The Order of the Presbyterate (Priest)May the peace of Christ be with you and yours.
Introduction to Holy OrdersMinistry means "service." The Church is the People of God (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, II) who engage in a variety of ministries (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 18; Decree on Ecumenism, n. 2). All human beings, by Baptism, , share in the ministry of Christ as prophet, priest, and king. "Everything which has been said so far concerning the People of God applies equally to the laity, religious, and clergy." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, nn. 30). We limit our conversation here to the ministry of Orders wherein the presbyter and bishop integrate and coordinate the various ministries with the deacon serving each. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 30; Decrees on the Bishops' Pastoral Office in the Church, n. 17).
In the early church there existed not only many different types of ministry but also different ways in which individuals exercised these ministries. These ministries we may view in two broad strokes: a missionary ministries which apostles, prophets, and teachers exercised and residential ministries which presbyters exercised in Jewish-Christian communities and bishops and deacons exercised in Gentile-Christian communities.
Hence, the Orders of the Episcopate, Presbyterate, and Diaconate are ministries and not so-called canonical states-in-life. In contemporary Catholic theology, the ordained ministry is one of ministry or service, leadership, preaching the word, the minister's representational aspects, and the traditional ontological and cultic dimensions. (The preceding edited from Catholicism, Richard P. McBrien, ISBN0-06-065405-8, pp. 776-8, 770, 772, 876).
To explain these ministries, we offer you from The Roman Pontifical, the slight editions, the ordaining bishop's homily to and the Prayer of Consecration over the ordinand.
This person, your relatives and friend, is now to be raised to the order of priests. Consider carefully the position to which he is to be promoted in the Church.
It is true that God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of humankind. He was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and their successors, the bishops, he continues his work as Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Priests are co-workers of the order of Bishops. They are joined to the bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God's people.
Our brother has seriously considered this step and is now to be ordained to the priesthood in the presbyterial order. He is to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd in his ministry which is to make his own body, the Church, grow into the people of God, a holy temple.
He is called to share in the priesthood of the bishops and to be molded into the likeness of Christ, the supreme and eternal Priest. By consecration he will be made a true priest of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, sustain God's people, and celebrate the liturgy, above all, the Lord's sacrifice.
(Addressing the Ordinand)
My son, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher. Share with all humankind the word of God you have received with joy. Meditate on the law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach.
Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the people of God. Let the example of your life attract the followers of Christ, so that by word and action you may build up the house which is God's Church.
In the same way you must carry out your mission of sanctifying in the power of Christ. Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it to Christ's sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands. Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In the memorial of the Lord's death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ.
When you baptize, you will being men and women into the people of God. In the sacrament of penance, you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick. You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day praying not only for the people of God but for the whole world. Remember that you are chosen from among God's people and appointed to act for them in relation to God. Do your part in the work of Christ the Priest with genuine joy and love, and attend to the concerns of Christ before your own.
Finally, conscious of sharing in the work of Christ, the Head and Shepherd of the Church, and united with the bishop and subject to him, seek to bring the faithful together into a unified family and to lead them effectively, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, to God the Father. Always remember the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and to seek out and rescue those who were lost.
PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Ordinand kneels, Bishop extends hands and says:
Come to your help, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God; you are the source of every honor and dignity, of all progress and stability. You watch over the growing human family by your gift of wisdom and your pattern of order. When you had appointed high priests to rule your people, you chose other human beings next to them in rank and dignity to be with them and to help them in their task; and so there grew up the ranks of priests and the offices of levites, established by sacred rites.
In the desert you extended the spirit of Moses to seventy wise people who helped him rule the great company of his people. You shared among the children of Aaron the fullness of their father's power, to provide worthy priests in sufficient number for the increasing rites of sacrifice and worship. With the same loving care you gave companions to your Son's apostles to help in teaching the faith: they preached the Gospel to the whole world.
Lord, grant also to us such fellow workers, for we are weak and our need is greater.
Almighty Father, grant to these servants of yours the dignity of the priesthood. Renew within them the Spirit of holiness. As a co-workers with the order of bishops may he be faithful to the ministry that he receives from you, Lord God, and be to others a model of right conduct.
May he be faithful in working with the order of bishops, so that the words of Gospel may reach the ends of the earth, and the family of nations, made one in Christ, may become God's one holy people.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
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