Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Ten years after the seizure of the city of Mexico, war came to an end and there was peace amongst the people; in this manner faith started to bud, the understanding of the true God, for whom we live. At that time, in the year fifteen hundred and thirty one, in the early days of the month of December, it happened that there lived a poor Indian, named Juan Diego, said being a native of Cuautitlan. Of all things spiritually he belonged to Tlatilolco.
First Apparition
On a Saturday just before down, he was on his way to pursue divine worship and to engage in his own errands. As he reached the base of the hill known as Tepeyacac, came the break of day, and he heard singing atop the hill, resembling singing of varied beautiful birds. Occasionally the voices of the songsters would cease, and it appeared as if the mount responded. The song, very mellow and delightful, excelled that of the coyoltototl and the tzinizcan and of other pretty singing birds. Juan Diego stopped to look and said to himself: “By fortune, am I worthy of what I hear? Maybe I dream? Am I awakening? Where am I? Perhaps I am now in the terrestrial paradise which our elders had told us about? Perhaps I am now in heaven?” He was looking toward the east, on top of the mound, from whence came the precious celestial chant; and then it suddenly ceased and there was silence. He then heard a voice from above the mount saying to him: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito.” Then he ventured and went to where he was called. He was not frightened in the least; on the contrary, overjoyed. Then he climbed the hill, to see from were he was being called. When he reached the summit, he saw a Lady, who was standing there and told him to come hither. Approaching her presence, he marveled greatly at her superhuman grandeur; her garments were shining like the sun; the cliff where she rested her feet, pierced with glitter, resembling an anklet of precious stones, and the earth sparkled like the rainbow. The mezquites, nopales, and other different weeds, which grow there, appeared like emeralds, their foliage like turquoise, and their branches and thorns glistened like gold. He bowed before her and herd her word, tender and courteous, like someone who charms and steems you highly. She said: “Juanito, the most humble of my sons, where are you going?” He replied: “My Lady and Child, I have to reach your church in Mexico, Tlatilolco, to pursue things divine, taught and given to us by our priests, delegates of Our Lord.” She then spoke to him: “Know and understand well, you the most humble of my son, that I am the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows. And to accomplish what my clemency pretends, go to the palace of the bishop of Mexico, and you will say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here on this plain a temple be built to me; you will accurately relate all you have seen and admired, and what you have heard. Be assured that I will be most grateful and will reward you, because I will make you happy and worthy of recompense for the effort and fatigue in what you will obtain of what I have entrusted. Behold, you have heard my mandate, my humble son; go and put forth all your effort.” At this point he bowed before her and said: “My Lady, I am going to comply with your mandate; now I must part from you, I, your humble servant.” Then he descended to go to comply with the errand, and went by the avenue which runs directly into Mexico City.

Second Apparition

Having entered the city, and without delay, he went straight to the bishop’s palace, who was the recently arrived prelate named Father Juan de Zumarraga, a Franciscan religious. On arrival, he endeavored to see him; he pleaded with the servants to announce him; and after a long wait, he was called and advised that the bishop had ordered his admission. As he entered, he bowed, and on bended knees before him, he then delivered the message from the lady from heaven; he also told him all he had admired, seen, and heard. After having heard his chat and message, it appeared incredible; then he told him: “You will return, my son, and I will hear you at my pleasure. I will review it from the beginning and will give thought to the wishes and desires for which you have come.” He left and he seemed sad, because his message had not been realized in any of its forms.

He returned on the same day. He came directly to the top of the hill, met the Lady from heaven, who was awaiting him, in the same spot where he saw her the first time. Seeing her, postrated before her, he said: “Lady, the least of my daughters, my Child, I went where you sent me to comply with your command. With difficulty I entered the prelate’s study. I saw him and exposed your message, just as you instructed me. He received me benevolently and listened attentively, but when he replied, it appeared that he did not believe me. He said: “You will return; I will hear you at my pleasure. I will review from the beginning the wish and desire which you have brought.” I perfectly understood by the manner he replied that he believes it to be an invention of mine that you wish that a temple be built here to you, and that it is not your order; for which I exceedingly beg, Lady and my Child, that you entrust the delivery of your message to someone of importance, well known, respected, and esteemed, so that they may believe in him; because I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf, and you, my Child, the least of my children, my Lady, you send me to a place where I never visit nor repose. Please excuse the great unpleasantness and let not fretfulness befall, my Lady and my All.”
The Blessed Virgin answered:
“Hark, my son the least, you must understand that I have many servants and messengers, to whom I must entrust the delivery of my message, and carry my wish, but it is of precise detail that you yourself solicit and assist and that through your mediation my wish be complied. I earnestly implore, my son the least, and with sternness I command that you again go tomorrow and see the bishop. You go in my name, and make known my wish in its entirety that he has to start the erection of a temple which I ask of him. And again tell him that I, in person, the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, sent you.”

Juan Diego replied: “Lady, my Child, let me not cause you affliction. Gladly and willingly I will go to comply your mandate. Under no condition will I fail to do it, for not even the way is distressing. I will go to do your wish, but perhaps I will not be heard with liking, or if I am heard I might not be believed. Tomorrow afternoon, at sunset, I will come to bring you the result of your message with the prelate’s reply. I now take leave, my Child, the least, my Child and Lady. Rest in the meantime.” He then left to rest in his home.

Third Apparition

The next day, Sunday, before dawn, he left home on his way to Tlatilolco, to be instructed in things divine, and to be present for roll call, following which he had to see the prelate. Nearly at ten, and swiftly, after hearing Mass and being counted and the crowd had dispersed, he went. On the hour Juan Diego left for the palace of the bishop. Hardly had he arrived, he eagerly tried to see him. Again with much difficulty he was able to see him. He kneeled before his feet. He saddened and cried as he expounded the mandate of the Lady from heaven, which God grant he would believe his message, and the wish of the Immaculate, to erect her temple where she willed it to be. The bishop, to assure himself, asked many things, where he had seen her and how she looked; and he described everything perfectly to the bishop. Notwithstanding his precise explanation of her figure and all that he had seen and admired, which in itself reflected her as being the ever-virgin Holy Mother of the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, nevertheless, he did not give credence and said that not only for his request he had to do what he had asked; that, in addition, a sign was very necessary, so that he could be believed that he was sent by the true Lady from heaven. Therefore, he was heard, said Juan Diego to the bishop: “My lord, hark! what must be the sign that you ask? For I will go to ask the Lady from heaven who sent me here.” The bishop, seeing that he ratified everything without doubt and was not retracting anything, dismissed him. Immediately he ordered some persons of his household, in whom he could trust, to go and watch where he went and whom he saw and to whom he spoke. So it was done. Juan Diego went straight to the avenue. Those that followed him, as they crossed the ravine, near the bridge to Tepeyacac, lost sight of him. They searched everywhere, but he could not be seen. Thus they returned, not only because they were disgusted, but also because they were hindered in their intent, causing them anger. And that is what they informed the bishop, influencing him not to believe Juan Diego; they told him that he was being deceived; that Juan Diego was only forging what he was saying, or that he was simply dreaming what he said and asked. They finally schemed that if he ever returned, they would hold and punish him harshly, so that he would never lie or deceive again.

In the meantime, Juan Diego was with the Blessed Virgin, relating the answer he was bringing from his lordship, the bishop. The lady, having heard, told him: “Well and good, my little dear, you will return here tomorrow, so you may take to the bishop the sign he has requested. With this he will believe you, and in this regard he will not doubt you nor will he be suspicious of you; and know, my little dear, that I will reward your solicitude and effort and fatigue spent of my behalf. Lo! go now. I will await you here tomorrow.”

Fourth Apparition

On the following day, Monday, when Juan Diego was to carry a sign so he could be believed, he failed to return, because, when he reached his home, his uncle, named Juan Bernardino, had become sick, and was gravely ill. First he summoned a doctor who aided him; but it was too late, he was gravely ill. By nightfall, his uncle requested that
by break of day he go to Tlatilolco and summon a priest, to prepare him and hear his confession, because he was certain it was time for him to die, and that he would not arise or get well.

