Saturday 21st October 2017

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Scriptural Basis Of The Sacrament Of Holy Orders

October 7, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Part 2

As we began to explore the biblical roots of the priesthood in our last installment — and thus the Sacrament of Holy Orders — we saw that the priesthood and sacrifice are inseparably linked to one another. In fact, it might accurately be said that the basic definition of a priest is “one who offers sacrifice.” In his Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, defines the word priest as “an authorized mediator who offers a true sacrifice in acknowledgement of God’s supreme dominion over human beings and in expiation for their sins” (p. 438).
We also observed that humanity was called to priestly worship from the beginning, the first recorded account being the sacrifices of virtuous Abel and vicious Cain (see Gen. 3:3-4). The context for priestly worship in pre-Exodus times was the family; ordinarily, it was the father or patriarch who offered sacrifice on their behalf. This was true of Noah when he exited the ark (see Gen. 8:20) and of Abraham when he was prepared to offer his only-begotten son Isaac and instead offered a ram provided by the Lord in his son’s place (see Gen. 22:13). We see yet another example in the person of Isaac’s son Jacob (see Gen. 31:54).
In this early period of salvation history, it was usually the firstborn son who received his father’s blessing to propagate this role; yet, there were exceptions. In a well-known example, Isaac unknowingly bestowed his fatherly blessing on Jacob instead of his firstborn son Esau (see Gen. 27:18-29).
Let us now jump forward approximately 400 years to the post-Exodus period which saw the establishment by God of a new form of priesthood that was destined to continue for about 1,400 years until the dawn of Christianity.
As noted by Fr. John Paul Echert in his series on the sacraments, by the time the Israelites’ exodus from enslavement under the Egyptians took place, “the knowledge of God and the practice of true religion among the descendants of the patriarchs was all but lost. Little is recorded in the Old Testament between the last patriarch and the rise of Moses” (The Catholic Servant, volume XXII, n. 3, March 2016). Fr. Echert goes on to surmise that this deplorable situation was due in large part to apostasy and immorality.
It was shortly after the miraculous passage of the Chosen People through the Red Sea that Moses was directed by the Lord to construct a sanctuary so as to unite the twelve tribes of Israel into a single nation with an abiding presence of the divine dwelling in their midst: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me an offering’. . . . And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:1, 8).
After instructing Moses on construction of the sanctuary, the Lord established a new form of priesthood: “In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the Lord. It shall be a statute for ever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel. Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests” (Exodus 27:21-28:1).
After setting forth a detailed set of directives that were to be followed with regard to consecrating Aaron and his descendants as priests, the Lord declared, “The priesthood shall be theirs by a perpetual statute. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons” (Exodus 29:10).
However, we all know too well what happened not long after. When Moses ascended the heights of Mt. Sinai and received the two tablets of stone with the Law “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18), Aaron failed to prevent the Israelites from falling into idolatry; in fact, he helped in forging a golden calf to worship in place of the one true God (see Exodus 32:1-6). When Moses returned and asked the people, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” (Exodus 32:26), it was the tribe of Levi who responded.
They alone remained faithful and it was on that day that Moses spoke of the Levites as ordaining themselves to the service of the Lord (cf. Exodus 32:29). It was thus that “within the people of Israel, God chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1539).
In his work entitled The Catholic Priesthood: Biblical Foundations (CP-BF), Fr. Thomas J. Lane points out two other Old Testament accounts which indicate that the Levites were specially set apart for service of the Lord. The Book of Deuteronomy (vv. 10:8-9) “enumerates three duties of the Levites: to carry the Ark of the Covenant, to serve the Lord, and to bless in his name. A third account of the Levites being set apart for God’s service is Moses’ blessing them in Deuteronomy 33:8-11, which speaks of all the Levites in priestly terms” (CP-BF, p. 9).
Another book of the Pentateuch recounts the origin of an additional office, that of elders, in the Israelites’ religious structure: “Moses . . . gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and placed them round about the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied” (Num. 11:24-25).
For this reason, the Church’s liturgy “sees in the priesthood of Aaron and the service of the Levites, as in the institution of the seventy elders, a prefiguring of the ordained ministry of the New Covenant” (CCC, n. 1541).
As the Catechism points out, the Church (in her Latin Rite) recognizes this prefigurement in the Prayers of Consecration for the three degrees of Ordination that are conferred in the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
For the office of bishop: “From the beginning, you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation. You established rulers and priests, and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you” (CCC, n. 1541).
For the Ordination of priests, the Church prays: “You extended the spirit of Moses to seventy wise men. . . . You shared among the sons of Aaron the fullness of their father’s power” (CCC, n. 1542). Likewise, for the Ordination of deacons the Church confesses: “As ministers of your tabernacle you chose the sons of Levi and gave them your blessing as their everlasting inheritance” (CCC, n. 1543).
As Fr. James Socias notes, however, in his book entitled Introduction to Catholicism for Adults, “There seems to be a disconnect between the priesthood of the Old Covenant and the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the New Covenant. Since the Levites comprised the order of priests and Christ was born out of the tribe of Judah, how can he be a priest?” (p. 515).
To answer this apparent anomaly, we go back to the time of the great patriarch Abraham. In the Book of Genesis we are introduced ever so briefly to the figure of Melchizedek, whose name appears prominently in Eucharistic Prayer I of the Roman Canon of the Mass: “Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as once you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.”
Abraham had just returned from defeating in battle King Chedorlaomer and the three kings allied with him. It is here we meet the enigmatic figure: “Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Gen. 14:18-20).
He immediately disappears from the Genesis story and is mentioned only once more in the Old Testament, but in a very important Messianic psalm: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek’” (Psalm 110:4).

