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The Eucharist and the Priesthood


Ordination of the Legionaries of Christ by the Holy Father, 1994


SACRAMENT OF ORDERS. The sacrament that, by the imposition of a bishop's hands, confers on a man the grace and spiritual power to sanctify others. There are three forms of this sacrament, also called sacramental orders, namely diaconate, priesthood and episcopate. They are not, however, three sacraments, but only one sacrament that is separately administered with three successively higher sacramental effects. It is certain that every baptized male can be validly ordained, although it would be highly illicit to ordain him before the age of reason. It is likewise certain that every baptized male can be validly ordained a priest without previously being ordained a deacon. However, the more probable teaching is that a baptized male cannot be validly consecrated a bishop unless he has previously been ordained a priest.


Ordination of Priests

PRIESTHOOD. Sacrament of the New Law, instituted by Christ at the Last Supper, which confers on a man the power of consecrating and offering the body and blood of Christ, and of remitting and retaining sins. There are two grades or levels of the priesthood, the presbyterate and the episcopate. Normally priesthood refers to the presbyterate and is the second rank of orders, above the diaconate. Only a bishop can ordain priests, who must first have been ordained deacons. In the ordination of priests, the "matter" of the sacrament is the imposition of the bishop's hands upon the individual candidates, which is done in silence before the consecration prayer, of which the following words pertain to the nature of the order and therefore are required for the validity of the act: "We ask you, all powerful Father, give these servants of yours the dignity of the presbyterate. Renew the Spirit of holiness within them. By your divine gift may they attain the second order of the hierarchy and exemplify right conduct in their lives."


PRIEST. An authorized mediator who offers a true sacrifice in acknowledgment of God's supreme dominion over human beings and in expiation for their sins. A priest's mediation is the reverse of that of a prophet, who communicates from God to the people. A priest mediates from the people to God.

Christ, who is God and man, is the first, last and greatest priest of the New Law. He is the eternal high priest who offered himself once and for all on the Cross, a victim of infinite value, and he continually renews that sacrifice on the altar through the ministry of the Church.

Within the Church are men who are specially ordained as priests to consecrate and offer the body and blood of Christ in the Mass. The Apostles were the first ordained priests, when on Holy Thursday night Christ told them to do in his memory what he had just done at the Last Supper. All priests and bishops trace their ordination to the Apostles. Their second essential priestly power, to forgive sins, was conferred by Christ on Easter Sunday, when he told the Apostles, "For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained" (John 20-22, 23).

All the Christian faithful, however, also share in the priesthood by their baptismal character. They are enabled to offer themselves in sacrifice with Christ through the Eucharistic liturgy. They offer the Mass in the sense that they internally unite themselves with the outward offering made by the ordained priest alone.

Modern Catholic Dictionary John A. Hardon, S.J., an Image Book published by Doubleday,
Copyright © 1980, 1985 by John A. Hardon.




The Sacrament of Holy Orders The Priesthood and the Eucharist



  * The Priesthood and the Eucharist - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"The priesthood in the Catholic Church is identified with many things because over the centuries in the Church's history there have been priests engaged in a variety, a bewildering array of enterprises. The main reason he has been ordained is because of the Eucharist. So true is this that if we would specify the heart of the priesthood we would have to say it is the Eucharist: the Eucharist as Presence, and the Eucharist as Sacrifice."

  * Congregatio Pro Clericis - Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity

  * The Priest and the Ministry of the Word - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"My purpose then in this conference is to do two things but treat them more or less together. To spell out in some detail the Church's teaching on the duty of priests to proclaim the message of salvation and then as we go along to identify what responsibility this places on priests if they are to live up to the Church's, which means Christ's, high expectations."

  * Priests Must Live a Martyr's Life - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"No words of mine, nothing I could say, if I spoke for fifty years, would be too clear, that we are living in the age of martyrs. Only one mistake we can make is to think this is exaggeration or some kind of pious fancy. I wish to concentrate, for the reasons we already have said, on the priesthood - it is a living martyrdom today - and on the fact that we have lost so many thousands of priests...What are some of the forces at work?"

  * Christ in the Eucharist - Presence and Reality - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"I would like to address myself to another aspect of the priesthood, namely, the priest's faith in the Eucharist, directing our attention to the specific aspect of the subject by reflecting prayerfully on "Christ in the Eucharist - Presence and Reality". It is perhaps remarkable that we should consider what must seem like a strange title, because most Catholics, including priests, are not accustomed to separate the two words "presence" and "reality" when they speak of the Blessed Sacrament."

  * Mary, Model of Faith for Priests - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
In these reflections we will address ourselves to two simple questions and answer them briefly but pointedly: first, "Why is Mary specially appropriate as the model of faith for priests?" And, "How can the practice of faith teach all the faithful, but especially priests, to live more faithfully our Christian commitment, and priests their priesthood to which her Son has ordained them?"

