Holy Orders - Our Leaders in RCIA
The Sacrament of Holy Orders is one of the Sacraments at the Service of Communion, along with Holy Matrimony. In Holy Matrimony, we are called to serve our spouse. With those who choose to pursue Holy Orders, they are called to serve the Church. Both of these sacraments are "primarily directed toward the salvation of others (USCCA)." Thus, the primary mission of those called to Holy Orders is to guide the Church toward salvation.
The Degrees of Holy Orders
There are three degrees of Holy Orders. They are commonly known as bishops, priests, and deacons.
Also known as Episcopal ordination, bishops trace back to the Apostles themselves. Today's bishops carry out the mission that the Apostles started 2000 years ago. Bishops are the leaders and rulers of the Catholic Church, called by God to their position.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, priests are known as "co-workers of the bishops (CCC, 1562)." They serve the bishops and assist them in the duties of the Church. For many of us, our local priest is our primary contact with the Church itself.
Much like priests, they serve the bishops. They serve at a lower level than priests. They do not enter the priesthood, but serve as ministers instead. One difference with deacons is that they can be married men.
Their Sacrifice, Our Salvation
Accepting Holy Orders also means accepting sacrifice. To serve as Christ served, bishops and priests give up many of the joys of this world to better serve us. Outside of the Catholic faith, there are critics of the sacrifices made by our bishops and priests. In the end, this only shows the worldly nature of the critics, and the devotion of the priesthood. Controversy surrounds the topic. Personally, I am thankful for the sacrifice that they choose to make. May God bless them for taking the road less traveled.
These men choose to live this life because of the passion they have for the Lord. Not only do the bishops, priests, and deacons lead us from the altar, but also by living their lives as an example for us. They share with us the Word. They minister to us during our struggles. They celebrate with us during our moments of joy. Their lives' are intertwined with ours. By sacrificing the joys of this life on earth, they share with us the gift of life in heaven.
We Are Called
The priesthood goes beyond the bishops, priests, and deacons of the Church. In fact, we are all called to a more universal priesthood. As Christians, it is our duty to serve as well. Sharing the Gospel is the responsibility of every Christian. Through Baptism and Confirmation, we accept this mission. Have you been serving?
Not everyone is meant to stand in front of a crowd and preach. Not everyone is given the gift of language to write. Not everyone, myself included, is given the gift to sing. But, we are all given gifts. God gave us talents for a reason. We must learn to use the talents He gave us to serve Him better. Take time to discover your gifts and talents. Find ways that you can use them to share His love. Now, there is only one thing left to do: get out and serve!