About the sacraments

The sacraments of the Catholic Church are, the Church teaches, ‘efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.’

Though not every individual has to receive every sacrament, the Church affirms that, for believers as a whole, the sacraments are necessary for salvation, as the modes of grace divinely instituted by Christ Himself. Likewise, as the sole dispenser of Christ’s sacraments, the Catholic Church itself is spoken of as ‘The universal sacrament of salvation’ containing the individual seven sacraments. Through each of these sacraments, according to the Church, Christ bestows that sacrament’s particular grace, such as incorporation into Christ and the Church, forgiveness of sins, or consecration for a particular service.

The Church teaches that the effect of a sacrament comes ‘ex opere operato’, by the very fact of being administered, regardless of the personal holiness of the minister administering it. However, a recipient’s own lack of proper disposition to receive the grace conveyed can block the effectiveness of the sacrament in that person. The sacraments presuppose faith and through their words and ritual elements, nourish, strengthen and express faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists the sacraments as follows: ‘The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.’


Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other Sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and return as children of God. We become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in the mission. Baptism is a Sacrament of regeneration through water and the Word.     

If you wish for your child to be Baptised here then please contact Fr Colin. If as an adult you wish to follow the life of a Christian in the Catholic Church please ask about our RCIA programme.

prayer for Baptism

Father in heaven, when the Spirit came down upon Jesus at his Baptism in the Jordan, you revealed him as your own beloved son. Keep me, your child, born of water and the Spirit, faithful to my calling. May I, who share in your life as your child through Baptism, follow in Christ’s path of service to people. Let me become one in his sacrifice and hear his word with faith. May I live as your child, following the example of Jesus. Amen

First Holy Communion

The Holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation, participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by the means of the Eucharist. At the Last Supper on the night Our Saviour was betrayed, he instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his body and blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross through-out the ages and until he should come again; and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and Resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

Children are prepared to receive Communion through the First Holy Communion and Reconciliation course. Adults are prepared through the RCIA course.

First Holy Communion and First Confession

Children who have been baptised in the Catholic faith and are currently in school class Year 3 and above are invited to prepare for the sacraments of First Holy Communion and First Confession.

The children learn about the gifts which God has given to the world through creation, Baptism and Bible stories. They will be asked to find out the significance of why things are said and done during Mass, which makes it more meaningful for them. The children will have the opportunity to experience and learn through creative and drama activities during the preparation. The catechists not only provide a spiritual experience but an enjoyable and memorable time during the children’s preparation for their special day.

     ‘If I was worried I could talk to one of the grown ups and they always helped me’

     ‘I didn’t know anyone and was nervous but the teachers helped me to make friends and I was never on my own’

     ‘The teachers always showed me what to do so I wasn’t worried about anything’

     ‘I loved my First Communion day’


Sin is before all else an offence against God. A rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Reconciliation prayer

God the father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen


The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred through the laying on of hands and the anointing with Chrism on the forehead together with the words “(Name), be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”, the seal of the gift that is the Holy Spirit.

The consecration of the sacred Chrism is an important action that proceeds the celebration of Confirmation but is in a certain way part of it. It is the Bishop who, in the course of the Chrism Mass of Wednesday of Holy Week, consecrates the sacred Chrism for the whole diocese.


The matrimonial covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership for the whole of life is by its nature ordered towards the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. The covenant between Baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a Sacrament.

In many countries the situation may arise of a proposed marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic or a non-Christian. This is something that the couple can discuss with their local parish priest.

If you wish to book your wedding at the Sacred Heart church or at St Antony’s please contact Fr Colin or phone him on 0117 962 0676 to arrange to come in for an initial meeting.

If you are resident in this area but planning to have your wedding elsewhere in the UK or perhaps overseas, then you should also arrange to meet with Fr Colin in order to discuss this and to begin the necessary paperwork. This should be done a long time before the proposed wedding date.

We run marriage preparation courses for engaged couples twice a year in the Sacred Heart parish rooms.

prayer for marriage

We thank you, O God,
for the love you have implanted in our hearts. May it always inspire us to be kind in our words, considerate of feeling, and concerned for each other’s needs and wishes. Help us to be understanding and forgiving of human weaknesses and failings. Increase our faith and trust in you and may your prudence guide our life and love. Bless our marriage O God, with peace and happiness, and make our love fruitful for your glory and our joy both here and in eternity.

Sacrament of the sick

The Church believes and confesses that among the seven Sacraments there is one specially intended to strengthen those who are being tried by illness: the Anointing of the Sick. The Anointing of the Sick is not a sacrament only for those who are at the point of death. Hence as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for them to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.

If a sick person who received this Anointing recovers their health they can in the case of another later illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious this sacrament may be repeated. It is also fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.    

If you or a member of your family would like to receive the Sacrament of the Sick please contact Fr Colin or phone 0117 962 0676

prayer for the sick

All praise and glory are yours, Lord our God. For you have called us to serve you and one another in love. Bless our sick today so that they may bear their illness in union with Jesus’ sufferings and restore them quickly to health. Bless those who have grown old in your service and give them courage and strength in their faith. Lead us all to eternal glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen