Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 71.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada


Q. What is holy order?

A. It is a sacrament by which the ministers of Christ are consecrated for their sacred functions, and receive grace to discharge them well.

Q. How do you prove that holy orders are a sacrament ?

A. Because they are a visible sign, instituted by Christ to confer grace. The outward and visible sign is found in the imposition of the bishop's hands, and prayer. Acts vi. 6. et xiii. 3. After which manner we find the seven deacons were ordained; as also St. Paul and

St. Barnabas. The invisible grace conferred by this imposition of hands, is attested by St. Paul, in his second epistle to Timothy, where he says, Stir up the grace of God, which is in thee, by the imposition of my hands, chap. i. 6. Hence it is evident, that this sacrament was instituted by Christ; for the apostles, of themselves, could not annex the gift of grace to any outward sign or ceremony.

Q. When did Christ institute this sacrament ?

A. At his last supper, when he said to his apostles, Do this in remembrance of me. St. Luke xxii. 19. And after his resurrection, he confirmed it with a new power, when, breathing on them, he said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sin's you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. St. John xx. 22, 23. These two powers being the essential parts of priesthood, viz.: To concentrate and offer the unbloody sacrifice of his body and blood, and to forgive sins.

Q. Who is the minister of this sacrament?

A. A bishop only, as it is defined in the council of Trent. (Sess. xxiii. Can. vii.) Hence it says, confirming and ordaining is not common to priests. Titus i. 5.

Q. Can any bishop confer orders?

A. Heretics and schismatics may validly, but not lawfully, ordain; yet, by the decree of the council of Trent, no alien bishop can ordain priests, without dismissory letters from the proper bishop.

Q. To whom does the right of mission, vocation, and election, of the ministry, belong ?

A. To the pastors of the church, viz.: The bishops and the pope.

Q. But suppose some should pretend, as the first reformers did, to an extraordinary calling or mission.

A. Let them prove their extraordinary mission from God, by some miracles or the like, and then they say something to the purpose.

Q. Is it not lawful for any one to take upon him priestly power, without the ordination of the Catholic Church ?

A. No, it is not; because it is usurping a power, which no ways belongs to them; which we find has been severely chastised by Almighty God, in the person of Ozias, as also in the persons of Core, Dathan, and Abiram; 2 Paral. xxvi. 19; Numb. xvi. 32, etc.

Q. What need is there for ordaining those who have already the spirit of God in them, viz.: The inward unction of the Holy Ghost, which of itself sufficiently authorizes any one to administer and preach the word of God without anv further ceremony?

A. This doctrine was unheard of in the Church, whilst it was governed by the Apostles; for, in those times, we read, that bishops, priests, and deacons, were constantly ordained by the imposition of hands; nor was it lawful for any one to presume to preach, and administer the sacraments, unless he were first so ordained, and sent by the lawful pastors of the Church. Acts xiv. 23; 1 Tim. iv. 14. Nay, even St. Paul and St. Barnabas, though they were immediately called to the apostleship by God himself, as the Scripture testifies; yet we see they were afterwards ordained with the usual ceremony of laying on hands. Acts ix. 15; Acts xiii. 2. This extraordinary example, recorded in holy writ is a most convincing proof that ordination is indispensably necessary, to all who enter into the sacred ministry, since St. Paul himself was not excepted, who, if he had not been ordained, had not partaken of the priesthood. It is therefore a high and sacrilegious presumption, for any man to take upon him to preach the gospel, to administer the sacraments, and have the care of souls; unless he is first ordained, and sent by those who were ordained, by lawful pastors in the Church, before him, according to the sacrament which Christ has instituted for that purpose, verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door, into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. St. John x. 1. Now it is evident, that none but the bishops and priests of the Catholic Church derived their ordination and mission from the Apostles; and that the pastors of all other churches have climbed up into the fold by another way.

Q. What and how many are the conditions necessary for him who is to receive holy orders ?

A. There are five principal ones. Q. Which is the first ?

A. That he be called by God, as Aaron was. 1 Heb. v. 4. So that he must not choose this holy state, of his own head.

Q. How shall a person know whether he be called by God?

A. If he has the conditions we are going to speak of; and if his spiritual director, after a due trial, councils or advises him to it, then he may well presume he is called by God: yet, after all, he ought to fear and tremble; for Judas, though he was called by God himself, was miserably lost. St. Matthew x. 4; John xvii. 12.

Q. Is it not sufficient that he has a great desire to be of the Church, and that his parents design him for it ?

A. No; for it often happens that this great desire comes not from God, but either from the love of idleness and ease, or from an expectation of gaining honor and esteem in the world, or from some other disorderly passion, which deserves the curse of God. As for parents, they are often as worldly and as vain as their children; moreover, they are commonly ignorant of the obligations of a churchman, and of the dangers of this high calling; so that, as our Saviour said to the children of Zebedee and their mother, they know not what they ask. St. Matt. xx. 22.

