The 7 Sacraments
Information on this page is credited to "Book of Catholic Prayer" by Edmond Bliven - Oregon Catholic Press
|Introduction to the Sacraments
God reveals himself to us in Jesus Christ, who made himself known to the disciples in the breaking of the bread at Emmaus. When the disciples who had the Emmaus experience met with their companions, they announced that Jesus had been made known to them in "the breaking of the bread." This came to be the ordinary name in the New Testament for the Eucharist. To "know" in biblical language means to have a deep personal relationship.
Christ makes himself known to us in all the sacraments. The New Testament uses the Greek word "mysterion," which means "hidden," to describe God's plan of salvation, which had been hidden and now is revealed in Christ.
As Christianity spread west from Palestine, most converts spoke Greek. But as the faith continued to spread westward, it entered places where Latin was the predominant language. Within a couple of hundred years the two main linguistic groups in the Church were the "Greeks" and the "Latins."
The Greek Fathers of the Church (early Church wirters) adopted "mysterion" as a name for the sacraments because in them we experience the hidden, although real, presence of Christ.
The Latin Father of the Church used the Latin word "sacramentum" to describe the same reality. The scramentum was the oath of allegiance which a Roman soldier took to the emperor. It is from this that we get the English word "sacrament". Here we see a difference of emphasis between Western adn Eastern Christianity.
The Eastern theologians center on God. Western theologians emphasize humanity's response to God.
By combining the two points of view, we see that in the sacraments God reaches out to us in love through various signs. For our sharing in the sacraments to be fruitful, we must respond to God with loving faith.
This is one of the reasons that Pope John Paul II has said that the reunioun of the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches will allow the Church to "breathe again with both lungs."
The seven sacraments are these:
- Holy Eucharist
- Anointing of the Sick
- Holy Orders
The Second Vatican Council reminded us that because the sacraments are outward signs of an inward grace, they also instruct us: "They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen and express it." Over the centuries, many of the prayers and actions connected with the sacraments no longer could be understood without involved explanations.
The Jesuit liturgist Joseph Jungman said that the liturgy had become like an ancient castle whose various rooms had to be explained to the visitor.
Therefore the Council, besides reintroducing the language of the people into the Church's worship, initiated a revision of the rites of the sacraments (the words and actions used in administering them) so that their meaning might be clearer to people living in the world today.
|Sacraments of Initiation
Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are the three Sacraments given to adult converts as they become members of the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil.
See descriptions of each Sacrament below.
During the Easter Vigil, after the Liturgy of the Word, the elect are presented to the congregation. Then the Litany of the Saints is prayed. Our brothers and sisters who surround the throne of God are asked to pray for those who will join them in the Communion of Saints.
Then the baptismal water is blessed:
you give us grace through sacramental signs,
which tell us of the wonders of your unseen power.
In baptism we use your gift of water,
which you have made a rich symbol of the grace
you give us in this sacrament.
At the very dawn of creation
your spirit breathed on the waters,
making them the wellspring of all holiness.
The waters of the great flood
you made a sign of the waters of baptism
that make an end of sin
and a new beginning of goodness.
Through the waters of the Red Sea
you led Israel out of slavery
to be an image of God's holy people,
set free from sin by baptism.
In the waters of the Jordan
our Son was baptized by John
and anointed with the Spirit.
Your Son willed that water and blood should flow from his side
as he hung upon the cross.
After his resurrection he told his disciples:
"Go out and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit."
look now with love upon your Church
and unseal for it the fountain of baptism.
By the power of the Holy Spirit
give to this water the grace of your Son,
so that in the sacrament of baptism
all those whom you have created in your likeness
may be cleansed from sin
and rise to a new birth of innocence
by water and the Holy Spirit.
We ask you, Father, with your Son,
to send the Holy Spirit upon the waters of this font.
May all who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism
rise also with him to newness of life.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
After the elect renounce sin and profess their faith, they are baptized.
