A priest or priestess is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the priesthood, a term which also may apply to such persons collectively.
A deity is a supernatural being considered divine or sacred. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines deity as "a god or goddess ", or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as "a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness, beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life". In the English language, a male deity is referred to as a god, while a female deity is referred to as a goddess.
According to the trifunctional hypothesis of prehistoric Proto-Indo-European society, priests have existed since the earliest of times and in the simplest societies, most likely as a result of agricultural surplus and consequent social stratification.[ citation needed ] The necessity to read sacred texts and keep temple or church records helped foster literacy in many early societies. Priests exist in many religions today, such as all or some branches of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Shinto and Hinduism. They are generally regarded as having privileged contact with the deity or deities of the religion to which they subscribe, often interpreting the meaning of events and performing the rituals of the religion. There is no common definition of the duties of priesthood between faiths; but generally it includes mediating the relationship between one's congregation, worshippers, and other members of the religious body, and its deity or deities, and administering religious rituals and rites. These often include blessing worshipers with prayers of joy at marriages, after a birth, and at consecrations, teaching the wisdom and dogma of the faith at any regular worship service, and mediating and easing the experience of grief and death at funerals – maintaining a spiritual connection to the afterlife in faiths where such a concept exists. Administering religious building grounds and office affairs and papers, including any religious library or collection of sacred texts, is also commonly a responsibility – for example, the modern term for clerical duties in a secular office refers originally to the duties of a cleric. The question of which religions have a "priest" depends on how the titles of leaders are used or translated into English. In some cases, leaders are more like those that other believers will often turn to for advice on spiritual matters, and less of a "person authorized to perform the sacred rituals." For example, clergy in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are priests, but in Protestant Christianity they are typically minister and pastor . The terms priest and priestess are sufficiently generic that they may be used in an anthropological sense to describe the religious mediators of an unknown or otherwise unspecified religion.
The trifunctional hypothesis of prehistoric Proto-Indo-European society postulates a tripartite ideology reflected in the existence of three classes or castes—priests, warriors, and commoners —corresponding to the three functions of the sacral, the martial and the economic, respectively. The trifunctional thesis is primarily associated with the French mythographer Georges Dumézil, who proposed it in 1929 in the book Flamen-Brahman, and later in Mitra-Varuna.
Proto-Indo-European society is the hypothesized culture of the ancient speakers of Proto-Indo-European, ancestors of all modern Indo–European ethnic groups who are speakers of Indo-European languages.
Social stratification is a kind of social differentiation whereby members of society are grouped into socioeconomic strata, based upon their occupation and income, wealth and social status, or derived power. As such, stratification is the relative social position of persons within a social group, category, geographic region, or social unit.
In many religions, being a priest or priestess is a full-time position, ruling out any other career. Many Christian priests and pastors choose or are mandated to dedicate themselves to their churches and receive their living directly from their churches. In other cases it is a part-time role. For example, in the early history of Iceland the chieftains were titled goði , a word meaning "priest". As seen in the saga of Hrafnkell Freysgoði, however, being a priest consisted merely of offering periodic sacrifices to the Norse gods and goddesses; it was not a full-time role, nor did it involve ordination.
The recorded history of Iceland began with the settlement by Viking explorers and their slaves from the east, particularly Norway and the British Isles, in the late ninth century. Iceland was still uninhabited long after the rest of Western Europe had been settled. Recorded settlement has conventionally been dated back to 874, although archaeological evidence indicates Gaelic monks from Ireland, known as papar according to sagas, had settled Iceland before that date.
Sagas are stories mostly about ancient Nordic and Germanic history, early Viking voyages, the battles that took place during the voyages, and migration to Iceland and of feuds between Icelandic families. They were written in the Old Norse language, mainly in Iceland.
Hrafnkels saga[ˈr̥apncɛls ˌsaːɣa](
In some religions, being a priest or priestess is by human election or human choice. In Judaism the priesthood is inherited in familial lines. In a theocracy, a society is governed by its priesthood.
Theocracy is a form of government in which God or a deity of some type is recognized as the supreme ruling authority, giving divine guidance to human intermediaries that manage the day to day affairs of the government.
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.
