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Holy Orders


"God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life." (CCC #1)


This passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church identifies the threefold  vocation of all mankind: to seek, know, and love God.


Each person was made to fulfill this general vocation in a unique way: "And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ... speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love." (Eph. 4: 11-12, 15-16)

Some men are called to be priest and deacons. If you think that you may be called to the priesthood or diaconate, pray about it! Then call the rectory at (301) 373-2281 to set up an appointment to talk to the pastor.



- The Sacrament of Holy Orders is also called Ordination.


- It is the sacrament by which a Christian man becomes a bishop, priest, or deacon.


- Jesus alluded to the Sacrament of Holy Orders when he said, "All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother' s womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it." (Mt 19: 11-12)


By these words, he indicated that there would be people in the Church who would voluntarily renounce marriage ("[make] themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven") in order to serve God with an undivided heart.


- St. Paul confirms this when he says, "He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your profit: not to cast a snare upon you; but for that which is decent, and which may give you power to attend upon the Lord, without impediment." (1 Cor. 7: 32-35)


This is one reason why the Church insists upon the celibacy of priests. Priests are called to love the Church as a husband loves his wife, and to renounce marriage and family in order to devote themselves fully to the service of God and his people.


- Deacons, however, whose role is primarily to assist the priest, may be married men. However, once a single man is ordained a deacon, he cannot marry. Likewise, if a married deacon loses his wife, he may not remarry except under certain approved conditions.


- Deacons are able to perform two sacraments: Baptism and Marriage.


- Priests are able to perform five sacraments: Baptism, the Eucharist, Confession, Marriage, and Anointing of the Sick. They may also be allowed to perform Confirmation when given a dispensation to do so by their bishop.


- Bishops are able to perform all seven sacraments, and are the ordinary ministers of Confirmation and Holy Orders.


- The matter of the sacrament is the laying on of hands; the form is the prayer said at Ordination.


The laying on of hands has been part of Ordination from the very beginning. See 1 Tim. 4: 14: "Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood."

"Why can't women and married men become priests?"

See articles addressing this question

here, here, and here

"What happens at an Ordination?"

See the answer in this video

from Busted Halo

"What if I have more questions?"

Check out these great resources

from Catholic Answers, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the USCCB

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