Baptism by immersion best symbolizes the realtiy that the baptized are buried with Christ and born again to newness of life. See Paul's Letter to the Romans 6:1-11.
They are immersed three times-
Water is poured over their heads three times- as the celebrant says:
I baptize you in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
|(Baptism of Infants)
Since the beginning of Christianity, the Church has baptized children as well as adults. St. Paul baptized his jailer and the man's entire household: "Then he and all his family were baptized at once" (Acts 16:33). See also Acts 16:14-15 and 1 Corinthians 1:16.
But children are to be baptized only if there is a reasonable belief that they will be brought up in the faith. The pastor has the responsibility to provide instruction for parents who wish their children to be baptized. Most parishes have special classes for them. Formerly, the rite of baptism was the same for adults and children. Since Vatican II, there is a special rite for the baptism of children which emphasizes the obligations of parents and godparents. If one of the parents is not a Catholic, he or she may remain silent while the other professes the faith. The non-Catholic parent needs only to permit the child to be reared in the faith.
The following are excerpts from the Rite of Baptism for Children:
The priest (deacon) speaks to the parents:
You have asked to have your children baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsiblity of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring them up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?
Then he addresses the godparents:
Are you ready to help these parents in their duty as Christian parents?
The celebrant continues:
My dear children, the Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of his cross. I now trace the cross on your foreheads, and invite your parents and godparents to do the same.
He signs each child on the forehead and the parents and godparents do the same. It is a beautiful custom for parents to continue this practice each night, especially as a part of family prayer.
The actual baptism may be done by immersion or the pouring of water. (See adult rite above.)
After the child is baptized and has been clothed in the baptismal garment and received the baptismal candle, the celebrant addresses those present:
Dearly beloved, this child has been reborn in baptism. He/she is now called a child of God, for so indeed he/she is. In confirmation he/she will receive the fullness of God's Spirit. In holy Communion he/she will share the banquet of Christ's sacrifice, calling God his/her Father in the midst of the Church.
The celebrant concludes by praying for the parents:
God the Father, through his Son, the Virgin Mary's child, has brought joy to all Christian mothers as they see the hope of eternal life shine on their children. May he bless the mothers of these children. They now thank God for the gift of their children. May they be one with them in thanking him forever in heaven, in Chris Jesus our Lord.
God is the giver of all life, human and divine. May he bless the fathers of these children. With their wives they will be the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. May they be the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Catholics who have been baptized as infants should be confirmed at an age determined by the bishop after appropriate preparation.
After the ceremonies of baptism are concluded, the celebrant confirms the newly baptized and those who have been previously baptized and are candidates for membership in the Church.
After the celebrant speaks briefly to those to be confirmed, he invites the congregation to join in prayer for them. After a period of silence, the celebrant holds his hands outstretched over those to be confirmed. All other priests present also extend their hands as the celebrant prays:
All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit,
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your holy Spirit upon them
to be their helper and guide.
Grant them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence,
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Using chrism blessed by the bishop, the celebrant makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of each one to be confirmed as he says:
(Name), be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
During the Liturgy of the Eucharist the neophytes (newly baptized and confirmed) received Holy Communion for the first time.
The Liturgy of the Word
The Second Vatican Council said this about the Mass:
The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of the Lord's Word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy Scriptures will be read to the people over a set cycle of years.
As a result of this decision, we now have a three-year cycle of Sunday readings and a two-year cycle of daily readings for the Mass.
There are three readings on Sundays and feast days, the first of which is generally taken from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). The second reading is from a New Testament letter or the Acts of the Apostles. THe third reading is always taken form the Gospel.
To enhance your participation int he Sunday Eucharist, it is recommended that you read the Sunday readings during the previous week. If you cannot attend daily Mass, you can read the daily Scriptures at home. YOu will find the Sudnay schedule of readings in THREE-YEAR CYCLE OF READINGS FOR SUNDAY MASS, page 317, and the weekday schedule of readings in WEEKDAY LECTIONARY, page 334.