On Tuesday, before dawn, Juan Diego came from his home to Tlatilolco to summon a priest; and as he approached the road which joins the slope to Tepeyacac hilltop, toward the west, where he was accustomed to cross, said: “If I proceed forward, the Lady is bound to see me, and I may be detained, so I may take the sign to the prelate, as prearranged; that our first affliction must let us go hurriedly to call a priest, as my poor uncle certainly awaits him.” Then he rounded the hill, going around, so he could not be seen by her who sees well everywhere. He saw her descend from the top of the hill and was looking toward where they previously met. She approached him at the side of the hill and said to him: “What’s there, my son the least? Where are you going?” Was he grieved, or ashamed, or scared? He bowed before her. He saluted, saying: “My Child, the most tender of my daughters, Lady, God grant you are content. How are you this morning? Is your health good, Lady and my Child? I am going to cause you grief. Know, my Child, that a servant of yours is very sick, my uncle. He has contracted the plague, and is near death. I am hurrying to your house in Mexico to call one of your priests, beloved by our Lord, to hear his confession and absolve him, because, since we were born, we came to guard the work of our death. But if I go, I shall return here soon, so I may go to deliver your message. Lady and my Child, forgive me, be patient with me for the time being. I will not deceive you, the least of my daughters. Tomorrow I will come in all haste.”
After hearing Juan Diego’s chat, the Most Holy Virgin answered:
“Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle, who will not die now of it. be assured that he is now cured.” (And then his uncle was cured, as it was later learned.)

When Juan Diego heard these words from the Lady from heaven, he was greatly consoled. He was happy. He begged to be excused to be off to see the bishop, to take him the sign or proof, so that he might be believed. The Lady from heaven ordered to climb to the top of the hill, where they previously met. She told him: “Climb, my son the least, to the top of the hill; there where you saw me and I gave you orders, you will find different flowers. Cut them, gather them, assemble them, then come and bring them before my presence.” Immediately Juan Diego climbed the hill, and as he reached the summit, he was amazed that so many varieties of exquisite rosas de Castilla were blooming, long before the time when they are to bud, because, being out of season, they would freeze. They were very fragant and covered with dewdrops of the night, which resembled precious pearls. Immediately he started cutting them. He gathered them all and placed them in his tilma. The hilltop was no place for any kind of flowers to grow, because it had many crags, thistles, thorns, nopales and mezquites. Occasionally weeds would grow, but it was then the month of December, in which all vegetation is destroyed by freezing. He immediately went down the hill and brought the different roses which he had cut to the Lady from heaven, who, as she saw them, took them with her hand and again placed them back in the tilma, saying: “My son the least, this diversity of roses is the proof and the sign which you will take to the bishop. You will tell him in my name that he will see in them my wish and that he will have to comply to it. You are my ambassador, most worthy of all confidence. Rigorously I command you that only before the presence of the bishop will you unfold your mantle and disclose what you are carrying. You will relate all and well; you will tell that I ordered you to climb to the hilltop, to go and cut flowers; and all that you saw and admired, so you can induce the prelate to give his support, with the aim that a temple be built and erected as I have asked.”

After the Lady from heaven had given her advice, he was on his way by the avenue that goes directly to Mexico; being happy and assured of success, carrying with great care what he bore in his tilma, being careful; that nothing would slip from his hands, and enjoying the fragrance of the variety of the beautiful flowers.

The Miracle of the Image

When he reached the bishop’s palace, there came to meet him the majordomo and other servants of the prelate. He begged them to tell the bishop that he wished to see him, but none were willing, pretending not to hear him, probably because it was too early, or because they already knew him as being of the molesting type, because he was pestering them; and, moreover, they had been advised by their co-workers that they had lost sight of him, when they had followed him.
He waited a long time. When they saw that he had been there a long time, standing, crestfallen, doing nothing, waiting to be called, and appearing like he had something which he carried in his tilma, they came near him, to see what he had and to satisfy themselves. Juan Diego, seeing that he could not hide what he had, and on account of that he would be molested, pushed or mauled, uncovered his tilma a little, and there were the flowers; and upon seeing that they were all different rosas de Castilla, and out of season, they were thoroughly amazed, also because they were so fresh and in full bloom, so fragrant and so beautiful. They tried to seize and pull some out, but they were not successful the three times they dared to take them. They were not lucky because when then tried to get them, they were unable to see real flowers. Instead, they appeared painted or stamped or sewn on the cloth. Then they went to tell the bishop what they had seen and that the Indian who had come so many times wished to see him, and that he had reason enough so long anxiously eager to see him.

Upon hearing, the bishop realized that what he carried was the proof, to confirm and comply with what the Indian requested. Immediately he ordered his admission. As he entered, Juan Diego knelt before him, as he was accustomed to do, and again related what he had seen and admired, also the message. He said: “Sir, I did what you ordered, to go forth and tell my Ama, the Lady from heaven, Holy Mary, precious Mother of God, that you asked for a sign so that you might believe me that you should build a temple where she asked it to be erected; also, I told her that I had given you my word that I would bring some sign and proof, which you requested, of her wish. She condescended to your request and graciously granted your request, some sign and proof to complement her wish. Early today she again sent me to see you; I asked for the sign so you might believe me, as she had said that she would give it, and she complied. She sent me to the top of the hill, where I was accustomed to see her, and to cut a variety of rosas de Castilla. After I had cut them, I brought them, she took them with her hand and placed them in my cloth, so that I bring them to you and deliver them to you in person. Even though I knew that the hilltop was no place where flowers would grow, because there are many crags, thistles, thorns, nopales and mezquites, I still had my doubts. As I approached the top of the hill, I saw that I was in paradise, where there was a great variety of exquisite rosas de Castilla, in brilliant dew, which I immediately cut. She had told me that I should bring them to you, and so I do it, so that you may see in them the sign which you asked of me and comply with her wish; also, to make clear the veracity of my word and my message. Behold. Receive them.”
He unfolded his white cloth, where he had the flowers; and when they scattered on the floor, all the different varieties of rosas de Castilla, suddenly there appeared the drawing of the precious Image of the ever-virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, in the manner as she is today kept in the temple at Tepeyacac, which is named Guadalupe.
When the bishop saw the image, he and all who were present fell to their knees. She was greatly admired. They arose to see her; they shuddered and, with sorrow, they demonstrated that they contemplated her with their hearts and minds. The bishop, with sorrowful tears, prayed and begged forgiveness for not having attended her wish and request. When he rose to his feet, he untied from Juan Diego’s neck the cloth on which appeared the Image of the Lady from heaven. Then he took it to be placed in his chapel. Juan Diego remained one more day in the bishop’s house, at his request.

The following day he told him: Well! show us where the Lady from heaven wished her temple be erected.” Immediately, he invited all those present to go.

Apparition to Juan Bernardino

As Juan Diego pointed out the spot where the lady from heaven wanted her temple built, he begged to be excused. He wished to go home to see his uncle Juan Bernardino, who was gravely ill when he left him to go to Tlatilolco to summon a priest, to hear his confession and absolve him. The Lady from heaven had told him that he had been cured. But they did not let him go alone, and accompanied him to his home.
As they arrived, they saw that his uncle was very happy and nothing ailed him. He was greatly amazed to see his nephew so accompanied and honored, asking the reason of such honors conferred upon him. His nephew answered that when he went to summon a priest to hear his confession and to absolve him, the Lady from heaven appeared to him at Tepeyacac, telling him not to be afflicted, that his uncle was well, for which he was greatly consoled, and she sent him to Mexico, to see the bishop, to build her a house in Tepeyacac.
Then the uncle manifested that it was true that on that occasion he became well and that he had seen her in the same manner as she had appeared to his nephew, knowing through her that she had sent him to Mexico to see the bishop. Also, the Lady told him that when he would go to see the bishop, to reveal to him what he had seen and to explain the miraculous manner in which she had cured him, and that she would properly be named, and known as the blessed Image, the ever-virgin Holy Mary of Guadalupe.
Juan Bernardino was brought before the presence of the bishop to inform and testify before him. Both he and his nephew were the guests of the bishop in his home for some days, until the temple dedicated to the Queen of Tepeyacac was erected where Juan Diego had seen her.