Q. What is the second condition ?

A. A resolution and sincere desire of spending his health and life, in promoting the glory of God, and in working out his own salvation, and that of his neighbors.

Q. What is the third condition ?

A. An honest, virtuous, and exemplary life. (See Conc. Trid. Sess, xxiii. Cap. xii.)

Q. What is the fourth condition ?

A. He must be free even from all hidden mortal sins, at least for a long time before he receives this sacrament, and be in love and peace with God and man; for it is to the ministers of the Church, God spoke, saying, Be ye clean, who carry the vessels of the Lord. Levit. xxi. 8.

Q. What is the fifth condition?

A. A learning and knowledge enough to instruct and guide others, both by word and example, according to the law of God and his Church; for God warns the ignorant, saying, Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt not be a priest to me. Ose. iv. 6. And it is to the ministers of the Church Christ says, You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. St. Matt. v. 13, 14. See the epistle of Pope Benedict, Dec. 14, 1740.

Q. Which are the virtues that are most requisite in those persons who aspire to the ecclesiastical state ?

A. The spirit or love of prayer, chastity, temperance, prudence, humility, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, fortitude, or strength of mind, love of retirement, to be laborious, and given to study. 1 Timothy iii.; 12 Timothy iii.

Q. What persons are incapable of receiving holy orders ?

A. All those who are not baptized, all hermaphrodites, and all women. I permit not a woman to teach, says St. Paul, 1 Tim. ii. 12; 1 Cor. xiv. 34. Hence the Pepusiani, who ordained women, were declared heretics, as St. Epiphanius gives an account.

Q. How many orders are there ?

A. Only one total, but seven partial, which makes but one sacrament of ordination; for they have all a reference to, and are included in, priesthood.

Q. How are they called?

A. Priest, deacon, subdeacon, acolyth, exorcist, lector, and porter.

Q. Why are not bishops reckoned among the rest?

A. If you reckon episcopacy, then indeed there are eight orders; but commonly it is not named with the rest, because it is an eminent degree, which surpasseth them all, as being the source from whence all the rest are derived; for they all proceed from it, and end in it; and as, in a kingdom, the king is not reckoned in the number of the officers that govern under him, because his power is transcendent, and runs through all the magistrates of the kingdom; so, in like manner, the bishop is not ordinarily reckoned in the number of the other orders, for he is in his Church, as the king in his kingdom, the prince and head of all ecclesiastical hierarchy, or holy principality.

Q. What is the respective function of each order ?

A. The office or function of a priest is to consecrate, or offer sacrifice, to forgive sins, administer the sacraments, and preach God's word, etc. A deacon is to assist the bishop or priest in the sacrifice of the mass, to read the gospel, etc. A sub-deacon offers the sacred vessels to the deacon, and reads the epistle, etc. An acolyth prepares the cruets, and carries the lights, etc. An exorcist reads the exorcisms, to expel the devil, etc. A lector reads the prophecies, etc. A porter takes care to admit none but the faithful into the Church, and keeps the Church decent.

Q. Why are some orders called lesser, others greater ? and which be they ?

A. The greater orders are priesthood, deacon, and subdeacon : and they are so called, because they regard the sacrifice immediately; the others lesser, because more remotely.

Q. Are all the orders called holy ?

A. No; only the greater, for the reason given.

Q. What is a hierarchy ?

A. It is a holy government of sacred min-

isters, viz.: Bishops, priests and ministers, instituted by Christ, for the sanctification of mankind.*

Q. Are the ministers all equal ?

A. No; the pope is by divine right the head, and bishops are by divine right above priests, both by the power of order and jurisdiction; that is, a bishop can ordain, and confirm, and demand obedience over priests. See St. Matt xvi. 18, 19; St. John xxi. 15; St. Luke xxii. Philipp. i. 1; 1 Tim. iii. 2 ; Tit. i. 7; Acts xx. 28.

Q. Does not St. Hierome say, that bishops and priests are the same ?

A. No; on the contrary, he expressly says, priests cannot ordain: indeed he says, in the beginning they were promiscuously styled presbyters, or seniors, in the Scriptures; and moreover, that simple priests had a share in jurisdiction; but not that simple priests could claim jurisdiction, by divine right. Hence, the Arians were declared heretics, for making priests and bishops equal.

Q. What is the proper function of a bishop ?

A. To govern in chief; to chastise the wicked and disobedient, by excommunicating them; to preach and exhort; to administer the sacraments of confirmation, and holy orders.