Lent and the Sacraments: Holy Orders

The priest represents Christ to the Church and equally the Church to God, and this is “because the ministerial priesthood represents Christ that it can represent the Church” (CCC, 1553).

A priest elevates the host during a Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City in 2020. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

The treatment of the Sacrament of Holy Orders1 in the Catechism begins with the reminder that this is “the sacrament of the apostolic ministry,” conferred in three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, diaconate; the first two orders are a “ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ,” while the last “is intended to assist and serve” the first two [1554]. The word “presbyterate” is used here, as well as in the ordination rite, to distinguish the priesthood of the presbyter from that of the bishop; when the ministry they hold in common is intended [e.g., offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice], “priesthood” is used.

Why is this sacrament called by the name it has? The word “order” in Roman antiquity designated a body of people constituted to fulfill a particular purpose, especially governance; “ordination” signifies incorporation into an “order.” From the earliest days [within the New Testament itself], the Church has utilized that structure for divine objectives.

A brief overview of the history of the sacrament in the economy of salvation is given, starting with the tribe of Levi among the Chosen People. Very quickly, we are brought up to “the priesthood of Christ, the unique ‘high priest after the order of Melchizedek’” [1544], which serves as the model and pattern for all Christian priesthood. Some Fundamentalists, for example, express concern or even shock over talk about Christian priests other than Jesus Christ.2 This is to misunderstand the nature of Christ’s communication of His power and authority to the apostles and their successors. At the same time, with St. Thomas Aquinas we realize that in the strictest sense, “only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers” [1545].

In point of fact, all Christians share in the priesthood of the Lord through Baptism, so that the entire People of God is a priestly people; there are, however, certain men taken from the body of the faithful to participate in Christ’s priesthood in a special manner. Thus it is that the Church speaks of the ordained priest as one who “acts in persona Christi Capitis” [in the person of Christ the Head]. . . . Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers” [1548-1549].

As lofty as all this is, the Catechism also realistically notes that the grace of the Holy Spirit “does not guarantee all the acts of ministers in the same way.” In fact, the sinfulness of the ordained can have the effect of diminishing “the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church” [1550].3 The text goes on to stress that “the priesthood is ministerial,” that is, “it is in the strict sense of the term a true service.” Furthermore, “it depends entirely on Christ and his unique priesthood. . . . The Sacrament of Holy Orders communicates ‘a sacred power,’ which is none other than that of Christ” [1551].

The priest represents Christ to the Church and equally the Church to God. That should not be misunderstood to mean, however, that “priests are the delegates of the community,” for they are always and everywhere first of all the representatives of Christ: “It is because the ministerial priesthood represents Christ that it can represent the Church” [1553].

The episcopate is given full consideration, relying heavily on Vatican II, which did so much to put as fine a face on this ministry as Vatican I did with the papacy. Hence, we read that “bishops, in an eminent and visible fashion, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd and priest” [1558]. The point is made that “in our day lawful ordination of a bishop requires special intervention of the Bishop of Rome because he is the supreme visible bond of the communion of the particular churches in the one Church and the guarantor of their liberty” [1559]. At the same time, this theology of communio demands that bishops be concerned for the good of the entire Church, and not simply the local church over which they preside;4 the bishop embodies ecclesial unity in a singular way, which comes across particularly when he celebrates the Eucharist; in that moment, it “has a quite special significance, as an expression of the Church gathered around the altar, with the one who represents Christ, the Good Shepherd and Head of his Church, presiding” [1561].

The second rank of ordained ministers is that of presbyters, “co-workers of the episcopal order for the proper fulfillment of the apostolic mission that had been entrusted to it by Christ.” With the bishops, presbyters “build up and sanctify and rule” Christ’s Body, His Church. In this work, priests “depend” completely on the bishops, with whom they share the “sacerdotal dignity.” Priests “are consecrated to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful, as well as to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament” [1562-4]. They are never more priests than in the celebration of the Eucharist; beyond that, “from this unique sacrifice their whole priestly ministry draws its strength” [1566].

Great emphasis is laid on the unity of bishops and priests, who together form “a unique sacerdotal college (presbyterium), . . . , true to a variety of distinct duties.” The promise of obedience to the bishop made at ordination and the bishop’s kiss of peace have important and on-going implications, for in the latter is signified that “the bishop considers them his co-workers, his sons, his brothers and his friends, and that they in return owe him love and obedience.”5 The unity of the priesthood is also highlighted when all priests attending an ordination join the bishop in imposing hands on the ordinands [1567-1568]

Deacons are ordained, with only the bishop imposing hands to denote their special attachment to him “in the tasks of his diakonia [service].” The functions of a deacon are outlined, and mention is made of the re-institution of this ministry as a permanent order in the Latin Rite [the East churches had always kept it so] at the Second Vatican Council [1569-71].

Moving on to the liturgical celebration of the sacrament, the Catechism observes that, whenever possible, it should be administered on a Sunday, in the cathedral church, with solemnity, within the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. “The essential rite of the sacrament of Holy Orders for all three degrees consists in the bishop’s imposition of hands on the head of the ordinand and in the bishop’s specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry to which the candidate is being ordained” [1573]. For the ordination of priests and bishops, the anointing with chrism signifies the work of the Holy Spirit who will make fruitful the ordinand’s ministry. A good explanation is given for the items conferred on the bishop during his ordination: ring, miter, crosier.

