Monday 10th December 2018

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Scriptural Basis Of The Sacrament Of Holy Orders

October 14, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

Part 3

In our previous installment on the scriptural background for the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we examined the circumstances leading to a shift in the Old Testament from a priesthood entrusted to the heads of households and patriarchs to a ministerial priesthood divinely delegated to Aaron and his descendants within the tribe of Levi.
Likewise, we saw that this new form of priesthood extended from the time of Moses and the exodus of the Chosen People from Egypt until the end of the Old Covenant and the beginning of Christianity. The Aaronic priesthood and the service of the Levites, teaches the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), is seen by the Church as “a prefiguring of the ordained ministry of the New Covenant” (n. 1541).
As proclaimed by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, the priests of the Old Covenant were “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Heb. 5:1). However, states the Catechism, “this priesthood nevertheless remains powerless to bring about salvation, needing to repeat its sacrifices ceaselessly and being unable to achieve a definitive sanctification, which only the sacrifice of Christ would accomplish” (CCC, n. 1540).
In closing last week, we observed that the priesthood of Melchizedek — an enigmatic figure who suddenly and mysteriously appears and as quickly disappears in the Book of Genesis — is seen by Christian tradition “as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ” (CCC, n. 1544).
Biblical exegetes and scholars have long debated the figure of Melchizedek and have failed to universally agree on his identity. His brief appearance in the Old Testament, as we saw last week, occurs during the time of the great patriarch Abraham. In some ways, “he is anachronistic, that is, outside the normal course of time and sequence as far as Old Testament sacrifices are concerned” (Fr. John Paul Echert, The Catholic Servant, volume XXII, n. II, February, 2016).
At a time when sacrifice was offered by the male head of household and animal sacrifice was the norm, no genealogy is given for Melchizedek and he offers bread and wine.
Significant to note, also, is that he is the first person in Sacred Scripture to be called a priest, and he is the only figure in the Book of Genesis to be called a “priest of God Most High” (Gen. 14:18).
So what are the theories regarding the identity of Melchizedek? Was he a heavenly/angelic being or a historical human person?
In his Catholic Bible Dictionary (CBD), Dr. Scott Hahn lists various identities that have been set forth. For example, some modern scholars consider him a Canaanite priest of their supreme god “El” (“God” in Hebrew). In the Dead Sea Scrolls, he is identified as an eschatological judge who will appear during the end times to destroy the Devil (cf. p. 599). Others even identify him as the pre-incarnate Christ. Notions such as these have been advanced, in part, due to a literal reading of a verse in the Letter to the Hebrews: “He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life” (Heb. 7:3).
The most commonly held view according to ancient Jewish and Christian tradition, however, is that Melchizedek is none other than the patriarch Shem, the eldest son of Noah (Gen. 6:10). To demonstrate the feasibility of this position, Scripture scholars note that the genealogy from Shem to Abraham as recorded in the Book of Genesis — which spans nine generations — includes the age of the firstborn male in each generation when he, in turn, fathered his firstborn son (see Gen. 11:10-26).
Moreover, since the number of years that Shem lived after the birth of his firstborn is also recorded (Gen. 11:11), a careful literal reading of the text and simple arithmetic show that Shem and Abraham lived contemporaneously. Therefore, it is possible that Shem was the priest-king Melchizedek who blessed Abraham after his successful military campaign (Gen. 14:19).
To lend credibility to the possible veracity of this theory, Dr. Hahn notes that references to Melchizedek as Shem appear in such historical Jewish documents as the Aramaic Targums, the Babylonian Talmud, and various ancient rabbinic commentaries. Likewise, it was favored in the Christian tradition during patristic times by St. Jerome (c. 347-420) and St. Ephraem the Syrian (306-373) and in medieval times by St. Thomas and other noted theologians (cf. CBD, ibid.).
How might one reconcile that Melchizedek is a historical human person in light of the previously cited verse from Hebrews which indicated that he had no mother or father, nor beginning or end of life? In his compelling work entitled The Catholic Priesthood: Biblical Foundations (CP-BF), Fr. Thomas J. Lane argues it may be explained by what exegetes understand to be “an argument from silence” (p. 56). In other words, Melchizedek appears in Gen. 14:18 with no prior introduction and we do not hear of him again in the Pentateuch, which leads the author of Hebrews to state that Melchizedek had no beginning or end.
In his Summa Theologiae (STh), the Angelic Doctor elaborates further: “Melchisedech is described as without father, without mother, without genealogy, and as having neither beginning of days nor ending of life, not as though he had not these things, but because these details in his regard are not supplied by Holy Scripture. And in this it is that, as the Apostle says in the same passage, he is likened unto the Son of God, Who had no earthly father, no heavenly mother, and no genealogy” (STh III, Q. 22, art. 6, ad 3).
The Catholic Encyclopedia provides yet another argument of fittingness: “The silence of Scripture about the facts of Melchisedech’s birth and death was part of the divine plan to make him prefigure more strikingly the mysteries of Christ’s generation, the eternity of His priesthood.”
Last week it was stated that the Messiah was to be a priest “after the order of Melchizedek” as prophesied in Psalm 110:4. The Letter to the Hebrews shows this was fulfilled and, in fact, includes the phrase “order of Melchizedek” no less than five times (Heb. 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11, 17). Heb. 7:1-10 demonstrates that Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to that of the Levites.
As Fr. Lane explains, “Hebrews 7:1-3 showed that lack of ancestry distinguishes Melchizedek’s priesthood from the Levites, and in 7:4-10 the author makes use of a clever argument to show the superiority of Melchizedek’s priesthood over the Levites” (CP:BF, p. 57).
To paraphrase Fr. Lane, the argument set forth in the Letter to the Hebrews goes as follows: Melchizedek blessed Abraham who, in turn, paid tithes to Melchizedek. The superiority of Melchizedek is demonstrated in that he gave the blessing and is likewise displayed in that he received tithes from Abraham. Since the Levites descended from Abraham, they paid tithes in his person to one who was greater, Mel-
chizedek. Thus, Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood even though it occurred much earlier, during the patriarchal period.