The bishop transferred the sacred Image of the lovely lady from heaven to the main church, taking her from his private chapel where it was, so that the people would see and admire her blessed Image. The entire city was aroused; they came to see and admire the devout Image, and to pray. They marveled at the fact that she appeared as did her divine miracle, because no living person of this world had painted her precious Image.


An Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.

An Act of Contrition

O my God,
I am heartily sorry for
having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of heaven,
and the pains of hell;
but most of all because
they offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and
deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve,
with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins,
to do penance,
and to amend my life.

"Jesus' call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before Him, does not aim first at outward works, "sackcloth and ashes," fasting and mortification, but at the CONVERSION OF THE HEART, INTERIOR CONVERSION. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.
Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one's life, with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of His grace."
- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church; 1430-31.

The Holy Rosary

The rosary has been prayed since the thirteenth century. While meditating on the life of Jesus, one recites the prayers that brings one closer to Him and to His Mother, Mary.
Start by making the sign of the Cross:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Then recite the Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.


Then say 1 "Our Father", 3 "Hail Mary's" for the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity; and then 1 "Glory Be":

OUR FATHER, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

HAIL MARY, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death. Amen.

GLORY BE to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.


The Rosary is divided into three parts, each having five mysteries. While meditating on the Mysteries, recite:
1 "Our Father"
10 "Hail Mary's" and
1 "Glory Be"
for each Mystery.
After each Mystery the "Fatima Prayer" is said.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.

All together this makes up one decade.

After the completion of the five mysteries (five decades), the "Hail Holy Queen" is said

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


( Mondays and Saturdays, may be said on Sundays during Advent and Christmas):

1. The Annunciation
2. The Visitation
3. The Nativity
4. The Presentation
5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

(Tuesdays and Fridays, may be said on Sundays during Lent ):

1. The Agony in the Garden
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
3. The Crowning with Thorns
4. The Carrying of the Cross
5. The Crucifixion

(Wednesdays and Sundays):

1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


1. The Baptism in the Jordan
2. The Wedding at Cana
3. Proclamation of the Kingdom
4. The Transfiguration
5. Institution of the Eucharist

For the intentions of the Holy Father, one may recite at this point 1 "Our Father", 1 "Hail Mary", and one "Glory Be".

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


The Hail Mary

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death.

"Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the holy Mother of God, centering it on the Person of Christ manifested in His mysteries. In countless hymns and antiphons expressing this prayer, two movements usually alternate with one another: the first "magnifies" the Lord for the "great things" He did for His lowly servant and through her for all human beings. The second entrusts the supplications and praises of the children of God to the Mother of Jesus, because she now knows the humanity which, in her, the Son of God espoused."
- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church; 2675.

The Glory be

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now,
and ever shall be,
world without end.


"O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory for ever. Amen."
- Romans 11:33-36.

The Apostle´s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

"The Apostles' Creed is so called because it is rightly considered to be a faithful summary of the apostles' faith. It is the ancient baptismal symbol of the Church of Rome. Its great authority arises from this fact: it is 'the Creed of the Roman Church, the See of Peter, the first of the apostles, to which he brought the common faith."

- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church; 194.

"This Creed is the spiritual seal, our heart's meditation and an ever-present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul."

- Saint Ambrose

The Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary . . .
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary . . .

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Christ’s priesthood continues today through the Sacrament of Holy Orders

The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ’s priesthood: ‘Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers’…In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis [in the person of Christ, the Head]” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church 1545, 1548).
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’” (Luke 22:19). At that moment, Christ ordained the Apostles to share the fullness of his high priesthood. He instituted the sacrament of holy orders at the same time he is instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, thus showing their intimate connection.
In order that future generations might be able to be present at the once and for all sacrifice of Christ, begun in the upper room and continued on Calvary, Christ gave the Apostles a share in his own priesthood, so that we might receive the fruits of the Paschal Mystery, which is nothing less than Christ himself, body, blood soul and divinity.
The catechism goes on to say that “the sacrament of Holy Orders communicates a ‘sacred power’ which is none other than that of Christ. The exercise of this authority must therefore be measured against the model of Christ, who by love made himself the least and the servant of all” (CCC 1551).
It also must be recognized that there are three degrees of the sacrament of holy orders: the episcopacy, the presbyterate and the diaconate. In other words: bishop, priest and deacon. What has been said above refers first and foremost to the Apostles and their successors, the bishops.
Those men who receive episcopal ordination receive the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders. What Christ prepared the Twelve to do, and who he prepared them to be, continues through apostolic succession. “…The bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ” (CCC 862).
Christ says to the Twelve, “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Matthew 10:40).
The catechism tells us, “in the beautiful words of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop is typos tou Patros: he is like the living image of God the Father” (CCC 1548). This is precisely what Scripture reveals about Jesus: “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). What Jesus is by nature, a validly ordained bishop is by grace.
“…The Eucharist celebrated by the bishop has a quite special significance as an expression of the Church gathered around the altar, with the one who represents Christ, the Good Shepherd and Head of his Church, presiding” (CCC 1561).
Early in the history of the church, the apostles and their successors, “…‘duly entrusted in varying degrees various members of the Church with the office of their ministry.’ ‘The function of the bishops’ ministry was handed over in a subordinate degree to priests so that they might be appointed in the order of the priesthood and be co-workers of the episcopal order…” (CCC 562).
Priests do not receive the fullness of the sacrament of holy orders, but “depend on the bishops in the exercise of their own proper power” (CCC 1564). Though this is the case, they do have a sacerdotal dignity all their own. They are priests forever, “after the image of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest…” (CCC 1564).
Also, early in church history, certain men were chosen to be ordained in a special way for service: deacons. The apostles commanded some of the disciples to “…pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom…” (Acts 6:3). Deacons are not ordained unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service. They are configured to Christ, “…who made himself the ‘deacon,’ or servant of all” (CCC 1570). They are called to be like Christ who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant…” (Philippians 2:7).
Deacons, too, are in a special way connected to the bishops. “At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon’s special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his ‘diakonia’” (CCC 1569).
The hierarchy of the church is a divinely instituted reality. It is what Christ, our Lord and Savior, offered his life to give us. May we not reject him by rejecting those whom he has appointed to serve us as he served us.
Some are tempted to complain, and do complain, about the pope, their bishop, their priest or perhaps their deacon. My challenge to all is to at the very least pray for them more than we complain about them, and I believe we will have less to complain about. Our prayers will aid them in their ministry of service, and perhaps change our heart in the process.
We also must also pray diligently for a greater response to the sacrament of holy orders. Without bishops we will have no priests or deacons, because only a bishop can ordain a priest and deacon. Without bishops and priests we also would not have the sacraments of confirmation, anointing of the sick, reconciliation and the sacrament of sacraments, the Most Holy Eucharist.
Mary, mother of our true High Priest, pray for all bishops, priests and deacons!

