The Sacrament of Holy Orders is the continuation of Christ’s priesthood, which He bestowed upon His Apostles; thus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the Sacrament of Holy Orders as “the sacrament of apostolic ministry."
In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, a man is incorporated into the priesthood of Christ, at one of three levels: the episcopate, the priesthood, or the diaconate. Once a man has been ordained, he is spiritually changed.
Each level of ordination confers special graces, from the ability to preach, granted to deacons; to the ability to act in the person of Christ to offer the Mass, granted to priests; to a special grace of strength, granted to bishops, which allows him to teach and lead his flock, even to the point of dying as Christ did.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders has three primary levels:
Episcopate: A bishop is a man who is ordained to the episcopate by another bishop. He stands in a direct, unbroken line from the Apostles, a condition known as “apostolic succession.” Ordination as a bishop confers the grace to sanctify others, as well as the authority to teach the faithful and to bind their consciences. Because of the grave nature of this responsibility, all episcopal ordinations must be approved by the Pope.
Priesthood: A priest acts as co-worker of the bishop. He exercises his powers lawfully only in communion with his bishop, and so priests promise obedience to their bishop at the time of their ordination. The chief duties of the priesthood are the preaching of the Gospel and the offering of the Eucharist.
Deaconate: A deacon assists priests and bishops, but beyond the preaching of the Gospel, they are granted no special charism or spiritual gift. The permanent diaconate was restored in the West by the Second Vatican Council. Married men are allowed to become permanent deacons.
For information about Holy Orders, exploring the call of God in your life, or to learn more about the life of service to Our Lord, the necessary classes to attend and other information, call the parish office.
Contact: Father Brian