Sunday 18th February 2018

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Degrees Of Holy Orders — Presbyterate

November 4, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

The Sacrament of Holy Orders, as was reaffirmed last week, has been conferred and exercised in three levels or degrees — the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the diaconate — since the beginning of the Church. As highlighted in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, all three “are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church” (n. 325).
In fact, St. Ignatius, the third bishop of Antioch who was martyred in early post-apostolic times (AD 107), resolutely proclaimed: “Apart from these there is not even the name of a church” (Letter to the Trallians 3, 1; as cited in Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1593).
In treating the episcopate last week, we saw that through episcopal ordination “the bishop receives the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, which integrates him into the episcopal college and makes him the visible head of the particular Church entrusted to him” (CCC, n. 1594).
As aptly stated in Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the bishop “is to be considered as the high priest of his flock, from whom the life in Christ of his faithful is in some way derived and dependent” (Sacrosanctum Concilium [SC], n. 41).
As a legitimate successor to the apostles, a bishop not only has jurisdiction over the diocese entrusted to his care, but with his fellow bishops and in union with and under the authority of the Pope, shares responsibility for the universal Church. It is only a bishop who can ordain other bishops, priests, and deacons.
The next section of the Catechism examines the second level of Holy Orders, that of priests, who become the co-workers of the bishop in his ministry to the Church. “Priests, although they do not possess the highest degree of the priesthood and although they are dependent on the bishops in the exercise of their power,” teach the Vatican II fathers, “are nevertheless united with the bishops in sacerdotal dignity” (Lumen Gentium [LG], n. 28 § 1).
In the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, the council fathers elaborate: “The office of priests…shares the authority by which Christ builds up, sanctifies, and rules his Body….[P]riests, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ the Priest in such a way that they can act in the person of Christ the Head” (Presbyterorum Ordinis [PO], n. 2 § 3).
Before proceeding, let us consider the etymology of the word priest. It has its origin in the Greek word presbyteros, which means “elder.”
However, as Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, explains in his Basic Catholic Catechism Course (BCCC), in the early Church the term denoted a person senior “not in age but in wisdom, to whom was entrusted the government of a community. In fact, the first priests in the Church, that is, the Apostles, were also elders or governors of the Church” (p. 190). In Latin, the word for priest is sacerdos, which literally means “offerer of sacrifices.”
From this, one can see how Fr. Hardon’s definition for priest reasonably follows: “An authorized mediator who offers a true sacrifice in acknowledgement of God’s supreme dominion over human beings and in expiation for their sins” (Modern Catholic Dictionary, p. 438).
What power, then, is granted to priests through sacramental Ordination? The Catechism cites Lumen Gentium once again to answer this question:
“By the power of the sacrament of Orders, in the image of Christ the eternal high Priest, they are consecrated to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful and to celebrate divine worship, so that they are true priests of the New Testament” (LG, n. 28 § 1; as cited in CCC, n. 1564).
They make their diocesan bishop — to whom they promise their obedience — present in the local congregation or parish. Moreover, their mandate is even more expansive, for they “share in the universal dimensions of the mission that Christ entrusted to the apostles” (CCC, n. 1565).
This dimension of priestly ministry is expanded upon in Vatican II’s Decree on Priestly Training. Their formation as seminarians is intended to imbue them with a Catholic spirit which will enable them “to transcend the limits of their own diocese, nation, or rite, and to help the needs of the whole Church, prepared in spirit to preach the Gospel everywhere” (Optatam Totius, n. 20 § 1).
Furthermore, “the spiritual gift which priests receive at their ordination prepared them not for a sort of limited and narrow mission but for the widest possible and universal mission of salvation ‘even to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8)” (PO, § 1).
What are the primary duties of a priest? Fr. Hardon provides an excellent, albeit abbreviated, summary:
1) To proclaim the Gospel message to all; 2) to administer the sacraments, most especially the Holy Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick; 3) to help others to grow in virtue and holiness; 4) to assist the bishop in providing for the pastoral care of the People of God and administration of his diocese; 5) to pray the Liturgy of the Hours on a daily basis; and 6) to administer the parish to which he is assigned and to attentively provide for the spiritual welfare of all souls entrusted to his care (cf. BCCC, p. 191).
The most central duty of a sacramentally ordained priest is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, an obligation the Vatican II fathers especially accentuated:
“They [priests] exercise their sacred function especially in the Eucharistic worship or the celebration of the Mass by which acting in the person of Christ and proclaiming His Mystery they unite the prayers of the faithful with the sacrifice of their Head and renew and apply in the sacrifice of the Mass until the coming of the Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 11:26) the only sacrifice of the New Testament, namely that of Christ offering Himself once for all a spotless Victim to the Father (cf. Heb. 5:1-4)” (LG, n. 28 § 1).
It is “from this unique sacrifice,” affirms the Catechism, that “their whole priestly ministry draws its strength (cf. PO, n. 2 § 5)” (CCC, n. 1566).
The importance and influence of the ministry of the parish priest cannot be overemphasized, for it is normally he whom members of the Catholic faithful have direct contact with in the most defining moments of their lives. As strikingly expressed in The Didache Series: The Sacraments:
“It is the priest who will baptize them at birth and later give them their First Holy Communion. It is the priest who they see each Sunday at Mass and who hears their Confessions. It is the priest who will help them prepare for marriage and who will celebrate their wedding day with them as well as the wedding anniversaries that follow. In times of crisis, it is the priest who is called to the hospital to bring the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick to those who are ill, and Viaticum to the dying.
“Finally, it will be the priest who celebrates the funeral Mass and commends the souls of the faithful departed to a merciful and loving God” (p. 162).

