Ordination Rites: Ordination of a Priest 14

As with the ordination of a deacon, the bishop is given a homily of sorts. While he may or may not use these words, they do indicate some of the Church’s public theology:

14. Then all sit, and the bishop addresses the people and the candidate on the duties of a priest. He may use these words:

This man, your relative and friend, is now to be raised to the order of priests. Consider carefully the position to which he is to be promoted in the Church.

It is true that God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of (hu)mankind. He was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and their successors, the bishops, he continues his work as Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Priests are co-workers of the order of bishops. They are joined to the bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God’s people.

First, the bishop reminds the people of the priesthood of all believers. This homily describes the special ministry that continues Jesus’ work as teacher, priest, shepherd, and servant of the people.

Our brother has seriously considered this step and is now to be ordained to priesthood in the presbyteral order. He is to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd in his ministry which is to make his own body, the Church, grow into the people of God, a holy temple.

A priest should be aware of this fourfold call, one that unites him to his bishop and gives him a direction for leading the laity.

He is called to share in the priesthood of the bishops and to be molded into the likeness of Christ, the su­preme and eternal Priest. By consecration he will be made a true priest of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, sustain God’s people, and celebrate the liturgy, above all, the Lord’s sacrifice.

The people are reminded, finally, that the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, is at the core of the priest’s service to the people.

He then addresses the candidate:

My son, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher. Share with all mankind the word of God you have received with joy. Meditate on the law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach.

Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the people of God. Let the example of your life attract the followers of Christ, so that by word and action you may build up the house which is God’s Church.

Teaching is the first priestly ministry addressed. There is an assumption that what the priest has already learned has been a joy, a joy to share with others. There is also the instruction that whatever is taught be truly nourishing for others. The public example of a priest should be an attraction, not just for other priests, but for the edification of and assistance to the laity.

In the same way you must carry out your mission of sanctifying in the power of Christ. Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it to Christ’s sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands. Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate. In the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ.

A good bit more than saying black and doing red is suggested here. The priest is to take the example of Christ as celebrated in the liturgy and live it in life, particularly in the interior work of virtue.

When you baptize, you will bring men and women into the people of God. In the sacrament of penance, you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick. You will celebrate the liturgy and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the people of God but for the whole world. Re­member that you are chosen from among God’s people and appointed to act for them in relation to God. Do your part in the work of Christ the Priest with genuine joy and love, and attend to the concerns of Christ be­fore your own.

Aside from the Mass, the priest oversees some of the sacraments that give life to the laity.

Finally, conscious of sharing in the work of Christ, the Head and Shepherd of the Church, and united with the bishop and subject to him, seek to bring the faithful together into a unified family and to lead them effec­tively, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, to God the Father. Always remember the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and to seek out and rescue those who were lost.

Teaching, sanctifying, lastly governing. It covers the ministry of sacerdos which the priest will exercise in union with the bishop.

Anything else in this sample of preaching you find to tease out?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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