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The Blessed Sacrament & the Sacrament of Holy Orders


"In becoming man, God revealed himself most clearly. Men saw God, heard God, even touched God. From that time he has stayed in person with us, and He will stay with us to the end of the world. It is true, Christ ascended into heaven, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead; yet He found a means to stay with us in the world to the end of time. This means is the institution of the Blessed Sacrament in which He stays day and night upon our altars, to be our victim, the food of our soul, the light of our understanding, the strength of our will, the joy and consolation of our heart. But if, in this august Sacrament, the Lord of heaven and earth stays with us to the end of time, it is by means of another sacrament - by that of Holy Orders."

"Now, in order to understand well what the Sacrament of Orders is, it is necessary to remember that it was the will of the heavenly Father that no one should be saved unless through Christ, His well-beloved Son; that is, through faith in His doctrine, through hope in His merits, through charity toward God and all men, through the sacraments and prayer, as means of grace, and through obedience to his orders: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life," says Jesus. "No one cometh to the Father but by Me." (John xiv, 6.) "In him" (Christ), says St. Paul, "it hath pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of the cross, both as to the things on earth, and the things that are in heaven." (Col. i, 19, 20.) For this purpose, Christ, as man, received from his Father all necessary power and authority: "All power is given to me in heaven and on earth." (Matt, xxviii, 18.) Now, the sacred helps which Jesus Christ knew to be necessary for the salvation of souls, were equally required for all mankind to the end of the world. Hence it was necessary either that He himself should stay on earth to the end of time to apply these helps to the souls of men, or that He should appoint others to apply them for Him in His name and by His authority. He chose to do the latter. So, from among his disciples, he chose twelve whom he named apostles, and gave them all those sacred powers which he had received from his Father for the salvation of mankind, authorizing them at the same time, to communicate these powers to others for the salvation of their fellow-men. He instituted the sacrament of holy orders as the means of transmitting these powers: -

1. Holy orders are a sacrament. That the Sacrament of Holy Orders is really and truly one of the seven Sacraments, is evident from the fact that it has all that is necessary to constitute a sacrament. For, first, there is the "outward sign" (or outward part performed by the bishop), namely, the imposition of hands and prayer, with the delivery of the instruments of the power which is communicated. The imposition of hands and the prayer which the bishop says, constitute the matter and form in the ordination of priests, and probably nothing further is essential; for the handing to the candidate for priest's orders of a chalice containing wine and water, and a paten with bread, with the words: "Receive the power to offer sacrifice for the living and dead, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," as well as the last laying-on of the bishop's hands with the accompanying words, are only more explicit expressions of the same act.

No doubt, when our Saviour communicated his powers to his apostles, he conferred them in a visible, sensible manner, expressing, in the words he used, the nature of the particular power given. By so doing, he showed in what manner the apostles and their successors should communicate the same powers to others - that is, in an outward, visible manner, by words and actions, expressing the nature of the power bestowed. That the apostles communicated their powers of the priesthood in a visible manner, that is, by the imposition of hands and prayer, is clear from Holy Scripture. In obedience to the command which they had received from the Holy Ghost, they separated Paul and Barnabas from the body of the faithful, and, after having fasted and prayed, they laid their hands on them and dedicated them to the work of the ministry. (Acts xiii, 2, 3.) It was in the same manner that St. Paul and Barnabas "ordained priests in every church," according to the testimony of St. Luke. (Acts xiv, 22.) St. Paul recommends Timothy not to lay hands lightly (or hastily) on any man. (Tim. v, 22.) The priest, then, is a man set apart from the rest of the faithful; and the imposition of the hands and the prayer of the apostle or the bishop are essential to his ordination.

Second. There is the "inward grace" (or inwaid part performed by God), namely, the power of the order received with an indelible character imprinted on the soul; and also actual grace for the due exercise of that order, together with an increase of sanctifying grace. Of this truth St. Paul assures us, in his Epistle to Timothy, in which he says "Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy (by the prophetic or sacramental words), with the imposition of the hands of the priesthood" (1 Tim. iv, 14); and in his second letter to Timothy, he assures us of the same truth: "I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands." (2 Tim. i, 6.) In his discourse which he addresses to the priests of the churches of Asia, assembled at Miletus, he says to them: "Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost has placed you bishops, to rule the Church of God." (Acts xx, 28.)

