"You are a Priest forever"
Ordination in the Catholic Church refers to the sacramental ceremony by which individuals are consecrated and set apart for ministry as deacons, priests, or bishops. The sacrament of Holy Orders is considered one of the Sacraments at the Service of Communion in the Catholic Church. Here are key aspects of ordination:
Three Degrees of Holy Orders:
Diaconate: Deacons are ordained ministers who serve the Church in a variety of capacities, including assisting at liturgical celebrations, proclaiming the Gospel, and engaging in charitable works. Deacons may be married or celibate.
Presbyterate (Priesthood): Priests are ordained to serve as spiritual leaders, celebrating the sacraments, preaching, and providing pastoral care to the faithful. They may serve in parishes, schools, hospitals, or other ministries.
Episcopate (Episcopal or Bishopric): Bishops are ordained to provide leadership and pastoral oversight to a diocese. Bishops are responsible for confirming candidates for Confirmation, ordaining priests and deacons, and ensuring the unity of faith within their diocese.
Sacrament of Holy Orders: Holy Orders is a sacrament that imparts a special grace and character on the individual being ordained. The sacrament is conferred through the laying on of hands by a bishop, the prayer of consecration, and the invoking of the Holy Spirit.
Formation and Seminary Studies: Individuals preparing for ordination undergo a period of formation and education in a seminary. The formation process includes spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral elements, as well as practical training in liturgy, theology, and pastoral ministry.
Selection and Discernment: Those aspiring to be ordained undergo a discernment process that involves the recommendation and approval of the local bishop. The candidate's suitability for ordination is carefully evaluated, including considerations of character, faith, and the ability to serve in a ministerial role.
Celibacy: While the permanent diaconate allows for married men to be ordained, the priesthood in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church generally requires celibacy. However, exceptions exist, particularly within certain Eastern Catholic Churches and cases of married Anglican clergy converting to Catholicism.
Liturgical Rite: The ordination ceremony is a solemn liturgical event that typically takes place during the celebration of the Eucharist. The laying on of hands and the prayer of consecration are central elements of the ritual.
Oath of Fidelity: Before ordination, candidates typically make an oath of fidelity and pledge obedience to the local bishop and, ultimately, to the Pope. This is an expression of their commitment to serving within the hierarchical structure of the Church.
Ordination is a sacred and solemn event in the life of the Church, marking individuals with a unique sacramental character and consecrating them for service in various ministerial roles. It is an integral part of the Church's mission and the continuation of the apostolic tradition.