Spiritual Prosperity

Especially applicable to the crucial role that the parish priest plays in the lives of the faithful is a point that was briefly touched upon in an earlier installment: the holiness of priests. “A priest, as one assimilated to Christ the King,” says Fr. Hardon, “is obliged to strive for Christian perfection, directing others on the way to salvation only after mastering himself through an ever-deeper relationship with Christ. Indeed, a priest’s ministry precludes conformity to the world. To this end, priests are obligated to lead a holy life” (BCCC, p. 191).
As expressed by the fathers of Vatican II: “They [priests] cannot be ministers of Christ unless they be witnesses and dispensers of a life other than earthly life” (PO, n. 3).
Why is this so important? On multiple occasions, Fr. Hardon said, “Like priest, like people is not a clever phrase, but the verdict of almost 2,000 years of the Church’s history.”
Toward that end, Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen asserts that a priest’s “emptying of self for the people of the parish produces the spiritual prosperity of the parish” (The Priest Is Not His Own, p. 28). A sterling example is that of St. John Vianney (1786-1859), the patron saint of parish priests. So renowned for his holiness and the unparalleled hours he labored in the confessional, it is said that the Devil told him, “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined.”
“The priest’s proclamation of the Gospel,” submits Fr. Hardon, “must be nourished by prayer and study so that his life itself gives witness to the Gospel faith he professes and teaches” (BCCC, p. 191). In fact, the development of a profound life of prayer as part of the seminary formation experience was emphasized by Vatican II (see OT, n. 8).
To underscore the importance of example, Archbishop Sheen notes that seminarians “are edified when they see their professors at early meditation with them and at their spiritual exercises! Lacking this example, they easily come to think of spirituality as something to be practiced only to the day of ordination” (ibid., Sheen, p. 26).
Formed is this manner, a young priest is better prepared to be “united with his fellow priests in a bond of charity, prayer, and total cooperation” (PO, n. 8 § 1).

+ + +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. He is a consecrated Marian catechist.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Pope Francis says Paul VI will be canonized this year

Vatican City, Feb 17, 2018 / 08:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During his annual Lenten meeting with the priests of Rome last week, Pope Francis confirmed that Blessed Pope Paul VI will be made a saint sometime this year. “Paul VI…Continue Reading

Pope reappoints O’Malley to head further work of safeguarding commission

Vatican City, Feb 17, 2018 / 05:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has reconfirmed Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston as head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, also reconfirming seven members…Continue Reading

The Latest: Trump to visit Florida after school shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s response to the Florida school shooting (all times local): 11:36 a.m. President Donald Trump says he’ll visit Parkland, Florida, the site of Wednesday’s shooting that killed 17 people. Trump said from…Continue Reading

