Sacrament of Holy
The 3rd and highest of the Major Orders
|According to the Traditional
Catholic Rite of Holy Orders
by A. Biskupek, S.V.D
Mission Press, 1954
May 4, 1942 Charles Michel, S.V.D. Provincial
May 4, 1942 + Samuel A. Stritch, D.D.
Archbishop of Chicago
This is the great sacrament by which the deacon becomes
a priest of the New Testament, another Christ. The word priest is derived
from the Greek word presbyteros, which means elder; the term "elder"
designates a person holding an office which usually is conferred only on
such as are distinguished by age, experience, nobility of character and
life. The priest is distinguished from the rest of the people by the dignity
and authority inherent in the very nature of the priesthood.
Priests were typified in the Old Testament by the seventy elders, who
were chosen by Moses in the desert to assist him in the government of the
people. At what time the first priests were ordained in the church of the
New Testament cannot be established with certainty. However, it is probable
that when St. Paul wrote to Timothy: "Lay not thy hands lightly on any
man." (1 Tim. 5, 22), he had in mind the ordination of priests.
Of the awe-inspiring powers vested in the priesthood three are conferred
by a special ceremonial act, i.e.: the power to offer up the Holy Sacrifice,
the power to forgive sins, and the power to bless. The indelible character
of the priesthood is impressed upon the priest's soul: and for all eternity
he shall be "priest according to the order of Melchisedech" (Ps. 109, 4).
The rite of the ordination of priests is truly sublime.
Of the many new ceremonial acts which appear in the rite, the following
call for brief explanation.
The priesthood is conferred before the last verse of the Tract or paschal
Alleluia, before the Alleluia of the Gradual, before the last stanza of
the Sequence, as the case may be.
The Anointing of the Hands of the Priest - Holy oil was used extensively
in the liturgical functions of the Old Testament. The high priest and the
priests, the Tabernacle and is furniture, prophets and kings, were anointed.
Christ Himself is announced as the Messias, which means the Anointed. He is the supreme prophet, king, and
priest. It is fitting, therefore, that the priest of the Christian
Dispensation, the "other Christ," should also be anointed. The anointing
symbolizes the dedication of a person to the service of God, and the
bestowal of grace.
The Concelebration -
Concelebration denotes the celebration of the same Mass by more than one
priest. From the Offertory on, the newly ordained priests say the Mass
together with the bishop, so that their ordination Mass is really their
first Mass. According to the present discipline of the Latin Church,
concelebration takes place only on the occasion of ordination; but it
was common in ancient times and is so to the present day in the Eastern
churches. Concelebration beautifully expresses the truth that there is
but one priesthood and one sacrifice.
The Profession of Faith -- Toward the end of the Mass, all newly ordained priests
recite together the Apostles' Creed. It is fitting that, as they enter
upon their mission of teaching, they should solemnly profess the faith
which they will announce to the world.
The Promise of Obedience - This promise of obedience is not a vow
like the vow of obedience made by religious, but it imposes upon the priest
the solemn obligation to administer his office in faithful obedience to
his ecclesiastical superiors. Without obedience the Church could not carry
on her work. And after all, how fitting it is that the priest, who is "another
Christ," should distinguish himself and merit the blessing of God for his
work by the practice of that virtue which may be called the characteristic
virtue of our Savior Jesus Christ, who "became obedient unto death, even
the death of the cross" (Philipp. 2,8).
Deacons present themselves for ordination to the priesthood dressed
in amice, alb, cincture, maniple, and stole. On their left arm they carry
a folded chasuble and in their right hand a burning candle.
The Call. The bishop, with his miter on, sits
on the faldstool before the middle of the altar. The archdeacon bids the
candidates come forward; the notary reads their names:
Let those who are to be ordained to the order
of the priesthood come forward: N.N., etc.
Each one answers: adsum, goes before the altar and kneels, holding
the burning candle in his right hand.
The Postulation. The archdeacon presents
the candidates to the bishop, requesting him to ordain them:
If the ordaining bishop is a cardinal, the archdeacon says:
Most Eminent and Reverend Father,
The Scrutiny. The bishop inquires:
Our holy Mother, the Catholic Church, requests
that you ordain the deacons here present to the office of the
Doest thou know them to be worthy?
