Friday, August 31, 2018

The Seven Sacraments and Their Liturgies, Part 9: The reception of converts

Previous parts in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the Sacraments
Part 2: Baptism
Part 3: Confirmation
Part 4: Eucharist
Part 4.1: De Defectibus
Part 5: Penance
Part 6: Extreme Unction
Part 7: Marriage
Part 8: Holy Orders

At the Great Commission, Jesus commanded his apostles to preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:16‑20, Mark 16:14‑18, Luke 24:44‑49, John 20:19‑23, Acts 1:4‑8). The Catholic Church over its history has quite literally preached the Gospel to all nations. There are Catholic parishes in every country in the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Receiving new members into the Church has always been a crucial part of her mission. After Emperor Constantine the Great legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church spread quickly throughout Europe. People were converting en masse to Catholicism. On Easter, AD 404, in Constantinople, three thousand people were received into the Church. Anytime someone converts to the Catholic Church, there is rejoicing in heaven, just as the prodigal son's father rejoiced when his son returned home (Luke 15:11‑32).

To be fully received into the Catholic Church, converts must receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. These are hence known as the sacraments of Christian initiation. However, recall from part two of this series that anyone is a valid minister of Baptism. So long as they use water and the form, “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” the person is validly baptized. This means that most Protestant Baptisms are valid. Baptism also cannot be repeated. Thus, there are three possible cases.
  1. The convert has never been baptized. This is the case with converts from atheism, Judaism, Islam, and paganry. In this case, the convert is known as a catechumen. He receives all three sacraments of Christian initiation.
  2. The convert has certainly been validly baptized. This is the case with most converts from Protestantism. It was the case when I was received into the Church. In this case, the convert, known as a candidate, is not baptized again. Rather, he makes a formal profession of faith and then receives the sacraments of Penance, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist.
  3. There is doubt as to whether or not the convert has been validly baptized. This is the case with some converts from Protestantism, as well as converts from the Jehovah's Witnesses and similar sects. The convert might have been baptized, but it might not have been valid due to a defect of form or matter. Like in the first case, the convert is called a catechumen. He receives conditional Baptism, which has all of the same ceremonies as a regular Baptism, except that the priest says, “If thou art not baptized, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The conditional Baptism is followed by the profession of faith and the sacraments of Penance, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist.

In all three cases, the convert must be carefully examined, instructed in the faith, and prepared intellectually and spiritually to become Catholic. For catechumens, this period of preparation is called the catechumenate. In ancient times, the catechumenate would last a long time, as long as two or three years, to make sure that the individual was well prepared to be a strong and faithful member of the Catholic Church. The long catechumenate was also partially due to fear of persecution and a resulting hesitancy in accepting new members. Today, the catechumenate is not quite as long, but catechumens and candidates still need to be instructed in the faith. The pastor of a parish is responsible for ensuring that converts are properly instructed.

The traditional time for catechumens to be baptized and received into the Catholic Church is the Easter Vigil. Since the time of the early Christians, the Easter Vigil has been celebrated on Holy Saturday as a preparation for the greatest feast of the year. Easter is an appropriate time to celebrate Baptism, because through Baptism, we partake in the Lord's Resurrection (Romans 6:3‑6). For this reason, the Baptism of catechumens is an important part of the Easter Vigil. In addition, until 1955, the Pentecost Vigil on the Saturday before the Day of Pentecost was celebrated in a similar manner to the Easter Vigil. Catechumens who were not baptized at the Easter Vigil could be baptized at the Pentecost Vigil. Today, it is permissible to receive catechumens into the Church whenever they are ready, but the Easter Vigil and Pentecost Vigil are still particularly appropriate times to do so.

Baptism of an adult

The ceremony of Baptism for an adult is a long and beautiful one, divided into seven parts. These seven parts may be done on seven separate occasions, in imitation of the ancient catechumenate, but this is not commonly done. If it is impractical to carry out the entire ceremony, it is permissible to use the shorter ceremony for Baptism of infants instead. When catechumens are received into the Church at the Easter Vigil or Pentecost Vigil, the whole of the ceremony up until the priest and catechumen enter the baptistery is usually done earlier in the day, before the vigil. The priest wears the surplice, violet stole, and violet cope. At least one godparent is present for the catechumen. (For the sake of brevity, I will not provide all of the texts of the ceremony. You can find the English text of the ceremony here.)

Part one
To begin the ceremony, the catechumen stands outside the church, because he is not yet admitted into the Church. The first of the seven parts is the spiritual preparation of both the priest and the catechumen. First, the priest kneels before the altar to spiritually prepare himself to carry out so great a ritual. He does so by singing psalms, almost like a little hour of the Divine Office. Thus, the Church sanctifies this rite by imitating the form of her great sacrifice of praise, the Divine Office. Like at each hour of the Divine Office, the priest opens with Psalm 69:2 (“O God, come to my assistance.”) and the Gloria Patri. For an antiphon, he sings Ezekiel 36:25, which is a foreshadowing of the sacrament of Baptism.

Effundam super vos aquam mundam, et mundabimini ab omnibus inquinamentis vestris, dicit Dominus. I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, says the Lord.

Also in Ezekiel 36:25 but not included in this antiphon, God says, “I will cleanse you from all your idols.” The priest then sings Psalms 8, 28, and 41. These three psalms do not appear together in the Divine Office; they are assembled solely for this rite. Psalm 8 is a psalm of praise to God for his work in creation, particularly in creating mankind in his own image. It begins, “O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth!” Psalm 28 also gives praise to the Lord, singing of the mighty works done by his voice. Finally, Psalm 41 describes the soul's longing for God. It begins, “As the hart panteth after the fountains of water; so my soul panteth after thee, O God.” After repeating the antiphon, the priest sings a couple prayers for the catechumen in the form of the preces of the Divine Office.

Once the priest is spiritually prepared through this imitation of the Divine Office, he goes to the entrance of the church to meet the catechumen. Like in the rite of Baptism of children, which we described in part 2 of this series, the priest asks the catechumen's name, what he asks of the Church (faith), and what faith offers him (eternal life). The priest then admonishes the catechumen, instructing him on the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave in Matthew 22:36‑40to love God and to love your neighboras well as on the Holy Trinity.

The catechumen then renounces Satan, all his works, and all his pomps, and publicly professes his faith in God by declaring, “Credo” (“I believe”), three times. This renunciation of Satan and profession of faith is done again later in the ceremony, at the same place where it is done in the Baptism of children, but for adult catechumens, before they can even be admitted into the Church, the priest must be sure that they are spiritual prepared.