Where Adam fails, the ‘new Adam succeeds'

“Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the ‘one mediator between God and men” (“Catechism of the Catholic Church,” 1544).
On our journey through the Old Covenant background to the New Covenant priesthood of Jesus Christ, we have discovered some important points.
First, Adam was a priest-father of humanity.
Following on the heels of Adam, we discovered that priesthood leading up to Aaron and the Levites was a familial priesthood based on the father of the family, and the primacy of the first-born son.
However, because of the sinfulness of the Israelites in Exodus 32, there is a change in the priesthood; it now belongs to Aaron and the Levites. But the familial aspect of the priesthood continues. In the book of Judges we see this presupposed when Micah asks a certain Levite to, “stay with me…be a father and a priest to me” (17:10, cf. 18:19).
We have also learned that the primary role of the father-priest is to offer sacrifice. “Now every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices…” (Hebrews 8:3).
This leads us up to Jesus Christ, our heavenly high priest, “…who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up” (Hebrews 8:1-2).
Jesus’ priesthood is, in a sense, more linked with the familial priesthood before Aaron and the Levites. I refer you to the entire letter to the Hebrews. The priest of Aaron and the Levites was temporary and provisional.
Hebrews tells us, “…it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: ‘You are my son; this day I have begotten you,’ just as he says in another place: ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (5:5-6).
We must realize that Hebrews is quoting Psalm 2:7 and 110:4. These are words written long after the establishment of the Levitical priesthood. So God is saying that there will be, in a sense, a reestablishment of the priesthood prior to Aaron and the Levites. The letter goes on to say, “If…perfection came through the Levitical priesthood…what need would there still have been for another priest according to the order of Melchizedek…? (7:11)
This connection with the priesthood of Melchizedek leads us back to the priesthood of the father, and the primacy of the first-born son in the family. This by default leads us back to Adam.
Remember, God the Father created his first-born human son, Adam, a priest. Adam was called to offer the sacrifice of his very self for the sake of his bride, Eve. However, he failed. So, too, God the Father sends his eternally, only-begotten Son, Jesus, to offer his very self for the sake of his bride, the church (cf. Ephesians 5:25). Where the old Adam fails, the new Adam succeeds. This is one reason St. Paul emphasizes that Jesus is a new Adam, or the last Adam, and that he is the “…firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45).
Jesus fulfills the priesthood of Melchizedek as well. How? What was the sacrifice of Melchizedek? “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. And he blessed him (Abram)…” (Genesis 14:18-19). Jesus, king-priest of the heavenly (Jeru)salem, will offer gifts of bread and wine in the earthly (Jeru)salem at the last supper, thus blessing Abram’s spiritual family. He also fulfills the priesthood of Melchizedek because, like Melchizedek, and unlike the Levites, he is a priest forever.
Jesus also fulfills the many sacrifices of Leviticus. “He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day…he did that once for all when he offered himself” (Hebrews 7:26-27). The same letter continues, “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God” (8:13-14).
These prefigurations come to fulfillment in Christ, beginning in the upper room, continuing on to Calvary and continuing forever in heavenly glory.
In the upper room Jesus begins his priestly act of self-sacrifice under the signs of bread and wine, of which he says, “…this is my body…this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed…” (Matthew 26:26-28). His body is given and his blood is shed on Calvary, thus continuing his once-and-for-all sacrifice.
But how do we reconcile his once-and-for-all sacrifice with the fact that Jesus is a priest forever, and every high priest being appointed by God to offer sacrifice?
We cannot say that Jesus’ priesthood ended on Calvary; he is a priest forever. And if continues to be a priest, then he too is appointed by the Father to offer sacrifice.
The answer is, “the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice” (CCC 1367). The Eucharist is a sacrifice, not another sacrifice, the once-and-for-all sacrifice offered eternally by the king-priest in the heavenly Jerusalem, “the wedding feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9), made truly and really present through the ministerial priesthood Christ established. This we will turn to next month.

Israel’s sin leads to new kind of priesthood

Beginning with Adam, we have a familial priesthood which is meant to be passed on from the father to the first-born son, thus making him the father-priest of the family. The father-priest was meant to lead the family in covenant worship.
Though this is the case, in the book of Exodus, things drastically change because of sin.
The Israelites were in Egypt for 400 years. In Exodus 4, God tells Moses to go to Pharoah and say: “Israel is my son, my first-born. Hence I tell you: Let my son go, that he may serve me” (4:22-23a). This shows us a few important points.
First, God is a father.
Second, what Adam is at the beginning of creation, namely the first-born human son of God (cf. Luke 3:38), so too, as a nation, is Israel.
Third, what the first-born son in the family was meant to be, namely a father-priest, so too was the nation of Israel meant to be to all the other nations.
Fourth, Israel, as first-born, is called to serve (“abad”) God, which connotes covenant worship and sacrifice, as it did with Adam in Genesis 2:15. This is made obvious when we see what Moses says to Pharaoh in Exodus 5:3: “Let us go a three days’ journey in the desert, that we may offer sacrifice to the Lord, our God…”
To see God’s plan more clearly, we hear God say, “Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep [“shamar” means guard] my covenant…You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (19:5-6).
Notice, however, the conditional nature of the statement; there is a big “if” included. In rapid fashion we find out that they do not hearken to God’s voice and keep the covenant. Their sinfulness radically changes everything until the coming of Christ.
Moses, on Mount Sinai, receives such commands as: “You shall have no other gods besides me” and “You shall not carve idols for yourselves…you shall not bow down before them or worship them” and “You shall not commit adultery” and “You shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold” (Exodus 20:3, 4-5, 14, 23).
As Moses is receiving these commands, the people are breaking them. “When the people became aware of Moses delay in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will be our leader…’ Aaron replied, ‘Have your wives and sons and daughters take off the golden earrings they are wearing, and bring them to me…’and fashioning this gold with a graving tool, [Aaron] made a molten calf. Then they cried out, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’ On seeing this, Aaron built an altar before the calf and proclaimed, ‘Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.’ Early the next day the people offered holocausts and brought peace offerings. Then they sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to revel” (Exodus 32:1-6).
God says to Moses, “Go down at once to your people…for they have become depraved” (Exodus 32:7).
Moses comes down the mountain, breaks the tablets of stone on the base of the mountain and cries out, “Whoever is for the Lord, let him come to me!” (Exodus 32:26). The Levites come to Moses and obey his command to “put your sword on your hip, every one of you! Now go up and down the camp, from gate to gate, and slay your kinsmen, your friends and neighbors!” (Exodus 32:27) Moses then proclaims, “Today you have ordained yourselves for service to the Lord…” (Exodus 32:29).
Israel was in Egypt for 400 years, and they had fallen into the idolatrous worship of the pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses. God’s intent was not only to bring the Israelites physically out of Egypt, but to also get Egyptian idolatry out of them. The sacrifices they were to offer during the proposed three days’ journey were the very gods they had been worshiping under the form of various animals. Moses tells Pharaoh, “…we shall sacrifice to the Lord our god offerings abominable to the Egyptians” (Exodus 8:26). In sacrificing these sacred animals, they would have been renouncing their false worship.
However, in Exodus 32 we find out the Egyptian ways are still in their hearts. The golden bull represented the Egyptian god Apis, the god of wealth, fertility and power. The worship of this god involved sacrifice, a meal signifying communion with that god, and orgiastic sexual worship. “Rose up to revel,” is a euphemism for this impure sexual worship.
With this comes a change in the priesthood. The Levites are now those who are ordained to serve the Lord. In particular Aaron, who is a Levite, and his sons will be the high priests, the ones who offer sacrifices. Now there are laws for animal sacrifice commanded, morning and evening, and many other times for many different situations, because of their idolatrous ways. In particular, once a year, on the Day of Atonement, Aaron and those in the priestly line of Aaron after him will have to sacrifice a bull, because of the sin of Aaron.
The letter to the Hebrews tells us, “For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well” (7:12). In salvation history, this is where the book of Leviticus fits in.
God sees that it is going to take much more than a one-time sacrifice to get Egyptian sinfulness out of their hearts. He is providing them the opportunity to renounce and repent of their sins day in and day out.

