Sunday, March 13, 2011

Holy Orders

From ancient times there were groups bonded together for particular purposes which are called orders. There were orders of spouses, orders of widows, orders of catechumens and more. Jesus Christ established Holy Orders by which the mission which He entrusted to his Apostles would continue until the end of time. There are three degrees of these orders: episcopate (bishops), presbyterate (priests) and diaconate. By this means Christ is made visible in the world today, especially amongst the believers.

The day before He died, Jesus instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper when He commanded his Apostles to "Do this in memory of Me." He gave them the power to do what He did, namely to change unleavened bread into his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and also to change wine into his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He effectively ordained his first bishops. He moreover gave them the power to administer all seven sacraments which He instituted.

The bishops are the only ones in Holy Orders able to ordain. They ordain as bishops certain priests who are called to the episcopate. They, of course, ordain men who have the vocation to the priesthood in order to be co-workers with their bishops in the Apostolic ministry. They ordain men who are called to serve as deacons by assisting bishops and priests in their ministry.

A priest can never administer Holy Orders and ordinarily may not administer the sacrament of Confirmation. While each diocese has at least one bishop, it is usually the case that there are a number of priests whose ministry is to teach and sanctify in parishes, educational, medical and other institutions. Each priest is in persona Christi, that is, in the person of Christ Himself. As such, the greatest work that a priest does is forgive sins (the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation) and celebrate Holy Mass (the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist). A priest may have other skills such as counselor or educator, but his calling is for the sanctification of souls.

There are two kinds of deacons: transitional and permanent. The first are those who are on their way to the priesthood. The latter are those who are called by God to serve by teaching, preaching, assisting at Mass and administering the sacrament of Baptism and by witnessing marriages (the sacrament of Matrimony).

God loves us so much that He makes Himself present though Holy Orders for the spiritual welfare of all of us. We should always thank Him for this and moreover respect and pray for all bishops, priests and deacons. Also, let us not forget to pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. May more respond to God’s call to work in his vineyard.

Father Stanley

No comments:

Post a Comment