The Sacrament of Holy Orders
1 Q. What is the sacrament of Holy Orders?
A. Holy Orders is a sacrament which gives power to exercise the sacred duties connected with the worship of God and the salvation of souls, and which imprints the character of Minister of God on the soul of him who receives it.
2 Q. Why is it called Orders?
A. It is called Orders because it comprises various grades, the one subordinate to the other, from which the sacred Hierarchy is composed.
3 Q. Which are these grades?
A. The highest is the Episcopate, which contains the fullness of the Priesthood; then comes the Priesthood; then the Diaconate, the Sub-diaconate, and the Orders called Minor.
4 Q. When did Jesus Christ institute the Sacerdotal Order?
A. Jesus Christ instituted the Sacerdotal Order at the Last Supper when he conferred on the Apostles and their successors the power of consecrating the Blessed Eucharist. Then on the day of His resurrection He conferred on them the power of remitting and retaining sin, thus constituting them the first Priests of the New Law in all the fullness of their power.
5 Q. Who is the Minister of this sacrament?
A. The bishop is the Minister of this sacrament.
6 Q. Is the dignity of the Christian Priesthood a great dignity?
A. The dignity of the Christian Priesthood is great indeed, because of the two-fold power which Jesus Christ has conferred upon it — that over His real body and that over His mystical body, or the Church; and because of the divine mission committed to priests to lead men to eternal life.
7 Q. Is the Catholic Priesthood necessary in the Church?
A. The Catholic Priesthood is necessary in the Church, because without it the faithful would be deprived of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and of the greater part of the sacraments; they would have no one to instruct them in the faith; and they would be as sheep without a shepherd, a prey to wolves; in short, the Church, such as Christ instituted it, would no longer exist.
8 Q. Will the Catholic Priesthood therefore never cease on this earth?
A. In spite of the war that hell wages against it, the Catholic Priesthood will last until the end of time, because Jesus Christ has promised that the powers of hell shall never prevail against His Church.
9 Q. Is it a sin to despise Priests?
A. It is a very grave sin, because the scorn and insults cast on Priests fall upon Jesus Christ Himself, who said to His Apostles: He who despises you, despises Me.
10 Q. What motive should he have who embraces the ecclesiastical state?
A. The motive of one who embraces the ecclesiastical state should be the glory of God and the salvation of souls alone.
11 Q. What is necessary to enter the ecclesiastical state?
A. To enter the ecclesiastical state a divine vocation is necessary before all else.
12 Q. What should be done to find out whether God calls us to the ecclesiastical state?
A. To find out if God calls us to the ecclesiastical state we should: (1) Fervently pray the Lord to make known His will to us; (2) Consult our Bishop or a learned and prudent director; (3) Diligently examine whether we have the capacity necessary for the studies, the duties, and the obligations of this state.
13 Q. If one were to enter the ecclesiastical state without a divine vocation would he do wrong?
A. If one were to enter the ecclesiastical state without a divine vocation he would commit a great wrong and run the risk of being lost.
14 Q. Do those parents sin who, from worldly motives, impel their sons to embrace the ecclesiastical state without any vocation?
A. Those parents who, for worldly motives, impel their sons to embrace the ecclesiastical state without any vocation commit a very grave sin, because by thus acting they usurp the right God has reserved to Himself alone of choosing His own ministers; and they expose their children to the danger of eternal damnation.
15 Q. Which are the duties of the faithful towards those who are called to Holy Orders?
A. The faithful should: (1) Give their children and dependents full liberty to follow the call of God; (2) Pray God to deign to grant good pastors and zealous ministers to His Church — it is precisely for this end that the fasts of Quarter Tense have been instituted; (3) Have special respect for all who are consecrated by Holy Orders to God’s service.