What is it? In this Rite of Initiation, the recipient (usually an infant) is received into the Church and is officially given a name. This Sacrament, required only once, cleanses the person of Original Sin passed down from Eve at birth (and all other personal sins if they are receiving this older). Here begins a person's faith journey.
What happens? The presider pours water over the person's head in the name of the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Parents and Godparents profess the Creed of the faith on the infant's behalf and attest they will raise the child in the teaching's of the Church.
Cool factoids. Anyone can technically perform Baptism so long as water is poured (the water has to flow over the skin in a symbolic "washing") and the recipient is claimed in the name of the Trinity. Because of this, those converting to Catholicism baptized in another denomination using this formula need not go through it again.
What is it? Here the person "confirms" the faith into which they were baptized. The recipient expresses their desire to continue as an adult Catholic, taking full responsibility of the mission charged to their parents and Godparents at Baptism. The recipient also chooses a Saint's name to provide a model of Christian living.
What happens? The Bishop or Archbishop anoints the recipient on the head with chrism, "sealing" them with the gift of the Holy Spirit. A sponsor, who will continue to look after their growth, stands behind with a hand placed on the recipient's shoulder.
Cool factoids. Before the time of modern transportation, a Bishop would rarely come through an isolated town, so the parish would gather all the eligible children to have them Confirmed, regardless of age.
Confirmation Gifts and Patron Saint Medals...
What is it? The First Communion is considered a Rite of Initiation because it is when the person is fully united with Jesus by partaking in His Body and Blood. The importance of this Sacrament is evident in that we are charged to attend Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation, and to receive Communion at least once a year (during the Easter Season).
What happens? 2nd graders in Catholic schools prepare for this Sacrament together and receive in a special Mass. But for others in a program through their parish, their First Communion is usually discreetly done with the rest of the congregation during a regular Mass.
Cool factoids. There is a special sink in the sacristy called a sacrarium. Instead of draining into the sewers, it goes into the ground. Because we truly believe in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the vessels which held Him are washed in the sacrarium so any remaining particles return to the earth beneath the church.
First Communion Gifts...