The archdeacon answers:
As far as human frailty allows to know, I know
and I testify that they are worthy of the charge of this office.
The bishop says:
Consultation of the People. The bishop, with
his miter on, makes to the clergy and people the following announcement:
Dearly beloved brethren, the captain of a ship
as well as the passengers are in the same condition as to safety or danger.
Their cause is common, therefore they ought to be of the same mind. Indeed,
not without reason did the Fathers ordain that in the election of those
who were to be employed in the service of the altar the people also should
be consulted. For it happens here and there that, as to the life and conduct
of a candidate, a few know what is unknown to the majority. Necessarily,
also, people will render obedience more readily to the ordained if they
have consented to his ordination."
The Instruction. The bishop makes a short pause;
then he addresses to the ordinands the following instruction:
Now, with the help of the Lord, these deacons are
to be ordained priests. As far as I can judge, their life has been of
approved goodness and pleasing to God, and, in my opinion, merits for
them promotion to a higher ecclesiastical honor. However, lest one or a
few be mistaken in their judgment, or deceived by affection, we must
hear the opinion of many. Therefore, whatsoever you know about their
lives or character, whatsoever you think of their worthiness, freely
make it known. Testify as to their fitness for the priesthood according
to merit rather than according to affection. If anyone has anything
against them, before God and for the sake of God let him confidently
come forward and speak. However, let him be mindful of his
Dearly beloved sons, you are about to be ordained
to the order of the priesthood. Strive to receive it worthily, and having
received it, to discharge its duties in a praiseworthy manner.
The Prostration and the Litany of the Saints.
If no subdeacons or deacons have been ordained, there follows now the touching
ceremony of the prostration. The ordinands prostrate themselves on the
floor of the sanctuary, as a sign of their unworthiness and need of divine
assistance. The bishop, with his miter on, kneels at the faldstool; all
others who assist kneel in their places. The chanters begin the Litany
of the Saints; the choir answers. If there is no choir, the bishop recites
the litany, and all assisting clerics answer. The whole Church Triumphant
is called upon to intercede with God that He may give worthy ministers
to the Church Militant.
The office of the priest is to offer sacrifice, to bless, to govern,
to preach, and to baptize. Truly, it must be with great fear that you ascend
to so high a station; and care must be taken that heavenly wisdom, an irreproachable
character, and long-continued righteousness shall commend the candidates
chosen for it.
It is for this reason that the Lord, when commanding Moses to select
from the whole people of Israel seventy men to assist him, and to impart
to them a share in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, added this direction:
Take whom thou knowest to be elders among the people. Now you have been
typified by the seventy men who were elders, if, observing the Ten Commandments
of the Law by the help of the seven-fold Spirit, you will be men of virtue,
mature in knowledge as well as in work.
Under the same mystery and figure, the Lord chose in the New Testament
seventy-two disciples and sent them two by two, to go before Him, preaching.
Thus He wished to teach by word and deed that the ministers of His Church
should be perfect in faith and practice, in other words, that they should
be grounded in the twin virtue of charity, namely, the love of God and
the love of neighbor.
Therefore, endeavor to be such that, by the grace of God, you may be
worthy to be chosen as helpers of Moses and the twelve apostles, that is,
the Catholic bishops who are signified by Moses and the twelve apostles.
Truly wonderful is the variety with which holy Church is endowed, adorned,
and governed. Its ministers are men ordained to various orders, some bishops,
others inferior in rank, priests and deacons and subdeacons; and out of
many members distinguished as to dignity, the one body of Christ is formed.
And so, dearly beloved sons, chosen by the
judgment of our brethren to be our helpers in the ministry, maintain in
your deportment inviolate purity and holiness of life. Understand what
you do, imitate what you administer. Inasmuch as you celebrate the
mystery of the death of the Lord, you should endeavor to mortify in your
members all sin and concupiscence. Let your teaching be a spiritual
medicine for the people of God and the odor of your lives a delight for
the Church of Christ. May you thus build up, by preaching and example,
the house, that is, the family of God, so that your promotion may not be
a cause of damnation for me, nor the reception of so great an office for
you, but rather of reward. May He by His grace grant it to us. R.
