Sacraments of the Catholic Church
Sacrament of Reconciliation
Sacrament of Marriage
Sacrament of the Sick
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: to proclaim the Good News unto the ends of the earth. It includes three degrees: episcopate (bishop), presbyterate (priest), and diaconate (deacon). Through the laying on of hands, men are ordained bishop or priest for roles of leadership in the Church or ordained deacon for the role of service in the Church.
Priest, Prophet & King
At Baptism, we were all anointed with the Chrism of Salvation as priest, prophet and king. This mandate of our baptismal call is further charged at our ordination. Once the candidate for Holy Orders is called forward the ”official” homily echoes these three offices of baptism.
The official homily from the ordination ritual states:
“… you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher … see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach … let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God.
… you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ… Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. … when you gather others into the people of God through Baptism … Penance; when you comfort the sick … when you offer prayers of praise … carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ….
… dear son, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, … strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.”
As clergy live out these offices daily, they probably never really think “am I being ‘priestly’ as I celebrate this baptism or am I being ‘prophetic?’ as I speak to this group of students, or am I living out the ‘shepherding’ role as I sit here at a committee meeting.” Yet we are reminded by the Church’s instruction to the ordained that these offices of Priest, Prophet and King must be nurtured each day as this vocation is lived out in the ordinary moments of everyday life.
Formation for Holy Orders
These three offices are nourished by the four areas of formation; human, intellectual, pastoral and spiritual.
Human Formation aims to cultivate the humanity of priests so that their humanity is instrumental in communicating Jesus Christ and that they can be authenticate men of communion. Care of the human life cycle, disciplines of psychology, sociology, the fine arts and sciences all shape who we are as a person.
Intellectual Formation aims to deepen the understanding of faith seeking to link theoretical knowledge with practical wisdom. It balances being pastor and theologian; it requires pastoral theology and theological reflection.
Pastoral Formation entails the development of skills and competencies that enable priests to serve their people well. These skills would include the preaching and proclamation, presiding, counselling and communication skills. It is the practical side of theology.
Spiritual Formation is life long for priests as it is for all the faithful as we all strive to be better disciples of Jesus Christ.
Where to Go from Here
If you feel that you are being called as a deacon or a priest you are encouraged to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and to speak to your parish priest or the Diocesan Vocation Director by clicking here.
A Prayer for Priests
Gracious and loving God, we thank you for the gift of our priests. Through them, we experience your presence in the sacraments. Help our priests to be strong in their vocation. Set their souls on fire with love for your people. Grant them the wisdom, understanding and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Inspire them with the vision of your kingdom. Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel. Allow them to experience joy in their ministry. Help them to become instruments of your divine grace. We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest. Amen.