The word "priest", is ultimately derived from Greek via Latin presbyter , πρεσβύτεροςpresbúteros, the regular Latin word for "priest" being sacerdos , corresponding to ἱερεύςhiereús.the term for "elder", especially elders of Jewish or Christian communities in late antiquity. The Latin presbyter ultimately represents Greek
The ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BC to the 6th century AD. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by Medieval Greek.
In the New Testament, a presbyter is a leader of a local Christian congregation. The word derives from the Greek presbyteros, which means elder or senior. The Greek word episkopos literally means overseer; it refers exclusively to the office of bishop. Many understand presbyteros to refer to the bishop functioning as overseer. In modern Catholic and Orthodox usage, presbyter is distinct from bishop and synonymous with priest. In predominant Protestant usage, presbyter does not refer to a member of a distinctive priesthood called priests, but rather to a minister, pastor, or elder.
Late antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from classical antiquity to the Middle Ages in mainland Europe, the Mediterranean world, and the Near East. The popularization of this periodization in English has generally been accredited to historian Peter Brown, after the publication of his seminal work The World of Late Antiquity (1971). Precise boundaries for the period are a continuing matter of debate, but Brown proposes a period between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Generally, it can be thought of as from the end of the Roman Empire's Crisis of the Third Century to, in the East, the early Muslim conquests in the mid-7th century. In the West the end was earlier, with the start of the Early Middle Ages typically placed in the 6th century, or earlier on the edges of the Western Roman Empire.
It is possible that the Latin word was loaned into Old English, and only from Old English reached other Germanic languages via the Anglo-Saxon mission to the continent, giving Old Icelandic prestr, Old Swedish präster, Old High German priast. Old High German also has the disyllabic priester, priestar, apparently derived from Latin independently via Old French presbtre.
Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.
Anglo-Saxon missionaries were instrumental in the spread of Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century, continuing the work of Hiberno-Scottish missionaries which had been spreading Celtic Christianity across the Frankish Empire as well as in Scotland and Anglo-Saxon England itself during the 6th century. Both Ecgberht of Ripon and Ecgbert of York were instrumental in the Anglo-Saxon mission. The first organized the early missionary efforts of Wihtberht, Willibrord, and others; while many of the later missioners made their early studies at York.
Old Swedish is the name for two distinct stages of the Swedish language that were spoken in the Middle Ages: Early Old Swedish, spoken from around 1225 until 1375, and Late Old Swedish, spoken from 1375 until 1526.
Αn alternative theory makes priest cognate with Old High German priast, prest, from Vulgar Latin *prevost "one put over others", from Latin praepositus "person placed in charge".
That English should have only the single term priest to translate presbyter and sacerdos came to be seen as a problem in English Bible translations. The presbyter is the minister who both presides and instructs a Christian congregation, while the sacerdos, offerer of sacrifices, or in a Christian context the eucharist, performs "mediatorial offices between God and man".
The feminine English noun, priestess, was coined in the 17th century, to refer to female priests of the pre-Christian religions of classical antiquity. In the 20th century, the word was used in controversies surrounding the women ordained in the Anglican communion, who are referred to as "priests", irrespective of gender, and the term priestess is generally considered archaic in Christianity.
In historical polytheism, a priest administers the sacrifice to a deity, often in highly elaborate ritual. In the Ancient Near East, the priesthood also acted on behalf of the deities in managing their property.
Priestesses in antiquity often performed sacred prostitution, and in Ancient Greece, some priestesses such as Pythia, priestess at Delphi, acted as oracles.
In ancient Egyptian religion, the right and obligation to interact with the gods belonged to the pharaoh. He delegated this duty to priests, who were effectively bureaucrats authorized to act on his behalf. Priests staffed temples throughout Egypt, giving offerings to the cult images in which the gods were believed to take up residence and performing other rituals for their benefit.Little is known about what training may have been required of priests, and the selection of personnel for positions was affected by a tangled set of traditions, although the pharaoh had the final say. In the New Kingdom of Egypt, when temples owned great estates, the high priests of the most important cult—that of Amun at Karnak—were important political figures.
High-ranking priestly roles were usually held by men. Women were generally relegated to lower positions in the temple hierarchy, although some held specialized and influential positions, especially that of the God's Wife of Amun, whose religious importance overshadowed the High Priests of Amun in the Late Period.
