Holy Orders

“Blessed are you, Simon...And I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”  (Matthew 16:17-18)

“...the Lord appointed seventy-two others...go on your way, behold, I am sending you...” (Luke 10)

“As the Father has sent me, so I send you...he breathed on them and said to them ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  (John 20:21-23)

Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to His apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry.  It includes three degrees:  Episcopate (Bishops), Presbyterate (Priests) and Diaconate (Deacons).

As the first Pope, Peter recognized that the priestly ministry must continue.  Acts 1:15-26 describes the apostles’ choice of a successor for Judas.  And Acts 6:1-7 describes the selection of the first seven deacons of the Church.

What is the essential Rite of Holy Orders?

The essential rite of the Sacrament of Holy Orders for all thee degrees consists in the bishop’s imposition of hands on the head of the ordained and in the bishop’s specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry to which the candidate is being ordained.

Who may be ordained?

Only a baptized man may be ordained in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  Jesus chose men to become part of the Twelve, and the Tradition of the Church has been constant.  Pope John Paul II reaffirmed this teaching in his Declaration on the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood.  Ordination is always a call and a gift from God.  A married man can be ordained as a permanent decon.

What does it mean to say that the priest acts “in the person of Christ”?

In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of the Body, Shepherd of his flock.  This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi capitis (in the person of Christ the head).

What is the “Baptismal priesthood”?

Through Baptism, all the members of the Church share in the priesthood of Christ.  This is known as the “common priesthood of the faithful.”  The ministerial priesthood of bishop and priest differs in essence because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful.
Men who are being led by the Holy Spirit to a life of apostolic service should contact the Pastor.