In this special month dedicated to Mary, we continue to pray the holy rosary, asking our mother to continue to intercede for us and grant peace to the world. On the 13th of May 2017, the Universal Church will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima, where the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, appeared 6 times to 3 shepherd children; Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta; between May 13 and October 13, 1917.
Today, we shall begin discussion on the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
The SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS
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)
The effect of the sacrament of order is to impart the Holy Spirit and to impress an indelible character, which permanently distinguishes those in orders from the laity. The laity also has a part in Christ’s priesthood, but in another manner. The office of Bishop is above the priesthood (which in turn is above the diaconate) and gives special powers of consecration. To the priesthood belong the celebration of Holy Mass and the power of forgiving sins.
All members of the Church participate in the priesthood of all believers through Baptism. However, some men are called to serve Jesus and the Church today through the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Through their leadership in the Church, they help continue Jesus’ presence on earth in the tradition of the apostles.
Those who are called to be priests are ordained through the Rite of Ordination. In celebrating this Rite, men receive a permanent spiritual mark, called a character, signifying that they represent Jesus’ presence in the Church.
There are three levels of participation in the Sacrament of Holy Orders: as bishop, as priest, and as deacon.
A bishop receives the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He is the head or Ordinary of the local church. The local area entrusted to him is called a diocese. A bishop is also a member of the episcopal college: this is all the bishops who, with the pope, guide the Church.
Priests serve the community in various ways. They may be called to serve in their dioceses or as religious order priests, carrying out the mission of a particular religious community. They preside at liturgies, preach, administer the sacraments, counsel people, and teach. Simply put, they serve as pastors.
Deacons help and serve bishops by serving the needs of the Church, proclaiming the gospel, teaching and preaching, baptizing, witnessing marriages, and assisting the priest celebrant at liturgies.
Deacons are ordained for service in the Church. There are deacons who are studying to become priests. There are deacons that include married men who are called to remain deacons for life and to serve the Church in this capacity.
Priests receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the Rite of Ordination. The bishop lays his hands on the head of the candidate and says a prayer asking for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In one part of the rite, the candidate lies in front of the altar while the Litany of the Saints is sung or recited. In another part of the rite, a priest’s hands are anointed with chrism. In the rite for a bishop, the new bishop’s head is anointed.
Next week Monday, we shall trace the origin of the priesthood from the Old Testament through the New Testament and how it continues to be exercised today in fulfilment of the mandate of Jesus.
God bless you
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