Holy Orders is one of the seven sacraments. It, along with the Sacrament of Marriage, belongs to a special group of sacraments known as the Sacraments of Commitment. These two sacraments are “sacraments at the service of communion,” “directed toward the salvation of others,” and “serve to build up the people of God” (Catechism, No. 1534).
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.
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.
The call to a vocation to the priesthood begins with God, not the person. The letter to the Hebrews explains, “No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God” (Heb 5:4). The priest is “taken from among men and made their representative before God,” and it is the priest’s duty “to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Heb 5:1).
If you feel called to Holy Orders, please contact our pastor at firstname.lastname@example.org