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제목 The Sacrament of Holy Orders(2017-05-14)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2017-05-15


 




The Sacrament of Holy Orders(2017-05-14)


St Thomas Aquinas explains that the first five sacraments were necessary for each individual in the Church and the last two sacraments (Holy Orders and matrimony) are necessary for the common good of the Church. In a gathering of people together into one society, there is need of authority so that this society can be in good order. Hence St Paul says to the bishops of Asia Minor gathered at Ephesus: “Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). And above the individual bishops, our Lord has placed Peter and his successors with the special power to “confirm his brethren” (Lk. 22:32). So it is clear that there is in the Church a God-given authority, given by our Lord to the Pope, the bishop, and to the priests who are their co-operators, and the deacons and other sacred orders who are their helpers.

What is the purpose of that authority? St Paul says: “For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Heb. 5:1). The very first commandment deals with the worship of God; the Church is essentially a praying Church. Hence it is normal that the first role of the priests be the worship. “For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices” (Heb. 8:3). Now the perfect worship of the New Testament consists in offering the perfect Sacrifice which our Lord Jesus Christ offered to His Father on the Cross; that daily renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ the day before He suffered.

Hence the Church teaches that our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of the priesthood just after He instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, when He gave power to His Apostles to do what He had just done. The Council of Trent defined: “If anyone would say that by the words "do this in memory of me" Christ did not institute His Apostles as priests, or did not order that they and the other priests would offer His Body and Blood, let him be anathema!” (Dz. 1752) By giving them the mission to do what He did, He was necessarily giving them the power to do it, power to transform bread into His Body and wine into His Blood and to offer them as He did.

Thus, the priest is first of all the man of the sacrifice, the minister of that tremendous Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the highest act of worship, by which mankind renders to God its duty of adoration, of thanksgiving, of expiation and of prayer. The priest is a “man of God” (1 Tim. 6:11), the man of the Eucharist, who has power to transform bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Christ, to offer it for the living and the dead, and to distribute it to the faithful: “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). From there flows all the powers and duties of the priests.

The first obligation that flows from this is that the priest must be a man of prayer. The priest must pray not only for himself but for the whole people, for the whole Church, not only for the sanctification of the good faithful but also for the return of the prodigal son and for the conversion of all sinners and unbelievers. An apostolate that would not be nourished by a deep life of prayer would often be in vain: as St Paul says the priest would have become “a sounding brass and tickling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). Hence the Church asks him to say the “Divine Office”, i.e. the breviary every day. The breviary is essentially composed by the 150 psalms distributed over the week so that each week the whole psalter is said. To this core prayer, the Church over the centuries has added some hymns, some prayers, some readings and various verses most of which is from the Holy Scriptures. Some of these prayers and hymns come from the very beginning of the Church and some were composed later by the Saints or the holy pontiffs. It is a gave duty for the priest to pray his breviary: it is a grave sin for him if he omits even one of the “small hours” of the day. The priest is not obliged to offer Mass every day, but he is obliged to recite his breviary every day.

It is useful to know that St Pius X had restored the regular weekly recitation of the 150 psalms in the Breviary: before him, there were theoretically there but practically were very rarely used because of a problem of rubrics: on many feasts of saints, the psalms of the “proper of saints” were used rather than the psalms of the regular weekday, which thus were often de facto omitted. So St Pius X redistributed these 150 psalms over the week and required the weekday psalms to be said even in most of the feasts of the Saints.

On the contrary, the second Vatican Council has destroyed this great principle of the 150 psalms every week. They suppressed the hour of Prime; they made optional two out of the three other little hours; they diminished the number of psalms at matins from 9 to 3, thus rendering impossible the weekly recitation of the 150 psalms. Now the psalms are said only once a month – and even some verses of the psalms are never said; one bishop said: “they censured the Holy Ghost”! Those verses that are omitted always refer to the spiritual combat against sin, against the devil and the world; they are strong and this is the reason why the modernists do not like them. But the result is that the modern priests become spiritually weak and do not engage in the spiritual battle as they should. By their priesthood, they are established “captains” in the army of God; if the captain is week the whole army is weak and thus we see many deserters.