King And High Priest

The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible — New Testament (p. 426) offers a four-point explanation, as summarized below, of how the author of the Letter to the Hebrews shows that Melchizedek’s priesthood foreshadows that of Christ’s.
First, by reason of Royal Priesthood: Jesus is both king and high priest, just like Melchizedek. In the patriarchal period, the head of the household wore two crowns, that of ruling and that of religious authority. In the Levitical period, Aaron and the Levitical line performed priestly duties; David and the Judahite line were the kings.
Second, by reason of Priesthood in Salem: Melchizedek’s ministry in the earthly Salem prefigures the ministry of Jesus Christ in “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). It is in the celestial homeland of Heaven that our Lord Jesus Christ eternally ministers as king and high priest of the People of God (see Heb. 8:1-5).
Third, by reason of Inheritance of the Son: The patriarchal form of the priesthood, which is based on the natural order of the family and is modeled by the priesthood of Melchizedek, is an earthly model of what is now established in the divine family of God. Jesus, the firstborn Son raised up by the Father (Heb. 1:6), is the designated heir who has been given authority over the whole created order. Neither Melchizedek nor Jesus belongs to a priesthood that is confined by restrictions as laid down for Levitical priests of the Old Covenant.
Fourth, by reason of Signs of Bread and Wine: The bread and wine offered in thanksgiving by the priest-king Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18) prefigure the sacramental signs that Catholic Christians receive as food from the “altar” (Heb. 13:10) in the Eucharistic Liturgy. They really and truly become the “body” (Heb. 10:10) and “blood” (Heb. 9:12) of Christ, which He offered to His heavenly Father as a perfect sacrifice for our redemption.
As the Catechism exultantly proclaims, “Christ is the unique ‘high priest after the order of Melchizedek’ (Heb. 5:10; cf. 6:20; Gen. 14:18); ‘holy, blameless, unstained’ (Heb. 7:26), ‘by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified’ (Heb. 10:14), that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross” (CCC, n. 1544).

+ + +

(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.

Twitter Feed

#Apple CEO Tim Cook took the mask off & said
They use Liberal Values to decide what content to censor

They once fought Big Brother
Now they & the rest of Big Tech
Are the #ThoughtPolice

Interview With Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke . . . The Faithful Are Suffering…But Schism Can Never Be Right - https://t.co/iwDMps3a5a

Load More...

