Holy Orders and Religious Life

“Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers.(Lumen Gentium 21) In the beautiful expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop is typos tou Patros: he is like the living image of God the Father.(St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trall. 3,1:SCh 10,96; cf. Ad Magn. 6,1:SCh 10,82-84)” (‘Catechism of THe Catholic Church’, n. 1549)

Truly What Do Holy Orders Mean?

Ordered Ministries. Holy Orders is “holy” because it has a sacred character and is “ordered” because it is structured, tiered with increasing levels of responsibility. For instance, a deacon can preach and baptize, but cannot offer Mass or hear confessions; a priest can offer Mass and hear confessions, but cannot ordain; a bishop can ordain, but not only can he ordain, a bishop can perform every priestly function because he possesses the fullness of Holy Orders. These ministries give “holy order” to the Church.

Three Degrees. While all of the baptized share in the universal priesthood, Holy Orders is the sacrament of the ordained ministry. Holy Orders come in three degrees: deacon, priest or presbyter, and bishop. Only two degrees share the ministerial priesthood, bishops and priests. Priests are co-workers of the bishops, while deacons assist priests.

Are You Called?

St. Francis De Sales:

“To know whether God will have a person become a religious it is not to be expected that God Himself should speak, or send an angel from heaven to signify His will. It is not necessary that ten or twelve confessors should examine whether the vocation is to be followed. But it is necessary to correspond with the first movement of the inspiration, and to cultivate it, and then not to grow weary if disgust or coldness should come on. If a person acts thus, God will not fail to make all succeed to His glory. Nor ought we to care much from what quarter the first movement comes. The Lord has many ways of calling His servants.”

Saint Teresa of the Andes:

“We [religious] no longer belong to the world. Jesus has taken us from the world, that we may follow Him more closely, and He says to us; "If anyone would come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me." And so, Sister, let's walk after Him. Love demands this, since He has chosen us to make us entirely His own. And when the weight of the cross weighs us down, let us call upon Jesus to help us. [...] We do not belong to the worldly spirit any longer, for Jesus has taken from us the spirit of the world in order to clothe us with His Divine Spirit. And what is that spirit...? The spirit of the Cross, the renunciation of our selfish impulses and demands of the flesh; the denial of our appetites and tastes, comforts, etc.”