In ancient Rome and throughout Italy, the ancient sanctuaries of Ceres and Proserpina were invariably led by female sacerdotes, drawn from women of local and Roman elites. It was the only public priesthood attainable by Roman matrons and was held in great honor.
A Roman matron was any mature woman of the upper class, married or unmarried. Females could serve public cult as Vestal Virgins but few were chosen, and then only from young maidens of the upper class.
In ancient Israel the priests were required by the Law of Moses to be of direct patrilineal descent from Aaron, Moses' elder brother. In Exodus 30:22–25 God instructs Moses to make a holy anointing oil to consecrate the priests "for all of eternity." During the times of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, the Aaronic priests were responsible for the daily and special Jewish holiday offerings and sacrifices within the temples, these offerings are known as the korbanot .
In Hebrew the word "priest" is kohen (singular כהן kohen, plural כּהנִים kohanim), hence the family names Cohen, Cahn, Kahn, Kohn, Kogan, etc. These families are from the tribe of Levi (Levites) and in twenty-four instances are called by scripture as such (Jerusalem Talmud to Mishnaic tractate Maaser Sheini p. 31a). In Hebrew the word for "priesthood" is kehunnah.
Since the destruction of the Second Temple, and (therefore) the cessation of the daily and seasonal temple ceremonies and sacrifices, Kohanim in traditional Judaism (Orthodox Judaism and to some extent, Conservative Judaism) continue to perform a number of priestly ceremonies and roles such as the Pidyon HaBen (redemption of a first-born son) ceremony and the Priestly Blessing, and have remained subject, particularly in Orthodox Judaism, to a number of restrictions, such as restrictions on certain marriages and ritual purity (see Kohanic disqualifications).
Orthodox Judaism regard the kohanim as being held in reserve for a future restored Temple. In all branches of Judaism, Kohanim do not perform roles of propitiation, sacrifice, or sacrament. Rather, a kohen's principal religious function is to perform the Priestly Blessing, and, provided he is rabbinically qualified, to serve as an authoritative judge (posek) and expositor of Jewish halakha law.
With the spread of Christianity and the formation of parishes, the Greek word ἱερεύς (hiereus), and Latin sacerdos, which Christians had since the 3rd century applied to bishops and only in a secondary sense to presbyters, began in the 6th century to be used of presbyters,and is today commonly used of presbyters, distinguishing them from bishops.
Today the term "priest" is used in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Church of the East, and some branches of Lutheranism to refer to those who have been ordained to a ministerial position through receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders, although "presbyter" is also used.Since the Protestant Reformation, non-sacramental denominations are more likely to use the term "elder" to refer to their pastors. The Christian term "Priest" does not have an entry in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, but the dictionary does deal with the above-mentioned terms under the entry for "Sheep, Shepherd.".
The most significant liturgical acts reserved to priests in these traditions are the administration of the Sacraments, including the celebration of the Holy Mass or Divine Liturgy (the terms for the celebration of the Eucharist in the Latin and Byzantine traditions, respectively), and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also called Confession. The sacraments of Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction) and Confirmation are also administered by priests, though in the Western tradition Confirmation is ordinarily celebrated by a bishop. In the East, Chrismation is performed by the priest (using oil specially consecrated by a bishop) immediately after Baptism, and Unction is normally performed by several priests (ideally seven), but may be performed by one if necessary. In the West, Holy Baptism may be celebrated by anyone. The Vatican catechism states that "According to Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ's grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony".Thus marriage is a sacrament administered by the couple to themselves, but may be witnessed and blessed by a deacon, or priest (who usually administers the ceremony). In the East, Holy Baptism and Marriage (which is called "Crowning") may be performed only by a priest. If a person is baptized in extremis (i.e., when in fear of immediate death), only the actual threefold immersion together with the scriptural words (Matthew 28:19) may be performed by a layperson or deacon. The remainder of the rite, and Chrismation, must still be performed by a priest, if the person survives. The only sacrament which may be celebrated only by a bishop is that of Ordination (cheirotonia, "Laying-on of Hands"), or Holy Orders.