Pro-LGBT priest promotes ‘rainbow’ rosary with prayers for ‘full acceptance’ of gay couples

December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-LGBT Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin is promoting on social media a rosary with “rainbow” beads for one of the decades which are to be used, the rosary’s creators say, to pray for the “full…Continue Reading

Archbishop Viganò denies claims he defrauded his brother

ROME, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today has denied claims he defrauded his brother, and has sought to clarify an October court ruling ordering him to pay his brother €1.8 million in inheritance. Many believe the ruling is being…Continue Reading

Vatican’s former doctrine chief: ‘LGBT’ has ‘no place’ in Church documents

VATICAN CITY, November 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An influential cardinal says that pro-homosexual terminology such as “LGBT” has no place in the documents of the Roman Catholic Church. In a recent interview with LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, formerly the Prefect of the…Continue Reading

$25 MILLION PAPAL FOUNDATION GRANT TO VATICAN REMAINS UNACCOUNTED FOR

PHILADELPHIA (ChurchMilitant.com) – After Cdl. Donald Wuerl spearheaded a $25 million grant to the Vatican earlier this year through the Papal Foundation, sources confirm the money remains unaccounted for, the Rome hospital designated as beneficiary apparently never having received the grant. Sources also confirm Wuerl…Continue Reading

Cardinal guilty of covering up sex abuse addresses US bishops’ conference

BALTIMORE, November 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A cardinal barred from public ministry since 2013 as a result of his systematic cover-up of sex abuse spoke at the U.S. Bishops’ General Assembly in Baltimore Tuesday, telling the bishops they “need to lead by witness.” In…Continue Reading

US bishops consider asking Pope Francis to release McCarrick documents

BALTIMORE, Maryland, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will consider officially asking Pope Francis to release any documents related to alleged serial sexual abuser Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. The motion was made from the…Continue Reading

U.S. Catholic Bishops Meet in the Shadow, Still, of Clergy Sex Abuse

This weekend, the Catholic bishops of the United States gather in Baltimore ahead of their three-day annual general assembly, which opens Monday. By coincidence, it will be 16 years exactly since their session in 2002, when they met to amend…Continue Reading

The Synodal Church

Antonio Spadaro, SJ – Carlos Galli Forty years ago, Jesuit Father Arij Roest Crollius wrote: “What is so new about inculturation?”[1] His reflection was a milestone in the understanding of that word and in welcoming a concept at the heart of…Continue Reading

National network of Catholic church leaders told to preserve all communications

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has asked the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to preserve all electronic and paper documents in case other federal prosecutors need to look into accusations of sexual assault against current…Continue Reading

Cdl. Burke ‘strongly’ endorses new virtue education program for young people

October 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Church’s most outspoken defenders of life, marriage, and family, has “strongly” endorsed a new virtue education program for children. “Alive to the World” is a continuous, story-based virtues/values program. Much…Continue Reading

Pittsburgh wants to revoke Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of kids event over Christian marriage views

PITTSBURGH, October 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – America’s most successful Christian food chain may be driven out of a children’s community event in Pittsburgh over the owners’ Christian-based view of marriage and homosexuality, if the Pittsburgh City Council has its way.…Continue Reading

Australian bishop touts women’s ordination: ‘transformation of priesthood’ is underway

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, October 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Australian bishop recently told priests that admitting women to the priesthood in the Church’s current state of affairs would be like pouring new wine into old wine skins, but that a “transformation…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 . . .

Cdl. Burke: ‘Synodality’ suggests some kind of ‘new church’ where pope’s authority is destroyed

LIMERICK, Ireland, (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke has come out criticizing the concept of “synodality” that was barely discussed during the recently concluded “Youth Synod,” but, nevertheless, found its way into the final document, surprising many of the Synod Fathers. “It’s become like a slogan, meant to suggest some kind of new church which is democratic and in which the authority of the Roman Pontiff is relativized and diminished—if not destroyed,” said Card

Facebook unblocks image of Santa kneeling before Baby Jesus after LifeSite report goes viral

December 6, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook is no longer censoring an image of Santa Claus kneeling before the Baby Jesus that it had deemed “violent or graphic content” after a report on LifeSiteNews about the matter went viral yesterday. Facebook had obscured the picture, explaining that the “photo was automatically covered so you can decide if you want to se

Pro-LGBT Catholic prof: Many German bishops don’t believe homosexual acts are wrong

December 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic German ethics professor calls Cardinal Müller’s recent remarks on homosexuality “unbearable” and claims that, just as the Church’s teaching on the death penalty has changed, the teaching on homosexuality is also open to change. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), has been under constant sharp criticism since his 21 November interview with LifeSiteNews, in whi

Cardinal accuses EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo of attacking Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier has come out swinging against EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, accusing him of reporting “negatively” on as well as “attack[ing]” Pope Francis. The former Archbishop of Durban tweeted last night that Arroyo was like a “throwback” to Northern Ireland’s most notorious anti-Catholic “Ian Paisley & his ilk.” “The World Over” hosted by Raymond A

