Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Orders

Today at 10:00 a.m., Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will ordain three men to the Catholic Priesthood at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral here in the Diocese of Phoenix. The three men are Deacon Keith Kenney, Deacon Scott Sperry, and Deacon Kevin Grimditch. It will be a joyous day here in the Diocese of Phoenix as three more men are added to the ranks of the Holy Priesthood.

A vocation boom is beginning to happen in the United States – many young men are hearing God’s call again. It’s not as if God stopped calling men to the Priesthood, but many stopped listening to the voice of God. Many dioceses around the country and around the world, especially in Africa and Asia, are seeing an increase of men entering seminary. If you can’t attend the Ordination itself today in Phoenix, please continue to pray for an increase to vocations to the Priesthood. For more on the Catholic Priesthood, click here.

The ordination of Fr. Chris Axline and Fr. Kurt Perea (June 2013).

The Diocese of Phoenix Ordination – Fr. Chris Axline and Fr. Kurt Perea (June 2013).

With today’s major liturgical celebration in the particular church of Phoenix, I thought a quick lesson from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Sacrament of Holy Orders was the perfect blog post.

So what does the Catechism teach on the Sacrament of Holy Orders?

CCC 1590: St. Paul said to his disciple Timothy: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim 1:6), and “If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task.” (1 Tim 3:1). To Titus he said: This why I left you in Crete, that you amend what was defective, and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you” (Titus 1:5).

CCC 1591: The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the “common priesthood of the faithful.” Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community.

CCC 1592: The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching (munus docendi), divine worship (munus liturgicum) and pastoral governance (munus regendi).

CCC 1593: Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred and exercised in three degrees: that of bishops, that of presbyters, and that of deacons. The ministries conferred by ordination are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church: without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trall. 3,1).

CCC 1594: The bishop receives the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, which integrates him into the episcopal college and makes him the visible head of the particular Church entrusted to him. As successors of the apostles and members of the college, the bishops share in the apostolic responsibility and mission of the whole Church under the authority of the Pope, successor of St. Peter.

CCC 1595: Priests are united with the bishops in sacerdotal dignity and at the same time depend on them in the exercise of their pastoral functions; they are called to be the bishops’ prudent co-workers. They form around their bishop the presbyterium which bears responsibility with him for the particular Church. They receive from the bishop the charge of a parish community or a determinate ecclesial office.

CCC 1596: Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop.

CCC 1597: The sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by the laying on of hands followed by a solemn prayer of consecration asking God to grant the ordinand the graces of the Holy Spirit required for his ministry. Ordination imprints an indelible sacramental character [emphasis added – Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation as well].

CCC 1598: The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men (viri), whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.

CCC 1599: In the Latin Church the sacrament of Holy Orders for the presbyterate is normally conferred only on candidates who are ready to embrace celibacy freely and who publicly manifest their intention of staying celibate for the love of God’s kingdom and the service of men.

CCC 1600: It is bishops who confer the sacrament of Holy Orders in the three degrees.

If you want to read even more than this brief teaching on the Sacrament of Holy Orders, I would encourage you to read CCC 1536-1589.

This past week, Pope Francis met with the priests in the Italian town of Cassano all’Jonio and spoke on the beauty and brotherhood of the priesthood. The Holy Father said,

“I would first of all like to share with you the joy of being priests. The ever new surprise of having been called by the Lord Jesus… When we priests are in front of the tabernacle, and we stop there for a moment, in silence, then we feel the gaze of Jesus upon us once again, and this gaze renews us, revives us… following the Lord not on our own, one-on-one, but together, despite the wide variety of gifts and personalities…May we go forward, animated by our common love for the Lord and for the Holy Mother Church” he prayed, and “may the Virgin Mary protect and accompany you. May we remain united in prayer.”

Saint John Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests…Pray for all priests, seminarians, and those who care for our spiritual fathers.

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