As in the Baptism of children, the priest breathes on the catechumen as Christ did to the apostles after his Resurrection, praying that the Holy Spirit may come upon the catechumen and drive away any evil spirits. Next, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross on the catechumen's forehead and breast, with the same prayer used in the Baptism of children, adding, “Having entered into the Church of God, be happy in knowing that you have escaped the snares of death.”

Now that he has made the decision to enter God's holy Church and has spiritually prepared himself, the catechumen formally and publicly renounces whatever other religion he may have adhered to in his past life. The Roman Ritual provides different forms depending on if he was previously a pagan or idolater, a Jew, a Muslim, or a heretic. The priest commands the catechumen to reject his past errors and commands him to worship only the one true God.

Several prayers are then offered for the catechumen. The first prays for God to show him the way of truth.

Orémus.
Te déprecor, Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus: ut huic fámulo tuo N. qui in hujus sǽculi nocte vagátur incértus, ac dúbius, viam veritátis et agnitiónis tuæ júbeas demonstrári: quátenus, reserátis óculis cordis sui, te unum Deum Patrem in Fílio, et Fílium in Patre cum Spíritu Sancto recognóscat, atque hujus confessiónis fructum, et hic, et in futúro sǽculo percípere mereátur. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
Amen.
Let us pray.
I entreat you, blessed Lord and Father, almighty and everlasting God, to point out the way of truth and godly knowledge to these servants of yours who wander in uncertainty and doubt in the darkness of this world. Open their inner sight, the better to see you as the one God, the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father, in union with the Holy Spirit. May it be their good fortune to enjoy the fruit of this avowal both now and forevermore; through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

After this prayer, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross on the catechumen's forehead, ears, eyes, nostrils, mouth, breast, and shoulders, and then thrice over his whole body, praying that each part of his body may be filled with the love of God and do his will. The priest closes this first part of the ceremony with three more prayers. The first prays for God's protection over the catechumen. The second prays for the catechumen to be reborn into the New Covenant as part of God's chosen people. Finally, the priest lays his hand on the catechumen while saying the third prayer, which prays for the catechumen's freedom from all evil.

Part two
This leads into the second part of the ceremony, which is the ancient ceremony of tasting salt. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus tells his followers, “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt represents divine wisdom and protection. At Baptism, the catechumen becomes part of the salt of the earth. If the salt is not already blessed, the priest blesses it and exorcises it with a special blessing. Then, if the catechumen is was previously a pagan or an atheist, the priest says a special prayer. This prayer is not said for converts from Judaism, Islam, or heresy.

Orémus.
Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus, qui es, qui eras, et qui pérmanes usque in finem, cujus orígo nescítur, nec finis comprehéndi potest: te súpplices invocámus super hunc fámulum tuum N., quem liberásti de erróre gentílium, et converstióne turpíssima: dignáre exaudíre eum, qui tibi cervíces suas humíliat ad lavácri fontem, ut, renátus ex aqua et Spíritu Sancto, exspoliátus véterem hóminem, índuat novum, qui secúndum te creátus est; accípiat vestem incorrúptam, et immaculátam, tibique Deo nostro servíre mereátur. Per Christum Dóminum nostum.
Amen.
Let us pray.
Holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, who is, who was, who ever shall be, whose beginning is unknown, whose end is inconceivable. We humbly implore you on behalf of these servants of yours whom you have freed from the shackles of error; graciously heed them as they bow low before you at the cleansing font where one is born over again by water and the Holy Spirit. May they put off the old man and put on the new man created in your image; may they receive the pure and spotless robe and thus become worthy of serving you, our God; through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The priest puts a pinch of salt in the catechumen's mouth, saying the same prayer as in the Baptism of children, before offering the greeting of the risen Christ: Peace to you (John 20:19). This is followed by a prayer similar to the one used in the Baptism of children, praying that the catechumen may be satisfied with the bread of heaven.

Parts three, four, and five
The third, fourth, and fifth parts of the ceremony are the three exorcisms. The exorcisms in the Baptism of adults are much stronger and more elaborate than those in the Baptism of children, because adults are much more likely to be possessed with demons, especially if they have been following a false religion for many years.

If both male and female catechumens are present, they are exorcised separately. Interestingly, the form of exorcism is different for men and women. To begin each exorcism, the priest commands the catechumen to kneel and say the Our Father. The Our Father is a powerful prayer against demons, because it consists of the sacred words of Jesus Christ himself. After the Our Father, the godparent and the priest both make the Sign of the Cross on the catechumen's forehead. In the first and second exorcisms, the priest first offers a prayer to almighty God, and then addresses the demons, casting them off in the name of Jesus. In the third exorcism, which is the same for men and women, the priest says two prayers addressed to the demons. In the exorcisms, the priest makes frequent Signs of the Cross, because the devil cannot tolerate the symbol of God's infinite love. After the three exorcisms, the priest lays his hand on the catechumen and says one more prayer, praying for God's blessing and mercy upon him.

Part six
Finally, after being examined and spiritually prepared, professing his faith, and being thrice exorcised from demons, the catechumen is brought into the church in the sixth part of the sacred ceremony. Once inside the church, he recites the Apostles' Creed and the Our Father, which are two of the most necessary prayers for every Catholic to know. They then proceed to the entrance of the baptistery, where the priest pronounces one final, solemn, and grave prayer of exorcism.

Nec te latet, sátana, imminére tibi pœnas, imminére tibi torménta, imminéri tibi diem judicii, diem supplícii sempitérni; diem, qui ventúrus est velut clíbanus ardens, in quo tibi, atque univérsis ángelis tuis præparátus sempitérnus erit intéritus. Proínde damnáte, atque damnánde, da honórem Deo vivo et vero, da honórem Jesu Christo Fílio ejus, da honórem Spíritui Sancto paráclito, in cujus nómine atque virtúte præcípio tibi, quicúmque es, spíritus immúnde, ut éxeas, et recédas ab hoc fámulo Dei N., quem hódie idem Deus et Dóminus noster Jesus Christus ad suam sanctam grátiam et benedictiónem, fontémque Baptísmatis dono vocáre dignátus est: ut fiat ejus tempulum per aquam regeneratiónis in remissiónem ómnium peccatórum. In nómine ejúsdem Dómini nostri Jesu Christi, qui ventúrus est judicáre vivos et mórtuos, et sǽculum per ignem.
Amen.
Surely it is no secret to you, Satan, that punishment is your lot, torments your portion, that the day of judgment threatens you, that day of never ending torture, the day that shall be like a flaming furnace, in the midst of which everlasting perdition awaits you and your apostate angels. Therefore, accursed one, deservedly doomed, pay homage to the living and true God, pay homage to Jesus Christ, his Son, and to the Holy Spirit, the Advocate. In his name and power I command you, unclean spirit whoever you are, begone and stay far away from this servant of God, N. For today Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, freely calls him to his holy grace and blessed way and to the waters of baptism, where he will become God's dwelling by the water of rebirth that gives full remission of sin We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.
Amen.