The Litany of the Saints is prayed
After the litany the ordinands rise.
The Bestowal of the Office. The most solemn
moment of the rite of ordination has now arrived, the moment in which that
wonderful transformation takes place in the soul of the ordinand, which
makes him "Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech." The
bishop imposes both his hands upon each ordinand without saying
any prayer, and after him all priests present do the same; then the bishop
and all priests raise their right hands and hold them extended over the
candidates. All is hushed in silence - it is as if the heavens opened and
the Holy Spirit come down in visible form to take possession of His elect:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me"
(Is. 61, 1).
Holding his right hand extended, the bishop prays:
Let us pray, dearly beloved brethren, to God,
the Father Almighty, that He may multiply heavenly gifts upon these His
servants whom He has chosen for the office of the priesthood. May they
by His help accomplish what they undertake at His gracious call. Through
Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
Prayer. The bishop, with his miter off, turns
to the altar and says:
Let Us Pray
Again the bishop turns to the ordained and prays:
The assistants: Let us bend our knees. R. Amen.
Hear us, we beseech Thee, Lord our God, and pour
out upon these Thy servants the + blessing
of the Holy Spirit and the power of priestly grace. Sustain them forever
with the bounty of Thy gifts, whom we present to Thy mercy to be consecrated.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy son, who lives and reigns with Thee
in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God,
The following is said by the bishop, with his arms extended:
V. Forever and ever.
What follows is said in a low voice but loud enough to be heard by those
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with thee.
V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We have lifted them up unto the Lord.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is meet and just.
It is truly meet and just, right and profitable unto salvation to give
thanks at all times and in all places to Thee, holy Lord, Father Almighty,
eternal God, Giver of honors and Dispenser of all dignities. Through Thee
all things progress; by Thee they are sustained; through Thee the endowments
of our rational nature are continually raised to a higher perfection according
to a wisely appointed plan.
Thus have come into existence priestly orders and the office of Levites,
instituted amid sacred mysteries. When Thou didst appoint high priests
to govern the people, Thou didst also choose men of lower rank and inferior
dignity to be at their side and to assist them in their work. Thus didst
Thou multiply in the desert the spirit of Moses through the minds of seventy
judicious men, so that with their help he easily governed the countless
multitudes of the people. In like manner Thou hast bestowed upon Eleazar
and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron, the fullness of their father's priestly
power, so that there might be a sufficient number of priests for the offering
of salutary sacrifices and the performance of the numerous sacred rites.
By the same providence Thou, O Lord, has joined to the apostles of Thy
Son teachers of the faith; and with their help they have filled the whole
world with the glad tidings of the gospel.
Therefore, we beseech Thee, O Lord, give also to us such help in our
infirmity; we need it so much more than they, as our weakness is so much
greater. We beseech Thee, almighty Father, invest these Thy servants
with the dignity of the priesthood. Do Thou renew in their hearts the spirit
of holiness, that they may hold the office, next to ours in importance,
which they have received from Thee, O Lord, and by the example of their
lives point out a norm of conduct. May they be prudent fellow laborers of our order;
may the pattern of all justice shine forth in them so that, when they
will give a good account of the stewardship entrusted to them, they may
receive the reward of eternal bliss.
Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. R. Amen.
Investiture with the Priestly Vestments. The
bishop sits, with his miter on. The ordained are now vested with the priestly
vestments. The bishop arranges to stole of each one, which up to now was
worn over the left shoulder, in the manner in which it is worn by the priest
at Mass, i.e., in the form of a cross. In doing this he says:
Receive the yoke of the Lord; for His yoke is
sweet and His burden light.
Then the bishop vests the candidates with the chasuble in such a manner
that only the front part hangs down and the back part remains folded, saying
at the same time:
Receive the priestly vestment, by which charity
is signified; for God is powerful to increase unto thee charity and perfection
The ordained answers:
Prayer. While all are kneeling, the bishop,
with his miter off, prays:
O God, Author of all holiness, from whom comes
true consecration and the fullness of benediction, do Thou, O Lord, pour
out Thy gracious blessing upon these Thy servants, upon whom we confer
the honor of the priesthood. May they, by gravity of demeanor and strictness
of life, prove themselves to be elders, trained according to the principles
which Paul set forth to Titus and Timothy. May they keep Thy law before
their minds day and night, believe what they read, teach what they believe,
and practice what they teach. May they show forth in their persons justice,
constancy, mercy, fortitude, and all other virtues, be leaders by their
example, inspire strength by exhortation, and preserve the gift of their
ministry pure and undefiled; may they change by a holy benediction bread
and wine into the body and blood of Thy Son for the worship of Thy people.