Thus, bishops, raised by the apostles to the fulness of the priesthood by the imposition of hands, are, according to St. Paul's judgment, charged by the Holy Ghost with the government of the Church.

Third. There is the "institution of Christ." From the declarations of St Paul just cited, it is evident that Holy Orders are divinely instituted, because God alone can give to the outward sign of the imposition of hands the power of producing grace in the soul. When, therefore, an outward thing is made a certain and efficacious means of grace, it must be in virtue of a divine institution.

Hence we are required to believe, at least in the case of the priesthood, that Holy Orders are one of the seven sacraments: "If any one shall say that orders, or sacred ordination, are not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord, let him be anathema," says the Council of Trent. (Sess. xxiii, c. 3)

2. The Sacrament of Holy Orders bestows upon those who receive it the powers of priesthood.

A priest, as the word has been understood from the beginning by all people, by Christians, by Jews, nay, even by pagans, is a mysterious, sacred, inviolable being, divine rather than earthly, separated from the rest of mankind by the sublime character of his functions, called from on high, consecrated by a heavenly anointing, offering salutary sacrifices to God for the expiation of sin, and drawing from his character of offering sacrifice a supreme authority over the rest of mankind, whom he teaches and guides in the way of salvation. Such was the priest before the coming of Christ a mysterious being, related both to heaven and to earth. As such, the priest represented and prefigured Christ, the High, the Chief, Priest, in the most special sense. As he was chosen from among men, he represented and prefigured Christ as man like unto us. As he was obliged to be without blemish, he shadowed forth Jesus Christ as the Lamb without blemish, without spot. As he was the man, the minister, the portion of God, consecrated to God, wholly occupied with the interests of God, he prefigured Jesus Christ as God-man. As he was vested with the functions and powers of the priesthood by a holy anointing, he showed that the Incarnation was, for our Saviour, an anointing altogether divine, celebrated by the prophets, which causes the name of Christ to be added to his name Jesus.

As Christ was represented in the priesthood before His coming, so also is He represented in the priesthood after His coming. As the human paternity reminds us of the divine paternity; as the office of a king among men shadows forth the sovereignty of God; as the idea of sacrifice is explained by that of sin and expiation, so does the priesthood of the Catholic Church, in a far more perfect manner, represent Jesus Christ the God-man, as He is known and adored by the whole of Christendom. To understand this more clearly, we must remember that Jesus Christ, our High-Priest, became our Redeemer by sacrificing his life upon the cross. From the fact that he is our Redeemer, he is also our Teacher, our Pastor, our Law-giver, our supreme Judge and Ruler. Now, he who has been ordained priest has received in his soul, by holy orders, a character which distinguishes him from all other men, and makes him participate in a special manner in the powers of the priesthood of Jesus Christ; that is, in virtue of this character, the priest participates in Christ's power of offering sacrifice, of teaching, of legislating, of judging and ruling. The sacrament of holy orders, then, gives power over Christ's own body, as well as over His mystic body, which is composed of the members of the Church; but in a different manner. The power over Christ's own body, called the power of order, is made over, absolutely and irrevocably, to every priest. The power over Christ's mystic body, called the power of jurisdiction, is given only on condition of due appointment by the Church. As every priest, in virtue of the sacerdotal character, is invested with the power over Christ's own body, and as this character can never be effaced, every priest retains, as long as he lives, the power of offering sacrifice. A priest, therefore, cannot be deprived of the power over Christ's body. Hence, should he become a heretic and say Mass, he would validly consecrate. The same thing can be said of every Catholic bishop. He cannot be deprived of the Episcopal character and of the power which is essentially connected with holy orders, for that power is received immediately from God. Should, then, a bishop become a heretic, he still retains his Episcopal character, in virtue of which he validly though unlawfully, confers Confirmation and Holy Orders, and offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” (1)

A Study of The Seven Sacraments

“As the words of consecration are spoken, the body and blood of the Victim of the world are on the altar in mystic sacrifice, and are offered up to the Father in propitiation for the sins of mankind. And to the eye of faith, back of the altar rises a cross, bearing the mangled Victim of sin. To the ear of faith, there rings forth the cry of the centurion, "Indeed this man was the Son of God." (Matt. xxvii, 54) To the heart of faith, the world-redeeming oblation is renewed in its commemoration.