Understanding why priests are called ‘Father’

Adam, as we discovered in the previous column, was appointed by God to be high priest of humanity. He was called by God the Father to minister and offer sacrifice in the temple of creation by serving and guarding the sanctuary of that temple, namely Eden.
What about the priesthood after Adam? Was there priesthood between Adam and Aaron and the Levites?
The answer is yes. There are two main ideas that will help us see this, family, in particular fatherhood, and sacrifice.
Let’s look at sacrifice first.
With regard to sacrifice we know that “…every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices…” (Hebrews 8:3). Adam, it seems, was called to offer himself as a gift and sacrifice for his bride, Eve. We know from Genesis 3:1-7 that Adam does not live up to his calling as high priest to offer this ultimate sacrifice. Instead of imaging God through a loving self-sacrifice on the holy and blessed seventh day, he images the beasts of the sixth day, which are not made in the image of God. In desiring to be like God without God, Adam places himself on the level of the animals, thus de-humanizing the human race.
Man, as a result of original sin, will always be tempted to want to become like God without God, to use his free will in such a way that he is no longer truly free, but a slave to sin, a slave to his own wants and desires, a slave to his instincts and passions. This means being more animal-like. God the Father shows Adam and Eve this by offering the first sacrifice recorded in Scripture, “…the Lord God made leather garments, with which he clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
From this point forward, we will see a prominence of animal sacrifice, though they are not the only sacrifices. However, we must not confuse what the Israelites were commanded to do during the Aaronic high priesthood with what happens before, because they are very different. Only with Aaron are the Israelites commanded to offer certain sacrifices morning and evening, as well as numerous other sacrifices. This will be discussed in the next month’s column.
Prior to the priesthood of Aaron, no animal sacrifice was explicitly commanded. Sacrifices could be offered if one pleased. One could offer a sacrifice in good times or in bad, in thanksgiving or in atonement for sin, and as sealing of a covenant oath.
Now let us turn to the notion of the familial priesthood.
Adam is the father of the human race, as well as the high priest of humanity. Thus, there is an intimate link between priesthood and fatherhood. The priesthood leading up to Aaron and the Levites is a familial priesthood. What is important to understand during this period of salvation history is that the father of the family is a priest, and the prominence of the first-born son in the family. The first-born son was meant to receive a double portion of the inheritance of the father; this was the first-born son’s birthright, as well as the priestly blessing of the father. The first-born son was meant to become the new father-priest of the family. However, frequently throughout Genesis there is a failure of first-born sons to live up to their calling.
Adam was a priest, and Cain was his first-born son. Cain offers a sacrifice, a priestly act, which is not pleasing to the Lord. Yahweh gives him the opportunity to repent. Instead, Cain murders his brother, Abel. Thus we have the failure of a first-born son who is supposed to have a priestly primacy in the family after the death of his father. (cf. Genesis 4:3-8)
Adam and Eve then have another son, Seth, who is said to be made after his father’s image, thus indicating his primacy in the family, as Adam had had a primacy in the family because he was made in the image of the Father and blessed by the Father.
The narrative of Genesis then leads us through a genealogy from Seth to Noah, seemingly the first-born son of Lamech. Noah's first act of worship after the great flood subsided was the presentation of “burnt offerings on the altar,” thus performing a priestly act (Genesis 8:20). Noah’s first-born son was Shem, who is blessed by Noah in Genesis 3:26.
The narrative then brings us, again through a genealogy, from Shem to Abram, the first-born son of Terah. In Genesis 14, Abram is blessed by the priest-king Melchizedek. Melchizedek offers a sacrifice of bread and wine and blesses Abram. It is interesting that the ancient rabbis and the early Church fathers identified Melchizedek as none other that the first-born son of Noah, Shem.
Abram was acquainted with sacrifice. Soon after obeying the Lord's command, he built an altar at the oak of Moreh (12:6), where the Lord had revealed Himself. He built another altar between Bethel and Ai and called upon the name of Yahweh (12:8; 13:3f.), and another at Hebron by the oaks of Mamre (13:18).
Abram has a son named Isaac, and Isaac is the father of Esau and Jacob. Esau, the first-born, sells his birth-right to Jacob, and later Jacob tricks Isaac into giving him the priestly blessing. (cf. Genesis 27:27-29). We know that Jacob was accustomed to offer sacrifice as well, for example in Gilead in Genesis 31:54.
From Adam to the time of Aaron and the Levites, we have a domestic-familial priesthood focused primarily of the father and the first-born son, and, of course, various non-obligatory sacrifices. In next month’s column we will see how, as a result of sin, the priesthood and the sacrificial system are radically changed.

Adam: High priest of humanity

Let us now look at the Sacrament of Holy Orders. This sacrament is extraordinarily important. Without holy orders, we would not have four of the other six sacraments, namely confirmation, Eucharist, reconciliation and anointing of the sick. I hope you realize what an absolute tragedy this would be. This is one important reason we must “pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
In order to understand holy orders, we must take a journey back into the Old Testament. Most think of the priesthood of the Old Testament strictly in terms of the tribe of Levi. However, priesthood goes back much farther, way before Exodus 32 and the ordination of the Levites to the service of Yahweh, and Aaron’s ordination as high priest. How much farther back? All the way to Adam. Yes! Adam was a priest.
In order to make this clear, we must understand that the primary role of the priest is to offer sacrifice. “Now every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices…” (Hebrews 8:3). With that in mind let’s dig a little deeper into Sacred Scripture.
First of all, we must understand that the Israelite’s, because of God’s revelation to them, understood all of creation to be a macro-temple. God, speaking to Job, describes creation this way: “Who determined its size…Who stretched out the measuring line for it? Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid the cornerstone…?” (38:5-6). As God created the cosmos in six days and then consecrated and blessed it on the seventh, so too Solomon built the temple in seven years and seven months and during a seven day-liturgy, where he offers seven petitions, he blessed and consecrated the temple (cf. 1 Kings 5-9). This, of course, also means that they understood the temple to be a micro-cosmos.
Other parallels also confirm this notion. The tree of life was located in both the garden and the Jerusalem temple. The tree of life was extremely significant in the garden, as we know. As well, the menorah, a seven branched candelabrum, was considered a stylized tree of life, which is made clear in the description of it given in Exodus 25:31-40.
Every temple, however, needs a sanctuary, and every sanctuary needs a high priest to minister in it, and every high priest is “appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices.” That sanctuary is none other than the garden of Eden. The garden of Eden was not viewed as simply a piece of farmland but as an archetypal sanctuary. Many of the aspects of the garden can be found in later sanctuaries, such as the tabernacle and the Jerusalem temple.
We can see a parallel with what is said in Genesis 3:8, about God walking in the garden. The word hithallek that is used for this action of God is also used in 2 Samuel 7:6-7 describing God’s presence, which abided in the tabernacle in the days of the exodus. A second parallel can be drawn with the mention of the cherubim being stationed east of the garden to guard it (cf. Genesis 3:24). The east was the entrance to the garden, comparatively, so the tabernacle and the Jerusalem temple were entered from the east. As well, cherubim were on the top of the tabernacle, forming the throne of God in the inner sanctuary (cf. Exodus 25:18-22). Further, two cherubim guarded the inner sanctuary of the temple (cf. 1 Kings 6:23-28).
This brings us to Adam and his duty to till (‘abad) and keep (shamar) the garden. These words are better translated, “to serve” and “to guard.” These two Hebrew words are only used together elsewhere in Scripture to describe the duties of the Levites. In Numbers 3:7-8 and Numbers 8:26 the Lord gives the Levites the authority to minister in the tabernacle.
There are some other parallels that help us understand that Adam is the high priest of humanity. As Aaron was clothed at God’s command, so too Adam is clothed with garments by God (Genesis 3:21; Exodus 28:42; Deuteronomy 23:13-14). The high priests garments were arrayed with gold and onyx; so too is there mention of gold and onyx in Eden (Genesis 2:11-12; Exodus 25:7). As Aaron cannot draw near to God with his nakedness exposed, so too, after the fall Adam cannot draw near to God with his nakedness exposed (Genesis 3:10; Exodus 20:26, 28:42).
Adam was to fulfill the duties of a priest, which are to minister in the sanctuary and what all priests do: offer sacrifice. He must guard (shamar) the garden; this implies that there must be something to guard it from. This leads us to the question of what Adam is called to sacrifice.
When the serpent enters the garden, i.e. the sanctuary, we have a good idea of what he is supposed to be guarding against, namely Satan, sin and death. Now, most of all, he is to attend to his priestly duties. The “gifts and sacrifices” Adam is called to offer is none other that the gift and sacrifice of his very self, for his bride, so as to save her from Satan, sin and death. This is made most clear when we consider what Jesus, the new Adam, did (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45). He offered the gift and sacrifice of himself for his bride, the church, so as to save her from Satan, sin and death. Unfortunately, Adam stands by silently as his bride deals with the life-threatening serpent, and we have been affected by the consequences ever since.
In the next column I will address the priesthood leading up to Aaron and the Levites.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders - Catechism of the Catholic Church

Second Edition
Part Two
The Celebration of the Christian Mystery Section Two
The Seven Sacraments of the Church



1536 Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.