Just like in the Baptism of children, the priest takes some spittle and touches the catechumen's ears and nostrils, saying, “Ephpheta,” just as Jesus did in Mark 7:32‑35. After this, the catechumen once again makes the threefold renunciation of Satan, all his works, and all his pomps. The priest then anoints the him with the Oil of Catechumens before commanding evil spirits yet again to flee from the him. The anointing concludes the penultimate part of the ceremony.

Ego te linio Oleo salutis in Christo Iesu Domino nostro, ut habeas vitam æternam.
Amen.
Pax tibi.
Et cum spiritu tuo.
Exi, immúnde spíritus, et da honórem Deo vivo et vero. Fuge, immúnde spíritus, et da loco Jesu
Christo Fílio ejus. Recéde immúnde spíritus, et da locum Spíritui Sancto Paráclito.
I annoint you with the oil of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord, that you may have everlasting life.
Amen.
Peace to you.
And with your spirit.
Go out, unclean spirit, and pay homage to the living and true God. Depart, unclean spirit, and give place to Jesus Christ, his Son. Stay far away, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

Part seven
We now come to the seventh and final part, the Baptism itself. When catechumens are baptized at the Easter Vigil or the Pentecost Vigil, the preceding six steps may be done earlier in the day, with only the seventh part done during the vigil itself. The catechumen is brought into the baptistery. Like at the beginning of the ceremony, he is asked his name. He then professes his faith in Jesus Christ, saying, “Credo,” three times. Finally, the priest pours water on the catechumen's head or immerses him in water three times, pronouncing the essential form of the sacrament.

N., ego te baptízo in nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti.
Amen.
N., I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Amen.

If there is doubt as to whether or not the catechumen has been validly baptized before, the priest gives Baptism conditionally. All of the other ceremonies are identical.

N., si non es baptizátus, ego te baptízo in nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti.
Amen.
N., if thou art not baptized, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Amen.

After being baptized, the new Christian is immediately anointed with Sacred Chrism as a member of Christ's eternal priesthood.

Deus omnípotens, Pater Dómini nostri Jesu Christi, qui te regenerávit ex aqua et Spíritu Sancto, quique dedit tibi remissiónem ómnia peccatórum, ipse te líniat + Chrismáte salútis in eódem Christo Jesu Dómino nostro in vitam ætérnam.
Amen.
The almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has caused you to be born over again of water and the Holy Spirit and pardoned you all your sins. May he now anoint + you with the chrism that sanctifies in Christ Jesus our Lord, and bring you to everlasting life.
Amen.

The newly baptized is given a white garment and a candle, symbolizing the purity of Christ and the light of Christ, as in the Baptism of children. If the bishop is present, or if the priest has received permission from the bishop, the newly baptized immediately receives the perfection of the grace of Baptism through the sacrament of Confirmation. The rite for Confirmation is the same as for anyone else. Mass usually follows, at which the newly baptized completes his initiation into the mystical Body of Christ through the reception of his first Holy Communion.

Profession of faith for candidates already baptized

The case of a convert from Protestantism who has already been Baptized is entirely different in principle. He was once a Catholic, because the sacrament of Baptism made him so, but he has separated himself from the one true Church by following a heretical sect. Thus, it is only necessary for him to make a profession of faith, renounce his former errors, and be absolved of his sins through the sacrament of Penance. If there is doubt as to whether or not he has been validly baptized, he receives conditional Baptism, usually in private, either before or after the profession of faith. The candidate then kneels in front of the priest before the altar, places his hand on the Book of Gospels, and says the profession of faith. This profession of faith is called the Tridentine Creed. Just as the Nicene Creed was written at the First Council of Nicaea to renounce the Arian heresy, the Tridentine Creed was written at the Council of Trent to address the Protestant heresies. It begins with the Apostles' Creed, the basic statement of the Catholic faith. (The “Vatican General Council” mentioned in the last paragraph refers to the First Vatican Council, held between 1869 and 1870.)

I, N.N., __ years of age, born outside the Catholic Church, have held and believed errors contrary to her teaching. Now, enlightened by divine grace, I kneel before you, Reverend Father __, having before my eyes and touching with my hand the holy Gospels. And with firm faith I believe and profess each and all the articles contained in the Apostles' Creed, that is: 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 arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from there 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. Amen.


I firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all the other constitutions and ordinances of the Church.


I admit the Sacred Scriptures in the sense which has been held and is still held by Holy Mother Church, whose duty it is to judge the true sense and interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and I shall never accept or interpret them in a sense contrary to the unanimous consent of the fathers.


I profess that the sacraments of the New Law are truly and precisely seven in number, instituted for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessary for each individual: baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and matrimony. I profess that all confer grace, and that baptism, confirmation, and holy orders cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also accept and admit the ritual of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of all the aforementioned sacraments.


I accept and hold in each and every part all that has been defined and declared by the Sacred Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification. I profess that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, real, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist the Body and Blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is really, truly, and substantially present, and that there takes place in the Mass what the Church calls transubstantiation, which is the change of all the substance of bread into the Body of Christ and of all substance of wine into his Blood. I confess also that in receiving under either of these species one receives Jesus Christ whole and entire.


I firmly hold that Purgatory exists and that the souls detained there can be helped by the prayers of the faithful.


Likewise I hold that the saints, who reign with Jesus Christ, should be venerated and invoked, that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics are to be venerated.


I firmly profess that the images of Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God, ever a Virgin, as well as of all the saints should be given due honor and veneration. I also affirm that Jesus Christ left to the Church the faculty to grant indulgences, and that their use is most salutary to the Christian people. I recognize the holy, Roman, Catholic, and apostolic Church as the mother and teacher of all the churches, and I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ.


Moreover, without hesitation I accept and profess all that has been handed down, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and by the general councils, especially by the Sacred Council of Trent and by the Vatican General Council, and in special manner all that concerns the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. At the same time I condemn and reprove all that the Church has condemned and reproved. This same Catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, I now freely profess and I truly adhere to it. With the help of God, I promise and swear to maintain and profess this faith entirely, inviolately, and with firm constancy until the last breath of life. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and publicly professed by all who depend on me and over whom I shall have charge.


So help me God and these holy Gospels.

The priest then says either Psalm 50 or Psalm 129, concluding with the Gloria Patri. Both of these psalms are penitential in character. After a few more prayers, the priest gives absolution from any bond of excommunication that the candidate may have incurred as a result of his adherence to heretical sects.