Bread And Wine

Before proceeding, it is instructive to look at his rather unusual name. It is composed of two Hebrew words: melek (which means “king”), and sadeq (which means “righteousness”).
Thus, Melchizedek is the “king of righteousness.” Furthermore, he is identified as the “king of Salem.” Since shalom means “peace,” this means he was also the “king of peace.”
We see this authenticated in the New Testament in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace” (Heb. 7:1-2).
Also important to note in the Genesis account is the offering made by the king-priest Mel-
chizedek, bread and wine, which the Church sees as “a prefiguring of her own offering” (CCC, n. 1333).
We will continue next week by probing more deeply into why Christian tradition considers the priesthood of Melchizedek to be a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ.

+ + +

(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.

Catholic youth: Thanks for asking our opinion, here’s what we think

A survey of nearly 900 local Catholic young adults shows they fear for the future, they want to do works of service and they want to gather with other young people in retreats, sports and in the Sunday Mass. The…Continue Reading

Fr. Perrone: without an intense, devout life, Catholics will not survive the age

The saintly priest, learned theologian, and catechist extraordinaire, Fr. John A. Hardon, was fond of saying that without an intense, devout life Catholics will not survive the age. I admit that at the time I thought this a ruse to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Be agents of Mary’s Immaculate Heart to combat ‘diabolical forces’

BUCKFAST ABBEY, England (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Raymond Burke has summoned the faithful to become “agents” of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order to combat the “diabolical forces” that have been “unleashed upon the world” and are…Continue Reading

Callista Gingrich confirmed as US Ambassador to the Vatican

Washington D.C., Oct 16, 2017 / 04:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as the next U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. The vote was 70-23. In a…Continue Reading

Pope Francis canonizes 35 new saints

(Vatican Radio) Inviting all faithful to practice Christian love every day, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized 35 new saints, nearly all of them martyrs, holding them up as models who “point the way”. To the over 35,000 pilgrims gathered in…Continue Reading

President Trump: Our ‘religious heritage’ will be ‘cherished, protected, and defended’

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump said this morning that his administration is “stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values” in a rousing speech at the Values Voter Summit. In his first major speech to a socially conservative conference…Continue Reading

Capuchin Priest Who Ministered Under Soviet Rule Moves Closer to Sainthood

VATICAN CITY — On Monday, Pope Francis advanced nine causes for sainthood, including a Capuchin priest who ministered underground across the Soviet Union for nearly 40 years. Father Serafin Kaszuba was born June 17, 1910, in Zamarstynów, near Lviv, in…Continue Reading

Notre Dame student fears losing birth control coverage under university health plan

The Trump administration’s plan to roll back mandatory insurance coverage for birth control faces a new federal court challenge. Washington state’s attorney general sued Monday to stop the new rules from taking effect. California and Massachusetts have already filed similar complaints. Last…Continue Reading

European Nation to Unite in Prayer for Its Salvation

On Saturday, October 7, up to one million Poles are expected to line the country’s border to pray the rosary. They will be joined in prayer by many others in Poland and throughout the world. This extraordinary display of public…Continue Reading

A big-money Catholic group just said it’s yanking all of its cash out of fossil fuels

A coalition of 40 Catholic institutions on Tuesday announced a decision to pull their money from — or block future investment in — fossil fuels. The Global Catholic Climate Movement called it the biggest collective announcement of divestment by Catholic…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Returned to Vatican Court, but not as Prefect

VATICAN CITY, September 30, 2017 (LifeSiteNews): Pope Francis has reinstated Cardinal Burke as a member of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court. Cardinal Burke, dismissed as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura nearly three years ago, has been appointed to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke to offer Mass at conference exactly 100 years after major Fatima miracle

BUCKFAST ABBEY, United Kingdom, September 29, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Exactly 100 years after the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, Cardinal Raymond Burke will offer Mass at a Marian conference celebrating the centennial of the messages of Our Lady to…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

Today . . .