After the readings there is a homily based on the Scripture of the day.
The homily is followed on Sundays and feasts by the Creed and the general intercessions, in which the congregation prays for the needs of the local community and the world.
The Eucharistic Prayer is the center and summit of the Mass. It is a prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. The priest invites the people to lift up their hearts to the Lord in prayer an thanks; he unites them with himself in the prayer he addresses in their name to the Father through Jesus Christ. THe meaning of the prayer is that the entire congregation joins itself to Christ in acknowledging the great things God has done and in offering sacrifice.
The chief elements of the Eucharistic Prayer are these:
- Thanksgiving (expressed chiefly in the preface). The priest, in the name of the people, thanks God for the whole work of salvation or some special aspect of it according to the feast or season.
- Acclamation. Joining with the angels, the congregation sings the Sanctus. This "Holy, Holy, Holy" was first heard by Isaiah in his vision of heaven (Isaiah 6:3).
- Invocation of the Holy Spirit. The Church calls on God to send the Holy Spirit that our human gifts may become Christ's Body and Blood and be a means of sanctification to those who partake.
- Institution Narrative. In the words and actions of Christ, that sacrifice is celebrated which Christ instituted at the Last Supper and commanded us to carry on in the mystery of the Eucharist.
- Memorial Prayer. In fulfilling the command of Christ, the Church keeps his memorial by recalling his passion, resurrection and ascension. This is more than just a remembering. That which took place in the past becomes sacramentally present for this congregation, and Christ's coming in glory is anticipated. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
- Offering. The Church here and now offers the spotless victim to the Father in the Holy Spirit. The faithful are not only to offer the victim but also to learn to offer themselves through Christ the Mediator to an ever more complete union with the Father, so that at last God will be all in all.
- Intercessions. The Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the entire Church of heaven and earth.
- Final Doxology. The praise of God is summed up in the final doxology to which the people respond in the great Amen. St. Augustine said that, while still a pagan, he was impressed by the congregation's singing of the great Amen, which "sounded like a clap of thunder."
One of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council was the increase in the number of Eucharistic Prayers.
|Reconciliation (Confession or Penance)
Vatican Council II says: "Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God's mercy for the offense committed against him and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example and by prayer works for their conversion."
The Gospel of John tells us that on the night of Christ's resurrection, the disciples were gathered in fear behind locked doors. Jesus came and stood among them and said: "'Peace be with you.' After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them agains, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.' When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'"
The first thing we should remember about the Sacrament of Penance is that it is a gift of God. Jesus gave it to the Chruch as a fruit of his own death and resurrection. It would be ungrateful of us to fail to make use of it.
All the sacraments are social in nature. Even when the Sacrament of Penance is celebrated privately, it affects the whole Church, because as Pope Paul VI said, "Human beings are joined together by supernatural necessity, so that the sin of one injures others, and the holiness of one benefits others."
Communal Celebrations of Penance
To emphasize the social aspect of the sacrament, the new rite of penance provides for communal penance services. In most parishes these celebrations take place several times a year, particularly in preparation for great feasts. The people listen together to the word of God, which proclaims God's mercy and invites them to conversion. They compare their own lives with God's word and help one another by mutual prayer. They may offer each other a sign of peace as a sign of reconciliation.
Normally, they then confess their sins privately and are absolved individually by the priest. If a large number of penitents are expected, a number of priest may be available for private confessiona and absolution.
After all have confessed and been absolved, all together may join in praising God for his gift of reconciliation.
Church law requires that all Catholics who are conscious of having committed grave sin must be reconciled in the Sacrament of Penance before they receive Holy Communion. They must receive the Sacrament of Penance at least once a year.
Regular reception of the sacrament is also recommended to those who are not guilty of serious sin. In this way we become more deeply conformed to Christ and submissive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
There are good psychological reasons for regular confession. We all have deep need for confiding our weaknesses to another human being. Many bartenders are secular confessors to a multitude who might be better served in the Sacrament of Penance.