Auctoritate Apostólica, qua fungor in hac parte, absólvo te a vínculo excommunicatiónis quam incurristi, et restítuo te sacrosánctis Ecclésiæ sacraméntis, communióni et unitáti fidélium, in nómine Patris +, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti. Amen. By the authority of the Holy See which I exercise here, I release you from the bond of excommunication which you have incurred; and I restore you to communion and union with the faithful, as well as to the holy sacraments of the Church; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The priest and candidate then go to the confessional, where the candidate makes his first confession, confessing of the sins he can remember having committed in his life. Once the priest has given absolution, the candidate is restored to God's sanctifying grace and is once again a full member of God's holy Church. If the bishop is present or the priest has permission, the candidate is then confirmed. Finally, he receives his first Holy Communion.

The reception of a convert is an exceedingly joyful occasion. Through Baptism, a catechumen is freed from all original sin and from any personal sin he may have committed, and he is given God's sanctifying grace for the first time. Through the profession of faith and the sacrament of Penance, a candidate is welcomed home into the holy Catholic Church and restored to God's good favor. Through Confirmation, a convert perfects the grace of his Baptism and becomes a full adult member of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Finally, through the reception of Holy Communion, a convert completes his reception into the Catholic Church by uniting himself completely with the most sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unbelievable amounts of grace are received through these sacraments.

In Matthew 20:1‑16, Jesus tells us that even the workers who came at the eleventh hour still got paid the full wages of the day. Thus, God joyfully welcomes every convert to his holy Church. For me personally, converting to Catholicism is the best and most life-changing decision I have ever made. It is the division between the “BC” and “AD” parts of my life, so to speak. For anyone thinking about converting, I can tell you firsthand that true, divine happiness is to be found in the Catholic Church and nowhere else.

New terms
  • sacraments of Christian initiation – The sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist, which converts must receive in order to be fully initiated members of the Church.
  • catechumen – A convert who is preparing to be baptized.
  • candidate – A convert who has already been baptized and is preparing to make the profession of faith and be confirmed.
  • conditional Baptism – Baptism using the words, “If thou art not baptized, I baptize thee...” used in cases where there is doubt as to whether or not a catechumen has been validly baptized.
  • catechumenate – A catechumen's period of instruction and preparation to be received into the Catholic Church.
  • Easter Vigil and Pentecost Vigil – Special ceremonies held the day before Easter and the day before Pentecost, which are the traditional times to receive catechumens into the Church.
  • Tridentine Creed – A long profession of faith written at the Council of Trent, specifically addressing the Protestant heresies, recited by candidates when they are received into the Church.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sex abuse scandal

Yesterday, we published an article on the sacrament of Holy Orders. In this sacrament, men are ordained to the sacred order of the priesthood. The Roman Pontifical, the book that contains the rites for ordinations to all of the minor and major orders, also includes the chilling rite of Degradatio ab ordine PresbyteratusDegradation from the Order of Priest. This rite is the opposite of ordination. It is for priests who have betrayed their vocation by committing serious crimes. Through this ceremony, such a man is cast off from the order of priest. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf wrote about the rite of degradation on his blog.

The ceremony is performed by a bishop in a public square, so that all may see. The priest being degraded is stripped of each order one by onefirst the order of bishop if applicable, then priest, deacon, subdeacon, acolyte, exorcist, lector, porter, and finally the first tonsure. The symbols of each order are taken away. His hands are scraped with a knife or piece of glass to remove the anointing. When the bishop performing the ceremony strips the degraded priest of his chasuble, he says (English translation by Fr. Zulhsdorf):

Veste Sacerdotali caritatem signante te merito expoliamus, quia ipsam, et omnem innocentiam exuisti. We rightly despoil you of the priestly garment signifying charity, because you already cast it off along with all innocence.

The degraded priest is then deprived of each of the lower orders in turn. Finally, his head is shaved to remove the first tonsure. At the end, the degraded priest, in layman's clothes, is handed over to the magistrate. Ordination makes an indelible mark on the soul, so the man will always be a priest, but he is henceforth prohibited from any exercise of his priestly ministry. He may not wear priestly vestments, offer the Mass, hear confessions, give blessings, or do anything else that priests do.

Sadly, this ceremony may be needed once again. It has recently come to light that many priests have used their anointed and consecrated hands, not to bless, sanctify or lead the faithful, but to hurt people. Hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania alone, and probably hundreds more around the world, have been credibly accused of sexually molesting children. The former apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (whom I had the privilege of meeting when he visited Spokane, Washington, in 2015), has even stated that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, was complicit in covering up the sexual abuse of children.

I would love for the ceremony of degradation to be revived and carried out for every single priest and bishop who has betrayed his ministry by abusing children or being complicit in the abuse of children. It should be televised around the world. At the very least, it would demonstrate the true horror of what they have done. Hopefully it would deter other priests from betraying their priesthood.

There are no words to describe how sorrowful and angry I am. These priests' actions are inexcusable. They were ordained to lead the people of God to heaven, but instead they hurt the people entrusted to them. They have not acted in the person of Christ, but in the person of Satan. Most importantly, we look up to priests, submit to their care, and even call them our father. These priests have destroyed this sacred relationship. People looked up to them, and they responded by harming them. People called them, “Father,” but they have been anything but fatherly. The sexual abuse of children is a horrific crime for anyone to commit, but it is especially horrific when committed by priests. It is an unmitigated betrayal of their vocations as priests. I have no respect for the priests who have committed these crimes.

I hope and pray that each of the priests and bishops who have committed or assisted these crimes repents of his sins and seeks God's mercy and forgiveness. God willing, he can repent before it is too late and avoid the eternal consequences of his actions. As our Lord prayed for those who crucified him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Furthermore, I hope that each of them is brought to civil justice and receives a just criminal sentence. The fact that they are priests and bishops in no way excuses them from criminal penalties.

Despite all of these terrible things, we must not lose hope. Jesus promised that the gates of hell could never overcome his Church. The Catholic Church is still the true Church of God, and the Catholic faith is still the divine and infallible truth. Some people have been so scandalized by this news that they have chosen to leave the Church. Although they are right to be disgusted, these events cannot change the divine nature of the Catholic Church. No matter what terrible sins humans may commit, they cannot destroy God's Church. The light of Christ will always prevail. “The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5). We must continue serving God in his Church, through the Mass and the Divine Office. The Church needs it now more than ever.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Seven Sacraments and Their Liturgies, Part 8: Holy Orders

Previous parts in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the Sacraments
Part 2: Baptism
Part 3: Confirmation
Part 4: Eucharist
Part 4.1: De Defectibus
Part 5: Penance
Part 6: Extreme Unction
Part 7: Marriage

The seventh and final sacrament is the sacrament of Holy Orders, in which a man is ordained to the sacred order of the priesthood. He is ordained to serve God's holy Church through the Mass, the Divine Office, and the sacraments, and to lead the faithful entrusted to his care to heaven. It is a tremendous and sacred responsibility, requiring incredible grace and strength of faith.