And having kept their conscience pure and true their faith in never failing
charity, may they rise on the day of God's just and final judgment, full
of the Holy Spirit, to perfect manhood, in the full measure of the age
of Christ. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who lives
and reigns with Thee in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, forever
and ever. R. Amen.
The bishop, with his miter off, turns to the altar, kneels and intones
the following hymn, which is then continued by the choir.
Veni Creator Spiritus (Come, Holy Ghost, Creator,
The Anointing of the Hands. After the first
stanza the bishop seats himself and receives the miter. He takes off his
gloves, and a cloth or towel is spread over his lap. The candidates approach,
and kneeling before him, one by one, they hold their hands for the anointing
in such a manner that the palms are turned upward and the sides and the
little fingers touch each other. The bishop dips his thumb into the holy
oil, draws a line from the thumb of the right hand to the index finger
of the left and from the thumb of the left hand to the index finger of
the right, and then anoints the whole of both palms. While doing this he
pronounces the following prayer:
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to consecrate and sanctify
these hands by this unction and our + blessing.
Then, keeping his hands joined, he goes to the side of the altar, where
one of the assisting priests binds them together with a white cloth, leaving
the fingers free. When all have been anointed, the bishop purifies his
thumb with crumbs of bread.
The anointed answers: Amen.
That whatsoever they shall bless may be blessed, and whatsoever they
shall consecrate be consecrated and sanctified, in the name of our Lord
The anointed answers: Amen.
Bestowal of the Power to Offer the Holy Sacrifice of
the Mass. By the preceding rite of the imposition of hands the
candidates have been made priests and possess all priestly powers. But
the power to celebrate Mass, to change bread and wine into the body and
blood of Christ is such a tremendous, awe-inspiring power that a special
rite is employed to express its bestowal and to bring more fully into realization
what has been received.
The ordained again approach the bishop and kneel before him. A chalice
containing wine and water, and the paten with a host lying on it, is presented
to each; whereupon the ordained takes the paten between the index and the
middle finger, touching with the index finger the paten and host and with
the middle finger the cup of the chalice, while the bishop says:
The bishop washes his hands and continues the Mass. After the Offertory
the bishop puts on the miter and takes his seat before the middle of the
altar. All the ordained now approach in due order, two by two, and, kneeling,
offer to the bishop a burning candle, at the same time kissing the bishop's
ring. If the number of the ordained is very great, only one of each order
offers a candle.
Having received this offering, the bishop washes his hands, and the
Mass is continued. From now on all the newly ordained priests say the Mass
together with the bishop, and all prayers, even those usually said in a
low voice, are said aloud.
The Mass here continues with the Offertory.
The Communion of the Ordained. After the bishop
has consumed the sacred species, the newly ordained priests receive Holy
Communion at his hands, but under one species only. However, since the
young priests were also celebrants of the ordination Mass, the customary
prayers, Confiteor, Misereatur, etc., are not said; neither does the bishop
say any prayer when distributing Holy Communion. But each one, before receiving
the sacred host, kisses the ring of the bishop.
Now the others who have been ordained approach the altar. Confiteor,
Misereatur, etc., are said in the usual way but when giving Holy Communion
the bishop uses the formula:
May the body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve
thee unto life everlasting.
After receiving Communion -- The newly ordained priests have finished
their first holy Mass. They are other Christs and in a very special manner
the friends of Jesus. Now the mission of Jesus is theirs in the fullest
sense of the word. As they will daily offer the Holy Sacrifice, so their
endeavor must be to apply to the world the merits of the death of the Savior.
This is done especially by announcing to the world the true faith and by
forgiving sins. But that in the exercise of these offices they may truly
advance the glory of God, they must act in obedience to their lawful superiors.
These are the thoughts expressed in the following ceremonies.