It is also good for our humanity to admit regularly to another human being that we are not as sure of ourselves as we would like the world to believe. And it is especially good for us to be assured that we are forgiven and that God loves us and does not give up on us.
Private Celebration of Penance
Before entering the confessional, the penitent makes an examination of conscience. See the Appendix to the Rite of Penance published by authority of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, National Conference of Catholic Bishops. See also WALKING WITH THE LORD, "GUIDELINES FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING".
The following form is recommended, but it may be shortened for pastoral reasons:
The priest greets the penitent with words of welcome.
The penitent responds and makes the Sign of the Cross.
The priest may read a short selection from the Bible.
The penitent tells the priest how long it has been since the last confession. If the penitent has committed any grave sins since the last confesion, they must be confessed. It is helpful to mention one's most troublesome venial sins, but it is not necessary to give a detailed list of them.
The priest will give any necessary advice and assign a penance.
The penitent expresses sorrow. This need not be a long prayer. A prayer based on Scripture is preferred - for example, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
The priest then places his hands on the penitent's head (or extends his hand toward the penitent) and prays the words of absolution:
God, the Father of mercy, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The penitent answers:
The priest then says:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
The penitent answers:
His mercy endures for ever.
The priest then dismisses the penitent, who should perform the penance as soon as possible.
Thanksgiving for God's Forgiveness (Optional)
Bless the Lord, my soul;
all my being, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, my soul;
do not forget all the gifts of God,
Who pardons all your sins,
heals all your ill,
Delivers your life from the pit,
surrounds you with love and compassion,
Fills your days with good things;
your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord does righteous deeds,
brings justice to all the oppressed.
His ways were revealed to Moses,
mighty deeds to the people of Israel.
Merciful and gracious is the Lord,
slow to anger, abounding in kindness.
God does not always rebuke,
nurses no lasting anger,
Has not dealt with us as our sins merit,
nor requited us as our deeds deserve.
As the heavens tower over the earth,
so God's love towers over the faithful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far have our sins been removed from us,
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on the faithful.
For he knows how we are formed,
remembers that we are dust.
Our days are like the greass;
like flowers of the field we blossom.
The wind sweeps over us and we aer gone;
our place knows us no more.
But the Lord's kindness is forever,
toward the faithful from age to age.
He favors the children's children
of those who keep his covenant,
who take care to fulfill its precepts.
The Lord's throne is established in heaven;
God's royal power rules over all.
Bless the Lord, all you angels,
mighty in strength and attentive,
obedient to every command.
Bless the Lord, all you hosts,
ministers who do God's will.
Bless the Lord, all creatures,
everywhere in God's domain.
Bless the Lord, my soul.
|Anointing of the Sick
The Second Vatican Council said: "By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests, the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed the Church exhorts them to contribute to the people of God by freely uniting themselves to the passion and death of Christ." It then cites Colossians 1:24, "I am now rejoicing in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church." The council also stated that the sacrament of the sick is more fittingly called the Anointing of the Sick rather than Extreme Unction, because "it is not a sacrament fo those only who are at the point of death."
The current liturgical directives say: "The Letter of James states that the sick are to be anointed in order to raise them up and save them (James 5:14-15). Great care and concern should be taken to see that those of the faithful whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age should receive this sacrament."
If there is any doubt about the seriousness of an illness, the priest should be consulted.
Elderly people may be anointed if they have become notably weakened, even if no serious illness is present.
The new liturgy of the sick also provides for an anointing of seriously ill individuals or groups at Mass. These Masses may be celebrated either in a private home or hospital or in a church.
Since all the sacraments are communal by nature, at least family members should be present and take part in the prayers of the anointing and of holy Communion if it is administered.
Ordinarily, the Anointing of the Sick is preceded by a friendly greeting, a sprinking with holy water, and a brief instruction on the menaing of the rite. If the patient wishes to receive the Sacrament of Penance, other people should leave the room. Otherwise all present join in the penitential rite followed by a reading from the word of God.
