The first Christians regarded the Church as the Sacrament, Jesus, Who is God, became truly human in the Incarnation, in the same manner as we are human, except that He was without sin. The Church is truly his Body. It is the outward and visible sign of God’s presence with his people. Gradually, teachers identified certain outward and visible signs as “sacraments”, that is as actions of the Church which gave the grace of God’s presence and blessing.
The Anglican Church believes that the Sacraments are “sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will toward us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in Him (The Articles of Religion). Anglicans regard the two Gospel Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist as being “generally necessary to salvation”.
Sacramental rites, in their Biblical sense, are also termed sacraments.
Holy Baptism by means of water and in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19) conveys new birth (John 3:5; Romans 6:4) and forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21).
The Holy Communion also called the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy and the Mass, was instituted by our Lord at the Last Supper when He said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (I Corinthians 11:24, Matthew 26:20-28; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-20). By this Sacrament He feeds His people with His Body and Blood (John 6:41-59)
(The Anglican Church) “takes all possible care that the sacrament be duly administered, wherever the Common Prayer is read, every Sunday and holiday in the year.
The Church gives a particular direction with regard to those that are in Holy Orders: ‘In all cathedral and collegiate Churches and Colleges, where there are many Priests and Deacons, they shall all receive the communion with the Priest, every Sunday at the least.'”
—-Source: The Duty of Constant Communion – Sermon 101 – 1872 Edition – By John Wesley
Confirmation conveys the strengthening gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-7; Ephesians 1:13) for life as a mature Christian.
Penance / Confession conveys the forgiveness of sins (John 20:23; James 5:16) and the assurance of that forgiveness.
Holy Unction (Anointing of the Sick) is the anointing with oil for healing (James 5:14; Mark 6:13) of body, mind, and soul.
Holy Matrimony is the union of one man and one woman for life before God.
The relationship, St. Paul tells us (Ephesians 5:31-32), is like that between Christ and His Church.
Holy Orders denote the Apostolic Ministry of bishops, priest and deacons, instituted by Christ, and male in character (John 20:19-23; Matthew 16:18; Acts 6:1-6). Our Lord commissioned the Apostles and their successors, the bishops, to proclaim His work and salvation which He accomplished on Calvary. When Anglicans speak of Apostolic Succession, we mean an unbroken line of consecrations and commissions from our Lord to the present bishops, continuing the same teachings and ministry established by Jesus Christ Himself.
Baptism and Confirmation
Anglican parents who have a child to be Baptized should contact their priest. Some preparation is involved. Selection of Godparents is important. For Anglicans, this office is not just “honorary”; it creates a real spiritual responsibility towards the Godchild. Two Godparents of the same sex as the child, and one of the opposite sex, are traditional. Adult candidates for baptism and/or Confirmation undergo a period of instruction. Holy Confirmation is often administered at the same service as Holy Baptism in the case of adults. Adult candidates do not require Godparents but they may elect to have sponsors to “stand up for them.
The Sacrament of Holy Confirmation, which completes and “seals” our Baptism, is administered by a bishop. By the imposition of the bishop’s hand on our head, we come into sacramental unity with the Successors in Office to the Holy Apostles commissioned by Christ himself to govern His Church. A period of considerable instruction usually precedes the administration of this Sacrament.
In the Anglican tradition, Holy Matrimony is generally administered only to couples who have both been baptized and at least one of whom is a practicing member of the traditional Anglican Church. Because sacramental Marriage is a life-long, solemn commitment, significant preparation and instruction is required. The clergy should be consulted before any other plans (including the date of the wedding) have been made.
Those coming to the Church to ask God’s blessing upon their marriage will want to use the Church’s prescribed rites and ceremonies. Neither the laity nor the clergy have the authority to change the Church’s form of service or to substitute something in its place.
Clergy of the Anglican Church will provide a Christian burial for any baptized Christian.
For practicing Anglicans, the funeral service provided by The Book of Common Prayer consists of the Burial Office, the Requiem Eucharist and the Committal at the grave. For other baptized Christians, the priest may suggest appropriate changes. At many Anglican funerals the casket, no matter how expensive or ornate, is covered with a cloth pall. Flower displays are not used in the Church. When we go to meet our Maker, we all do so on an equal footing.