In these traditions, only men who meet certain requirements may become priests. In Roman Catholicism the canonical minimum age is twenty-five. Bishops may dispense with this rule and ordain men up to one year younger. Dispensations of more than a year are reserved to the Holy See (Can. 1031 §§1, 4.) A Catholic priest must be incardinated by his bishop or his major religious superior in order to engage in public ministry. In Orthodoxy, the normal minimum age is thirty (Can. 9 of Neocaesarea) but a bishop may dispense with this if needed. In neither tradition may priests marry after ordination. In the Roman Catholic Church, priests in the Latin Rite, which covers the vast majority of Roman Catholicism, must be celibate except under special rules for married clergy converting from certain other Christian confessions.Married men may become priests in Eastern Orthodoxy and the Eastern Catholic Churches, but in neither case may they marry after ordination, even if they become widowed. Candidates for bishop are chosen only from among the celibate. Orthodox priests will either wear a clerical collar similar to the above mentioned, or simply a very loose black robe that does not have a collar.
The role of a priest in the Anglican Communion is largely the same as within the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Christianity, except that canon law in almost every Anglican province restricts the administration of confirmation to the bishop, just as with ordination. Whilst Anglican priests who are members of religious orders must remain celibate (although there are exceptions, such as priests in the Anglican Order of Cistercians), the secular clergy —bishops, priests, and deacons who are not members of religious orders—are permitted to marry before or after ordination (although in most provinces they are not permitted to marry a person of the same sex.) The Anglican churches, unlike the Roman Catholic or Eastern Christian traditions, have allowed the ordination of women as priests (referred to as "priests" not "priestesses") in some provinces since 1971. This practice remains controversial, however; a minority of provinces (10 out of the 38 worldwide) retain an all-male priesthood. Most Continuing Anglican churches do not ordain women to the priesthood.
As Anglicanism represents a broad range of theological opinion, its presbyterate includes priests who consider themselves no different in any respect from those of the Roman Catholic Church, and a minority who prefer to use the title presbyter in order to distance themselves from the more sacrificial theological implications which they associate with the word priest. While priest is the official title of a member of the presbyterate in every Anglican province worldwide (retained by the Elizabethan Settlement), the ordination rite of certain provinces (including the Church of England) recognizes the breadth of opinion by adopting the title The Ordination of Priests (also called Presbyters). Even though both words mean 'elders' historically the term priest has been more associated with the "High Church" or Anglo-Catholic wing, whereas the term "minister" has been more commonly used in "Low Church" or Evangelical circles.
The general priesthood or the priesthood of all believers, is a Christian doctrine derived from several passages of the New Testament. It is a foundational concept of Protestantism.It is this doctrine that Martin Luther adduces in his 1520 To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation in order to dismiss the medieval Christian belief that Christians were to be divided into two classes: "spiritual" and "temporal" or non-spiritual.
The conservative reforms of Lutherans are reflected in the theological and practical view of the ministry of the Church. Much of European Lutheranism follows the traditional Catholic governance of deacon, priest and bishop. The Lutheran archbishops of Finland, Sweden, etc. and Baltic countries are the historic national primates and some ancient cathedrals and parishes in the Lutheran church were constructed many centuries before the Reformation. Indeed, ecumenical work within the Anglican Communion and among Scandinavian Lutherans mutually recognize the historic apostolic legitimacy and full communion. Likewise in America, Lutherans have embraced the apostolic succession of bishops in the full communion with Episcopalians and most Lutheran ordinations are performed by a bishop.
In some Lutheran churches, ordained clergy are called priests as in Sweden and Finland, while in others the term pastor is preferred.
Methodist clergy often have the title of pastor, minister, reverend, etc.
In the Latter Day Saint movement, the priesthood is the power and authority of God given to man, including the authority to perform ordinances and to act as a leader in the church. A body of priesthood holders is referred to as a quorum. Priesthood denotes elements of both power and authority. The priesthood includes the power Jesus gave his apostles to perform miracles such as the casting out of devils and the healing of sick (Luke 9:1). Latter Day Saints believe that the Biblical miracles performed by prophets and apostles were performed by the power of the priesthood, including the miracles of Jesus, who holds all of the keys of the priesthood. The priesthood is formally known as the "Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God", but to avoid the too frequent use of the name of deity, the priesthood is referred to as the Melchizedek priesthood (Melchizedek being the high priest to whom Abraham paid tithes). As an authority, the priesthood is the authority by which a bearer may perform ecclesiastical acts of service in the name of God. Latter Day Saints believe that acts (and in particular, ordinances) performed by one with priesthood authority are recognized by God and are binding in heaven, on earth, and in the afterlife.