The priest may lead all present in a litany for the sick person. Then he says a prayer of thanksgiving over oil which has been previously blessed or he may bless the oil himself.
Prayer over Blessed Oil
Praise to you, God, the almighty Father.
You sent your Son to live among us
and bring us salvation.
R/ Blessed by God who heals us in Christ.
Praise to you, God, the only-begotten Son. You humbled yourself to share in our humanity and you heal our infirmities.
R/ Blessed by God who heals us in Christ.
Praise to you, God, the Holy Spirit, the Consoler.
Your unfailing power gives us strength
in our bodily weakness.
R/ Blessed be God who heals us in Christ.
God of mercy,
ease the suffereings and comfort the weakness of
your servant (Name),
whom the Chrurch anoints with this holy oil.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Laying on of Hands
The priest lays his hands on the sick person in silence.
The priest anoints the sick person with the blessed oil.
He anoints the forehead, saying:
Through this holy anointing
may the Lord in his love and mercy help you
with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
This is followed by an appropriate prayer and holy Cummunion, if the sick person is able to receive.
The Second Vatican Counsil said: "In virtue of the sacrament of matrimony by which they signify and share the mystery of the unity and faithful love between Christ and the Church, Christian married couples help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in the rearing of their children."
The council also said: "married love is an eminently human love because it is an affection between two persons rooted in the will and it embraces the good of the whole person; it can enrich the sentiments of the spirit and their physical expression with a unique dignity and ennoble them as the special elements and signs of the friendship proper to marriage. The Lord, wishing to bestow special gifts of grace and divine love on it, has restored, perfected, and elevated it. A love like that, bringing together the human and divine, leads the partners to free and mutual giving of self, experienced in tenderness and action, and permeates their whole lives; besides, this love is actually developed and increased by the exercise of it."
Because of the importance of marriage and the many challenges that married couples face in the modern world, the Chruch requires that couples who are planning to marry be propertly prepared.
Every Catholic should make himself or herself aware of diocesan regulations for marriage preparation, which may in a given diocese take up to six months, or even longer.
Couples will also be invited to plan the actual wedding ceremony.
Among the books available for this purpose, one that many people have found helpful is Together for Life, by Joseph M. Champlin, a priest of the Diocese of Syracuse, New York. It is available in two paperback editions: for marriages within Mass or outside of Mass.
There are many choices available for prayers and Scripture readings. In my experience, some people have difficulty choosing a reading from the Old Testament unless they have some understanding of the biblical mind. Many young people are influenced by a "creeping fundamentalism." Also some translations do not take into consideration the changing meaning of the English word "man." One reading , for example, Genesis 1:26-28, 31a, gives a different impression when translated, "Let us make man in our image: (traditional) or "Let us make humankind in our image" NRSV ("human beings" REB and GNB).
In my view, no one has translated the wisdom books of the Bible as well as Monsignor Ronald Knox. Here is his translation of the Song of Songs 2:8-10, 14, 16a; 8:6-7a, one of the Old Testament readings suggested for weddings:
A Reading from the Song of Songs
The voice I love!
See how he comes,
how he speeds over the mountains,
how he spurns the hills!
Gazelle nor fawn was ever so fleet of foot as my heart's love.
And now he is standing
on the other side of this very wall;
now he is looking in
through each window in turn,
peering through every chink.
I can hear my true love
calling to me:
rise up quickly, dear heart,
so gentle, so beautiful,
rise up and come with me.
Rouse thee and come,
so well beloved,
still hiding thyself
as a dove hides in cleft rock
or crannied wall.
Shew me by thy face,
let me but hear thy voice,
that voice sweet as thy face is fair.
All mine, my true love,
and I all his.
He said to me:
Hold me close to thy heart,
close as locket
or bracelet fits;
not death itself
is so strong as love.