Taxpayer dollars help California Planned Parenthood surpass record high income level

November 30, 2018 (American Life League) – For the first time in the history of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, one of its 56 affiliates documented that its annual income surpassed $100 million. The affiliate is Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, headquartered in San Jose, California. In its latest official document (Federal Form 990) filed with the federal government, PPMM reported that in the fiscal year, July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, it had a…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Will Paris Riots Scuttle Climate Accord?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN In Katowice, Poland, all the signers of the 2015 Paris climate accord have gathered to assess how the world’s nations are meeting their goals to cut carbon emissions. Certainly, the communications strategy in the run-up was impressive. In October came that apocalyptic UN report warning that the world is warming faster…Continue Reading

Amid Veto Threat… Ohio “Heartbeat Abortion” Bill Nears Senate Vote

COLUMBUS (CNA/EWTN News) — The Ohio Senate was expected to pass legislation banning abortion on an unborn baby after he or she has a heartbeat, and there could be enough votes to override Gov. John Kasich’s promised veto, amid questions over whether the proposal could withstand U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny. Republicans control the Senate with…Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Court Of Appeals . . . EWTN Wins Lawsuit Over HHS Contraception Mandate

IRONDALE, Ala. (EWTN) — Following a legal battle that has lasted nearly seven years, EWTN Global Catholic Network has prevailed in its lawsuit against the U.S. government over what has become known as the “HHS Contraception Mandate.” In an order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit published Thursday, November 29, 2018,…Continue Reading

Major Companies Take Action Against Porn

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Across the country, several major companies are taking action against pornography use. Tumblr, Starbucks, Comcast, and multiple hotel chains have all taken steps to reduce pornography access within their respective industry. These decisions come during a time of increasing awareness over the harms of pornography. “Companies are quickly realizing the harms of…Continue Reading

Marie Stopes International Is No Friend Of Africa

By DEBORAH M. PIROCH (Editor’s Note: Deborah M. Piroch is the PR director for Human Life International. HLI posted this article at their website, www.hli.org, on November 30. It is reprinted here with permission.) + + + FRONT ROYAL, Va. — HLI is delighted that the government of Kenya has banned Marie Stopes International (MSI)…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Authority Of Bishops… Can A Catholic Resist A Wrong Teaching Of His Bishop?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 In the two previous articles we have learned from great Catholic theologians that a layman can resist a wrong decision of a bishop and even of the Bishop of Rome — the Pope. But — and this “but” is very important — wouldn’t such a resistance go against the teaching on papal infallibility?…Continue Reading

The Theological Virtues — Faith

By DON FIER As we transitioned last week from a lengthy treatment of the four cardinal virtues (and a brief overview of sanctifying grace) to the theological virtues, emphasis was given to the fittingness of the term “theological” (as derived from the Greek Theos and logos), for these virtues have God Himself as their Author, motive, and direct object. “Infused…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. For the benefit of those who do not have a computer or library access, could you please give us a list of the Doctors of the Church? I have a book entitled 33 Doctors of the Church, but I think some have been added since that book was published. — B.W., Florida. A. Doctor of the Church is a…Continue Reading

Interview With Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke . . . The Faithful Are Suffering…But Schism Can Never Be Right

Cburke3

By PEGGY MOEN (Editor’s Note: This interview took place in Rome on October 22, 2018, the Feast of St. John Paul II, during the final week of the October 3-28 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment and before its conclusion. See The Wanderer, November 1, 2018, p. 1 for an article based on this interview.) + +…Continue Reading

God’s Providence Is Perfect

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday Of Advent (YR C) Readings: Baruch 5:1-9 Phil. 1:4-6, 8-11 Luke 3:1-6 In the second reading today, St. Paul states his confidence that the One who “began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” This can certainly be applied in a variety of situations, for…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Maria Virgo

By CAROLE BRESLIN When I visited my aunt in St. Louis, Mo., we would visit the basilicas, the museums, and other places of interest. She had many sites near her that were particularly special to her, such as her parish, The Little Flower, in Richmond Heights. In addition, she described a place where she frequently went for eucharistic adoration at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Raphael Kalinowski

By CAROLE BRESLIN There are many terms we use in our language which are clichés. We hear people say that somebody “kicked the bucket,” meaning that he has died, or “I’ll send you to outer Mongolia,” meaning that they will ship you so far away no one will find you. Fr. Kalinowski not only went to a place just north…Continue Reading