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The Sacrament of Holy Orders

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“Taken from among men…appointed for men in the things pertaining to God.” Hebrews 5:1 “But now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come…and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us.” Heb 9: 11-12 “And we have the supreme high priest over all the house of God. So as we go in, let us be sincere in heart and filled with faith, our minds sprinkled and free from any trace of bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Heb 10: 21-23

The priesthood was established by God among the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. God chose the tribe of Levi as priests for the nation. Their primary duties were the offering of sacrifice and prayer for the people. Christ, in offering Himself up for the sins of all mankind, fulfilled the duties of the Old Testament priesthood once and for all. But just as the Eucharist makes that sacrifice present to us today, so the New Testament priesthood is a sharing in the eternal priesthood of Christ. While all believers are, in some sense, priests, some are set aside to serve the Church as Christ Himself did.

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. It gives the spiritual power to administer the sacraments and to discharge properly other spiritual duties. "Ordination" comes from the Latin word ordinatio, which means to incorporate someone into an order. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a man is incorporated into the priesthood of Christ, at one of three levels: the episcopate, the priesthood, or the diaconate. As in Baptism and Confirmation, the Sacrament of Holy Orders leaves an indelible mark on the soul of the recipient and can never be repeated once validly received; once a priest, always a priest (even if a priest is laicized and removed from his office, this mark remains).

The first effect of the sacrament is an increase of sanctifying grace. With this, there is the sacramental grace which makes the recipient a fit and holy minister in the discharge of his office. The principal effect of the sacrament is the character, a spiritual and indelible mark impressed upon the soul, by which the recipient is distinguished from others, designated as a minister of Christ, and deputed and empowered to perform certain offices of Divine worship

◦ Because of his role as a successor to the Apostles, who were themselves successors to Christ, the bishop is the proper minister of the sacrament. The grace of sanctifying others that he receives at his own ordination allows him to ordain others.

◦ laying on of hands or the anointing of the hands

◦ Prayer of consecration asking for and conferring the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
 Note: While the words “Accipe Spiritum Sanctum” occur during the laying on of hands, they are not found in the old rituals or Greek Euchology. Because of this, they are not the form, but rather the prayers said after the laying of hands is.

Bishop (special grace of strength) ◦ Ecclesiastical dignitary who possesses the fullness of the priesthood to rule a diocese as its chief pastor, in due submission to the primacy of the pope. Priest (ability to offer mass) ◦ A member of the second grade of clergy ranking below a bishop but above a deacon and having authority to administer the sacraments. Deacon (ability to preach) ◦ One of the laymen elected by a church with congregational polity to serve in worship, in pastoral care, and on administrative committees

must be a baptized, healthy male, at least 25 years of age, who has a vocation from God, a strong Catholic faith, intelligence, a good moral character, and a life marked by sanctity. He must be committed to living a celibate and chaste life, and to prayer (especially the Divine Office, which he is obligated to pray), and must have been properly formed in seminary.

Sacraments of Christian Initiation and Mature Faith

Appropriate Preparation

◦ must have received already all the sacraments of Christian Initiation. ◦ must be mature already when it comes to defending his faith and upholding his dignity and identity as a Christian. ◦ must be prepared well by competent authorities or formators. ◦ Becoming a deacon or priest is not a joke. It entails genuine vocation, motivation, studies, sacrifice, pastoral skills and many other aspects to lead the people of God towards holiness of life and, ultimately, to God.

Absolute freedom, Knowledge, and Right Intention
◦ They should be fully aware that priesthood is a lifetime commitment. Once the ordination takes place, there is never a turning back to the former life as a lay person. Moreover, they cannot be given to anyone who is merely deceived or who is coerced by any external factor. The holy orders absolutely cannot be given to those who are motivated by any selfish or evil intent.

Good moral character
◦ it is important that any candidate must enjoy a good reputation, predisposed at upholding the moral dignity of persons, and should possess virtues appropriate for a minister of Jesus Christ. There must no irregularities in his relationships with his fellow human persons; these might impede his ordination.

Sound Attributes

◦ Taking into account the great responsibility of the deacons, priests and Bishops, any candidate should have a sound physical, intellectual, emotional or psychological make-up such that they are able to fulfill without enormous trouble the ministries that may be assigned to them in the future. Educational Attainment ◦ Deacon - At least two (2) years of philosophical studies and three (3) years of theology. ◦ Priest - must be well versed in the fields of Sacred Scripture, Theology, Canon Law, or other institutes approved by the Apostolic See.

Age of Ordination

◦ Deacon- 23rd years of age ◦ Priest-25th year of age, and must be a deacon for 6 months ◦ Bishop- must be at least 35 years old, and ordained as a priest for at least 5 years.

At this time, only baptized men can receive this sacrament. The Vatican has determined that the Church has no right to ordain women because Jesus did not appoint females to the position of apostles. This is considered part of the deposit of faith that has been handed on and that no one can change. Another argument against female ordination is that since Jesus was male, he is best represented by males. Both of these arguments against women priests are highly contentious. Generally, the men that are ordained have received a calling from God to be a servant of the people through the Church. No one has a right to this sacrament since the ones that receive it are called and chosen by God to serve.

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