The torch that lights it
is a blaze of fire
Yes, love is a fire
no waters avail to quench,
no floods to drown.
Although there are many excellent readings from the New Testament on marriage and Christian love, many couples choose 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a.
There is no clear favorite Gospel passage, but many couples choose Matthew 19:3-6, which asserts the indissolubility of marriage.
The favorite nuptial blessing, in my experience, is the first, which says, in paragraphs 4 thorugh 6:
Look with love upon this woman, your daughter,
now joined to her husband in marriage.
She asks your blessing.
Give her the grace of love and peace.
May she alwasy follow the example of the holy women
whose praises are sung in the Scriptures.
May her husband put his trust in her and recognize that she is his equal
and the heir with him to the life of grace.
May he always honor her and lover her as Christ loves his bride, the Church.
|Holy Orders (Deacon, Priest, Bishop)
The Second Vatican Council stated:
Christ the Lord, high priest taken from among men (cf. Heb. 5:1-5), made the new people "a kingdom of priests to God his Father" (Rev. 1:6; cf. 5:9-10). The baptized, by regeneration and anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spritiual house and a holy priestood, that through all the works of Christian men (and women) they may offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the perfection of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-10). Therefore all the disciples of Christ, persevering in prayer, should present themselves as a sacrifice, living, holy and pleasing to God (cf. Rom. 12:1).
Though they differ essentially and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless ordered to one another; each in its proper way shares in the one priesthood of Chirst (Lumen Gentium, 10).
Ordination of a Deacon
The council restored the ancient practice of ordaining permanent deacons to assist the bishop and the priest in preaching the word, baptizing, witnessing marriages, and ministering to the sick and the needy. Married as well as single men may be ordained permanent deacons. Transitional deacons - that is, those who are candidates for the priesthood - must make a public committment to celibacy. Otherwise, the ordination ceremony for permanent and transitional deacons is the same.
The ordination of a deacon takes place at a Mass on a Sunday or holy day when a large nunber of the faithful can attend. THe deacon is ordained after the Gospel.
After the presentation of the candidate and the consent of the congregation, the bishop gives the homily, in which he explains the dignity and the duties of the deacon's calling to the congregation and the candidate.
Then he examines him on his understanding and willingness to fulfill his vocation.
The deacon then promises obedience and reverence to the bishop and his successors.
After the singing of the Litany of the Saints, during which the candidate prostrates himself before the altar, the bishop lays his hands on the candidate, who kneels in front of him.
Then the bishop sings or says the prayer of consecration:
be present with us by your power.
You are the source of all honor,
you assign to each his rank,
you give to each his ministry.
You remain unchanged
but you watch over all creation and make it new through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:
he is your Word, your power, and your wisdom.
You foresee all things in your eternal providence
and make due provision for every age.
You make the Church, Christ's Body,
grow to its full stature as a new and greater temple.
You enrich it with every kind of grace
and perfect it with a diversity of members
to serve the whole body in a wonderful pattern of unity.
You established a threefold ministry of worship and service
for the glory of your name.
As ministers of your tabernacle you chose the sons of Levi
and gave them your blessing as their everlasting inheritance.
In the first days of your Church
under the inspiriation of the Holy Spirit
the apostles of your Son appointed seven men of good repute
to assist them in the daily ministry,
so that they themselves might be more free for prayer and preaching.
By prayer and the laying on of hands
the apostles entrusted to those chosen men the ministry of serving at tables.
Ordination of a Priest
The ordained minister whom the average person meets most often is the priest. The priest is ordinarily the pastor or vicar of the parish where Catholics participate in the Sunday Mass and the other sacraments.
The oridnation of a priest should take place at a Mass at which a large number of the faithful can attentd.
The ordiantion takes place after the Gospel of the Mass. After the people have indicated their acceptance of the candidate, the bishop addresses the poeple and the candidate.
This man, your relative and friend, is now to be raised to the order of priest. 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 preisthood 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 mankind. He was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and thier 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 presbyteral 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.
