Holy OrdersThe Problem: Many Christians tend not to accept the idea of apostolic succession, the idea that the apostles consecrated successors to themselves who carried the authority of the apostles, nor the idea of an established heirarchy within the Body of Christ. Yet Scripture clearly attests to both.
The Truth: The bishop is the duly consecrated successor to the apostles, following them in an unbroken line from the Twelve, and holding the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, that the priests are duly consecrated assistants to the successors of the Apostles, sharing in the apostolic authority of their bishops, and that deacons are duly consecrated assistants to the priests, and have a share in the authority of the bishop as well.
Lk 22:19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup whichis poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."
Jn 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit...."
God only breathes on man twice in Scripture, in Genesis, when He makes man in the image and likeness of God, and here. A priest performing sacramental duties is acting in the image of Jesus Christ - thus, it is only Christ who baptizes, Christ who consecrates, Christ who forgives sins, and no one else. This gift is passed on from Christ to the Apostles and to those consecrated to act as Christ acted through the Apostles. Every Catholic bishop can show his line of spiritual descent, i.e., who consecrated him, who consecrated his consecrator, and so on, all the way back to the Apostles. Apart from the Eastern Orthodox Churches, no other Christian denomination can make this claim.
Acts 20:28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (episkipous), to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son
1 Pet 2:24-25 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian (episkipous) of your souls.
The word used to designate Christ in 1 Peter, episkipous, is the same word used to designate the overseers, i.e., the priests, in Acts 20:28.
Acts 1:20-21 For it is written in the book of Psalms,
'Let his habitation become desolate,
and let there be no one to live in it'; and
'His office let another take.' 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
Peter referred to the position Judas held as an office, and no one disputed him. The key attribute to a holder of the office is that he be a "witness to the resurrection." The Resurrection is witnessed in the daily sacrifice of the Mass. Certain of the believers are set apart in a special way, through the imposition of hands. These are the consecrated successors to the apostles.
Acts 6:6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.
Acts 13:3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
Acts 14:22-23 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.
1 Tim 4:14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.
2 Tim 1:6 Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;
Notice that the imposition of hands is used in two different ways in Scripture - one for the presbyters, and one for the bringing down of the Holy Spirit, in a completion of baptism.
Ex 19:6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."
Is 61:6 but you shall be called the priests of the Lord, men shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you shall glory.
Some argue that this makes us all priests, and this is true. We are a nation of priests by our baptism. Yet the nation of priests which was the Chosen People had a special tribe of priests set apart...
Lev 8:23-24 And Moses killed it, and took some of its blood and put it on the tip of Aaron's right ear and on the thumb of his right hand and on the great toe of his right foot. 24 And Aaron's sons were brought, and Moses put some of the blood on the tips of their right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the great toes of their right feet; and Moses threw the blood upon the altar round about.
Only the Aaronic priesthood had the right to offer sacrifice for the nation of Israel.
1 Tim 5:22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man's sins; keep yourself pure.
Tit 1:5 This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you
Lk 10:16 "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
1 Pet 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
We are all made priests by our baptism. However, there is a special group of men set apart to minister for the whole Body of Christ.
Early Christians' comments on Bishops, Priests, Deacons (Holy Orders)
The Truth: No woman can be consecrated into the sacrament of Holy Orders.
Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
These two verses are sometimes taken in combination to support the idea that Christ did not intend a male-only priesthood. Since there is no male or female in Christ, and both man and woman are created in the image and likeness of God, women must be capable of being ordained. Unfortunately for this line of reasoning, Galatians is not here speaking of holy orders, but of baptismal salvation, as parallel passages make clear:
1 Cor 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
Rom 10:12-13 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. 13 For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
Col 3:11 Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.
The Romans, the Galatians, the Corinthians and the Colossians were each denying that certain members of their community could be saved. Paul intended to remind each audience that Christ's salvation was open to all - no one could lose the right to salvation simply because of social status. Since one's salvation is not dependent on being ordained a priest, Galatians does not apply to the problem of Holy Orders.
Rom 16:1-2 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchre-ae, 2 that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well.