  * The Priesthood - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Fr. Hardon takes a look into the meaning of the priesthood in the Catholic Church.

  * Humility and Obedience in the Priest - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"…I will take up each virtue separately and try to show why it is so important for priests, if they wish to be priestly priests, to be humble and obedient, and how they can grow in humility and obedience."

  * The Priesthood and the Eucharist - John Cardinal Wright (from a conference in Seoul).

  * Holy Orders - A Channel of Grace - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

  * Holy Father's Homily for the Mass of Corpus Christi - Pope Benedict XVI (Zenit)
Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist in the Lateran (Vatican 2010)

  * The Male Priesthood: The Argument From Sacred Tradition - Mark Lowery, Ph.D. (EWTN)
"In May of 1994 John Paul II promulgated which declared definitely that the Catholic priesthood is reserved for males. That document nonetheless contained some language that was difficult to interpret. As a result, Cardinal Ratzinger made an official clarification (Responsum ad Dubium) in November of 1995, making it quite clear that the Church has taught infallibly on this matter."

  * Was Christ a Layman? - James Likoudis (Catholics United for Faith)
"At a 3-day Retreat for Priests held in the diocese of Rochester, N.Y., the featured speaker, a priest repeatedly referred to Our Blessed Savior as 'a layman.' Alleging a 'new prophetic hermeneutic of Jesus of Nazareth' who was 'a layman reinterpreting [the] priesthood,' the retreat master denied that in the New Testament there was any essential difference between the common priesthood of the laity and the ordained ministerial priesthood. Moreover, in the New Testament there was 'no division between secular and sacred' as we have today in the Catholic Church which still clearly distinguishes between the laity and the ordained. In this Protestantizing hermeneutic, all the laity are priests and all are ordained 'to do the gospel.' Surely some of the priests present must have been astonished at such a blatant deformation…."

  * Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus and the Priesthood - Fr. Antonio Maria Sicari, OCD (Vatican)
"Praying for sinners fascinated me, but praying for the souls of priests, whom I thought were purer than crystal, seemed strange to me! Ah! I understood my vocation in Italy: it was not going too far to have such useful knowledge… I lived with many holy priests for one month and understood that, if their sublime dignity lifts them above the angels, this does not mean that they are not weak and fragile. If holy priests, whom Jesus calls in His Gospel 'Salt of the Earth' show by their behaviour great need for prayer, then what must one say about the ones who are lukewarm? Did Jesus not also say: 'If the salt lost its taste, what could one use to make it salty?'"

  * Catholic Encyclopedia: Priest

  * Holy Hour For Priests - (EWTN)

  * Fifty Years in the Priesthood - Fr. Hardon speaks on gratitude, concern and confidence at his jubilee Mass as a priest.

  * The Priesthood and the Sacrifice of the Mass - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
By now, there must be as many definitions of the priesthood as there are dictionaries in print. But in the Catholic Church, the priest exists for one main purpose: to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass.So true is this that, without the priesthood, there would not only be no Sacrifice of the Mass. There would be no Catholic Church. This may sound strange, even exotic. But the fact of life is that God became man in order to sacrifice Himself on the Cross by dying for the salvation of the world. Having died once on Calvary, He continues offering Himself in every Mass so totally that He would be willing to die every time that Mass is offered.

  * The Priest and the Sacrament of Penance - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
In this conference, Fr. Hardon asks and answers what the Church's official doctrine is on the role of the priest and faithful in the sacrament of Penance, why there is a drop in confessions, and what the Church expects of her priests as administrators of this sacrament.

  * The Eucharistic Priest - Table of Contents and Introduction - Most Rev. Alexis H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., Archbishop of Tarsus
"…this study was, for the author, a real revelation, so clearly did it bring home to him the fact that the Blessed Eucharist, with which the priestly character is in some way identified, is, of its nature, a center of sacerdotal life. To this center the noblest thoughts of the priest's mind and the best affections of his heart should be made to converge in such a way that his whole life be, as it were, irradiated by the splendor of the consecrated Host."

  * The Eucharistic Priest - Part I Chapter I - Most Rev. Alexis H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., Archbishop of Tarsus
"So Christ ordered that the Catholic priest not only should represent Him upon earth, but that he should be, as it were, Himself again, raising him above the rest of mankind, nay, above all angelic spirits who admire, with holy envy, those among the sons of men whom they see clothed with sacerdotal dignity. Thus the seraphic St. Francis was wont to say that, were he to meet at one time an angel and a priest, he would first salute the priest. Now, this dignity of the Catholic priesthood takes its root in the Most Holy Eucharist. In fact, it was in view of this divine Sacrament that Jesus Christ instituted the order of priests, whose function it is to consecrate and distribute the Lord's body to the faithful."