There are three degrees of the Holy Orders. First is the order of deacon. The sacred order of deacon (the “diaconate”) was prefigured by the Levites of the Old Covenant (Numbers 3:5‑13). After our Lord's Ascension, the apostles appointed men as deacons to assist them in the work of the Church (Acts 6:2‑7). Deacons assist priests and bishops in the management of the Church, sing the Gospel at Mass, pour wine into the chalice, care for the sacred vessels, visit the sick, and bring alms to the poor.

The second degree is the priesthood. The priesthood of the New Covenant was prefigured by Melchizedek. Melchizedek is a seemingly minor character in the Old Covenant who appears in Genesis 14:18-20, presenting bread and wine (foreshadowing the Mass) and declaring, “Blessed be Abram by the most high God.” In Psalm 109:4, King David sings, “Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.” In the New Testament, it is written in Hebrews 6:20, “Where the forerunner Jesus is entered for us, made a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.” Thus, Jesus is ordained by God as the eternal high priest.

In John 15:15, Jesus commissions the priesthood of the New Covenant, saying, “I will not now call you servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth. But I have called you friends: because all things whatsoever I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you.” The priests of the Catholic Church are ordained into this sacred priesthood to act in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) by making Jesus Christ's sacrifice present in the Mass. In addition to offering the Mass, priests are ordained to forgive sins, grant blessings, and lead a parish. Because of their role as a spiritual father to a parish, we address priests as “Father.”

The third and final degree of the Holy Orders is that of bishop. Bishops have the fullness of the Holy Orders and are the successors to the apostles. At the Great Commission, Jesus sends forth his apostles to continue his ministry, preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:16‑20, Mark 16:14‑18, Luke 24:44‑49, John 20:19‑23, Acts 1:4‑8). On the Day of Pentecost, the apostles received the Holy Ghost and with it the power to continue the ministry of the Catholic Church (Acts 2:1‑6). The bishops of the Church have the authority over the Church that Christ gave to the apostles. In addition to their temporal and spiritual authority, bishops alone have the power to ordain other men to the Holy Orders.

Since Jesus ordained the apostles as the first bishops, all deacons, priests, and bishops derive their authority from apostolic succession. Every priest is ordained by the laying on of hands by a bishop, who himself received laying on of hands from another bishop, who received laying on of hands from another bishop, and so on, in an unbroken chain all the way back to the apostles. In the second century, St. Irenaeus wrote, “Wherefore we must obey the priests of the Church who have succession from the Apostles” (Adversus Haereses IV, 26).

From the third century until 1972, men preparing to be priests, called seminarians, were ordained to a series of minor orders as part of their preparation. The minor orders are still observed by traditionalist groups such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Seminarians are required to be unmarried men. First, a man receives the first tonsure, in which he is admitted to the clerical state. The bishop cuts five locks of hair from his head in the form of a cross to symbolize giving up earthly treasures. As he continues his preparation for the priesthood over the next few years, a seminarian is ordained to each of the four minor orders.
  1. Porters, or doormen, have responsibility for the church building.
  2. Lectors are ordained to read the readings at the Mass and Divine Office, particularly the readings of Matins.
  3. Exorcists are ordained to grant simple blessings and expel demons.
  4. Finally, acolytes are the highest minor order, ordained to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by lighting and extinguishing the candles and presenting the cruets of water and wine.

The four minor orders are followed by the four major orders of subdeacon, deacon, priest, and bishop. Of these, only subdeacon is not part of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Subdeacons are ordained to assist deacons and priests by singing the Epistle at Mass, pouring water into the Chalice at the Offertory, and caring for the sacred vessels. Starting with their ordination to the subdiaconate, seminarians are obligated to offer the entire Divine Office every day. Along with receiving all of these orders, candidates to the priesthood must be taught and formed both spiritually and intellectually.

The essential matter of the sacrament of Holy Orders is the laying on of hands. The essential form is the prayer that the bishop says, investing the candidates with the sacred priesthood. The essential minister is a bishop. Since ancient times, deacons have been ordained by a bishop alone, priests have been ordained by a bishop along with other priests, and bishops have been ordained by many bishops. However, only one bishop is necessary for the validity of all three orders. The Holy Orders make an indelible mark on the soul and give a man the permanent character of a priest. Thus, like the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, each degree of the Holy Orders can only be received once in a lifetime.

Like the nuptial blessing of a newly married couple, ordinations to the Holy Orders are among the most solemn blessings, so they take place within the Holy Mass, between the Epistle and Gospel. The liturgies are found in the Roman Pontifical. There are separate ceremonies for ordinations of deacons, priests, and bishops. In this article, I will explain the ordination of a priest.

At the ordination ceremony, the bishop wears vestments proper to his office. Like at Confirmation, he wears the pontifical stockings and sandals, amice, alb, cincture, pectoral cross, maniple, and stole (straight down on both sides, not crossed). Since a bishop has the fullness of the Holy Orders, he wears a tunicle, dalmatic, and chasuble, the proper vestments of each of the major orders. On his hands he wears the pontifical gloves, gloves made of silk in the color of the day, with a cross embroidered on the back. On his head he wears the mitre, which represents the helmet of salvation and the office of bishop. Also among the people who take part in the ceremony is an archdeacon. Originally, the archdeacon was a senior administrative position in a diocese. Today, the rector of the seminary may serve as the archdeacon.

Mass begins as usual up until the Alleluia verse or Tract, which is stopped short of its final line. The archdeacon invites the candidates to come forward. Each candidate is called by name, just as God has called the candidate by name to be a priest. This is the candidate's vocationhis calling to the priesthood. Each candidate kneels before the altar, wearing amice, alb, cincture, maniple, and stole. Since he is still just a deacon, he wears the stole across his chest like a deacon. He carries a chasuble on his left arm and holds a lighted candle in his right hand. (B indicates what the bishop says or sings, and AD indicates what the archdeacon says or sings.)

AD Reverendissime pater, postulat sancta mater Ecclesia catholica, ut hos praesentes Diaconos ad onus Presbyterii ordinetis.
B Scis illos esse dignos?
AD Quantum humana fragilitas nosse sinit, et scio, et testificor ipsos dignos esse ad hujus onus officii.
B Deo gratias.
AD Most Reverend Father, our holy Mother, the Catholic Church, requests that you ordain the deacons here present to the office of the priesthood.
B Dost thou know them to be worthy?
AD As far as human frailty allows to know, I know and I testify that they are worthy of the charge of this office.
B Thanks be to God.