No wonder that Mother Church makes this sacrifice the very center of her life. It is her act of worship through all the days till the Lord shall come again in majesty to judge the living and the dead. Around the Calvary of the altar she gathers her little ones, with Mary and John and the faithful women, and she looks up at Him. She looks up with her heart cut to the depths at thought of what sin brought to the Lamb of God: she looks with confidence to the Father, to whose outraged majesty condign satisfaction has been given: she looks up with love to the Priest and Victim Christ, who has washed away the sins of the world, in order that He might present to Himself as His Spouse a Church without spot or stain, but adorned with the jewels of grace and virtue, purchased at the price of His sorrow-drenched oblation.”

"Let us go to Him, not grudgingly, not seldom, not fearfully, but with hearts expanded to meet the greatness of His condescension, frequently, and with the confidence of those who rush to a dearly loved one. Thus let us partake of the Victim of the altar and of the cross.

And let us go to church for Holy Mass, not as unwilling courtiers, forced by command to attend in the presence of the King; but as ardent adorers in spirit and in truth, glad to bow down before the unbloody Calvary of our sacrifice. With faith and love and longing and sorrow let us hasten to get close to Him, just as we should (please God!) have left all to follow His bleeding footsteps out along the way to Calvary on that first Good Friday, to take our place beneath the world's redeeming rood and to tell Him that for us He would not die in vain.

Mystery - Sacrament- Sacrifice! Let us adore forevermore the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar, the summary of God's wonders of love in our regard, the Holy Eucharist."

"The Sacrament of Holy Orders is closely bound up with the very constitution of the Church. Holy Orders refers, in the first place, to the different grades among the members of the Church, to the rulers and the ruled; and, in the second place, to the sacrament for the transmission of priestly powers."

"The dear Master gathered His disciples about Him and taught them the way to truth and life. From the number of His followers He selected twelve, who were to be closer to Him than all others, and He called them Apostles. These He fostered and trained in His holy company. These He sent forth upon temporary missions to the children of Israel. These were His friends, His little children; and to them He gave a deeper insight into the truths of salvation. He promised to Simon, whose name He changed to Peter, "the rock," that upon him He would build His Church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it and that He would give to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven. He pledged Himself to make the Apostles partakers of the power that was His very own by the gift of the Father.

Then came the day of the dreadful climax of redemption; and on the cross He paid to the justice of God the price of pain and blood. During the forty days after His resurrection, whilst He filled with strong love that flock of His which had been scattered, when He, the Shepherd, had been struck, He completed His arrangements for His Church, the Kingdom of God.

To Peter He gave the power which had been promised to him as the foundation stone, the bearer of the keys of the Kingdom, the shepherd of the flock, the ruler of the City of God. Then, to the Twelve, the body of chosen, trained, elevated, heaven endowed representatives of His, marshaled under the primacy of Peter, He communicated the great mission of authoritatively teaching every child of earth until the end of time." pp. 168-169

"And this living, teaching, sanctifying, ruling society was to last until the end of days. "Behold," said the Lord, "I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."

The sanctification of men unto eternal life was to be the end for which the Church was to labor, as it was the purpose of the loving Lord, who had come to save that which was lost (Matt, xviii, 11) and that men might have life and might have it more abundantly. (John x. 10) The sacred teaching of the Master's revelation and the heaven-sanctioned ruling of the soul were to result indirectly in sanctification, through the soul's efforts to correspond with the designs of God. Yet, directly too, holiness was to come to the spirit of man, by the sacramental rites instituted by our Lord - and "all days, even to the consummation of the world."

The transmission of jurisdiction and of the authoritative power of teaching was to be secured by the succession of the bishops, who would stand in the place of the Apostles, continuing their mission of teaching and ruling mankind.

But the Apostles were not only teachers and rulers. They were priests; they were bishops, with the plenitude of the priesthood. The chief powers of the priesthood touch principally two of the sacraments which we have already dwelt upon, namely, Penance and Holy Eucharist. "Every high priest," thus we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews," (is) taken from among men (and) ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins." (Hebrews v, 1) On the evening of the Resurrection the power to forgive sins was communicated to the Apostles by the Savior, when He breathed upon them and said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." (John xx, 22, 23) And as for sacrifice, they were to offer up the Eucharistic sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ. For, on the eve of His sacred Passion, after He had instituted the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, the sacrifice of clean oblation, He commissioned them to do as He had done, saying: "Do this for a commemoration of me. (Luke xxii, 19) Yes, they were priests, with the plentitude of the priesthood and with the means of transmitting the same sacred power to those who were to carry on their hallowed work until the second coming of the Lord.