Each one answers: Amen, kisses the ring of the
bishop and receives the sacred host.
After the bishop as taken the ablution, he washes his hands; with miter
off and, standing on the epistle side, he intones the following responsories,
which are then continued by the choir. If there is no choir present, the
bishop reads these responsories.
I will not now call you servants but my friends;
for you have known all things whatsoever I have wrought in the midst of
The alleluia is omitted from Septuagesima to Easter.
Receive in you the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete; He it is whom the Father
will send you. Alleluia.
You are my friends if you do the things that I command you. Receive
in you the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to
the Holy Ghost. He it is whom the Father will send you.
The Profession of Faith. Having said this
responsory, the bishop, with his miter on, goes to the middle of the altar
and turns to the newly ordained priests. These, standing before the altar,
now recite the Apostle's Creed,
thus publicly professing the faith which they will preach to the world.
Bestowal of the Power to Forgive Sins. It
must be remembered that the ordained were made priests and received all
priestly powers by the imposition of the hands of the bishop. However,
because of the excellence of the power to forgive sins, a special ceremony
is employed to express its bestowal upon the priest. It is particularly
fitting that this should be done after the offering of that Holy Sacrifice
by which Christ has made atonement for the sins of men and reconciled us
with His heavenly Father.
The bishop, with his miter on, seats himself. The newly ordained come
up and kneel before him; he lays his hands on each one and says:
Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins thou shalt
forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins thou shalt retain, they
The Unfolding of the Chasuble. Then the bishop
unfolds the back part of the chasuble, saying:
May the Lord clothe thee with the robe of innocence.
The Promise of Obedience. Now the bishop takes
both hands of the ordained into his own and asks for the promise of obedience.
If he is the Ordinary of the ordained, he says:
Dost thou promise me and my successors reverence
If the bishop is not the Ordinary of the ordained, he says:
Then the bishop, still holding the newly ordained priest's hands within
his own, kisses him on the right cheek, saying:
Instruction. The bishop, having received the
crozier, now addresses to the newly ordained priests the following exhortation:
Dearly beloved sons, since the office which you
will perform is beset with considerable danger, I admonish you to learn
carefully from other experienced priests the order of the whole Mass, the
consecration and the breaking of the host, and the communion, before you
begin to celebrate Mass.
The Solemn Blessing. The bishop rises and blesses
the priests kneeling before him:
May the blessing of the almighty God, the +
Father, the + Son, and the Holy +
Ghost, descend upon you, that you may be blessed in the priestly order,
and offer up the sacrifice of propitiation for the sins and offenses of
the people to almighty God, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever.
The bishop lays aside miter and crozier and continues the Mass prayers
(the Communion verse and Post Communion verse) together with the newly
The Final Admoniton. (After the Last Blessing)
With miter on and crozier in hand, the bishop seats himself and addresses
all the ordained kneeling before him. If all orders have been conferred,
the following admonition is read as it stands; if not, reference to the
orders not received is left out.
Dearly beloved sons, carefully consider the order
which you have received today and the burden which has been laid upon your
shoulders. Endeavor to live holy lives devoted to religion and to be pleasing
to the almighty God, that you may obtain His grace. May He in His mercy
deign to bestow it upon you.
The Last Gospel. The bishop having put aside
crozier and miter goes to the gospel side of the altar and, together with
the newly ordained priests, begins the Last Gospel.
All those who have been promoted to the first tonsure, or the four minor
orders, say once the seven penitential psalms with the litany, versicles,
Subdeacons and deacons, say the nocturn of this day.
Those who have been ordained priests, say, after your first Mass, three
other Masses: one of the Holy Spirit, another of the Blessed Mary, ever
virgin, and the third one for the faithful departed, and pray to almighty
God also for me.
The ordained answer: Gladly.
Indulgences. On the day of
a first Mass:
A plenary indulgence may be gained:
A partial indulgence of seven years may be gained by all the faithful who
assist at the first Mass and pray for the intention of the Holy Father.
(Raccolta, 629 and 684).
by the newly ordained priest under the usual
by the relatives of the priest within the third degree of consanguinity
if they assist at the first Mass, receive the sacraments and pray for the
intention of the Holy Father; one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be is
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