Holy orders in the Catholic Church

Last updated
Priests lay their hands on the ordinands during a Catholic rite of ordination. Priesterweihe in Schwyz 2.jpg
Priests lay their hands on the ordinands during a Catholic rite of ordination.

The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishops, priests, and deacons, in decreasing order of rank, collectively comprising the clergy. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" means "set apart for a sacred purpose". The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

Contents

Deacons, whether transitional or permanent, receive faculties to preach, to perform baptisms, and to witness marriages (either assisting the priest at the Mass, or officiating at a wedding not involving a Mass). They may assist at services where Holy Communion is given, such as the Mass, and they are considered the ordinary dispenser of the Precious Blood (the wine) when Communion is given in both types and a deacon is present, but they may not celebrate the Mass. They may officiate at a funeral service not involving a Mass, including a visitation (wake) or the graveside service at burial. Men in the last year of seminary training are typically ordained to the "transitional diaconate". This distinguishes men bound for priesthood from those who have entered the "permanent diaconate" and do not intend to seek ordination as a priest. After six months or more as a transitional deacon, a man will be ordained to the priesthood. Priests are able to preach, perform baptisms, witness marriages, hear confessions and give absolutions, anoint the sick, and celebrate the Eucharist or the Mass. Some priests are later chosen to be bishops who are the ordinary ministers of Confirmation and Holy Orders; bishops may ordain priests, deacons, and other bishops.

Bishops

Bishops are chosen from among the priests in the Catholic Church. Among Eastern Catholic Churches, which permit married priests, bishops must be widowers or unmarried, or agree to abstain from sexual contact with their wives. Catholic bishops are often ordinaries (leaders) of territorial units called dioceses.

Normally, bishops administer the sacrament of holy orders. In Latin Church Catholic churches, only bishops (and priests with authorization by the local bishop) may licitly administer the sacrament of confirmation, but if an ordinary priest administers that sacrament illicitly, it is nonetheless considered valid, so that the person confirmed cannot be actually confirmed again, by a bishop or otherwise. Latin Church priests with special permission of the diocesan bishop or the Holy See can lawfully administer confirmation; every Catholic priest must administer confirmation, even without permission, to children in danger of death. In Eastern Catholic Churches, confirmation is done by parish priests via the rite of chrismation, and is usually administered to both babies and adults immediately after their baptism.

Priests

Group photograph of an Irish family marking the ordination of a Fr. Burke in 1926 Group picture for Burke family marking ordination, Ireland, 1926 (6476240393).jpg
Group photograph of an Irish family marking the ordination of a Fr. Burke in 1926

The word either derives ultimately from the Greek πρεσβύτερος/presbuteros meaning "elder" or the Latin praepositus meaning "superintendent." The Catholic Church sees the Priesthood as both a reflection of the ancient Jewish priesthood in the Temple, and the work of Jesus as priest. The liturgy of ordination recalls the Old Testament priesthood and the priesthood of Christ. In the words of Thomas Aquinas, "Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a prefiguration of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ" Summa Theologiae III, 22, 4c. Priests may celebrate Mass, hear confessions and give absolution, celebrate Baptism, serve as the Church's witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, administer Anointing of the Sick, and administer Confirmation if authorized to do so by the bishop. See Presbyterorum Ordinis for the Second Vatican Council decree on the nature of the Catholic priesthood.

Rite

The Rite of Ordination occurs within the context of Holy Mass. After being called forward and presented to the assembly, the candidates are interrogated. Each promises to diligently perform the duties of the priesthood and to respect and obey his ordinary (bishop or religious superior). Then the candidates lie prostrate before the altar, while the assembled faithful kneel and pray for the help of all the saints in the singing of the Litany of the Saints.

The essential part of the rite is when the bishop silently lays his hands upon each candidate (followed by all priests present), before offering the consecratory prayer, addressed to God the Father, invoking the power of the Holy Spirit upon those being ordained.

After the consecratory prayer, the newly ordained is vested with the stole and chasuble of those belonging to the Ministerial Priesthood and then the bishop anoints his hands with chrism before presenting him with the chalice and paten which he will use when presiding at the Eucharist. Following this, the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward by the people and given to the new priest; then all the priests present, concelebrate the Eucharist with the newly ordained taking the place of honour at the right of the bishop. If there are several newly ordained, it is they who gather closest to the bishop during the Eucharistic Prayer.

The laying of hands of the priesthood is found in 1 Timothy 4:14:

Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate.

