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.

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.

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.

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.
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.
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.
Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.

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.
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.

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.

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

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.

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.
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.

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?
Pax Domini sit semper tecum.
Dost thou promise me and my successors reverence and obedience?
I promise.
The peace of the Lord be always with thee.

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.
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.

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.

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