The model of the Mass is the solemn high Mass, in which the priest is assisted by a deacon, a sub-deacon and acolytes. The Church indeed from the very beginning has established that one would become a priest through seven steps: the minor orders and the major orders. There are four minor orders: porters, lectors, exorcists, acolytes; and there are three major orders: sub-deacons, deacons and priests. The last two are explicitly mentioned in the Scriptures but the others are found in the very early Church. Thus being composed of seven hierarchical orders, that sacrament came to be called “the Sacrament of Holy Orders”. It was certainly not right for Pope Paul VI to suppress all the minor orders and the sub-deaconate: a Pope cannot suppress more than 1700 years of Catholic tradition! Moreover, the very council of Trent defined – with an anathema: “if anyone would say that, apart from the priesthood, there are not in the Catholic Church other orders, both major and minor, by which as through steps one ascends to the priesthood, let him be anathema!” (Dz. 1772) Thus it is clear that the very existence of minor orders is a dogma of faith: how then could a pope suppress them? In the traditional religious societies such as the Society of St. Pius X, we keep these seven Holy Orders, in order to be faithful to what we received. Indeed, St Paul said: “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:1-2).
 

 These steps towards the priesthood constitute a “hierarchy”, i.e. a priestly line of authority in the Church. This priestly line of authority – hierarchy – is of divine institution, as the Council of Trent defined: “If anyone say that in the Catholic Church there is not a hierarchy instituted by divine disposition, which consists of bishops, priests and ministers, let him be anathema!” (Dz. 1776). The bishops have at their head the Pope, and the ministers comprise the deacons and the lower orders. This is the essential structure of the Catholic Church; it has been so since our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and will remain so until the end of the world. In that structure, authority comes from above, not from below. In the Church, there is a priestly hierarchy, priestly line of command: this implies that there is duty for the faithful to obey their priests. St Paul teaches this explicitly: “Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you” (Heb. 13:17).

 
 Because the priest is the man of the Sacrifice, the man who offers the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he must conform to our Lord Jesus Christ crucified, and thus from the time of the Apostles themselves, the “apostolic standards” for priests required the practice of the three evangelical counsels especially that of chastity: perfect continence was required from the clergy in major orders from the time of the Apostles. Thus St Paul says to Timothy: “Keep thyself chaste” (1 Tim. 5:22).

 

 In the early church, some who were married were chosen to become priests and bishops: they were then obliged to embrace perfect continence. Thus when St Hilary was chosen bishop of Poitiers , he has been married for a few years and had a baby girl: he then embraced a life of perfect continence and his wife then entered the convent. When his little girl had grown to about 13, St Hilary was then in exile because of the Arian emperor, and he wrote to her beautiful letters encouraging her to follow the good example of her mother (and father) and choose the life of perfection by consecrating her virginity to Christ. Since experience showed that celibate clergy were more faithful to this duty of perfect continence than formerly married clergy, and following the example of St Augustine, the Church in the West choose to ordain only celibate candidate (and exceptionally some widowers) and hence developed a celibate clergy. One must remember that the essential obligation is that of perfect continence, celibacy being the best way to insure it. It is wrong when today “permanent deacons” are ordained without requesting from them perfect continence. This is against the Apostolic standards, and the whole Tradition of the Church. The Church suffers a lot from the bad example of scandalous clergymen; but the Church is also highly edified by the good example of faithful priests.


 The priest having the responsibility of the Blessed Sacrament has also the power to prepare the faithful to receive it: thus, he has the power to confer the sacraments of Baptism, Penance and Extreme Unction. He is the ordinary minister of the Sacrament of baptism, though anyone can be extraordinary minister of baptism in case of urgent necessity. But he is the only minister of the sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction. By these sacraments, he cleans the souls of the faithful from sin, so that they be ready to receive the Holy of holies, our Lord Jesus Christ really present in the Blessed Sacrament.

 
 But before giving them the sacraments, the priest must prepare the faithful by instruction. Thus, he has authority to teach in the Church, authority to preach. Thus, the priest must be a man of doctrine, of sound doctrine of course! Sound doctrines requires fidelity to the deposit of Faith: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust (“the deposit”), avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20). The priest must follow the example of St Paul: “I delivered unto you first of all, that which I also received” (1 Cor. 15:3).

 

 No one can take upon oneself such authority to teach and preach, but he must be chosen, he must be sent. St Paul says indeed: “how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent,” (Rom. 10:14-15). Self-appointed protestants ministers are thereby eliminated by St Paul! Our Lord Himself had said to His Apostles: “You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit; and your fruit should remain” (Jn. 15:16). Even when Matthias was elected, this was done under the authority of Peter and the Apostles: the people did not decide this of themselves! Thus, in the Church the priests are chosen by the bishop; the bishops are normally chosen by the Pope. They never choose themselves.