The bishop then addresses the faithful about the sacrament of Holy Orders. He compares priests to the captain of a ship, with the faithful as the passengers. Like the Banns of Marriage, the bishop admonishes the faithful to speak up if anyone knows a reason why the men should not be ordained. However, the bishop says that anyone making an objection should be mindful of his own condition before speaking against the clergy. This is similar to Jesus's admonition to remove the beam from our own eye before removing the speck from our neighbor's eye (Matthew 7:5).

Dearly beloved brethren, the captain of a ship as well as the passengers are in the same condition as to safety or danger. Their cause is common, therefore they ought to be of the same mind. Indeed, not without reason did the Fathers ordain that in the election of those who were to be employed in the service of the altar the people also should be consulted. For it happens here and there that, as to the life and conduct of a candidate, a few know what is unknown to the majority. Necessarily, also, people will render obedience more readily to the ordained if they have consented to his ordination. Now, with the help of the Lord, these deacons are to be ordained priests. As far as I can judge, their life has been of approved goodness and pleasing to God, and, in my opinion, merits for them promotion to a higher ecclesiastical honor. However, lest one or a few be mistaken in their judgment, or deceived by affection, we must hear the opinion of many. Therefore, whatsoever you know about their lives or character, whatsoever you think of their worthiness, freely make it known. Testify as to their fitness for the priesthood according to merit rather than according to affection. If anyone has anything against them, before God and for the sake of God let him confidently come forward and speak. However, let him be mindful of his condition.

If no objections are raised, the bishop proceeds to address the candidates about the seriousness of the sacrament they are about to receive.

Dearly beloved sons, you are about to be ordained to the order of the priesthood. Strive to receive it worthily, and having received it, to discharge its duties in a praiseworthy manner. The office of the priest is to offer sacrifice, to bless, to govern, to preach, and to baptize. Truly, it must be with great fear that you ascend to so high a station; and care must be taken that heavenly wisdom, an irreproachable character, and long-continued righteousness shall commend the candidates chosen for it.


It is for this reason that the Lord, when commanding Moses to select from the whole people of Israel seventy men to assist him, and to impart to them a share in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, added this direction: Take whom thou knowest to be elders among the people. Now you have been typified by the seventy men who were elders, if, observing the Ten Commandments of the Law by the help of the seven-fold Spirit, you will be men of virtue, mature in knowledge as well as in work.


Under the same mystery and figure, the Lord chose in the New Testament seventy-two disciples and sent them two by two, to go before him, preaching. Thus he wished to teach by word and deed that the ministers of his Church should be perfect in faith and practice, in other words, that they should be grounded in the twin virtue of charity, namely, the love of God and the love of neighbor.


Therefore, endeavor to be such that, by the grace of God, you may be worthy to be chosen as helpers of Moses and the twelve apostles, that is, the Catholic bishops who are signified by Moses and the twelve apostles. Truly wonderful is the variety with which holy Church is endowed, adorned, and governed. Its ministers are men ordained to various orders, some bishops, others inferior in rank, priests and deacons and subdeacons; and out of many members distinguished as to dignity, the one body of Christ is formed.


And so, dearly beloved sons, chosen by the judgment of our brethren to be our helpers in the ministry, maintain in your deportment inviolate purity and holiness of life. Understand what you do, imitate what you administer. Inasmuch as you celebrate the mystery of the death of the Lord, you should endeavor to mortify in your members all sin and concupiscence. Let your teaching be a spiritual medicine for the people of God and the odor of your lives a delight for the Church of Christ. May you thus build up, by preaching and example, the house, that is, the family of God, so that your promotion may not be a cause of damnation for me, nor the reception of so great an office for you, but rather of reward. May he by his grace grant it to us.
Amen.

To implore God's help for the men who are about to join the sacred priesthood, we call upon the entire court of heaven in the Litany of the Saints. In the Litany of the Saints, we invoke many saints by name and sing, “Ora pro nobis,” meaning, “Pray for us.” These men have been called by name beyond their earthly concerns to be priests of God, so now, they present themselves prostrate before the altar of God and ask the prayers of all of the angels and saints.

After the Litany of the Saints, the solemn ordination itself takes place. In silence, each candidate kneels before the bishop. The bishop lays his hands on the candidate's head. This is the essential matter of the sacrament. Through this laying on of hands, the candidate is ordained into apostolic succession. After each candidate has received the laying on of hands from the bishop, every priest in attendance lays their hands on each of the candidates. Pictured below is His Excellency Alexander King Sample, Archbishop of Portland, ordaining a priest at the FSSP's priestly ordinations in May 2018.

Image credit: Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter

Once this process is completed, the bishop sings several prayers for the candidates.

Oremus, fratres charissimi, Deum Patrem omnipotentem, ut super hos famulos suos, quos ad Presbyterii munus elegit, coelestia dona multiplicet; et quod ejus dignatione suscipiunt, ipsius consequantur auxilio. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Amen.

Oremus.
Flectamus genua. Levate.
Exaudi nos, quaesumus, Domine Deus noster et super hos famulos tuos bene + dictionem Sancti Spiritus, et gratiae Sacerdotalis infunde virtutem: ut, quos tuae pietatis aspectibus offerimus consecrandos, perpetua muneris tui largitate prosequaris. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit, et regnat in unitate ejusdem Spiritus Sancti Deus.
Let us pray, dearly beloved brethren, to God, the Father almighty, that he may multiply heavenly gifts upon these his servants whom he has chosen for the office of the priesthood. May they by his help accomplish what they undertake at his gracious call. Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Let us pray.
Let us kneel. Rise.
Hear us, we beseech thee, Lord our God, and pour out upon these thy servants the + blessing of the Holy Spirit and the power of priestly grace. Sustain them forever with the bounty of thy gifts, whom we present to thy mercy to be consecrated. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy son, who lives and reigns with thee in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God.

Because the prayer and the blessing of the candidates is so solemn, it imitates the form of the most solemn blessing of all, the Holy Mass. The above prayers are analogous to the secret at Mass. The bishop continues with the Preface. This Preface contains the essential form of the sacrament.

