“So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash another’s feet….Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.” John 13: 12-17
The Sacrament of Holy Orders is one of two ‘Sacraments at the Service of Communion,’ a sacrament of vocation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Holy Orders as ‘the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry’ (CCC 1536). This sacrament has three distinct degrees or Orders: deacon, priest, and bishop. All three confer a permanent, sacramental character.
It is a ‘Sacrament of Communion’ because it exists to give structure to the Church, to call the members of the Church to a deeper and life-long conversion of heart to Christ, and to be a sign of the age to come ‘where there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage’. (cf. Luke 20:35)
A priest takes on the rolls of shepherd, administrator, counselor, teacher and collaborator. The most vital role of the priesthood is spiritual and sacramental leadership. In his ministry, a priest promotes the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of the people.
Every single one of us has a special role to play in God’s plan for the salvation of all the world. We have all been given gifts and talents that are not intended only for ourselves; God always intended that those gifts be shared. Some have been called to become parents and married persons. Others find themselves called to the single life. They may also serve some role in the public sector of work, using their gifts to benefit others and give glory to God. Still others are called upon to become priests or religious brothers and sisters.
Knowing God’s call in your life is a process of discernment. It can be hard to know where we are being called upon to use our gifts. For help in this discernment process or for more information please contact Fr. Carl B. Fisette, Vocations Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 485 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, RI 02908, 401-331-1316. You can also visit the Diocese of Providence Office of Vocations website.
Read more about the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.