At university, it’s risky to ‘come out’ as Christian

In the university town of St Andrews, along the narrow road that overlooks the North Sea, there is a modest townhouse with a red door. The small black plaque at the building’s entrance reads “Chaplaincy”. Between its steps and the ocean is the little Catholic church of St James and, nearby, the ruins of a great cathedral. The chaplaincy’s interior, its 1970s decor, dim lighting and musty scent, in many ways symbolises the impression I…Continue Reading

Priest who signed Filial Correction: It was ‘the Catholic thing to do’

BUCKFAST ABBEY, England (LifeSiteNews) — The number of signatories of the Filial Correction charging Pope Francis with spreading seven heresies, at least by omission, has now risen to 245 professors and clergy. That is up from 62 at the time of its publication on September 24, and 40 when it was delivered to Pope Francis on August 11 at his Santa Marta residence. Critics of the Filial Correction have accused the signatories of standing as “judges over the…Continue Reading

Trump admin makes protecting citizens “from conception to natural death” top priority

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — In a stunning change of direction from the Obama administration, the Trump Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not only declared that human life begins “at conception,” but has made protecting citizens “from conception to natural death” one of its top priorities. While the Obama HHS under Kathleen Sebelius

Pope invites prisoners to lunch, they break free instead

Bologna, Italy, Oct 17, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- They were supposed to be having lunch with Pope Francis. During his Oct. 1 trip to Bologna, the Holy Father was scheduled to dine with 20 prisoners from a local drug rehabilitation facility, along with refugees and the poor of the area, during a “Lunch of Solidarity” at San Petronio Basilica. Instead, two of the Italian prisoners shirked their invitation for what they saw as…Continue Reading

A biblical interpretation of Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun

BUCKFAST ABBEY, England, October 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Miracle of the Sun which took place in Fatima, Portugal, exactly one hundred years ago today (on October 13, 1917), was one of the most extraordinary events of the 20th century. An estimated 70,000 people witnessed the Miracle of the Sun, both believers drawn by the Blessed Virgin Mary’s promise to the three shepherd children the previous July that she would perform a miracle in October,…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Book Review… Meditating On The Mysteries

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Donal Anthony Foley reviews The Rosary In Action, by John S. Johnson (TAN Books and Publishers), 271 pages; $16.95 paperback, $7.98 Kindle on Amazon). The Rosary In Action is a reprint of a book originally published in the early 1950s. It was written by a Catholic layman who had served in…Continue Reading

The Making Of A Philosopher

By DONALD DeMARCO A new year arrives every 12 months; a new millennium, every 12,000 months. In celebrating the latter, how does one begin to do justice to its magnitude? The rarity of the event demands something far more imaginative than noisemakers and funny hats. There should be some serious reflection about life and the…Continue Reading

Fr. Solanus Casey To Be Beatified November 18

The beatification Mass for Fr. Solanus Casey is scheduled for November 18 at Ford Field in Detroit. “Not unlike the [1987] Silverdome Mass celebrated by St. John Paul, this, too, will be a history-making liturgy,” said Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit. “The beatification of Fr. Solanus Casey is an incomparable grace for the Church in the…Continue Reading

Poverty As An Evil And Poverty As A Good

By PHILIP TROWER On November 19 the Church will celebrate the first “World Day of the Poor” which the Holy Father instituted last year at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy by means of the apostolic letter Misericordia et Misera. Then on the June 13 he issued a papal message entitled Do not Be…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic. . . The Many Assaults On The Rule Of Law

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 the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Common Priesthood Of The Faithful And The Ministerial Priesthood

By DON FIER The priest-king Melchizedek, as we saw last week, is a type, or figure, of Christ. He appears only briefly in the Old Testament and his figure is shrouded in mystery. Yet he is the first person in the Pentateuch to explicitly be called a “priest,” he is the only figure in the Book of Genesis to be…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In a recent issue, we addressed the problem of pornography addiction by an 84-year-old man. At the end of the column, we invited readers of the column to pray for this man. The following note from the man’s wife illustrates the power of your prayers: “I’m writing to thank you for asking your readers to ‘pray for this…Continue Reading

Love God And Neighbor

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirtieth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Exodus 22:20-26 1 Thess. 1:5c-10 Matt. 22:34-40 In the second reading today St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians about the nature of their conversion. They had turned from idols to worship the Living and True God. By itself that is wonderful, but it becomes extraordinary when we hear that…Continue Reading

Sinner, Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, Washington, D.C. Monsignor kindly gave The Wanderer permission to reprint this essay from his blog of October 7. All rights reserved.) + + + There is an urgency and clarity about Sunday’s Gospel that is often lacking in modern Christians, including the clergy. The…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Two Academics Enter the Lists Against The Filial Correction

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK, M.A. The battle is joined and the duel of the academics over the fate of the Filial Correction is heating up. On one side of the ring we have Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D., and Dawn Eden Goldstein, STD. On the other side we have, as of this writing, 235 signatories of the Correction. Many of these…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Catherine Of Alexandria

By CAROLE BRESLIN The list of saints is long, and includes both men and women from all walks of life and from all disciplines. For some saints, there is a plenitude of documents and accounts of their lives from which we can draw much information. For most of the saints from the early centuries of the Church, however, there is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Edward The Confessor

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the Middle Ages, England not only endured the raids of the Vikings, but also suffered from the raids initiated by Denmark and Normandy to control the small kingdom across the straights. Battles and intrigues were frequent, leaving little peace until the time of King Edward the Confessor. Even his reign experienced the plots and conspiracies so…Continue Reading