Milestones to Ordination in Classic Roman Liturgy

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“These seven powers [the major and minor orders] successively conferred…are superimposed one upon the other, without ever disappearing or coming in conflict, so that in the priesthood, the highest of them all, they are all to be found. The priest unites them all in his person and has to exercise them throughout his life in the various duties of his ministry. They are as the seven columns of the living temple which the Incarnate Wisdom has raised up to the Divine Majesty.” (Louis Bacuez, Minor Orders)

In the “rite of passage” towards ordination to the sacred priesthood according to the classic Roman liturgy, the Church prepares men, with splendid pedagogy, by having them ascend, grade by grade, from the reception of the tonsure to the lower (minor) and then to the higher (major) orders.

“So utterly divine is the reality of the ministry of so sublime a priesthood that appropriately the Church affirms the need to ensure its worthier and more reverent exercise by having several different orders of ministers destined to assist the priesthood by virtue of their office — orders arranged in such a way that those who have already received clerical tonsure should be raised, step by step, from the lower to the higher order.”  (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Tonsure

The solemn ritual of the conferring of the tonsure symbolizing the candidate’s determination to abandon “the world” (Romans 12:2) and dedicate his life to God through the sacred orders.

Minor Order of Porter

His symbol is the keys since he is the guardian of the sacred building of the church. “Let your conduct be of a man who has to render to God an account of those things that are kept under these keys.”

Minor Order of Lector

He whose privilege it is to teach the basics of the Catholic Faith and to proclaim the sacred words from the Old and New Testament, doing so in such a way as to inspire the hearers to penetrate their spirit.
“Take, and be a proclaimer of the word of God; if you faithfully and usefully fulfill your duty, you shall share in the inheritance of those who from the beginning have served well the word of God.”

Minor Order of Exorcist

“Take and commit to memory, and have the power of imposing hands over the possessed, whether baptized or catechumen.”

Minor Order of Acolyte

“Receive this candle-stick and candle, and remember that from now on you are given the charge of lighting the candles of the church in the name of the Lord.”
“Receive these cruets to supply, in the name of the Lord, wine and water for the Eucharist of Christ’s blood.”

Sub-diaconate

Committing himself to a life of chastity the candidate is given the privilege of assisting the deacon in preparing the materials for the Divine Sacrifice. “See what sort of ministry is entrusted to you: I admonish you, therefore, to show yourself worthy to please God.”
“Receive the book of the Epistles, with the power to read them in the Holy Church of God…”

Diaconate

The Church confers upon the candidate the right to proclaim the Gospel during the sacred mysteries, and to preach, baptize, and give the Bread of Eternal Life.

Priesthood

The bishop blesses the hands of the ordinand saying: “So that all that they bless may be blessed and all that they consecrate may be consecrated and sanctified.”
“Receive the power to offer to God the Holy Sacrifice and to celebrate Holy Mass both for the living and for the dead, in the name of the Lord…that for the salvation of Thy people and by their holy blessing, they may effect the transubstantiation of the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of Thy Divine Son.”
“Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain they are retained.” (John 20:22)

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