Per omnia saecula saeculorum.
Amen.
Dominus vobiscum.
Et cum spiritu tuo.
Sursum corda.
Habemus ad Dominum.
Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
Dignum et justum est.
Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus, honorum auctor et distributor omnium dignitatum; per quem proficiunt universa, per quem cuncta firmantur, amplificatis semper in melius naturae rationalis incrementis, per ordinem congrua ratione dispositum. Unde et Sacerdotales gradus, atque officia Levitarum, Sacramentis mysticis instituta crevenunt: ut cum Pontifices summos regendis populis praefecisses, ad eorum societatis et operis adjumentum, sequentis ordinis viros et secundae dignitatis eligeres. Sic in eremo per septuaginta virorum prudentium mentes, Moysi spiritum propagasti; quibus ille adjutoribus usus, in populo innumeras multitudines facile gubernavit. Sic et in Eleazarum et Ithamarum filios Aaron paternae plenitudinis abundantiam transfudisti, ut ad hostias salutares, et frequentioris officii Sacramenta, ministerium sufficeret Sacerdotum. Hac providentia, Domine, Apostolis Filii tui Doctores fidei comites addidisti, quibus illi orbem totum secundis praedicationibus impleverunt. Quapropter infirmitati quoque nostrae, Domine, quaesumus, haec adjumenta largire; qui quanto fragiliores sumus, tanto his pluribus in digemus. Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Pater, in hos famulos tuos Presbyterii digniitatem; innova in visceribus eorum Spiritum sanctitatis; ut acceptum a te, Deus, secundi meriti munus obtineant, censuramque morum ex exemplo suae conversationis insinuent. Sint providi cooperatores ordinis nostri; eluceat in eis totius forma justitiae, ut bonam rationem dispensationis sibi creditae reddituri, aeternae beatitudinis praemia consequantur.
World without end.
Amen.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
Lift up your hearts.
We have lifted them up unto the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right and just.
It is truly meet and just, right and profitable unto salvation to give thanks at all times and in all places to thee, holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, giver of honors and dispenser of all dignities. Through thee all things progress; by thee they are sustained; through thee the endowments of our rational nature are continually raised to a higher perfection according to a wisely appointed plan. Thus have come into existence priestly orders and the office of Levites, instituted amid sacred mysteries. When thou didst appoint high priests to govern the people, thou didst also choose men of lower rank and inferior dignity to be at their side and to assist them in their work. Thus didst thou multiply in the desert the spirit of Moses through the minds of seventy judicious men, so that with their help he easily governed the countless multitudes of the people. In like manner thou hast bestowed upon Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron, the fullness of their father's priestly power, so that there might be a sufficient number of priests for the offering of salutary sacrifices and the performance of the numerous sacred rites. By the same providence thou, O Lord, has joined to the apostles of thy Son teachers of the faith; and with their help they have filled the whole world with the glad tidings of the gospel. Therefore, we beseech thee, O Lord, give also to us such help in our infirmity; we need it so much more than they, as our weakness is so much greater. We beseech thee, almighty Father, invest these thy servants with the dignity of the priesthood. Do thou renew in their hearts the spirit of holiness, that they may hold the office, next to ours in importance, which they have received from thee, O Lord, and by the example of their lives point out a norm of conduct. May they be prudent fellow laborers of our order; may the pattern of all justice shine forth in them so that, when they will give a good account of the stewardship entrusted to them, they may receive the reward of eternal bliss.

The bishop concludes in a low voice.

Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit, et regnat in unitate ejusdem Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
Amen.
Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Each candidate then receives the vestments of the priestly order. First, the bishop rearranges each candidate's stole so that it is worn around the neck forming an X across the chest, in the manner of a priest.

Accipe jugum Domini; jugum enim ejus suave est, et onus ejus leve. Receive the yoke of the Lord; for his yoke is sweet and his burden light.

The bishop then clothes the candidate with the chasuble, the symbol of charity and of the office of a priest. The back of the chasuble is still folded up and secured with pins until the end of the ceremony. The candidate responds, “Thanks be to God.”

Accipe vestem Sacerdotalem, per quam charitas intelligitur: potens est enim Deus, ut augeat tibi charitatem, et opus perfectum.
Deo gratias.
Receive the priestly vestment, by which charity is signified; for God is powerful to increase unto thee charity and perfection of work.
Thanks be to God.

The bishop removes his mitre and says this prayer.

Deus sanctificationum omnium auctor, cujus vera consecratio, plenaque benedictio est, tu, Domine, super hos famulos tuos, quos ad Presbyterii honorem dedicamus, munus tuae bene + dictionis infunde: ut gravitate actuum, et censura vivendi probent se seniores, his instituti disciplinis, quas Tito et Timotheo Paulus exposuit; ut in lege tua die ac nocte meditantes, quod legerint, credant; quod crederint, doceant; quod docuerint, imitentur; justitiam, constantiam, misericordiam, fortitudinem, ceterasque virtutes in se ostendant; exemplo praebeant; admonitione confirment; ac purum et immaculatum ministerii sui donum custodiant; et in obsequium plebis tuae, panem et vinum in corpus et sanguinem Filii tui immaculata benedictione transforment; et inviolabili charitate in virum perfectum, in mensuram aetatis plenitudinis Christi, in die justi et aeterni judicii Dei, conscientia pura, fide vera, Spiritu Sancto pleni resurgant. Per eundem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit, et regnat in unitate ejusdem Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
Amen.
O God, author of all holiness, from whom comes true consecration and the fullness of benediction, do thou, O Lord, pour out thy gracious blessing upon these thy servants, upon whom we confer the honor of the priesthood. May they, by gravity of demeanor and strictness of life, prove themselves to be elders, trained according to the principles which Paul set forth to Titus and Timothy. May they keep thy law before their minds day and night, believe what they read, teach what they believe, and practice what they teach. May they show forth in their persons justice, constancy, mercy, fortitude, and all other virtues, be leaders by their example, inspire strength by exhortation, and preserve the gift of their ministry pure and undefiled; may they change by a holy benediction bread and wine into the body and blood of thy Son for the worship of thy people. And having kept their conscience pure and true their faith in never failing charity, may they rise on the day of God's just and final judgment, full of the Holy Spirit, to perfect manhood, in the full measure of the age of Christ. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Up until now, the ceremony has paralleled the ordination of a deacon. However, whereas the deacon's ordination ends after he is clothed with the vestments of a deacon, the new priests are invested with the authority to bless, consecrate, and offer the Mass, which are proper to a priest. The bishop kneels and sings the first line of the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, which the choir continues. In this hymn, we invoke the Holy Spirit, that he may come upon the candidates like at Pentecost and give them the life-giving power of the priesthood.

After the hymn, the bishop sits and removes his gloves. Each candidate kneels before him to be anointed. The bishop anoints each candidate's hands, which are given the power to bless and consecrate, particularly to consecrate the Host and Chalice in the Mass. They are anointed in the form of the Greek letter X, which stands for Christ.

Consecrare, et sanctificare digneris, Domine, manus istas per istam unctionem, et nostram bene+dictionem.
Amen.