The following is the full text of the Rite during the Mass (after the Gospel), taken from a program for an ordination of priests for the Diocese of Peoria in 2015:

The Calling of the Candidates: Those to be ordained are called by name, they stand in their place and answer: "Present".
The Presentation of the Priest Candidates:
Vocation Director: Most Reverend Father, Holy Mother Church asks you to ordain these, our brothers, to the responsibility of the Priesthood.
Bishop: Do you know them to be worthy?
Vocation Director: After inquiry among the Christian people and upon the recommendation of those responsible, I testify that they have been found worthy.
Bishop: Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these men, our brothers, for the Order of the Priesthood.
All: Thanks be to God.
Homily of the Bishop
Promise of the Elect:
Bishop: My dear sons, before you enter the Order of the Priesthood, you must declare before the people of God your intention to undertake this office. Do you resolve, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to discharge without fail the office of Priesthood in the presbyteral rank, as worthy fellow workers with the Order of Bishops in caring for the Lord's flock?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: Do you resolve to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: Do you resolve to celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church's tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the Sacrifice of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: Do you resolve to implore with us God's mercy upon the people entrusted to your care by observing the command to pray without ceasing?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: Do you resolve to be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a pure Sacrifice, and with him to consecrate yourselves to God for the salvation of all?
Elect: I do, with the help of God.
Promise of Obedience of the Priest Candidates:
Each of the candidates goes to the Bishop and, kneeling before him, places his joined hands between those of the Bishop.
Bishop: Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?
Elect: I do.
Bishop: May God, who has begun this good work in you bring it to fulfillment.
Invitation to Prayer
Litany of the Saints
Laying on of Hands: The Bishop first lays hands on the head of each candidate, followed by the concelebrating priests and all the priests present.
Prayer of Consecration
Investiture with the Stole and Chasuble
Anointing of Hands: The Bishop receives the linen gremial and anoints with Sacred Chrism the palms of each new priest as he kneels before him.
Procession of the Gifts of Bread and Wine by the relatives of the ordained and Offertory Hymn
Presentation of the Gifts
The Bishop stands and gives the kiss of peace to the new priests, followed by the concelebrants and all the priests present.

The mass then proceeds as normal with the Liturgy of the Eucharist, with the newly ordained priests to the immediate right of the bishop and the other celebrants.

Deacons

The Diaconate is one of the three Major Orders in the Catholic Church. The first deacons were ordained by the Apostles in Acts of the Apostles chapter 6. The ministry of the deacon in the Roman Catholic Church is described as one of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity. The deacon's ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the Gospel during the Mass, preaching and teaching. The deacon's liturgical ministry includes various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon, including being an ordinary minister of Holy Communion and the proper minister of the chalice when Holy Communion is administered under both kinds. The ministry of charity involves service to the poor and marginalized and working with parishioners to help them become more involved in such ministry. As clerics, deacons are required to say the Liturgy of the Hours daily; Deacons, like bishops and priests, are ordinary ministers of the Sacrament of Baptism and can serve as the church's witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which the bride and groom administer to each other. Deacons may also preside over funeral rites outside of Mass, They can preside over various services such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and they may give certain blessings.

Minor orders

Holy Mass Celebrated in the Syro-Malankara Rite by H.B Cardinal Baselios Cleemis. Syro-Malankara Holy Mass 1.jpg
Holy Mass Celebrated in the Syro-Malankara Rite by H.B Cardinal Baselios Cleemis.

From the 3rd century AD up until seven years after the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), the Catholic Church had four minor orders (porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte) up to the order of subdeacon, which were conferred on seminarians pro forma before they became deacons. The minor orders and the subdiaconate were not considered sacraments, and for simplicity were suppressed under Pope Paul VI in 1972. Only those orders (deacon, priest, bishop) previously considered major orders of divine institution were retained in most of the Latin Church.

Holy orders

Holy orders is one of three Catholic sacraments that Catholics believe to make an indelible mark called a sacramental character on the recipient's soul (the other two are baptism and confirmation). This sacrament can only be conferred on baptized men. [1] If a woman attempts to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders, both she and any persons who attempt to ordain her are excommunicated latae sententiae. [2]

Such titles as cardinal , monsignor , archbishop , etc., are not sacramental orders. These are simply offices; to receive one of those titles is not an instance of the sacrament of holy orders.