(On the institution and mission of the apostolic ministry by Christ, see above, no. 874 ff. Here only the sacramental means by which this ministry is handed on will be treated.)


1537 The word order in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. Ordinatio means incorporation into an ordo . In the Church there are established bodies which Tradition, not without a basis in Sacred Scripture, 4 has since ancient times called taxeis (Greek) or ordines . And so the liturgy speaks of the ordo episcoporum , the ordo presbyterorum , the ordo diaconorum . Other groups also receive this name of ordo: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows,. . . .

1538 Integration into one of these bodies in the Church was accomplished by a rite called ordinatio , a religious and liturgical act which was a consecration, a blessing or a sacrament. Today the word " ordination " is reserved for the sacramental act which integrates a man into the order of bishops, presbyters, or deacons, and goes beyond a simple election, designation, delegation, or institution by the community, for it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a "sacred power" ( sacra potestas ) 5 which can come only from Christ himself through his Church. Ordination is also called consecratio , for it is a setting apart and an investiture by Christ himself for his Church. The laying on of hands by the bishop, with the consecratory prayer, constitutes the visible sign of this ordination.


The priesthood of the Old Covenant

1539 The chosen people was constituted by God as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." 6 But within the people of Israel, God chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service; God himself is its inheritance. 7 A special rite consecrated the beginnings of the priesthood of the Old Covenant. The priests are "appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins." 8

1540 Instituted to proclaim the Word of God and to restore communion with God by sacrifices and prayer, 9 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. 10

1541 The liturgy of the Church, however, sees in the priesthood of Aaron and the service of the Levites, as in the institution of the seventy elders, 11 a prefiguring of the ordained ministry of the New Covenant. Thus in the Latin Rite the Church prays in the consecratory preface of the ordination of bishops:

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . .
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. . . . 12

1542 At the ordination of priests, the Church prays:

Lord, holy Father, . . .
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. . . .

you extended the spirit of Moses to seventy wise men. . . .
You shared among the sons of Aaron
the fullness of their father's power. 13

1543 In the consecratory prayer for ordination of deacons, the Church confesses:

Almighty God . . .,
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. 14

The one priesthood of Christ

1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the "one mediator between God and men." 15 The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, "priest of God Most High," as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique "high priest after the order of Melchizedek"; 16 "holy, blameless, unstained," 17 "by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified," 18 that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.

1545 The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ's priesthood: "Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers." 19

Two participations in the one priesthood of Christ

1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church "a kingdom, priests for his God and Father." 20 The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ's mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are "consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood." 21

1547 The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, "each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ." While being "ordered one to another," they differ essentially. 22 In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace --a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit--, the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.

In the person of Christ the Head . . .

1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis : 23

It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi) . 24

Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ. 25

1549 Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers. 26 In the beautiful expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop is typos tou Patros : he is like the living image of God the Father. 27

1550 This presence of Christ in the minister is not to be understood as if the latter were preserved from all human weaknesses, the spirit of domination, error, even sin. The power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While this guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that even the minister's sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church.

1551 This priesthood is ministerial. "That office . . . which the Lord committed to the pastors of his people, is in the strict sense of the term a service ." 28 It is entirely related to Christ and to men. It depends entirely on Christ and on his unique priesthood; it has been instituted for the good of men and the communion of the Church. The sacrament of Holy Orders communicates a "sacred power" which is none other than that of Christ. The exercise of this authority must therefore be measured against the model of Christ, who by love made himself the least and the servant of all. 29 "The Lord said clearly that concern for his flock was proof of love for him." 30

. . . "in the name of the whole Church"

1552 The ministerial priesthood has the task not only of representing Christ - Head of the Church - before the assembly of the faithful, but also of acting in the name of the whole Church when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice. 31

1553 "In the name of the whole Church" does not mean that priests are the delegates of the community. The prayer and offering of the Church are inseparable from the prayer and offering of Christ, her head; it is always the case that Christ worships in and through his Church. The whole Church, the Body of Christ, prays and offers herself "through him, with him, in him," in the unity of the Holy Spirit, to God the Father. The whole Body, caput et membra , prays and offers itself, and therefore those who in the Body are especially his ministers are called ministers not only of Christ, but also of the Church. It is because the ministerial priesthood represents Christ that it can represent the Church.


1554 "The divinely instituted ecclesiastical ministry is exercised in different degrees by those who even from ancient times have been called bishops, priests, and deacons." 32 Catholic doctrine, expressed in the liturgy, the Magisterium, and the constant practice of the Church, recognizes that there are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyterate . The diaconate is intended to help and serve them. For this reason the term sacerdos in current usage denotes bishops and priests but not deacons. Yet Catholic doctrine teaches that the degrees of priestly participation (episcopate and presbyterate) and the degree of service (diaconate) are all three conferred by a sacramental act called "ordination," that is, by the sacrament of Holy Orders:

Let everyone revere the deacons as Jesus Christ, the bishop as the image of the Father, and the presbyters as the senate of God and the assembly of the apostles. For without them one cannot speak of the Church. 33

Episcopal ordination - fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders

1555 "Amongst those various offices which have been exercised in the Church from the earliest times the chief place, according to the witness of tradition, is held by the function of those who, through their appointment to the dignity and responsibility of bishop, and in virtue consequently of the unbroken succession going back to the beginning, are regarded as transmitters of the apostolic line." 34

1556 To fulfill their exalted mission, "the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day through episcopal consecration." 35

1557 The Second Vatican Council "teaches . . . that the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by episcopal consecration, that fullness namely which, both in the liturgical tradition of the Church and the language of the Fathers of the Church, is called the high priesthood, the acme ( summa ) of the sacred ministry." 36

1558 "Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling. . . . In fact . . . by the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is impressed in such wise that bishops, in an eminent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative ( in Eius persona agant )." 37 "By virtue, therefore, of the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith and have been made pontiffs and pastors." 38

1559 "One is constituted a member of the episcopal body in virtue of the sacramental consecration and by the hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college." 39 The character and collegial nature of the episcopal order are evidenced among other ways by the Church's ancient practice which calls for several bishops to participate in the consecration of a new bishop. 40 In our day, the lawful ordination of a bishop requires a special intervention of the Bishop of Rome, because he is the supreme visible bond of the communion of the particular Churches in the one Church and the guarantor of their freedom.

