Holy Orders

Holy Orders is the sacrament by which bishops, priests and deacons are ordained and receive the power and grace to perform their sacred duties. Holy Orders, which was instituted by Christ himself, is administered by the laying on of hands by the bishop, through which the priest is given the power to serve the Church through his preaching, teaching and celebration of the sacraments.

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 (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No 1592).

Ministerial priesthood differs from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained minister exercises their service for the People of God by teaching, celebrating the sacraments and through pastoral governance (ibid, No 1592).

The sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by the laying on of hands followed by a solemn prayer of consecration asking God to grant the ordained the graces of the Holy Spirit required for ministry. (ibid, No 1597).

The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men (viri), whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders (ibid, No 1598).

In our tradition, the Latin Church, the sacrament of Holy Orders for the presbyterate is normally conferred only on candidates who are ready to embrace celibacy freely and who publicly manifest their intention of staying celibate for the love of God’s kingdom and the service of the people of God. It is the bishop who confers the sacrament of Holy Orders (ibid, Nos1599 &1600).

The call to priesthood “is an initiative which the Lord takes. The Lord calls. He calls each of those whom he wills to become priests…if some of you have heard this call in your heart, it is Jesus who has placed it there. Pay attention to this invitation and pray that it might grow and bear fruit for the whole Church.

— General Audience | 26 March 2015