Norms

The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of holy orders administered by the Eastern Orthodox, Polish National, Oriental Orthodox, and the Assyrian Church of the East because those churches have maintained the apostolic succession of bishops, i.e., their bishops claim to be in a line of succession dating back to the Apostles, just as Catholic bishops do. Consequently, if a priest of one of those eastern churches converts to Catholicism, his ordination is already valid; however, to exercise the order received, he would need to be incardinated either into a religious ordained in the Catholic Church (though there is much debate in the Orthodox Church about this); that is part of the policy called church economy.

A controversy in the Catholic Church over the question of whether Anglican holy orders are valid was settled by Pope Leo XIII in 1896, who wrote in Apostolicae curae that Anglican orders lack validity because the rite by which priests were ordained was not correctly performed from 1547 to 1553 and from 1558 to the 19th century, thus causing a break of continuity in apostolic succession and a break with the sacramental intention of the Church. Leo XIII condemned the Anglican ordinals and deemed the Anglican orders "absolutely null and utterly void". [3] Some Changes in the Anglican Ordinal since King Edward VI, and a fuller appreciation of the pre-Reformation ordinals suggest, according to some private theologians, that the correctness of the dismissal of Anglican orders may be questioned; however Apostolicae curae remains the definitive teaching of the Catholic Church and was reinforced by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.

Since 1896 many Anglican bishops have been consecrated by bishops of the Old Catholic Church. Nevertheless, all Anglican clergymen who desire to enter the Catholic Church do so as laymen and must be ordained in the Catholic Church in order to serve as priests. Catholics are, according to Ad Tuendam Fidem and Cardinal Ratzinger, obliged to hold the position that Anglican orders are invalid.

Catholics do not recognize the ordination of ministers in other, Protestant, churches that do not maintain the apostolic succession. The Lutheran Churches of Sweden and Finland from some point of view possibly possess valid apostolic succession. This is not the case for the Lutheran Churches of Norway, Denmark, and Iceland where there occurred breaks in succession.

Anglicans accept the ordination of most mainline denominations; however, only those denominations in full communion with the Anglican Communion, such as some Lutheran denominations, may preside at services requiring a priest.

Marriage and holy orders

Married men may be ordained to the diaconate as permanent deacons, but in the Latin Church may not be ordained to the priesthood. (Married non-Catholic clergy who convert to Roman Catholicism may, in some cases, be ordained priests. [4] ) In the Eastern Catholic Churches and in the Eastern Orthodox Church married deacons may be ordained priests, but may not become bishops. Bishops in the Eastern Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches are almost always drawn from among monks, who have taken a vow of celibacy. They may be widowers, though; it is not required of them never to have been married.

Clerical celibacy

There is a distinction drawn between chastity and celibacy. Celibacy is the state of not being married, so a promise of celibacy is a promise not to enter into marriage but instead to consecrate one's life to service (in other words, "married to God"). Chastity, a virtue expected of all Christians, is the state of sexual purity; for a vowed celibate, or for the single person, chastity means the abstinence from sexual activity. For the married person, chastity means the practice of sex only within marriage.

See also

Notes

  1. can. 1024 CIC/83
  2. CNS STORY: Text of Vatican congregation's decree on attempts to ordain women
  3. "Apostolicae curae (36)". Papalencyclicals.net. 15 September 1896. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  4. Rachel Donadio (Oct 21, 2009). Offer Raises Idea of Marriage for Catholic Priests. NYTimes. Accessed 2023-01-28.

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anointing of the sick</span> Religious anointing/sacrament

Anointing of the sick, known also by other names such as unction, is a form of religious anointing or "unction" for the benefit of a sick person. It is practiced by many Christian churches and denominations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Holy orders</span> Sacraments in some Christian churches

In certain Christian denominations, holy orders are the ordained ministries of bishop, priest (presbyter), and deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deacon</span> Office in Christian churches

A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches, the Methodist Churches, the Anglican Communion, and the Free Church of England, view the diaconate as an order of ministry.

Subdeacon is a minor order or ministry for men in various branches of Christianity. The subdeacon has a specific liturgical role and is placed between the acolyte and the deacon in the order of precedence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ordination</span> Process by which individuals are consecrated as clergy

Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are thus then authorized to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is undergoing the process of ordination is sometimes called an ordinand. The liturgy used at an ordination is sometimes referred to as an ordination.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Confirmation</span> Christian religious practice

In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of the covenant created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. For adults, it is an affirmation of belief. It involves laying on of hands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Presbyterium</span>