1560 As Christ's vicar, each bishop has the pastoral care of the particular Church entrusted to him, but at the same time he bears collegially with all his brothers in the episcopacy the solicitude for all the Churches : "Though each bishop is the lawful pastor only of the portion of the flock entrusted to his care, as a legitimate successor of the apostles he is, by divine institution and precept, responsible with the other bishops for the apostolic mission of the Church." 41

1561 The above considerations explain why the Eucharist celebrated by the bishop has a quite special significance as an expression of the Church gathered around the altar, with the one who represents Christ, the Good Shepherd and Head of his Church, presiding. 42

The ordination of priests - co-workers of the bishops

1562 "Christ, whom the Father hallowed and sent into the world, has, through his apostles, made their successors, the bishops namely, sharers in his consecration and mission; and these, in their turn, duly entrusted in varying degrees various members of the Church with the office of their ministry." 43 "The function of the bishops' ministry was handed over in a subordinate degree to priests so that they might be appointed in the order of the priesthood and be co-workers of the episcopal order for the proper fulfillment of the apostolic mission that had been entrusted to it by Christ." 44

1563 "Because it is joined with the episcopal order the office of priests shares in the authority by which Christ himself builds up and sanctifies and rules his Body. Hence the priesthood of priests, while presupposing the sacraments of initiation, is nevertheless conferred by its own particular sacrament. Through that sacrament priests by the anointing of the Holy Spirit are signed with a special character and so are configured to Christ the priest in such a way that they are able to act in the person of Christ the head." 45

1564 "Whilst not having the supreme degree of the pontifical office, and notwithstanding the fact that they depend on the bishops in the exercise of their own proper power, the priests are for all that associated with them by reason of their sacerdotal dignity; and in virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, after the image of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest, they are consecrated in order to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful as well as to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament ." 46

1565 Through the sacrament of Holy Orders priests share in the universal dimensions of the mission that Christ entrusted to the apostles. The spiritual gift they have received in ordination prepares them, not for a limited and restricted mission, "but for the fullest, in fact the universal mission of salvation 'to the end of the earth,"' 47 "prepared in spirit to preach the Gospel everywhere." 48

1566 "It is in the Eucharistic cult or in the Eucharistic assembly of the faithful ( synaxis ) that they exercise in a supreme degree their sacred office; there, acting in the person of Christ and proclaiming his mystery, they unite the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice of the New Testament, that namely of Christ offering himself once for all a spotless victim to the Father." 49 From this unique sacrifice their whole priestly ministry draws its strength. 50

1567 "The priests, prudent cooperators of the episcopal college and its support and instrument, called to the service of the People of God, constitute, together with their bishop, a unique sacerdotal college ( presbyterium ) dedicated, it is, true to a variety of distinct duties. In each local assembly of the faithful they represent, in a certain sense, the bishop, with whom they are associated in all trust and generosity; in part they take upon themselves his duties and solicitude and in their daily toils discharge them." 51 priests can exercise their ministry only in dependence on the bishop and in communion with him. The promise of obedience they make to the bishop at the moment of ordination and the kiss of peace from him at the end of the ordination liturgy mean that the bishop considers them his co-workers, his sons, his brothers and his friends, and that they in return owe him love and obedience.

1568 "All priests, who are constituted in the order of priesthood by the sacrament of Order, are bound together by an intimate sacramental brotherhood, but in a special way they form one priestly body in the diocese to which they are attached under their own bishop. . . ." 52 The unity of the presbyterium finds liturgical expression in the custom of the presbyters' imposing hands, after the bishop, during the Ate of ordination.

The ordination of deacons - "in order to serve"

1569 "At a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands 'not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry."' 53 At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon's special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his "diakonia." 54

1570 Deacons share in Christ's mission and grace in a special way. 55 The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint ("character") which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the "deacon" or servant of all. 56 Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity. 57

1571 Since the Second Vatican Council the Latin Church has restored the diaconate "as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy," 58 while the Churches of the East had always maintained it. This permanent diaconate, which can be conferred on married men, constitutes an important enrichment for the Church's mission. Indeed it is appropriate and useful that men who carry out a truly diaconal ministry in the Church, whether in its liturgical and pastoral life or whether in its social and charitable works, should "be strengthened by the imposition of hands which has come down from the apostles. They would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate." 59


1572 Given the importance that the ordination of a bishop, a priest, or a deacon has for the life of the particular Church, its celebration calls for as many of the faithful as possible to take part. It should take place preferably on Sunday, in the cathedral, with solemnity appropriate to the occasion. All three ordinations, of the bishop, of the priest, and of the deacon, follow the same movement. Their proper place is within the Eucharistic liturgy.

1573 The essential rite of the sacrament of Holy Orders for all three degrees consists in the bishop's imposition of hands on the head of the ordinand and in the bishop's specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry to which the candidate is being ordained. 60

1574 As in all the sacraments additional rites surround the celebration. Varying greatly among the different liturgical traditions, these rites have in common the expression of the multiple aspects of sacramental grace. Thus in the Latin Church, the initial rites - presentation and election of the ordinand, instruction by the bishop, examination of the candidate, litany of the saints - attest that the choice of the candidate is made in keeping with the practice of the Church and prepare for the solemn act of consecration, after which several rites symbolically express and complete the mystery accomplished: for bishop and priest, an anointing with holy chrism, a sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who makes their ministry fruitful; giving the book of the Gospels, the ring, the miter, and the crosier to the bishop as the sign of his apostolic mission to proclaim the Word of God, of his fidelity to the Church, the bride of Christ, and his office as shepherd of the Lord's flock; presentation to the priest of the paten and chalice, "the offering of the holy people" which he is called to present to God; giving the book of the Gospels to the deacon who has just received the mission to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.


1575 Christ himself chose the apostles and gave them a share in his mission and authority. Raised to the Father's right hand, he has not forsaken his flock but he keeps it under his constant protection through the apostles, and guides it still through these same pastors who continue his work today. 61 Thus, it is Christ whose gift it is that some be apostles, others pastors. He continues to act through the bishops. 62

1576 Since the sacrament of Holy Orders is the sacrament of the apostolic ministry, it is for the bishops as the successors of the apostles to hand on the "gift of the Spirit," 63 the "apostolic line." 64 Validly ordained bishops, i.e., those who are in the line of apostolic succession, validly confer the three degrees of the sacrament of Holy Orders. 65


1577 "Only a baptized man ( vir ) validly receives sacred ordination." 66 The Lord Jesus chose men ( viri ) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. 67 The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ's return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. 68

1578 No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God. 69 Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God's call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.

1579 All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." 70 Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to "the affairs of the Lord," 71 they give themselves entirely to God and to men. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God. 72

1580 In the Eastern Churches a different discipline has been in force for many centuries: while bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests. This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities. 73 Moreover, priestly celibacy is held in great honor in the Eastern Churches and many priests have freely chosen it for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In the East as in the West a man who has already received the sacrament of Holy Orders can no longer marry.


The indelible character

1581 This sacrament configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ's instrument for his Church. By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of priest, prophet, and king.

1582 As in the case of Baptism and Confirmation this share in Christ's office is granted once for all. The sacrament of Holy Orders, like the other two, confers an indelible spiritual character and cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily. 74

1583 It is true that someone validly ordained can, for grave reasons, be discharged from the obligations and functions linked to ordination, or can be forbidden to exercise them; but he cannot become a layman again in the strict sense, 75 because the character imprinted by ordination is for ever. The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently.

1584 Since it is ultimately Christ who acts and effects salvation through the ordained minister, the unworthiness of the latter does not prevent Christ from acting. 76 St. Augustine states this forcefully:

As for the proud minister, he is to be ranked with the devil. Christ's gift is not thereby profaned: what flows through him keeps its purity, and what passes through him remains dear and reaches the fertile earth. . . . The spiritual power of the sacrament is indeed comparable to light: those to be enlightened receive it in its purity, and if it should pass through defiled beings, it is not itself defiled. 77

The grace of the Holy Spirit

1585 The grace of the Holy Spirit proper to this sacrament is configuration to Christ as Priest, Teacher, and Pastor, of whom the ordained is made a minister.