There is some variation among the Latter Day Saint denomination regarding who can be ordained to the priesthood. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), all worthy males above the age of 12 can be ordained to the priesthood. However, prior to a policy change in 1978, the LDS Church did not ordain men or boys who were of black African descent. The LDS Church does not ordain women to any of its priesthood offices. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ), the second largest denomination of the movement, began ordaining women to all of its priesthood offices in 1984. This decision was one of the reasons that led to a schism in the church, which prompted the formation of the independent Restoration Branches movement from which other denominations have sprung, including the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Islam has no sacerdotal priesthood, as every believer (mu'min) is individually empowered to engage with God directly, without any mediator. There are, however, a variety of academic and administrative offices which have evolved to assist Muslims with this task; a full discussion can be found at Clergy#Islam.
Hindu priests historically were members of the Brahmin caste. Priests are ordained and trained as well. There are two types of Hindu priests, pujaris ( swamis , yogis , and gurus) and purohits ( pundits ). A pujari performs rituals in a temple. These rituals include bathing the murtis (the statues of the gods/goddesses), performing puja , a ritualistic offering of various items to the Gods, the waving of a ghee or oil lamp also called an offering in light, known in Hinduism as aarti , before the murtis. Pujaris are often married.
A purohit, on the other hand, performs rituals and saṃskāras (sacraments) outside of the temple. There are special purohits who perform only funeral rites.
In many cases, a purohit also functions as a pujari. Both women and men are ordained as purohits and pujaris.
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In Zoroastrianism, the priesthood is reserved for men and is a mostly hereditary position. The priests prepare a drink from a sacred plant, which is called the haoma ritual. They officiate the Yasna , pouring libations into the sacred fire to the accompaniment of ritual chants.
The Taoist priests (道士 "master of the Dao" p. 488) act as interpreters of the principles of Yin-Yang 5 elements (fire, water, soil, wood, and metal p. 53) school of ancient Chinese philosophy, as they relate to marriage, death, festival cycles, and so on. The Taoist priest seeks to share the benefits of meditation with his or her community through public ritual and liturgy (p. 326). In the ancient priesthood before the Tang, the priest was called Jijiu ("libationer" p. 550), with both male and female practitioners selected by merit. The system gradually changed into a male only hereditary Taoist priesthood until more recent times (p. 550,551).
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The Shinto priest is called a kannushi (神主, lit. "Master of the kami"), originally pronounced kamunushi, sometimes referred to as a shinshoku(神職). A kannushi is the person responsible for the maintenance of a Shinto shrine, or jinja , purificatory rites, and for leading worship and veneration of a certain kami. Additionally, priests are aided by miko (巫女, "shrine maidens") for many rites as a kind of shaman or medium. The maidens may either be family members in training, apprentices, or local volunteers.
Saiin were female relatives of the Japanese emperor (termed saiō) who served as High Priestesses in Kamo Shrine. Saiō also served at Ise Shrine. Saiin priestesses usually were elected from royalty. In principle, Saiin remained unmarried, but there were exceptions. Some Saiin became consorts of the emperor, called Nyōgo in Japanese. The Saiin order of priestesses existed throughout the Heian and Kamakura periods.
The Yoruba people of western Nigeria practice an indigenous religion with a chiefly hierarchy of priests and priestesses that dates to AD 800–1000. [ citation needed ] Ifá priests and priestesses bear the titles Babalawo for men and Iyanifa for women. Priests and priestesses of the varied Orisha are titled Babalorisa for men and Iyalorisa for women. Initiates are also given an Orisa or Ifá name that signifies under which deity they are initiated. For example, a Priestess of Osun may be named Osunyemi, and a Priest of Ifá may be named Ifáyemi. This traditional culture continues to this day as initiates from all around the world return to Nigeria for initiation into the priesthood, and varied derivative sects in the New World (such as Cuban Santería and Brazilian Umbanda) use the same titles to refer to their officers as well.
In Brazil, the priests in the Umbanda, Candomblé and Quimbanda religions are called pai-de-santo (literally "Father of saint" in English), or "babalorixá" (a word borrowed from Yoruba bàbálórìsà, meaning Father of the Orisha ); its female equivalent is the mãe-de-santo ("Mother of saint"), also referred to as "ialorixá" (Yoruba: iyálórìsà).
