The CAPG's Blog
As from the beginning Religion in some form has always existed, consequently at the same time there has also always been a priesthood, that is to say, ministers of sacred things, "ancients," "elders" or priests. Such was Adam; such were Enoch, Noe, Melchizedek, Abraham, and after them under the Mosaic Law the ministers of Religion the High-priest, priests and Levites. (That is: men of the tribe of Levi, from which should be recruited the ministers of the Mosaic Worship. ) However, these were but a figure of and a preparation for the Priesthood of the New Law. In the New Law Jesus Christ is the sole Redeemer, the sole Mediator, the sole Intermediary between Heaven and Earth, and consequently the sole Priest. But according to the general arrangements of His Providence He has willed that certain men should be His earthly and temporary deputies such are the Catholic bishops and priests. Hence the Sacrament of Holy Orders which consecrates them and gives to them the powers and the graces necessary for the exercise of their sacred functions: to offer the Sacrifice of the adorable Body and Blood of our divine Savior; to remit the sins of men; to dispense supernatural life by means of the Sacraments; to teach the truths of religion; to preside at public worship and to render to the faithful from their birth to their death all the services in the spiritual order which they may need for the sanctification and the salvation of their souls.
On our part we have duties towards our priests: to listen to their instructions; to help them in their ministry; to defend them against calumny; and, as far as our means permit us, to provide for their material wants whilst they themselves are consecrating their lives to insure to us all spiritual blessings.
The word Orders (from the Latin Ordo, in the sense of rank, class, social condition) is applied very rightly to the Sacrament by which the hierarchy of the ministers of the Church is created from the minor orders to the sub-deaconship, deaconship, priesthood and episcopate. (We have seen already that the word, priest (presbyter) signifies aged man, ancient, a venerable man; in the primitive Church, the priests were always chosen from amongst the elders.)
Those who receive this Sacrament are the fewer in number. But everywhere God calls whom He wishes without any merit on their part to labor for the salvation of their brethren.
This "call of God" is what we term a location. Those thus called should respond: God will be faithful to them. In the Church the Pope or Sovereign Pontiff is as Bishop of Rome the successor of St. Peter, and the first of the Bishops of the whole Church. The Bishops alone like the Apostles constitute the Priesthood in its complete fullness; it is be cause of this that they alone administer the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Once a priest, forever a priest; nothing can take away this stamp of priesthood which will remain for all eternity. But to hear confessions, every priest must be approved of for this office, and must receive jurisdiction from the bishop, as every bishop receives jurisdiction from the Pope. (Jurisdiction, that is the power to judge or to exercise spiritual authority. )
Once consecrated sub-deacon, the priest is bound: 1st to recite daily the devotional exercises called the Divine Office in which he prays in the name of the whole Church; 2nd to observe celibacy and continence; that is, not to marry and to preserve perfect purity of heart. St. Paul tells us: "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." (I. Cor. VII. 32.)
The Latin Church thus imposes celibacy on her priests so that they may have no other family than that of the souls confided to their care; that they may be able to devote themselves exclusively to the service of these souls; and that they may be freer to consecrate themselves to every kind of ministry, whether in Christian or Pagan lands.
In such circumstances, therefore, it is only just that their material wants should be supplied by the faithful in accordance with the words of St. Paul. (I. Cor. IX.)
The first Catholic priests were St. Peter, who was Pope, the Apostles, who were bishops and those of the Faithful who were chosen and consecrated as priests and missionaries. Throughout the ages since the beginning of time this priesthood has been continued, and so it will be until the end of the world. When there are no longer priests, there will be no longer a Church, and so the world will come to an end.
Source: Credo: A short exposition of Catholic Belief. 1919 1920