In Defense of the Sacraments of Service – Marriage and Holy Orders
Last week, we looked at the teaching of the Church on Christian Vocation and answered common objections to its teachings of marriage. This week, our focus is on Holy Orders.
Common Objections Concerning Holy Orders
Objection to Holy Orders #1: There is no need for priesthood. Jesus is the one mediator between God and man. And His sacrifice was given once for all – no more sacrifice… no need for priests.
Reply to Objection: Jesus is indeed the one mediator between God and man. Without Jesus, there is no redemption and no salvation. Without Jesus, that which separated God and man would not have been bridged. His role as the one mediator is not diminished by the priesthood, it is served. The Gospels and New Testament letters are filled with examples of Jesus selecting others to serve his mission in His place during His time on earth and to carry on that mission after His Ascension. He chose the Twelve and He sent out the Seventy-Two. The Acts of the Apostles selected a man to replace Judas among the Twelve. Seven men were chosen to be the first deacons. The New Testament shows the early Church already with bishops, priests and deacons continuing His mission. (cf. Acts 6:56; 1 Timothy 3; 1 Peter 5)
Regarding sacrifice, Jesus instituted the priesthood and the Sacrifice of the Mass in the setting of the Passover at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. His one Sacrifice on Calvary was to be made present in our time in the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving that is called the Eucharist where we are both mystically present at Calvary and at the Heavenly Liturgy. His priests represent Him in His person at these liturgies. The Eucharistic Sacrifice at Holy Mass is not a new sacrifice, it is the Sacrifice of Calvary made present in an unbloody manner.
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-29)
“As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year 155, explaining what Christians did:”(CCC 1345)
On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: ‘Amen.’When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the “eucharisted” bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.
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