The bishop then addresses the candidate:
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 mankind 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, 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 bring 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 yourown.
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 in a unified family and to lead them effectively, thorugh Christ and 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.
The bishop then questions the candidate about his intentions and asks him to promise respect and obedience to him and his successor. Then the Litany of Saints is prayed while the candidate prostrates himself before the altar.
At the conclusion of the litany, the bishop prays:
Hear us, Lord our God,
and pour out upon this servant of yours
the blessing of the Holy Spirit
and the grace of the priesthood.
In your sight we offer this man for ordination:
support him with your unfailing love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The candidate goes to the bishop and kneels before him. The bishop lays his hands on the candidate's head, in silence.
Next, all the priests present lay their hands upon the candidate in silence. After the laying on of hands, the priests remain on either side of the biship until the prayer of consecration is completed.
The bishop then says the prayer of consecration over the candidate:
Come to our 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 pattern of order.
When you had appointed high priests to rule your people,
you chose other men 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 men
who helped him to rule the great company of his people.
You shared among the sons 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.
grant to us such fellow workers,
for we are weak and our need is greater.
grant to this servant of yours
the dignity of the priesthood.
Renew within him the Spirit of holiness.
As a co-worker 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 the 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.
The newly ordained priest joins the other priests present in concelebrating the Mass with the bishop.
Ordination of a Bishop
Together with the pope and under his authority, bishops have been sent to continue through the age the work of Christ, the eternal High Priest. Christ gave the Apostles and their successors the power and command to teach all nations and to make all people holy in the truth. Priests and deacons cooperate with the bishops and extend their ministry.
The ordination of a bishop should take place on a Sunday or holy day when a large number of the faithful can attend, unless pastoral reasons suggest another day, such as the feast of an apostle.
The principal consecrator should be assisted by at least two other consecrating bishops, but it is fitting for all the bishops present together with the principal consecrator to ordain the bishop-elect.
The oridnation of the bishop takes place after the Gospel.
While all stand, the "Veni Creator Spiritus" or another approperiate hymn is sung.
After the reading of the Apostolic Letter from the Holy See, the people give their consent by saying, "Thanks be to God," or in some other way, according to local custom.
Then the principal consecrator addresses the clergy, people and the bishop-elect. He may use these words:
Consider carefully the position in thie Church to which our brother is about to be raised. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father to redeem the human race, in turn sent twelve apostles into the world. These men were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel and gather every race and people into a single flock to be guided and governed in the way of holiness. Because this service was to continue to the end of time, the apostles selected others to help them. By the laying on of hands which confers the sacrament of orders in its fullness, the apostles passed on the gift of the Holy Spirit which they themselves had received from Christ. In that way, by a succession of bishops unbroken from one generation to the next, the powers conferred in the beginning were handed down, and the work of the Savior lives in our time.
In the person of the bishop, with his priests around him, Jesus Christ, the Lord, who became High Priest forever, is present among you. Through the ministry of the bishop, Christ himself continues to procalim the Gospel and to confer the mysteries of faith on those who believe. Through the fatherly action of the bishop, Christ adds new members to his body. Through the bishop's wisdom and prudence, Christ guides you in your earthly pilgrimage toward eternal happiness.
Gladly and gratefully, therefore, receive our brother whom we are about to accept into the college of bishops by the laying on of hands. Respect him as a minister of Chirst and a steward of the mysteries of God. He has been entrusted with the task of witnessing to the truth of the Gospel and fostering a spirit of justice and holiness. Remeber the words of Christ spoken to the apostles: "Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me."
The principal consecrator then addresses the bishop elect:
You, dear brother, have been chosen by the Lord. Remember that you are chosen from among men to act for men and women in relation to God. The title of bishop is one not of honor but of function, and therefore a bishop should strive to serve rather than to rule. Such is the cousel of the Master: The greater should behave as if he were the least, and the leader as if he were the one who serves. Proclaim the message whether it is welcome or unwelcome; correct error with unfailing patience and teaching. Pray and offer sacrifice for the people committed to your care and so draw every kind of grace for them from the overflowing holiness of Christ.