U.S. bishops: federal budget should not be balanced ‘on backs of the poor’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the Trump administration’s 2019 federal budget proposal on Monday, the U.S. Catholic bishops are urging for a budget that shows greater concern for “‘the least of these” and warning that the U.S. “must never seek…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood sticker stirs controversy at Connecticut Catholic high school

A Connecticut high school student may have to decide whether to remove a Planned Parenthood sticker on her laptop or leave her Catholic school after administrators told her to remove it, her parents said. Sophomore Kate Murray’s parents told the Greenwich Time that…Continue Reading

Fr. James Martin: ‘People take the Bible…out of context’ on homosexuality

February 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Bible’s condemnation of homosexual acts should be taken in “context” with Biblical times, Jesuit Father James Martin toldGeorgetown University students recently. Martin said as well that Catholics who support gay “marriage” should have no problem…Continue Reading

Mississippi state house votes to ban abortion after 15 weeks

JACKSON, Mississippi, February 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A bill banning abortion on babies more than 15 weeks old passed the Mississippi state House today 79-31. House Bill 1510 would make Mississippi the state with the most pro-life laws if it…Continue Reading

All But Three Democrats Voted to Allow Unlimited Abortions Up to Birth

Just three Democrats in the U.S. Senate supported a bill on Monday that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks when unborn babies are capable of feeling pain. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which has strong public support from Republicans…Continue Reading

Athanasius Schneider invites world’s bishops to sign Profession of Immutable Truths

ROME, January 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In an exclusive interview two weeks after issuing a profession of immutable truths about sacramental marriage, Bishop Athanasius Schneider is inviting his brother bishops around the world to join in raising a common voice…Continue Reading

Cardinal Eijk Asks Pope to Clarify Questions About “Remarried” Divorcees

As Katholisch.de, the official website of the German bishops, reports today, Cardinal Willem Eijk, the Dutch cardinal and Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht, requested that Pope Francis bring light into the confusion concerning the question as to how to deal with…Continue Reading

Where are all the Catholics at the nation’s largest Catholic school

When Selena Miller, a practicing Catholic, applied to DePaul, she had no idea it was a Catholic university. Damita Meneves, another practicing Catholic, said she has met only one other Catholic student in her first year at DePaul. DePaul is…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: It is a “source of anguish” to hear suggestions “that I would lead a schism”

His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, spoke recently with Thinking with the Church, hosted by Chris Altieri, who is also a regular contributor to Catholic World Report. Cardinal Burke responds to questions regarding the interpretation and reception of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Planned Parenthood Sues President Trump After He Defunded Its Programs Pushing Sex on Kids

There’s nothing, it seems, that the abortion chain Planned Parenthood won’t sue over. On Thursday, affiliates of the abortion chain in seven states sued the Trump administration for cutting funding for their questionable teen pregnancy prevention programs. The Daily Nonpareil reports the lawsuits argue that the Trump administration wrongly cut their funding prematurely and without cause. Nine groups, including Planned Parenthood affiliates in Washington, Iowa, North Carolina, South C

Scholar stumps Cardinal Cupich, asks if Pope’s ‘paradigm shift’ means ‘radical’ doctrinal change

CAMBRIDGE, England, February 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A respected Catholic historian and philosopher challenged Cardinal Blase Cupich during a lecture last week about Pope’ Francis so-called “revolution of mercy” that has caused what many are defending as a “paradigm shift” in Catholic practice. Professor John Rist, after listening to a February 9 lecture at Cambridge Universityin which Cardinal Cupich praised Pope Francis’ “paradigm shift” in Catholic practice, asked the Cardinal at the end of the lect

Cardinal Schönborn outraged at bishop’s critique of blessings for homosexual unions

VIENNA, Austria, February 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Austria’s bishops, led by Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, are indignant over a retired bishop’s passionate defense of Catholic teaching in opposing Church “blessings” for homosexual unions. After Bishop Andreas Laun, the retired Auxiliary Bishop of Salzburg, Austria, published Monday his strong rebuke of the German bishops for proposing to bless homosexual couples, there has been an inten

The Clarity of Cardinal Cupich

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago is all for clarity. It has been a consistent theme, as when in September of 2017 he issued a decree banning guns in all parishes, schools and other facilities across the archdiocese “so there would be absolute clarity on our position.” His official statement put “clarity” in italics. When he was bishop of Rapid City, he called for “civility and clarity” in discussing legislation that would limit abortion, but he…Continue Reading

