4:30 - 5:00 PM
2:45 - 3:45 PM
"I will give you shepherds after my own heart."
"In these words from the prophet Jeremiah, God promises his people that he will never leave them without shepherds to gather them together and guide them: "I will set shepherds over them [my sheep] who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed" (Jer. 23.4).
"The Church, the People of God, constantly experiences the reality of this prophetic message and continues joyfully to thank God for it. She knows that Jesus Christ himself is the living, supreme and definitive fulfillment of God's promise: "I am the good shepherd" (Jn. 10:11).
"He, "the great shepherd of the sheep" (Heb. 13:20), entrusted to the apostles and their successors the ministry of shepherding God's flock" (cf. Jn. 21:15ff.; 1 Pt. 5:2).
"Without priests the Church would not be able to live that fundamental obedience which is at the very heart of her existence and her mission in history, an obedience in response to the command of Christ: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Mt. 28:19) and "Do this in remembrance of me" (Lk. 22:19; cf. 1 Cor. 11.24), i.e:, an obedience to the command to announce the Gospel and to renew daily the sacrifice of the giving of his body and the shedding of his blood for the life of the world." John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis.
Degrees of Holy Orders
The Sacrament of Holy Orders is experienced in three degrees:
- ordination to the Deaconate
- ordination to the Priesthood
- ordination to the Episcopacy (the Bishops, who are the successors of the apostles)
In the Sacraments of Initiation of Baptism and Confirmation, all of the faithful are consecrated to the priesthood of the faithful. In Holy Orders, men receive particular consecrations dedicated towards the service of all the faithful, and calling all to conversion towards Jesus Christ.
In a remarkable Apostolic Letter entitled Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II wrote concerning the ever present topic of female ordinations and concluded with the following:
"Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. <Lk> 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."
And indeed, the Church has followed this teaching since its inception by Jesus Christ. The Sacrament of Holy Orders is one of the Sacraments of Service along with the Sacrament of Matrimony; it is focused towards the salvation of others.
For Those Interested in Holy Orders
Men interested in Holy Orders, either the Priesthood or serving as a Deacon, are encouraged to research and pray upon the matter with some fervor and diligence, always entrusting the matter to the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Women and men interested in Consecrated life as a Religious Sister or Brother are also encouraged to give prayerful consideration to the matter, and to entrust it to the Lord. We learn in following a Godly life that there are essentially four states in life: Married life; Single life; Consecrated life as a Religious Brother or Sister; and Consecrated life as a Deacon, Priest or Bishop.
If you are experiencing any interest in religious life, feel free to call or e-mail Fr. Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org info and start what is an essentially prayerful and usually enjoyable and enlightening dialogue of conversion and discovery of Christ in your life.