As a steward of the mysteries of Christ in the Church entrusted to you, be a faithful overseer and guardian. Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over his family, always be mindful of the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and is known by them and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them.
As a father and brother, love all those whom God places in your care. Love the priests and deacons who share with you the ministry of Christ. Love the poor and infirm, strangers and the homeless. Encourage the faithful to work with you in your apostolic task; listen willingly to what they have to say. Never relax your concern for those who do not yet belong to the one fold of Christ; they are commended to you in the Lord. Never forget that in the Catholic Church, made one by the bond of Christian love, you are incorporated into the college of bishops. You should, therefore, have a constant concern for all the churches and gladly come to the aid and support of churches in need. Attend to the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit appoints you an overseer of the Church of God - in the name of the Father, whose image you personify in the Church - and in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, whose role of Teacher, Priest and Shepherd you undertake - and in the name of the Holy Spirit who gives life to the Church of Christ and supports our weakness with his strength.
The principal consecrator then questions the bishop-elect on his resolve to uphold the faith and to discharge his duties faithfully.
Then he invites the people to pray, all kneeling, except during the Easter season.
The bishop-elect prostrates himself while the Litany of the Saints is prayed.
The principal consecrator then lays his hands on the head of the bishop-elect, in silence. After him, all the bishops present do the same.
Then the principal consecrator places the open Book of the Gospels on the head of the bishop-elect; two deacons, standing at either side of the bishop-elect, hold the Book of the Gospels above his head until the prayer of consecration is completed.
Next, the principal consecrator, with his hands extended over the bishop-elect, sings or says the prayer of consecration:
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Father of mercies and God of all consolation,
you dwell in heaven,
you look with compassion on all that is humble.
You know all things before they come to be;
by your gracious word
you have established the plan of your Church.
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.
From the creation of the world
you have been pleased to be glorified
by those whom you have chosen.
The follwoing part of the prayer is recited by all the consecrating bishops with hands joined:
So now pour out upon this chosen one
that power which is from you,
the governing Spirit
whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ,
the Spirit given by him to the holy apostles,
who founded the Church in every place to be your temple
for the unceasing glory and praise of your name.
Then the principal consecrator continues alone:
Father, you know all hearts.
You have chosen your servant for the office of bishop.
May he be a shepherd to your holy flock,
and a high priest blameless in your sight,
ministering to you night and day;
may he always gain the blessing of your favor
and offer the gifts of your holy Church.
Through the Spirit who gives the grace of high priesthood
grant him the power to forgive sins as you have commanded,
to assign ministries as you have decreed,
and to loose every bond by the authority which
you gave to your apostles.
May he be pleasing to you by his gentleness and purity of heart,
presenting a fragrant offering to you,
through Jesus Christ, your Son,
through whom glory and power and honor are yours
with the Holy Spirit
in your holy Church,
now and for ever.
After the prayer of consecration, the Book of Gospels is removed from the head of the new bishop.
The principal consecrator anoints the head of the new bishop with Chrism, saying:
God has brought you to share the high priesthood of Christ,
May he pour out on you the oil of mystical anointing
and enrich you with spirital blessings.
After washing his hands, the principal consecrator hands the Book of Gospels to the newly ordained bishop, saying:
Receive the Gospel and preach the word of God with unfailing patience and sound teaching.
Then he places the ring on the ring finger of the new bishop's right hand, saying:
Take this ring, the seal of your fidelity.
With faith and love protect the bride of God, his holy Church.
He places the miter on the new bishop's head in silence.
Lastly, he gives the pastoral staff to the new bishop, and says:
Take this staff as a sign of your pastoral office:
keep watch over the whole flock
in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you
to shepherd the Church of God.
After the new bishop receives the kiss of peace from all the bishops present, the Mass continues as usual.
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