Catholics warn of church schism if Vatican makes a deal with China

BEIJING — A group of influential Catholics published an open letter Monday express their shock and disappointment at report that the Vatican could soon reach a deal with the Chinese government, warning that it could create a schism in the church in China. The Holy See has been in negotiations for several years with the Chinese Communist Party and is now belie

Advertisement(2)

President Trump Bans U.S. Aid for International Abortions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Within a week of taking office on January 23, 2017, President Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy, now called the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance, which bans U.S. funding for abortions overseas. The expanded policy prohibits $9 billion in U.S. taxpayer money from funding foreign organizations that perform or…Continue Reading

Approval Of Miracle Opens Door To Paul VI’s Canonization

By HANNAH BROCKHAUS VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) — The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has approved the second miracle needed for the canonization of Blessed Pope Paul VI, allowing his canonization to take place, possibly later this year. According to Vatican Insider, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the miracle by a…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… A Catholic Reaction To Trump And The Media

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also cofounder and president of…Continue Reading

Priest Says… Excommunicate 14 Catholic Senators Who Voted Against Late-Term Abortion Ban

By LISA BOURNE (Editor’s Note: LifeSiteNews ran this story on February 5.) + + + A Catholic priest is calling on bishops to excommunicate the 14 Catholic-identifying U.S. senators who voted two weeks ago against banning late-term abortions. He is also calling on priests to deny the Catholic pro-abortion senators Holy Communion. “Today is the…Continue Reading

Limbo And Eastern Orthodoxy

By JAMES LIKOUDIS The centuries-old theological debate concerning the existence of Limbo for unbaptized babies (the limbo puerorum as a state of natural happiness) led to the 2007 publication of the document The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized by the International Theological Commission (ITC). The commission concluded there are “serious…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Effects Of The Sacrament Of Matrimony

By DON FIER For a variety of reasons (a defect of consent, a diriment impediment, or a defect of the required form), many supposed modern-day marriages entered into by Catholic persons are invalid from their origin in the eyes of God and the Church. However, as we saw last week, depending on the circumstances, the Church has procedures by which…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Concerning what our Blessed Mother said in Fatima about the rosary, I am confused as to whether or not she meant us to meditate on the mysteries while we are praying the Hail Marys or whether she meant us to meditate on the mysteries right before we say the Hail Marys. The consensus seems to be that we are…Continue Reading

Abraham Had To Be Tested

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday Of Lent Readings: Gen. 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18 Romans 8:31b-34 Mark 9:2-10 In the first reading today we hear about Abraham’s nearly incomprehensible act of faith and love for God shown in his willingness to sacrifice his own son. We have to be careful not to read this in a vacuum. This test, which…Continue Reading

Questioning Humanae Vitae?… The Vatican Has Already Had Its Say

By ANDREA GAGLIARDUCCI (Wanderer Editor’s Note: Catholic News Agency on February 3 published a commentary concerning a 1989 Vatican response to dissent against Humanae Vitae. Below is an excerpted version of that commentary. Following that, we reprint the full text of the 1989 Vatican response, which, as the CNA commentary explains, is now available on the Vatican’s website. Please also…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Bishops Promote Sin “In Some Cases”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK A joke sometimes recounted among clergy goes along these lines: Someone greets a wise old priest by asking, “What’s new?”, and he responds, sagely, “Christ is risen!” The humor here is less about what’s new than about the fact that everything, other than the only true revolution of Christ’s Incarnation and triumph over death, is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Margaret Of Cortona

By CAROLE BRESLIN Great sinners make great saints. It takes a strong-willed child to become a saint. These are statements which would easily fit saints such as Mary Magdalene and St. Augustine. In the thirteenth century, a young lady free in spirit and strong in will led such a life that she was essentially driven from her home village, but…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Joseph Allamano

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the lives of the saints one thing is very common: They have such a strong desire to do God’s will that nothing will hinder their work. Many saints, despite illness, weak health, or many other obstacles achieved their goals. Frequently the amount of work accomplished by such individuals seems humanly impossible — and, of course, it…Continue Reading