The Sacrament of Holy Orders

As a Sacrament of Vocation, Holy Orders is a special calling by God for some men to live their lives in total service to Him as bishops, priests, or deacons of the Catholic Church.

Jesus bestowed the sacramental priesthood upon the Apostles at the Last Supper, ensuring that his priesthood would continue through his Church until the end of time.

Today’s Catholic bishops are successors to the Apostles and they continue the same mission of proclaiming the Gospel, celebrating the sacraments, and serving the people of God.

With a share of the ministerial priesthood, Catholic priests assist the bishop of the diocese, usually by serving in a local parish. Priests who belong to religious orders may serve in a variety of ministries and locations depending on the religious order that they belong to.

Ordained at a lower level of Holy Orders, Catholic deacons preach, assist at Mass, and serve the poor.

In the Catholic Church, ordination only takes place after years of discernment, study, and spritual training.

Only a Catholic bishop has the fullness of Holy Orders and the ability to ordain other men to the priesthood. The ordination occurs when the bishop recites the ordination prayer while placing his hands on the head of a baptized male.

The matter of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the laying on of hands. The form is the words of a consecratory prayer of ordination specific for either bishops, priests, or deacons.

Strengthened by the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, Catholic bishops, priests, and deacons are able to serve worthily and to administer the sacraments to the faithful.

Like Baptism and Confirmation, the Sacrament of Holy Orders leaves a permanent mark on the soul and can only be received once.

Ordinary men made into the instruments of God:

Totally at the service to God:

So when He had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, He said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call Me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

John 13: 12-15

Continuing of the priesthood of Jesus in three dimensions:

Placing a man where he belongs in the world:

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, presbyterate, and diaconate.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1536

Passing on the sacrificial priesthood of Jesus:

Succeeding the Apostles in their mission:

Today’s bishops, priests, and deacons are all connected to the Apostles:

This is the ordinary and proper way in which ordained ministers share in the one priesthood of Christ. By the sacramental anointing of Holy Orders, the Holy Spirit configures them in a new and special way to Jesus Christ the head and shepherd; He forms and strengthens them with his pastoral charity; and He gives them an authoritative role in the Church as servants of the proclamation of the Gospel to every people and of the fullness of Christian life of all the baptized.

Pope John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 15 March 1992

The power to bestow God’s gifts:

One of the oldest rites of the Church:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

Not all religions are the same:

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