Presbyterium is a modern term used in the Catholic Church and Eastern Catholic Churches after the Second Vatican Council in reference to a college of priests, in active ministry, of an individual particular church such as a diocese or eparchy. The body, in union with their bishop as a collective, is a symbol of the collaborative and collegial nature of their sacerdotal ministry as inspired by the reforms made during the Second Vatican Council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chrism</span> Consecrated oil used in various Christian churches

Chrism, also called myrrh, myron, holy anointing oil, and consecrated oil, is a consecrated oil used in the Anglican, Assyrian, Catholic, Nordic Lutheran, Old Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Latter Day Saint churches in the administration of certain sacraments and ecclesiastical functions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catholicity</span> Beliefs and practices widely accepted by those that describe themselves as Catholic

Catholicity is a concept pertaining to beliefs and practices that are widely accepted by numerous Christian denominations, most notably by those Christian denominations that describe themselves as catholic in accordance with the Four Marks of the Church, as expressed in the Nicene Creed formulated at the First Council of Constantinople in 381: "[I believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anglican sacraments</span>

In keeping with its prevailing self-identity as a via media or "middle path" of Western Christianity, Anglican sacramental theology expresses elements in keeping with its status as a church in the catholic tradition and a church of the Reformation. With respect to sacramental theology the Catholic tradition is perhaps most strongly asserted in the importance Anglicanism places on the sacraments as a means of grace, sanctification and forgiveness as expressed in the church's liturgy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catholic liturgy</span> Customary public worship service as performed by the Latin Church

In the Catholic Church, liturgy is divine worship, the proclamation of the Gospel, and active charity. Catholic liturgies are broadly categorized as the Latin liturgical rites of the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic liturgies of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

In persona Christi is a Latin phrase meaning "in the person of Christ", an important concept in Roman Catholicism and, in varying degrees, to other Christian traditions, such as Lutheranism and Anglicanism. A priest is In persona Christi because he acts as Christ and as God. An extended term, In persona Christi capitis, “in the person of Christ the head,” was introduced by the bishops of the Vatican Council II in the Decree on the Ministry and Live of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, December 7, 1965.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anglican ministry</span> Leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion

The Anglican ministry is both the leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion. "Ministry" commonly refers to the office of ordained clergy: the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons. More accurately, Anglican ministry includes many laypeople who devote themselves to the ministry of the church, either individually or in lower/assisting offices such as lector, acolyte, sub-deacon, Eucharistic minister, cantor, musicians, parish secretary or assistant, warden, vestry member, etc. Ultimately, all baptized members of the church are considered to partake in the ministry of the Body of Christ.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Priesthood in the Catholic Church</span> One of the three ordained holy orders of the Catholic Church

The priesthood is the office of the ministers of religion, who have been commissioned ("ordained") with the Holy orders of the Catholic Church. Technically, bishops are a priestly order as well; however, in layman's terms priest refers only to presbyters and pastors. The church's doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised (lay) members as the "common priesthood", which can be confused with the ministerial priesthood of the consecrated clergy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lutheran sacraments</span>

The Lutheran sacraments are "sacred acts of divine institution". Lutherans believe that, whenever they are properly administered by the use of the physical component commanded by God along with the divine words of institution, God is, in a way specific to each sacrament, present with the Word and physical component. They teach that God earnestly offers to all who receive the sacrament forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. They teach that God also works in the recipients to get them to accept these blessings and to increase the assurance of their possession.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of the Catholic Church</span>

This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church. Some terms used in everyday English have a different meaning in the context of the Catholic faith, including brother, confession, confirmation, exemption, faithful, father, ordinary, religious, sister, venerable, and vow.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sacraments of the Catholic Church</span> Catholic visible rites

There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sacrament</span> Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance

A sacrament is a Christian rite that is recognized as being particularly important and significant. There are various views on the existence, number and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a channel for God's grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, and Reformed, hold to the definition of sacrament formulated by Augustine of Hippo: an outward sign of an inward grace, that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Sacraments signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christian laying on of hands</span> Symbolic and formal method of invoking the Holy Spirit

In Christianity, the laying on of hands is both a symbolic and formal method of invoking the Holy Spirit primarily during baptisms and confirmations, healing services, blessings, and ordination of priests, ministers, elders, deacons, and other church officers, along with a variety of other church sacraments and holy ceremonies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rite (Christianity)</span> Sacred ceremony or liturgical tradition in Christianity

In Christianity, a rite can refer to a sacred ceremony, which may or may not carry the status of a sacrament depending on the Christian denomination. This use of rite is distinct from reference to liturgical ritual families such as the Byzantine and Latin liturgical rites.