Like Marriage, the Sacrament of Orders is sometimes called a “Sacrament of Commitment.” A Sacrament is a visible sign of God’s presence, God’s activity in our lives, in the Church and in our world. But it goes beyond that! Sacraments not only show us what God is like and what God dreams for us; Sacraments also make that happen!
In today’s Church, there are actually three degrees of “orders.” These are:
So, what does the Sacrament of Orders say to us about the God we believe in? Three things jump readily to mind.
Ordination, or the reception of orders, is a religious and liturgical act that can be thought of as a consecration, a blessing or a sacrament. Today the word "ordination" is reserved for the sacramental act which integrates a man into the order of bishops, presbyters, or deacons, and goes beyond a simple election, designation, delegation, or institutionby the community, for it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a "sacred power" (sacra potestas)which can come only from Christ himself through his Church. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1538)
Ordination involves the laying on of hands by the bishop, along with a prayer of consecration. These constitute the visible signs of ordination.
The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the "common priesthood of the faithful." Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1591)
The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching (munus docendi), divine worship (munus liturgicum) and pastoral governance (munus regendi). (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1592)
To find out more about this great gift of God and explore whether you might be called to servant leadership as a priest, contact Father Steve Courtney, Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of St. John’s at: firstname.lastname@example.org 709-279-1625You can also contact your pastor or other pastoral leader.