After all that has been considered in studying the other sacraments, the perpetuation of the power of sanctifying men through the holy rites of Christ's institution, and especially through the Sacrament of Penance and the sacrifice of the altar, needs no further proof. In fact, the only ones who are ranged in the opposition of denial are those who reject the pardoning power, given by the Christ to His own, and the sacrificial character of the Eucharistic oblation.

Where there is a sacrifice, there must be priests. For, by the very voice of nature, speaking through the long ages of the past, the function of a priest is shown to imply sacrifice. Priest and sacrifice are correlative terms. Once more, then, given the sacrifice of propitiation of the New Law to apply the merits of Calvary to our souls and to continue to the end of time the expression of our dependence on the sovereignty of God, there must be a priesthood in the Church of Christ. And by consequence, there must be a means of perpetuating this priesthood as long as the Church shall be amongst the children of men to do the work of the Redeemer.

Although this sacred power might have been transmitted without the aid of a sacramental rite, had Christ so willed; still, as a matter of fact, because of the dignity of the priestly office, our Blessed Lord instituted a special sacrament to confer the power of the priesthood and to bestow the graces needed for the exercise of the all heavenly functions of those whom He thus associated with Himself in the very mysteries of God.

This sacrament is the sacrament of Holy Orders. The sacrament of Holy Orders, or of Ordination, is the sacrament of the New Law (instituted, of course, by our Lord Himself), by which spiritual power is conferred for the consecration, oblation and administering of the body and blood of Christ, for the forgiveness of sins, and for other spiritual functions. Its fullness is found in the episcopate, the body of those who, with the plenitude of the priesthood, can through the Sacrament of Ordination be fathers in God unto others, who enter into the same sublime powers.

The strongest reasons show that Christ instituted this sacred sign. For Catholics the clearest of all reasons is found in the teaching of Mother Church. In the Council of Trent she teaches that "sacred ordination is truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord, and is neither a mere human invention thought out by men unskilled in ecclesiastical matters, nor only a certain rite of choosing the ministers of God's word and of the sacraments." (Sess. xix, can. 3.—Denz. n. 963)

Besides, ordination is of Christ's institution, because it is a sensible sign which confers grace; and such a connection between external rite and supernatural effect can have none but the God-Man for its author. The external rite is often referred to in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles of St. Paul; and the rite is ordination or the imposition of hands together with prayer.”

"And thus, with all justice may the Church say that the fact of Christ's institution of Ordination, or Holy Orders, as a sacrament is vouched for, not only by her own infallible utterance, but, (and this, for those who will not yet hearken to the words of her motherly teaching) by the testimony of Holy Scripture, by Apostolic tradition, and by the unanimous consent of the Fathers. (Cf. Council of Trent, Seas, xix, c. 3.—Denz. n. 959.)

A few remarks now about the effect of this sacrament. All the sacraments confer the grace of God, either in the first instance or in greater abundance. As one of its effects, Holy Orders gives an increase of this glorious gift of God.

Besides, like Baptism and Confirmation, it imparts an indelible sacramental character."

"Besides these general participations in the priesthood of the great High Priest of mankind, to those who are consecrated by the sacred sacrament of Ordination there comes a likeness to Him which gives them part in the special priesthood of Jesus Christ. Nay, in the exercise of that priesthood, these ministers of the Victim-Priest of Calvary act for Him and with Him, in His name and with His power. To this sacramental character, which will never pass away, there is bound during life the sublime power, which is given to them as cooperators with Jesus, - "the power of consecrating, offering, and administering the body and blood of Christ our Savior; of forgiving and retaining sins;" (Council of Trent, Sess. xix, c. 1. - Denz. n. 957) and of performing other duties of their state. All these duties refer, indirectly at least, to the Blessed Sacrament. And to fulfill these duties, from Ordination they have the right to the actual helps of God, which will be given when needed for the actions of their sublime destiny.

