be announced in the newspaper notice.
“Baptized Christians are properly buried from the church. The service should be held at a time when the congregation has opportunity to be present.” (BCP page 490) The service at the church will normally include the service for “The Burial of the Dead”, Rite I (pages 469-482) or Rite II (pages 491-498); the Holy Eucharist, beginning at the Offertory; and the Commendation (pages 482-484 or 499-500). The Committal (pages 484-487 or 501-503) takes place at the graveside.
The burial rituals of fraternal orders, military organizations, or other such associations, if used, are to be held at some time and place prior to the Church’s burial service.
The body may be disposed of in ways other than burial. It is commended as good stewardship to donate one’s body or organs for medical purposes. Cremation is also desirable, the ashes to be kept in a proper place, such as a memorial garden or columbarium. All the funeral rites of the Church may be held in the church with the body or ashes present or not present.
There is no fee for the services of the priest. Therefore, the funeral director should never include in a bill any charge for the ministrations of the clergy. If the organist is used, he or she will charge a standard fee.
It is wise to make preparation before death occurs, including:
- The selection of a burial lot, or other directions for the disposal of the body, such as donations or cremation.
- The making of a will. It is “the duty of Christian parents to make prudent provision for the well-being of their families, and of all persons to make wills, while they are in health, arranging for the disposal of their temporal goods, not neglecting, if they are able, to leave bequests for religious and charitable uses.” (BCP page 445)
St. Matthew’s has created a Funeral Planning Guide which will help with pre-planning your funeral. The booklet includes not only preparations for the funeral liturgy but also important information for your survivors.
The Memorial Garden
Consecrated ground for the interment of cremated remains of loved ones has been located on the east side of the Parish Hall. Ashes are buried, without container, in a one-foot-square plot within the Garden. Information about the costs and procedures to reserve a place in the Garden are available through the Parish Office.