An Outline of our Faith commonly called
[This information is taken from the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church, pages 845 - 862]
Q. What are the sacraments?
A. The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.
Q. What is grace?
A. Grace is God's favor toward us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.
Q. What are the two great sacraments of the Gospel?
A. The two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church are Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
Q. What is Holy Baptism?
A. Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ's Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.
Q. What is the outward and visible sign in Baptism?
A. The outward and visible sign in Baptism is water, in which the person is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Q. What is the inward and spiritual grace in Baptism?
A. The inward and spiritual grace in Baptism is union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God's family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and new life in the Holy Spirit.
Q. What is required of us at Baptism?
A. It is required that we renounce Satan, repent of our sins, and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Q. Why then are infants baptized?
A. Infants are baptized so that they can share citizenship in the Covenant, membership in Christ, and redemption by God.
Q. How are the promises for infants made and carried out?
A. Promises are made for them by their parents and sponsors, who guarantee that the infants will be brought up within the Church, to know Christ and be able to follow him.
The Holy Eucharist
Q. What is the Holy Eucharist?
A. The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again.
Q. Why is the Eucharist called a sacrifice?
A. Because the Eucharist, the Church's sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, is the way by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present, and in which he unites us to his one offering of himself.
Q. By what other names is this service known?
A. The Holy Eucharist is called the Lord's Supper, and Holy Communion; it is also known as the Divine Liturgy, the Mass, and the Great Offering.
Q. What is the outward and visible sign in the Eucharist?
A. The outward and visible sign in the Eucharist is bread and wine, give and received according to Christ's command.
Q. What is the inward and spiritual grace given in the Eucharist?
A. The inward and spiritual grace in the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ give to his people, and received by faith.
Q. What is required of us when we come to the Eucharist?
A. It is required that we should examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people.
Other Sacramental Rites
Q. What other sacramental rites evolved in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
A. Other sacramental rites which evolved in the Church include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction.
Q. How do they differ from the two sacraments of the Gospel?
A. Although they are means of grace, they are not necessary for all persons in the same way that Baptism and the Eucharist are.
Q. What is Confirmation?
A. Confirmation is the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop.
Q. What is required of those to be confirmed?
A. It is required of those to be confirmed that they have been baptized, are sufficiently instructed in the Christian Faith, are penitent for their sins, and are ready to affirm their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Q. What is Ordination?
A. Ordination is the rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being made bishops, priests, and deacons, through prayer and the laying on of hands by bishops.
Q. What is Holy Matrimony?
A. Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and man enter into a life long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.
Q. What is Reconciliation of a Penitent?
A. Reconciliation of a Penitent, or Penance, is the rite in which those who repent of their sins may confess them to God in the presence of a priest, and receive the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution.
Q. What is Unction of the Sick?
A. Unction is the rite of anointing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God’s grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body.
Q. Is God’s activity limited to these rites?
A. God does not limit himself to these rites; they are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us.
Q. How are the sacraments related to our Christian hope?
A. Sacraments sustain our present hope and anticipate its future fulfillment.
The Christian Hope
Q. What is the Christian hope?
A. The Christian hope is to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God’s purpose for the world.
Q. What do we mean by the coming of Christ in glory?
A. By the coming of Christ in glory, we mean that Christ will come, not in weakness but in power, and will make all things new.
Q. What do we mean by heaven and hell?
A. By heaven, we mean eternal life in our enjoyment of God; by hell, we mean eternal death in our rejection of God.
Q. Why do we pray for the dead?
A. We pray for them, because we still hold them in our love, and because we trust that in God’s presence those who have chosen to serve him will grow in his love, until they see him as he is.
Q. What do we mean by the last judgment?
A. We believe that Christ will come in glory and judge the living and the dead.
Q. What do we mean by the resurrection of the body?
A. We mean that God will raise us from death in the fullness of our being, that we may live with Christ in the communion of the saints.
Q. What is the communion of saints?
A. The communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise.
Q. What do we mean by everlasting life?
A. By everlasting life, we mean a new existence, in which we are united with all the people of God, in the joy of fully knowing and loving God and each other.
Q. What, then, is our assurance as Christians?
A. Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.