Without a doubt, the destiny is sublime, and the dignity is great beyond the power of words to express."

"It cannot be repeated too often that the fundamental notion of priesthood is sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ's ministering priests is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is a true sacrifice; it represents, commemorates, continues and renews the bloody oblation of the cross of Calvary."

"Were not envy, even of holy things, excluded from the kingdom of God's glorifying love, the very angels of God might well envy such a dignity. For, whilst they are only ministering spirits, sent to the dear ones of God and carrying out the behests of the Most High, the priest commands the King of the angels, brings Him to the altar, carries Him where he will in the ministry of salvation.

From this power with regard to the real body of Christ comes the priest's power with reference to the mystical body of the Savior, namely, the faithful of Holy Church, whom he is to prepare for the Blessed Eucharist."

"The dignity of the priesthood, then, is great beyond comparison. It is truly ineffable. And the reason is that the priest is one with Christ; he is another Christ. Yes, the dear Christ, "for that he continueth forever, hath an everlasting priesthood " (Hebr. vii, 24) and offers "one sacrifice for sins." (Hebr. x, 12) As a consequence, He is the one, only High Priest of the New Law, and His ministering priests are priests because they are one with Him in their sublime ministrations.

For this lofty dignity, all should have the deepest reverence, warmed with the glow of holy love. If God's choice to this hallowed vocation has fallen on one whom you love, rejoice and revere. If, in the future, the eyes of the Master should rest on one to whom you have given earthly life; if in the ear and heart of the young man, a son of yours, there should sound the call from on high, summoning him to the mountain of sacrifice, even to the unstained Calvary of the altar; do not hesitate, do not repine, do not refuse the sacrifice, do not count the cost. Your loved one is blessed, and you are blessed in his hallowing."

"Let us recapitulate. In founding His Church, Christ established an authoritative body of those who unto the end of time were to teach and rule the faithful and to sanctify them unto eternal life. In the successors of the Apostles this sacred hierarchy is continued in the Church. For the perpetuation of the power of the priesthood Christ instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders or Ordination. This sacrament imparts the spiritual seal of its sacramental character, and gives the power of consecrating the Eucharist and the power of forgiving sins; it bestows an increase of sanctifying grace upon the Lord's anointed ones, and the right to the actual graces which they need in order to be true to the duties which lie upon those who, with the Christ, are the saviors of mankind.

Such, then, is the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We should thank God for it; for, as the Source of Sacred Power, it is of incalculable advantage to each and every one of the children of the Church. Without it there would be no Church, and without the Church there would be no incorporation with Christ into the mystic body which sustains our life in God. Without it there would be no administration of the sacraments, which are the channels of God's grace to our souls. Without it we would look upon a world from which the sun had been blotted out, as the Eucharistic God was torn away from His perishing children. Without it we would look from a sorrow crushed earth to a terrible future, deprived of those aids to our weakness by which God's love brightens the way home.

Yes, we should thank God for this sacrament. And let us show our appreciation of it by our reverent presence at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays, even though it mean no little effort, and as frequently as we can during the week - and the frequency will increase, as our realization of the great oblation grows deeper and stronger. Let us show our appreciation by often and lovingly receiving Holy Communion, as our share in the unbloody Calvary. Let us do what lies in our power to spread the Kingdom of God, which our High Priest made perennial by the effusion of His precious blood. And for Christ's priests let us have reverence and gratitude and love and the loyalty of prayer, that they may be, as Christ meant them to be, His ministers unto salvation, each one another Christ." (2)


Imptimatur: +THOMAS FOLEY, Bishop Administrator of Chicago
pp. 314, 316, 317-320

A Study of The Seven Sacraments

St. Louis University
17 South Broadway, St. Louis, Mo.
AND 68 Great Russell St., London, W. C.
Sti. Ludovici, die I. Mail, 1922
F. X. McMenamy, S. J., Praepositus Provincialis
Prov. Missour.
Sti. Ludovici, die 23. Maii, 1922
F. G. Holweck, Censor Librorum
Sti. Ludovici, die 25. Maii, 1922
+Joannes J. Glennon, Archiepiscopus
Sti. Ludovici
Copyright, 1922, by B. Herder Book Co.
pp. 125-129, 130-131,
165-166, 171-176, 179,
180-181, 182, 183-184,
185, 191-193

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