Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.
It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at
DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.
Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which men receive the power and grace to perform the sacred duties of bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper when He gave the Apostles and their successors the power to say Mass. He said, after consecrating His Body and Blood: "Do this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22: 19). Thus He gave the Apostles the power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
On the day of the Resurrection Our Lord gave the disciples power to forgive sins. He breathed on them and said: As the Father has sent Me, I also send you...Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained" (John 20: 21-23).
Finally, before the Ascension, Christ gave His disciples the mission to preach the Gospel and dispense the sacraments. All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (Matthew 28: 18-20).
The Apostles in turn consecrated Paul and Barnabas bishops, with prayer and the imposition of hands. In the same way Saint Paul ordained Timothy. When the Apostles established churches, upon their departure, they ordained and appointed successors (bishops) to whom they gave full powers, and other ministers (priests and deacons) to whom they transmitted part of their powers. "For this reason I admonish thee to stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the laying on of my hands" (2 Timothy 1: 6).
Some of the preliminary sings of a vocation to the priesthood include that a young man be capable of living habitually in the state of grace; that he be attracted to the priesthood and manifest the attraction by frequent confession and Holy Communion, by a virtuous life, by a love for serving Mass, teaching catechism and doctrine, and leading others toward sanctity. Those who are called by God to be priests ordinarily receive no special revelation to this effect. God expects us all to use the gifts of reason and of grace in determining their state of life. Finally, he has a right intention to save his soul and the souls of others; that has good health and sufficient ability to succeed in the studies of the seminary; and that his qualifications be accepted by the bishop.
The Church is intent that no one should enter the priesthood because his parents have forced it on him. It has to be totally of his own free will and desire is one of the best barometers to a vocation. This burning zeal to be a priest should overcome other opinions from people who deride or oppose his vocation. The Church strong frowns on anyone pursuing the priesthood for their own selfish wants or to escape from the world.
The bishop must be satisfied that the applicant has the virtue and the physical as well as mental fitness required and that he is free from all canonical irregularity. In general if a young man has good will, good health, a good mind, good sense, and a sincere desire to dedicate himself to the service of God, he has the qualifications necessary for the priesthood and through perseverance and the grace of God, it it in the Divine Will, will lay prostrate on the day of his ordination before the Bishop as the successor of the Apostles lays his hands on the young man and he becomes a priest forever.
tomorrow: The Steps to this Sacrament: Minor and Major Orders