Ut quaecumque benedixerint, benedicantur, et quaecumque consecraverint, consecrentur, et sanctificentur, in nomine Domini nostri Jesu Christi.
Amen.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to consecrate and sanctify these hands by this unction and our + blessing.
Amen.


That whatsoever they shall bless may be blessed, and whatsoever they shall consecrate be consecrated and sanctified, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Through this ceremony of anointing the hands, the new priests are given the power to bless and consecrate. They are then given the power to offer the Mass. Each candidate approaches the bishop again and is presented with a chalice containing wine and water and a paten with a host on it, which the candidate touches.

Accipe potestatem offerre sacrificium Deo, Missasque celebrare, tam pro vivis, quam pro defunctis. In nomine Domini.
Amen.
Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God and to celebrate Mass for the living as well as for the dead. In the name of the Lord.
Amen.

Mass continues with the final “alleluia” or the last line of the Tract, followed by the Gospel. At the beginning of the Offertory, each candidate presents the bishop with a candle. Since they have just been ordained to offer the Mass, the newly ordained priests concelebrate the Mass, meaning they offer the Mass alongside the bishop as part of the ordained, sacrificial priesthood. An ordination is the only time the traditional Latin Mass is ever concelebrated. The bishop says all of the prayers that are usually said silently aloud, including the Offertory prayers and the Canon. During the ablutions after Communion, the choir sings a responsory taken from Jesus's institution of the priesthood in John 15:15.

Jam non dicam vos servos, sed amicos meos, quia omnia cognovistis quae operatus sum medio vestri, alleluia. Accipite Spiritum Sanctum in vobis paraclitum. Ille est, quem Pater mittet vobis, alleluia.
Vos amici mei estis, si feceritis, quae ego praecipio vobis. Accipite Spiritum Sanctum in vobis paraclitum.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Ille est, quem Pater mittet vobis, alleluia.


I will not now call you servants but my friends; for you have known all things whatsoever I have wrought in the midst of you. Alleluia. Receive in you the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete; he it is whom the Father will send you. Alleluia.
You are my friends if you do the things that I command you. Receive in you the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. He it is whom the Father will send you. Alleluia.

The new priests then stand and recite the Apostles' Creed, a public profession of the faith which they have been ordained to preach. Each candidate then kneels before the bishop one last time. The bishop gives the candidate the power to forgive sins through the sacrament of Penance, quoting the words in John 20:23 that Jesus said when he gave his apostles this power.

Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, quorum remiseris peccata, remittuntur eis; et quorum retinueris, retenta sunt. Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins thou shalt forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins thou shalt retain, they are retained.

Now that the new priest is fully invested with the sacred priesthood, the bishop lets down the back of the new priest's chasuble, which had been folded up until now.

Stola innocentiae induat te Dominus. May the Lord clothe thee with the robe of innocence.

The new priest then makes a vow to obey his bishop, and the bishop gives him the kiss of peace.

Promittis mihi, et Successoribus meis reverentiam, et obedientiam?
Promitto.
Pax Domini sit semper tecum.
Amen.
Dost thou promise me and my successors reverence and obedience?
I promise.
The peace of the Lord be always with thee.
Amen.

The bishop warns the new priests of the danger of their office. He echoes Jesus's warning from Matthew 10:16: “Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.”

Dearly beloved sons, since the office which you will perform is beset with considerable danger, I admonish you to learn carefully from other experienced priests the order of the whole Mass, the consecration and the breaking of the host, and the communion, before you begin to celebrate Mass.

The bishop gives the newly ordained priests a solemn blessing to conclude the ceremony.

Benedictio Dei omnipotentis Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti descendat super vos; ut sitis benedicti in ordine sacerdotali; et offeratis placabiles Hostias pro peccatis, atque offensionibus populi omnipotenti Deo, cui est honor, et gloria per omnia saecula saeculorum.
Amen.
May the blessing of the almighty God, the + Father, the + Son, and the Holy + Ghost, descend upon you, that you may be blessed in the priestly order, and offer up the sacrifice of propitiation for the sins and offenses of the people to almighty God, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever.
Amen.

Mass continues with the postcommunions. After the blessing at the end of Mass, the bishop addresses the newly ordained priests.

Dearly beloved sons, carefully consider the order which you have received today and the burden which has been laid upon your shoulders. Endeavor to live holy lives devoted to religion and to be pleasing to the almighty God, that you may obtain his grace. May he in his mercy deign to bestow it upon you. Those who have been ordained priests, say, after your first Mass, three other Masses: one of the Holy Spirit, another of the Blessed Mary, ever virgin, and the third one for the faithful departed, and pray to almighty God also for me.

Mass concludes as usual with the Last Gospel. Like a newly married couple at a nuptial Mass, the newly ordained priests can take comfort in the words of St. John in the Last Gospel, “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5). The new priests are ordained to bring the light of Christ into the world. The darkness of the devil and earthly vice cannot comprehend the light of Christ. Just as the newly married couple is called by God to give life to their children, the new priests are called by God to bring divine life and grace to the faithful entrusted to their care. A priest is rightly called “Father,” because just as a father gives light and life to his children, a priest gives light and life to his parish. He is, in a way, an alter Christus—another Christ—because he continues Christ's ministry on earth. As long as we have priests, we can be united to God.

New terms
  • apostolic succession – The unbroken chain of laying on of hands extending from every deacon, priest, and bishop all the way back to the apostles.
  • seminarian – A man preparing to become a priest.
  • minor orders – The four orders of porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte, to which seminarians are ordained as part of their preparation for the priesthood.
  • first tonsure – The ceremony of cutting a man's hair and receiving him into the clerical state,
  • porter – The first minor order. Porters are like doormen, charged with care of the church buildings.
  • lector – The second minor order. Lectors read the readings at Mass and the Divine Office, particularly the readings at Matins.
  • exorcist – The third minor order. Exorcists give simple blessings and expel demons.
  • acolyte – The fourth and final minor order. Acolytes assist the sacred ministers in the Mass by lighting and extinguishing candles and presenting the cruets of wine and water.
  • major orders – The orders of subdeacon, deacon, priest, and bishop. All of these except subdeacon are part of the sacrament of Holy Orders.
  • pontifical gloves – Gloves of silk in the color of the day with a cross embroidered on the back, worn by a bishop offering the Mass.
  • archdeacon – Originally a senior diocesan official, now usually the rector of the seminary, who presents the candidates to the bishop for ordination.
  • Litany of the Saints – A long litany in which we invoke many saints by name and ask them to pray for us.
  • concelebrate – To celebrate the Mass alongside the principal celebrant as part of the ordained, sacrificial priesthood. In the traditional Latin Mass, concelebration is only allowed at ordinations.