 

 The minister of the sacrament of Holy Orders is the bishop, who is like the High Priest in the New Testament: the bishop represents Christ in a diocese, and he has the special power to ordain other priests and to give confirmation. The matter of that sacrament is the imposition of the hands of the bishop. We see already in the Old Testament Moses imposing the hands onto Joshua to transmit him his authority and make him his successor (Num. 27:23). In the New Testament, we see the Apostles imposing the hands on the newly chosen Deacons (Act. 6:6); also St Paul and Barnabas receive the imposition of the hands when they are ordained as Apostles (bishops) (Act. 13:3). St Paul encourages Timothy in these words: “Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood” (1 Tim. 4:14), and again in his second epistle to him: “I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee, by the imposition of my hands” (2 Tim. 1:6). And finally, he warns Timothy: “Impose not hands lightly upon any man, neither be partaker of other men's sins.” (1 Tim. 5:22). Indeed, if a bishop would ordain priest unworthy candidates, he would be responsible for the scandals they would give. That imposition of hands is very solemn: the bishop first imposes the hands (this is essential) and then holds his hand extended while every priest present imposes his hands onto the candidates to be ordained priests and joins the bishop in holding his hand extended. Then the bishop sings the consecratory preface, in which there are the words that constitute the form of the sacrament.

 

  The ceremony of ordination also comprises many other important elements, such as the giving of the power to “offer the Sacrifice of the Mass for the living and the dead”, the power to forgive sins, etc. In fact, these powers are given at the moment of the imposition of the hands, but the church makes manifest the richness of the sacrament by these additional ceremonies. These ceremonies are a great instruction and foster the devotion both in the candidates and in the faithful who attend.


 As for Baptism and Confirmation, the sacrament of Holy Orders confers a character on the soul, that is, an indelible mark that will remain there forever, either in Heaven for the glory of the faithful ministers, or in hell for the greater shame of the unfaithful ones. That character is what is required so that the priest may administer validly the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. Indeed, though the Church greatly insists on the need of holiness in her priest, the Church also teaches that in spite of the unworthiness of some particular minister, the Sacraments he performs remain valid – so long as the priest performs properly the rite of the Church – and this is for the good of the faithful, so that they can have the certitude of receiving the grace of God. If the faithful could not have that certitude without depending on the unknown interior worthiness of the minister, it would greatly destabilise the Church and the spiritual life of many. However, when the minister starts changing the rite of the church and preaching a new doctrine, then he can harm the faithful badly. Then often the sheep no longer recognise the voice of the good shepherd; they became confused and disperse. This is what has been happening with the new rites in the early late 1960s and early 1970s.

 

 Hence there is a great need for the faithful to pray for their priests: the faithful will have the priests that they deserve by their prayers. The priest is obliged by his office to pray for his faithful, and he is alone to pray for many; the faithful are obliged in charity to pray for their priest and they are many to pray for one! We all need to pray for the sanctification of the clergy, we need especially to pray our Lady for their sanctification, that she obtains for them the grace of the purity of faith and morals, and the zeal for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

 
 There is a great need too to pray for many holy vocations. Indeed, St Vincent de Paul said that it is easier to make a good new priest than to reform a bad one. There has been a very grave crisis of vocation after the Council Vatican II, which was a consequence in particular of the changes of the liturgy. If the priest was no longer the man of the Sacrifice, he had lost his very purpose and was looking for side purposes which were no longer able to sustain a life sacrifice; hence the fall of many. There was no need to be a priest in order to be a social worker; there was no need of continence to be a social worker. Hence the obligations of the priesthood seemed unbearable to many because of the loss of focus on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; hence the great decline of vocations. On the contrary, where there is fidelity to the Tradition of the Church, there is a renewal of vocations. But that goes necessary with lots of fervent prayers for good and holy priests.

 

 St Thomas Aquinas says that the bishops are in a “state of perfection”, because they are solemnly consecrated to duties that require perfection. At a lower level, this applies to priests also. Hence there are strictly bound to tend towards perfection, even more than a monk is bound to tend towards perfection by his vows. They need the help of your prayers, so that they can fulfil their ministry in a worthy manner. We see St Paul begging the faithful to pray for him: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the charity of the Holy Ghost, that you help me in your prayers for me to God,” (Rom. 15:30).

 

 So please, dear faithful, do pray for me and all the priests of the Society of St. Pius X, that we may be “faithful dispensers of the mysteries of God”, faithful to our obligations towards God and towards you for your sanctification. Pray especially to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the High Priest and Mother of all the priests, that she may obtain for us all the graces we need, so that we may go to Heaven with you. Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney (SSPXASIA)