1586 For the bishop, this is first of all a grace of strength ("the governing spirit": Prayer of Episcopal Consecration in the Latin rite): 78 the grace to guide and defend his Church with strength and prudence as a father and pastor, with gratuitous love for all and a preferential love for the poor, the sick, and the needy. This grace impels him to proclaim the Gospel to all, to be the model for his flock, to go before it on the way of sanctification by identifying himself in the Eucharist with Christ the priest and victim, not fearing to give his life for his sheep:

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 from 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. . . . 79

1587 The spiritual gift conferred by presbyteral ordination is expressed by this prayer of the Byzantine Rite. The bishop, while laying on his hand, says among other things:

Lord, fill with the gift of the Holy Spirit
him whom you have deigned to raise to the rank of the priesthood,
that he may be worthy to stand without reproach before your altar
to proclaim the Gospel of your kingdom,
to fulfill the ministry of your word of truth,
to offer you spiritual gifts and sacrifices,
to renew your people by the bath of rebirth;
so that he may go out to meet
our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, your only Son,
on the day of his second coming,
and may receive from your vast goodness
the recompense for a faithful administration of his order. 80

1588 With regard to deacons, "strengthened by sacramental grace they are dedicated to the People of God, in conjunction with the bishop and his body of priests, in the service ( diakonia ) of the liturgy, of the Gospel, and of works of charity." 81

1589 Before the grandeur of the priestly grace and office, the holy doctors felt an urgent call to conversion in order to conform their whole lives to him whose sacrament had made them ministers. Thus St. Gregory of Nazianzus, as a very young priest, exclaimed:

We must begin by purifying ourselves before purifying others; we must be instructed to be able to instruct, become light to illuminate, draw close to God to bring him close to others, be sanctified to sanctify, lead by the hand and counsel prudently. I know whose ministers we are, where we find ourselves and to where we strive. I know God's greatness and man's weakness, but also his potential. [Who then is the priest? He is] the defender of truth, who stands with angels, gives glory with archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the altar on high, shares Christ's priesthood, refashions creation, restores it in God's image, recreates it for the world on high and, even greater, is divinized and divinizes. 82 And the holy Cure of Ars: "The priest continues the work of redemption on earth. . . . If we really understood the priest on earth, we would die not of fright but of love. . . . The Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus." 83


1590 St. Paul said to his disciple Timothy: "I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands" ( 2 Tim 1:6), and "If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task." ( 1 Tim 3:1) To Titus he said: "This is why I left you in Crete, that you amend what was defective, and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you" ( Titus 1:5).

1591 The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the "common priesthood of the faithful." Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community.

1592 The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching ( munus docendi ), divine worship ( munus liturgicum ) and pastoral governance ( munus regendi ).

1593 Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred and exercised in three degrees: that of bishops, that of presbyters, and that of deacons. The ministries conferred by ordination are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church: without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trall . 3,1).

1594 The bishop receives the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, which integrates him into the episcopal college and makes him the visible head of the particular Church entrusted to him. As successors of the apostles and members of the college, the bishops share in the apostolic responsibility and mission of the whole Church under the authority of the Pope, successor of St. Peter.

1595 Priests are united with the bishops in sacerdotal dignity and at the same time depend on them in the exercise of their pastoral functions; they are called to be the bishops' prudent co-workers. They form around their bishop the presbyterium which bears responsibility with him for the particular Church. They receive from the bishop the charge of a parish community or a determinate ecclesial office.

1596 Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop.

1597 The sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by the laying on of hands followed by a solemn prayer of consecration asking God to grant the ordinand the graces of the Holy Spirit required for his ministry. Ordination imprints an indelible sacramental character.

1598 The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men ( viri ), whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.

1599 In the Latin Church the sacrament of Holy Orders for the presbyterate is normally conferred only on candidates who are ready to embrace celibacy freely and who publicly manifest their intention of staying celibate for the love of God's kingdom and the service of men.

1600 It is bishops who confer the sacrament of Holy Orders in the three degrees.

4 Cf. Heb 5:6; 7:11; Ps 110:4.
5 Cf. LG 10.
6 Ex 19:6; cf. Isa 61:6.
7 Cf. Num 1:48-53; Josh 13:33.
8 Heb 5:1; cf. Ex 29:1-30; Lev 8.
9 Cf. Mal 2:7-9.
10 Cf. Heb 5:3; 7:27; 101-4.
11 Cf. Num 11:24-25.
12 Roman Pontifical , Ordination of Bishops 26, Prayer of Consecration.
13 Roman Pontifical , Ordination of Priests 22, Prayer of Consecration.
14 Roman Pontifical , Ordination of Deacons 21, Prayer of Consecration.
15 2 Tim 2:5.
16 Heb 5:10; cf. 6:20; Gen 14:18.
17 Heb 7:26.
18 Heb 10:14.
19 St. Thomas Aquinas, Hebr. 8,4.
20 Rev 1:6; cf. Rev 5:9-10; 1 Pet 2:5,9.
21 LG 10 § 1.
22 LG 10 § 2.
23 Cf. LG 10; 28; SC 33; CD 11; PO 2; 6.
24 Pius XII, encyclical, Mediator Dei : AAS, 39 (1947) 548.
25 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,22,4c.
26 Cf. LG 21.
27 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trall. 3,1:SCh 10,96; cf. Ad Magn. 6,1:SCh 10,82-84.
28 LG 24.
29 Cf. Mk 10:43-45; 1 Pet 5:3.
30 St. John Chrysostom, De sac. 2, 4:PG 48, 636; cf. Jn 21:15-17.
31 Cf. SC 33N; LG 10.
32 LG 28.
33 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trall. 3,1:SCh 10,96.
34 LG 20.
35 LG 21; cf. Acts 1:8; 24; Jn 20:22-23; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6-7.
36 LG 21 § 2.
37 LG 21.
38 CD 2 § 2.
39 LG 22.
40 Cf. LG 22.
41 Pius XII, Fidei donum : AAS 49 (1957) 237; cf. LG 23; CD 4; 36; 37; AG 5; 6; 38.
42 Cf. SC 41; LG 26.
43 LG 28; cf. Jn 10:36.
44 PO 2 § 2.
45 PO 2.
46 LG 28 cf. Heb 5:1-10; 7:24; 9:11-28; Innocent I, Epist. ad Decentium :PL 20,554A; St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 2,22:PG 35,432B.
47 PO 10; OT 20; cf. Acts 1:8.
48 OT 20.
49 LG 28; cf. 1 Cor 11:26.
50 Cf. PO 2.
51 LG 28 § 2.
52 PO 8.
53 LG 29; cf. CD 15.
54 Cf. St. Hippolytus, Trad. ap . 8:SCh 11,58-62.
55 Cf. LG 41; AA 16.
56 Cf. Mk 10:45; Lk 22:27; St. Polycarp, Ad Phil. 5,2:SCh 10,182.
57 Cf. LG 29; SC 35 § 4; AG 16.
58 LG 29 § 2.
59 AG 16 § 6.
60 Cf. Pius XII, apostolic constitution, Sacramentum Ordinis : DS 3858.
61 Cf. Roman Missal , Preface of the Apostles I.
62 Cf. LG 21; Eph 4:11.
63 LG 21 § 2.
64 LG 20.
65 Cf. DS 794 and Cf. DS 802; CIC, can. 1012; CCEO, can. 744; 747.
66 CIC, can. 1024.
67 Cf. Mk 3:14-19; Lk 6:12-16; 1 Tim 3:1-13; 2 Tim 1:6; Titus 1:5-9; St. Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. 42,4; 44,3:PG 1,292-293; 300.
68 Cf. John Paul II, MD 26-27; CDF, declaration, Inter insigniores : AAS 69 (1977) 98-116.
69 Cf. Heb 5:4.
70 Mt 19:12.
71 1 Cor 7:32.
72 Cf. PO 16.
73 Cf. PO 16.
74 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1767; LG 21; 28; 29; PO 2.
75 Cf. CIC, cann. 290-293; 1336 § 1 3 o , 5 o , 1338 § 2; Council of Trent: DS 1774.
76 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1612; DS 1154.
77 St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 5,15:PL 35,1422.
78 Cf. Roman Pontifical , Ordination of Bishops 26, Prayer of Consecration; cf. 13; 16.
79 Roman Pontifical , Ordination of Bishops 26, Prayer of Consecration; cf. St. Hippolytus, Trad. ap. 3:SCh ll,44-46.
80 Byzantine Liturgy, Euchologion .
81 LG 29.
82 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 2,71,74,73:PG 35,480-481.
83 St. John Vianney, quoted in B. Nodet, Jean-Marie Vianney , Curé d' Ars, 100.