WHAT IS 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(Bishops, presbyterate(Priest), and diaconate(Deacons). It is one of the Sacraments of Vocation --- re directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God. BRIEF HISTORY
The priesthood was established by God among the Israelites during their exodusfrom Egypt. God chose the tribe of Levi as priests for the nation. Their primaryduties were the offering of sacrifice and prayer for the people.Christ, in offering Himself up for the sins of all mankind, fulfilled the duties of the OldTestament priesthood once and for all. But just as the Eucharist makes that sacrificepresent to us today, so the New Testament priesthood is a sharing in the eternalpriesthood of Christ. While all believers are, in some sense, priests, some are set aside to serve the Church as Christ Himself did
WHY IS THIS SACRAMENT CALLED "ORDERS"?
* The word order in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. * Ordinatio means incorporation into an ordo (order). In the Church there are established bodies which are ordo episcoporum, the ordo presbyterorum, the ordo diaconorum. Other groups also receive this name of ordo: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows * Integration into one of these bodies in the Church was accomplished by a rite called ordinatio, a religious and liturgical act which was 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 institution by 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. * Ordination is also called consecratio, for it is a setting apart and an investiture by Christ himself for his Church. The laying on of hands by the bishop, with the consecratory prayer, constitutes the visible sign of this ordination.
THE THREE DEGREES OF THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS
Catholic doctrine, the Magisterium, and the constant practice of the Church, recognizes that there are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyterate.The diaconate is intended to help and serve them. For this reason the term sacerdos in current usage denotes bishops and priests but not deacons. Yet Catholic doctrine teaches that the degrees of priestly participation (episcopate and presbyterate) and the degree of service (diaconate) are all three conferred by a sacramental act called "ordination," that is, by the sacrament of Holy Orders
The 3 Major or "Sacred" Orders:
* Bishops: The First Degree of the Priesthood:
Bishops have the greatest authority and jurisdiction (aside from Popes and Patriarchs), and have the powers to ordain men into the diaconate and priesthood, and to offer the Sacrament of Confirmation (this last power they can delegate to a priest), to dedicate churches and altars, to consecrate chalices and patens and bells, and to preside at the benediction of abbots. They are said to exercise the fullness of the priesthood. The symbol of this office is the mitre.
* Priests: The Second Degree of the Priesthood
The duties and powers of the priest are to confect the Eucharist at the Mass; offer the Sacraments of Penance, Communion, and Unction; to preside at the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony; to solemnly baptize; to preach; to...