In the Cuban Santería, a priest is called Santero, or Santera in its feminine equivalent.
According to traditional Wiccan beliefs, every member of the religion is considered a priestess or priest, as it is believed that no person can stand between another and the Divine. However, in response to the growing number of Wiccan temples and churches, several denominations of the religion have begun to develop a core group of ordained priestesses and priests serving a larger laity. This trend is far from widespread, but is gaining acceptance due to increased interest in the religion.
The dress of religious workers in ancient times may be demonstrated in frescoes and artifacts from the cultures. The dress is presumed to be related to the customary clothing of the culture, with some symbol of the deity worn on the head or held by the person. Sometimes special colors, materials, or patterns distinguish celebrants, as the white wool veil draped on the head of the Vestal Virgins.
Occasionally the celebrants at religious ceremonies shed all clothes in a symbolic gesture of purity. This was often the case in ancient times. An example of this is shown to the left on a Kylix dating from c. 500 BC where a priestess is featured. Modern religious groups tend to avoid such symbolism and some may be quite uncomfortable with the concept.
The retention of long skirts and vestments among many ranks of contemporary priests when they officiate may be interpreted to express the ancient traditions of the cultures from which their religious practices arose.
In most Christian traditions, priests wear clerical clothing, a distinctive form of street dress. Even within individual traditions it varies considerably in form, depending on the specific occasion. In Western Christianity, the stiff white clerical collar has become the nearly universal feature of priestly clerical clothing, worn either with a cassock or a clergy shirt. The collar may be either a full collar or a vestigial tab displayed through a square cutout in the shirt collar.
Eastern Christian priests mostly retain the traditional dress of two layers of differently cut cassock: the rasson (Greek) or podriasnik (Russian) beneath the outer exorasson (Greek) or riasa (Russian). If a pectoral cross has been awarded it is usually worn with street clothes in the Russian tradition, but not so often in the Greek tradition.
Distinctive clerical clothing is less often worn in modern times than formerly, and in many cases it is rare for a priest to wear it when not acting in a pastoral capacity, especially in countries that view themselves as largely secular in nature. There are frequent exceptions to this however, and many priests rarely if ever go out in public without it, especially in countries where their religion makes up a clear majority of the population. Pope John Paul II often instructed Catholic priests and religious to always wear their distinctive (clerical) clothing, unless wearing it would result in persecution or grave verbal attacks.
Christian traditions that retain the title of priest also retain the tradition of special liturgical vestments worn only during services. Vestments vary widely among the different Christian traditions.
In modern Pagan religions, such as Wicca, there is no one specific form of dress designated for the clergy. If there is, it is a particular of the denomination in question, and not a universal practice. However, there is a traditional form of dress, (usually a floor-length tunic and a knotted cord cincture, known as the cingulum), which is often worn by worshipers during religious rites. Among those traditions of Wicca that do dictate a specific form of dress for its clergy, they usually wear the traditional tunic in addition to other articles of clothing (such as an open-fronted robe or a cloak) as a distinctive form of religious dress, similar to a habit.
In many religions there are one or more layers of assistant priests.
In the Ancient Near East, hierodules served in temples as assistants to the priestess.
In ancient Judaism, the Priests (Kohanim) had a whole class of Levites as their assistants in making the sacrifices, in singing psalms and in maintaining the Temple. The Priests and the Levites were in turn served by servants called Nethinim. These lowest level of servants were not priests.
An assistant priest is a priest in the Anglican and Episcopal churches who is not the senior member of clergy of the parish to which they are appointed, but is nonetheless in priests' orders; there is no difference in function or theology, merely in 'grade' or 'rank'. Some assistant priests have a "sector ministry", that is to say that they specialize in a certain area of ministry within the local church, for example youth work, hospital work, or ministry to local light industry. They may also hold some diocesan appointment part-time. In most (though not all) cases an assistant priest has the legal status of assistant curate, although not all assistant curates are priests, as this legal status also applies to many deacons working as assistants in a parochial setting.
The corresponding term in the Catholic Church is "parochial vicar" – an ordained priest assigned to assist the pastor (Latin: parochus) of a parish in the pastoral care of parishioners. Normally, all pastors are also ordained priests; occasionally an auxiliary bishop will be assigned that role.
