Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church

There are seven Catholic sacraments:

The seven sacraments embody a progression that touches life’s most important moments. They initiate, bolster, reconcile, heal and strengthen the Christian faith. We invite you to learn more about the seven sacraments Jesus gave His Church and celebrate them with our community!

» Please click on any of the individual sacraments above for more detailed information.



For Christians, the Sacrament of Baptism represents the first step in a lifelong journey of discipleship. Whether baptizing infants or adults, the Church celebrates the tender embrace of Christ who commanded His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and baptize those who embrace the Gospel.

Pope Francis commented on the sacrament:

Yet a question may stir within us: is Baptism really necessary to live as Christians and follow Jesus? After all, isn’t it merely a ritual, a formal act of the Church in order to give a name to the little boy or girl? This question can arise. And on this point what the Apostle Paul writes is illuminating: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4). Therefore, it is not a formality! It is an act that touches the depths of our existence. A baptized child and an unbaptized child are not the same. A person who is baptized and a person who is not baptized are not the same. We, by Baptism, are immersed in that inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history; and thanks to this love we can live a new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, of sin and of death, but in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.

— General Audience | 8 January 2014

» For further information regarding sponsors, scheduling, and baptismal preparation, please call the parish office at +1 617.542.5682.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew 28:19


Reconciliation (Confession)
“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

Throughout the Gospel, men and women seek out Jesus and His Divine Mercy. Their faith compelled them to believe in Jesus’ power to forgive. When we confess our sins, we exercise the gift of our own free will choosing to tell God that we have wronged Him and seeking to restore our relationship with Him. The priest, serving in the person of Christ, advances Jesus’ ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation in this sacrament.

Pope Francis said at his general audience:

Do not be afraid of Confession! When one is in line to go to Confession, one feels all these things, even shame, but then when one finishes Confession one leaves free, grand, beautiful, forgiven, candid, happy. This is the beauty of Confession! I would like to ask you — but don’t say it aloud, everyone respond in his heart: when was the last time you made your confession? …. if much time has passed, do not lose another day. Go, the priest will be good. Jesus is there, and Jesus is more benevolent than priests, Jesus receives you, he receives you with so much love. Be courageous and go to Confession! Dear friends, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation means being enfolded in a warm embrace: it is the embrace of the Father’s infinite mercy.

— General Audience | 19 February 2014
At the Cathedral, priests hear confessions on Saturdays at 3.30 pm, and on the first Friday of each month beginning at 6.45 pm before the Holy Hour. You may also call the parish office at +1 617.542.5682 to make an appointment with a priest.


The Holy Eucharist | The Mass | Communion
The Holy Eucharist
The Mass

The Mass, or Celebration of the Eucharist, represents the principal liturgical action in the Roman Catholic Church. From the earliest days of Christianity through today, communities of believers, many parts of the one body of Christ, to celebrate God’s gifts to us and receive Jesus true presence in the form of bread and wine.  Participating in the Holy Sacrifice of Mass nourishes and heals of all worshipers together.  It is not the priest “performing” for the people, but it is the community of faith, priest and people alike, worshiping, praising, and celebrating together as One Body and Blood of Christ.  Lord Jesus gave us the Eucharist at the Last Supper on the night before He died for us. In this celebration, we participate in the mystery of salvation by remembering the sacrificial death and resurrection of the Lord.

Pope Francis reminds us:

Dear friends, we don’t ever thank Lord enough for the gift he has given us in the Eucharist! It is a very great gift and that is why it is so important to go to Mass on Sunday. Go to Mass not just to pray, but to receive Communion, the bread that is the Body of Jesus Christ who saves us, forgives us, unites us to the Father. It is a beautiful thing to do! And we go to Mass every Sunday because that is the day of the resurrection of the Lord. That is why Sunday is so important to us. And in this Eucharist we feel this belonging to the Church, to the People of God, to the Body of God, to Jesus Christ. We will never completely grasp the value and the richness of it. Let us ask him then that this Sacrament continue to keep his presence alive in the Church and to shape our community in charity and communion, according to the Father’s heart. This is done throughout life, but is begun on the day of our First Communion. It is important that children be prepared well for their First Communion and that every child receive it, because it is the first step of this intense belonging to Jesus Christ, after Baptism and Confirmation.

— General Audience | 5 February 2015
Preparing for First Holy Communion

Baptized children in grades 2 through 9 meet Sunday mornings at 10.30 am beginning in the fall. The program begins with a parent orientation and runs for approximately 8 months. At the Cathedral, the children traditionally receive their First Communion during the month of May. A certificate of Baptism must be presented at the time of registration, which should be completed in-person in the parish office during the months of July and August.

Children who never received the Sacrament of Baptism should prepare for Holy Communion through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children Program (RCIC). They meet on Saturday mornings beginning in the fall. RCIC prepares the child for receiving the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation) together at Easter. Parent participation is required. Our pastoral staff provides a course schedule to all parents and guardians. Unbaptized adults participate in Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Please call +1 617 542 5682 for information.

“For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me, and I in him.”

John 6:56-57



In this sacrament, the Bishop anoints the head with perfumed Chrism as a sign of God’s blessing. While for most, Confirmation completes of the Sacraments of Initiation, it signals the beginning of full participation as an adult in the Church. Through the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, we become more like Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis reminds us:

Confirmation, like every Sacrament, is not the work of men but of God, who cares for our lives in such a manner as to mold us in the image of his Son, to make us capable of loving like him. He does it by infusing his in us his Holy Spirit….