  * The Eucharistic Priest - Part I Chapter II - Most Rev. Alexis H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., Archbishop of Tarsus
"Now, the Catholic priest is, on the one hand, on account of his hierarchical dignity, on a par with angels and so he is placed, as it were, in a middle position between God and man. On the other hand, he carries or transfers the things of God to the people, that is, His commandments and His graces, and he carries and transfers to God the things of man, his prayers and sacrifices with which man seeks to appease God and to conciliate for himself the divine favors."

  * The Eucharistic Priest - Part I Chapter III - Most Rev. Alexis H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., Archbishop of Tarsus
"It is the property of the Blessed Eucharist to produce in him who receives it worthily, marvelous effects which transform the soul and in some way deify it. In this manner the Apostle St. Peter, speaking of the great and precious promise made to us by God, among which foremost is the Blessed Eucharist, says that God made them, in order that, "by these we may be made partakers of the divine nature."(Pet. 1.4.)"

  * The Eucharistic Priest - Part II Chapter I - Most Rev. Alexis H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., Archbishop of Tarsus
"The Blessed Eucharist is the culminating point of the wondrous works of God. It is also the food which nourishes the Christian life and the spring which refreshes our souls. Above all, it is the raison d'Ítre of the Catholic priesthood, which owes its origin to it and is centered around this August Sacrament. In fact, the priestly vocation unfolds itself, blossoms and ripens under the secret yet most powerful influence of the Blessed Eucharist. The sacerdotal ministry all turns round this mystery of love. In it, as in a most pure and inexhaustible source, the minister of New Law finds all those spiritual helps, all those heavenly consolations of which he stands in need in the exalted state he holds in the Church and in the world."

  * The Eucharistic Priest - Part II Chapter II - Most Rev. Alexis H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., Archbishop of Tarsus
"In the eyes of the faithful the Catholic priest represents the sacred Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, whose sanctifying work he continues upon earth. For this reason, every good Christian surrounds the priest with that respect and veneration which the crowds had for the Person of the Saviour when He lived upon earth. For the followers of the devil, the Catholic priest is still the representative of God in the world. Hence he is hated, despised and persecuted by them as was the divine Master at the hands of the Pharisees."

  * The Eucharistic Priest - Part II Chapter III - Most Rev. Alexis H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., Archbishop of Tarsus
"We have already observed how the habitual thought of the Blessed Eucharist is, for every Christian soul, but especially for the sacred ministers, a powerful means of sanctification. Indeed, it cannot be proved a difficult task for a priest who has made a serious study of this August Sacrament and is convinced of its excellence and sublimity, to accustom himself to make his thoughts converge toward the Blessed Eucharist, and, as it were, to constantly live in its atmosphere. As St. Thomas justly observes, those actions to which we feel more inclined, in which we take greater delight and to which we particularly attend, are usually styled our lives. Thus, music is the musician's life, painting that of a painter, and theology that of a theologian."

  * The Eucharistic Priest - Appendix - Most Rev. Alexis H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., Archbishop of Tarsus
"Hymns in Honor of the Most Blessed Sacrament."




The Priesthood and the Religious Life

"Come and See" by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. The invitation of Jesus, "Come and see" (Jn 1:39), is the golden rule of pastoral work for promoting vocations even today. - Vita Consecrata, no. 64

All believers share the responsibility of promoting the gift of the priesthood, the religious life and other forms of consecrated life. The Church cannot survive without the witness of those who follow Christ with "an undivided heart." Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten the "golden rule."

For the Church to be faithful to the mission entrusted to her, we must encourage young men and women to slow down, take stock and step away from the clutter and busy-ness of contemporary life, so as adequately to hear the invitation of the Lord. This is often the beginning of one's vocational journey toward the consecration of one's life to Christ and the Church, or to priestly ordination.

In these twelve meditations written by Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J., we are given wonderful theological reflections that get right to the heart of the matter. May the Holy Spirit inspire many young people to read them and to embrace their call.

 

Are you interested in the Priesthood
and/or
the Consecrated Life?


Is Our Lord Calling You?

Perhaps you have thought of becoming a priest
or a member of a consecrated community of men or women
loyal to the Holy Father and to his teachings
but did not know whom to contact for information.

Visit the

Institute on Religious Life

for more detailed information.





"To Save a Thousand Souls" by Fr. Brett A. Brannen

To Save a Thousand Souls

A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood

by Fr. Brett A. Brennen

Chapter by chapter this book offers explicit help
to those who are searching for the answers they
need to make an informed decision about becoming a diocesan priest.

 



  * Come Follow Me - Rev. C. Frank Phillips, C.R.
An article on the call to follow your vocation.



Links

* Church Documents on the Priesthood






Photo of the Ordination of the Legionaries of Christ by the Holy Father in 1994 is
courtesy of the National Catholic Register.


The black and white photos are provided courtesy of the
Archdiocese of Chicago's Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Archives and Records Center
and are used with permission.


Photo of the Holy Father giving communion to a nun is © Grzegorz Galazka and
used with permission of Inside the Vatican magazine, 1-800-789-9494.





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