In Wicca, the leader of a coven or temple (either a high priestess or high priest) often appoints an assistant. This assistant is often called a 'deputy', but the more traditional terms 'maiden' (when female and assisting a high priestess) and 'summoner' (when male and assisting a high priest) are still used in many denominations.
A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.
In the Christian churches, holy orders are ordained ministries such as bishop, priest, or 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. The Anglo-Catholic tradition within Anglicanism identifies more with the Roman Catholic position about the sacramental nature of ordination.
Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the terms used for individual clergy are clergyman, clergywoman, and churchman. Less common terms are churchwoman and clergyperson, while cleric and clerk in holy orders both have a long history but are rarely used.
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 Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state.
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.
In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of Christianity created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. In some denominations, such as the Anglican Communion and Methodist Churches, confirmation bestows full membership in a local congregation upon the recipient. In others, such as the Roman Catholic Church, confirmation "renders the bond with the Church more perfect", because, while a baptized person is already a member, "reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace".
A rite is an established, ceremonial, usually religious, act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:
Clerical celibacy is the requirement in certain religions that some or all members of the clergy be unmarried. These religions consider that, outside of marriage, deliberately indulging in lustful thoughts and behavior is sinful; clerical celibacy also requires abstention from these.
In religion, a blessing is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, or divine will.
The ordination of women to ministerial or priestly office is an increasingly common practice among some major religious groups of the present time. It remains a controversial issue in certain Christian denominations where "ordination" has for almost 2,000 years been limited only to men.
In Christianity, a minister is a person authorized by a church, or other religious organization, to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister, which itself was derived from minus ("less").
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word consecration literally means "association with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups. The origin of the word comes from the Latin stem consecrat, which means dedicated, devoted, and sacred. A synonym for to consecrate is to sanctify; a distinct antonym is to desecrate.
Independent Catholicism is a movement of clergy and laity who self-identify as Catholic and form "micro-churches claiming apostolic succession and valid sacraments", in spite of not being affiliated to the historic Catholic churches such as the Catholic Church or the Old Catholic Churches. The term "independent Catholic" derives from the fact that "these denominations affirm both their belonging to the Catholic tradition as well as their independence from Rome."
Apostolicae curae is the title of a papal bull, issued in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, declaring all Anglican ordinations to be "absolutely null and utterly void". The Archbishops of Canterbury and York of the Church of England responded to the papal charges with the encyclical Saepius officio in 1897.
The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some 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.
In Christianity, concelebration is the presiding of a number of presbyters at the celebration of the Eucharist with either a presbyter or bishop as the principal celebrant and the other presbyters and bishops present in the chancel assisting in the consecration of the Eucharist. The concelebrants assist the principal celebrant by reciting the Words of Consecration together with him, thus effecting the change of the eucharistic elements. They may also recite portions of the Eucharistic Prayer. Concelebration is often practiced by ministers/priest of Churches that are in full communion with one another, e.g. the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Church.
The priesthood is one of the three holy orders of the Catholic Church, comprising the ordained priests or presbyters. The other two orders are the bishops and the deacons. Only men are allowed to receive holy orders.
A personal ordinariate, sometimes called a "personal ordinariate for former Anglicans" or more informally an "Anglican ordinariate", is a canonical structure within the Catholic Church established in accordance with the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of 4 November 2009 and its complementary norms. The ordinariates were established in order to enable "groups of Anglicans" to join the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their liturgical and spiritual patrimony. They are juridically equivalent to a diocese, "a particular church in which and from which exists the one and unique Catholic Church", but may be erected in the same territory as other dioceses "by reason of the rite of the faithful or some similar reason".
Presbyter is, in the Bible, a synonym for bishop (episkopos), referring to a leader in local Church congregations. In modern usage, it is distinct from bishop and synonymous with priest. Its literal meaning in Greek (presbyteros) is "elder."
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church:
About 100 Episcopal priests, many of them married, have become Roman Catholic priests since a "pastoral provision" was created by Pope John Paul II in 1980, said [Doug] Grandon, director of catechetics for the diocese. [...] His family life will remain the same, he said. Contrary to popular misunderstandings, he won't have to be celibate.
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