Origins of the Priesthood
On the same night Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, He conferred on His Apostles the Holy Priesthood by saying to them, Do this in remembrance of me (Matt. 22:19). On Holy Thursday Christ Jesus put his Apostles in charge of seeing to it that the sacrament of the Eucharist would be celebrated from that time onward, in His memory. Thus Christ willed to institute the sacrament of Holy Orders.
On the first Easter, Jesus, having rose from the dead, breathed on his disciples and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them; you hold them bound, they are held bound" (John 20:22-23), thus giving them the power to forgive sins. Our Lord and Savior gave His Apostles and their successors both the power to make His Body and Blood present in the world, and the power to forgive sins.
What is the Priesthood?
Sacramental priesthood is truly God's presence and power in the world, becoming a living instrument of Christ the eternal Priest, carrying on through the ages His wonderful work. By administering the sacraments the priest builds up the community of faith. He brings human life into contact with divine life, continuing to extend Christ's work in establishing Gods kingdom here on earth, until Christ comes again.
Holy Orders has three hierarchical grades: Bishop, priest, deacons. The bishops are successors of the Apostles. Bishops are to the Church today what the apostles were to the early Christian community. They are the ordinary ministers of the sacrament of Confirmation, a sign of unity in the Christian community, are charged with the duty of teaching, nurturing, and shepherding the Church.
Priests share in the priesthood of the bishop. They have the responsibility of gathering the faithful to celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice, forgive sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation by acting in the name and person of Jesus, preach the Gospel, pray for the Church, anoint the sick, and administer the other sacraments.
Deacons are called to serve the Church. They are entrusted with the responsibility of serving at the Eucharistic table, as ministers of charity in the Church, defending and witnessing to the faith, and carrying on the Churchs task of evangelizing.
The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches maintain the tradition of ordaining men only to the order of bishop, priest and deacon . This tradition originated with Jesus and the Apostles and continues as tradition and custom and theological truth in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches to this day. While women do not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders, and most Catholic men are not ordained to the ministerial priesthood, lay men and women, as well as religious sisters and are called to an active role in the life of the Church as members of the community of the baptized.
If you feel you may have a vocation
If you are a man who feels called to serve Christ's people in the capacity of Holy Orders, or a woman or man who feels called to religious life, you may wish to meet with the pastor, Msgr. Scott Daugherty, and discuss the possibilities. Contact information is here. You may also contact the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Fresno at 488-7478.
Please pray for vocations.
"Feed my lambs... Tend my sheep." ~John 21:15,16