When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts and allow him to act, Christ makes himself present in us and takes shape in our lives; through us, it will be he — Christ himself — who prays, forgives, gives hope and consolation, serves the brethren, draws close to the needy and to the least, creates community and sows peace. Think how important this is: by means of the Holy Spirit, Christ himself comes to do all this among us and for us. That is why it is important that children and young people receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us remember that we have received Confirmation! All of us! Let us remember it, first in order to thank the Lord for this gift, and then to ask him to help us to live as true Christians, to walk always with joy in the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

— General Audience | 29 January 2015
Preparing for Confirmation

The Confirmation Preparation Program serves baptized teenagers ages 14 to 17 years and/or in grades 10 to 12. Offering our young people a community of like minded peers, the program allows promotes a shared faith experience. Weekly sessions begin during the first week of October. The Sacrament of Confirmation is administered during the spring of the following year. Registration should be completed in our parish office and requires a certificate of Baptism. Please call +1 617.542.5682 for information. A person in need of Baptism and First Holy Communion should join the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and/or Children (RCIC).

“You have been sealed by the Holy Spirit.”

Ephesians 1:13


On the sacrament of Marriage, Pope Francis said:

The image of God is the married couple: the man and the woman; not only the man, not only the woman, but both of them together. This is the image of God: love, God’s covenant with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful! We are created in order to love, as a reflection of God and his love. And in the marital union man and woman fulfill this vocation through their mutual reciprocity and their full and definitive communion of life.

When a man and woman celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony God as it were “is mirrored” in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us…. The Bible uses a powerful expression and says “one flesh”, so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: the love of God which is reflected in the couple that decides to live together. Therefore, a man leaves his home, the home of his parents, and goes to live with his wife and unites himself so strongly to her that the two become — the Bible says — one flesh.”

— General Audience | 2 April 2014

You may schedule your wedding at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. If you do not regularly worship at the Cathedral, we ask you to please inquire with your parish priest about his availability to celebrate your wedding mass at the Cathedral and direct your marriage preparation. We recommend reserving a date eight months to one year in advance.

» For all wedding requests, please contact Elizabeth Babaian, Administrative Assistant:


Holy Orders

The Sacrament of Holy Orders continues Jesus Christ’s priesthood, which He entrusted to His Apostles. The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the Sacrament of Holy Orders as “the sacrament of apostolic ministry.” From St.s Peter and Paul through the ages, every ordination in the Catholic Church finds it origin in the 12 Apostles who Christ engaged to administer the sacraments to the world. Ordination comes from the Latin word ordinatio, which means to incorporate into an order. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a man is incorporated into the priesthood of Christ, at one of three levels: the episcopacy for a bishop, the presbytery for a priest, or the diaconate for a deacon.

Pope Francis asked of this sacrament:

How does one become a priest, where is access to the priesthood sold? No. It is not sold. This is an initiative which the Lord takes. The Lord calls. He calls each of those whom he wills to become priests. Perhaps there are some young men present here who have heard this call in their hearts, the aspiration to become a priest, the desire to serve others in the things of God, the desire to spend one’s entire life in service in order to catechize, baptize, forgive, celebrate the Eucharist, heal the sick… the whole of one’s life in this way. If some of you have heard this call in your heart, it is Jesus who has placed it there. Pay attention to this invitation and pray that it might grow and bear fruit for the whole Church.

— General Audience | 26 March 2015

For information on discerning a vocation in the Archdiocese of Boston, please contact one of the priests in the parish and visit

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching,
for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”

2 Timothy 3:16


Anointing of the Sick

This Sacrament conveys God’s healing strength that Jesus entrusted to the Church.

Pope Francis reminds us:

When someone is sick, we at times think: “let’s call for the priest to come”; “no, then he will bring bad luck, let’s not call him”, or “he will scare the sick person”. Why do we think this? Because the idea is floating about that the undertakers arrive after the priest. And this is not true. The priest comes to help the sick or elderly person; that is why the priest’s visit to the sick is so important; we ought to call the priest to the sick person’s side and say: “come, give him the anointing, bless him”. It is Jesus himself who comes to relieve the sick person, to give him strength, to give him hope, to help him; and also to forgive his sins. And this is very beautiful! And one must not think that this is taboo, because in times of pain and illness it is always good to know that we are not alone: the priest and those who are present during the Anointing of the Sick, in fact, represent the entire Christian community that as one body huddles around the one who suffers and his family, nurturing their faith and hope, and supporting them through their prayers and fraternal warmth. But the greatest comfort comes from the fact that it is the Lord Jesus himself who makes himself present in the Sacrament, who takes us by the hand, who caresses us as he did with the sick, and who reminds us that we already belong to him and that nothing — not even evil and death — can ever separate us from him. Are we in the habit of calling for the priest so that he might come to our sick — I am not speaking about those who are sick with the flu, for three or four days, but rather about a serious illness — and our elderly, and give them this Sacrament, this comfort, this strength of Jesus to continue on? Let us do so!

— General Audience | 26 February 2014
Who should receive the Anointing of the Sick?
Anyone preparing for major surgery
Anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness
The frail at any age, or the elderly
Anyone at the end of their life
Acute patients in the care of a hospital, especially those
in the Emergency Room or Intensive Care Unit

Priests at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross serve Boston Medical Center for any patient who desires the Anointing of the Sick. Typically, a hospital staff member phones the parish the parish on your behalf, although many times we are contacted directly by a hospice worker or family member. If you do not live in the South End or are not in care at BMC, please speak with someone in your home parish or hospital staff to learn about their protocols to serve you. Hospital social workers can contact the chaplain on duty in case of immediate need. Parishioners are encouraged to notify the Cathedral prior to entering the hospital or convalescent care.

“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;
the Lord will raise him up.”

James 5:15