This verse says quite a bit less than it appears to. The earliest Christians agree that women who served the Church in various capacities were given the name "deacons" (the translation here is actually faulty - the word "deaconess" doesn't appear until the second century). However, the earliest Christians also agree that female deacons never had the same functions, duties, or sacramental charism as even a male deacon, much less a priest. In fact, one of their primary function seems to have been guardians of the Church doors - that is, deaconesses were essentially doorkeepers. They also performed the chrism anointing of women being baptised and being anointed in illness, since these anointings were done over and upon the whole body of the nude believer, and it was (reasonably) believed that a celibate male should not be put in a position of temptation.
Even the strongest proponents of women's ordination agree that no orthodox Christian knew of anyone except heretics who attempted to ordain women. In fact, only three heretical sects ever attempted it: the Montanists, the Marcionites, and the Collyridians. The first two Gnostic sects ordained women because both taught that women had to "become like men" in order to be saved (the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of Mary Magdalene both agreed on this point). The third sect worshipped the Blessed Virgin Mary as a goddess - they ordained women because they understood that the priest (or, in this case, priestess) should be in the image and likeness of God. Thus, though they heretically considered Mary to be God, they were at least self-consistent in attempting to ordain women.
Early Christians' comments on Women Priests
See also Celibacy, Apostolic Succession, Church Authority, Papal Authority
The Truth: The use of titles for those who have been properly installed in the offices of the Body of Christ is an appropriate way to honor the authority of Christ which these personages carry. This includes the titles used to reference our spiritual fathers, the priests.
Mt 23:6-9 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, 7 and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
Mk 11:9-10 And those who went before and those who followed cried out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!"
Lk 16:24 And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.'
Rom 4:1 What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?
1 Cor 4:14-16 I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
Paul calls himself "father" and urges us to imitate him...
Acts 7:1-2 And the high priest said, "Is this so?" 2 And Stephen said: "Brethren and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran...
Rom 4:16-18 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendantsnot only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations"in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, "So shall your descendants be."
1 Thess 2:11 for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you...
1 Jn 2:13-14 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. 14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
The Truth: Fasting teaches control of bodily appetites and demonstrates love for God. Therefore the fast which is celibacy is a good and wholesome thing. All who dedicate their lives to God through the special ministering offices of the Body of Christ imitate Christ and must therefore seek out the special gifts of grace which this fast brings, so as to best accomplish Christ's work. The fast of celibacy is a discipline which enhances the ministerial office and allows more complete concentration on God's will. This discipline is imposed through the authority of the Church, and will remain in effect as long as the fruits of the discipline are visible within Christ's ministry to the world.
Celibacy was prefigured in the priesthood of the Old Testament.
1 Sam 21:5 And the priest answered David, "I have no common bread at hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women." 5 And David answered the priest, "Of a truth women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition; the vessels of the young men are holy, even when it is a common journey; how much more today will their vessels be holy?"
Is 52:11 Depart, depart, go out thence, touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her, purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the Lord.
Lev 21:6-7 They shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God; for they offer the offerings by fire to the Lord, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. 7 They shall not marry a harlot or a woman who has been defiled; neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband; for the priest is holy to his God.
Some say the following passage shows priests should be married:
1 Tim 3:2-4 Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; 5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?
However, they forget that both Paul and Christ Himself recommended otherwise.
Mt 19:11-12 But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."
1 Cor 7:1-7 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control. 6 I say this by way of concession, not of command. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
1 Cor 7:32-38 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
36 If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marryit is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.
Note that here Paul has to take care to warn that marriage is not a sin. His emphasis on the importance and virtue of celibacy is so strong that he is afraid his readers will think marriage a mistake.
Mt 19:29-30 And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many that are first will be last, and the last first.
Mk 10:29-31 Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many that are first will be last, and the last first."
Lk 18:29-30 And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life."
Those who will enter into ministry know the preconditions established. If they cannot accept the conditions which the Body of Christ asks of them, they may serve the Lord in many other ways besides religious life. The Church imposes the discipline for the benefit of the ministers of the Lord.