A bishop is the only possible minister of this sacrament. Regarding the recipient of the sacrament, we are told that “only a baptized male [vir] validly receives sacred ordination” [1577]. The Catechism says this is so because “the Church considers herself bound by the choice of the Lord himself. That is why the ordination of women is not possible.” It continues to argue that “no one claims this office for himself.” On the contrary, one who perceives the call of God “must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders.” And most importantly, “like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift” [1578]. Some discussion is offered on the charism of celibacy required for priesthood in the West, as well as the esteem in which it is held in the East, and on its necessity for all episcopal candidates in East and West alike [1579-1580].6

A sacramental, indelible character is conferred in Holy Orders, just as it is in Baptism and Confirmation. Answering those who press for a “temporary” commitment to priesthood, the Catechism reminds us that this character “cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily.” Granted, a man can be discharged from ministerial functions or can be enjoined from exercising them for a just cause, “but he cannot become a layman again in the strict sense, because the character imprinted by ordination is for ever. The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently” [1583].

The section concludes with two salutary reminders in this day of a priestly “identity crisis.” St. John Vianney muses that “if we really understood the priest on earth, we would die not of fright but of love” [1589]. Finally, St. Ignatius of Antioch taught eighteen centuries ago that so irreplaceable is the hierarchical constitution of the Church that “without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church” [1593].

Let’s conclude our doctrinal consideration of Holy Orders with reflections of a distinctly “spiritual” or “pastoral” nature.

The first, from St. John Henry Cardinal Newman, while yet an Anglican clergyman:

Had Angels been your Priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathised with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you, who have been led on themselves as you are to be led, who know well your difficulties, who have had experience, at least of your temptations, who know the strength of the flesh and the wiles of the devil, even though they have baffled them, who are already disposed to take your part, and be indulgent towards you, and can advise you most practically, and warn you most seasonably and prudently. Therefore did He send you men to be the ministers of reconciliation and intercession; . . .

forget not those who have been the ministers of your reconciliation; and as they now pray you to make your peace with God, so do you, when reconciled, pray for them, that they may gain the great gift of perseverance, that they may continue to stand in the grace in which they trust they stand now, even till the hour of death, lest, perchance, after they have preached to others, they themselves become reprobate.7

And then, that of St. John Paul II, from the first of his always-eagerly-awaited Holy Thursday letters to his “beloved priests” (1979):

Dear Brothers: you who have borne “the burden of the day and the heat” (Mt 20:12), who have put your hand to the plough and do not turn back (cf. Lk 9:62), and perhaps even more those of you who are doubtful of the meaning of your vocation or of the value of your service: think of the places where people anxiously await a Priest, and where for many years; feeling the lack of such a Priest, they do not cease to hope for his presence. And sometimes it happens that they meet in an abandoned shrine, and place on the altar a stole which they still keep, and recite all the prayers of the Eucharistic liturgy; and then, at the moment that corresponds to the transubstantiation a deep silence comes down upon them, a silence sometimes broken by a sob… so ardently do they desire to hear the words that only the lips of a Priest can efficaciously utter. So much do they desire Eucharistic Communion, in which they can share only through the ministry of a priest, just as they also so eagerly wait to hear the divine words of pardon: Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis! So deeply do they feel the absence of a Priest among them!… Such places are not lacking in the world. So if one of you doubts the meaning of his priesthood, if he thinks it is “socially” fruitless or useless, reflect on this!

We must be converted every day, we must rediscover every day the gift obtained from Christ himself in the sacrament of Orders, by penetrating the importance of the salvific mission of the Church and by reflecting on the great meaning of our vocation in the light of that mission.

Related at CWR:
• “Lent and the Sacraments: Plumbing the effective signs of divine grace and life” (March 3, 2022) by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas
• “Lent and the Sacraments: Baptism and Confirmation” (March 10, 2022) by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas
• “Lent and the Sacraments: The Eucharist” (March 17, 2022) by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas
• “Lent and the Sacraments: Penance and Anointing of the Sick” (March 24, 2022) by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas
“Lent and the Sacraments: Matrimony” (March 31, 2022) by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas

Endnotes:

1There is a school of thought, following Thomas Aquinas and promoted up through our own time by solid theologians such as Louis Bouyer and Aidan Nichols, which would hold that there is only a Sacrament of “Order” (singular). In that understanding, a bishop is “consecrated” and not “ordained” as such, while the diaconate is not a part of the Sacrament of Order at all, but merely a canonical or juridical designation. Hence, the only ordination that occurs is that of priesthood. This is carefully explained by Father Nichols in his magisterial work, Holy Order: The Apostolic Ministry from the New Testament to Vatican Two (Ignatius Press, 1991). While that is also my personal position, honesty compels me to admit that it is now a minority position.

2To be sure, the New Testament accords the title of “priest” only to Christ (e.g., Epistle to the Hebrews). The skittishness about giving that title to Christian ministers remained for some time because of a desire to distance Christian ministry from that of the Temple priesthood (which eventually vanished after the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. A second consideration revolved around a fear of conflating Christian ministry with the priesthood of pagan Rome.

3That said, it is important to point out that the efficacy of sacraments administered by an unworthy or otherwise sinful priest is not affected. This theological position was advanced by St. Augustine in his confrontation with the Donatists, who held the very opposite.

4This is the very reason why the German “synodal path” has caused such consternation among bishops around the world: What happens in one corner of the Lord’s vineyard affects the whole vineyard – precisely what it means to belong to a universal Church.

5At times, some bishops use a priest’s promise of obedience and respect as a cudgel to beat down any attempt on the part of a priest to vindicate his own dignity and rights. The beautiful ritual described here has its roots in the feudal society of the Middle Ages: a vassal placed his hands into those of his lord, promising obedience and respect, yes, however, the lord clasped the vassal’s hands in his, promising protection. It is the second part of that medieval gesture that needs recalling today. In other words, it sealed a relationship of reciprocity.

6In some quarters, there is still agitation for the Western Church to abandon its centuries-long tradition of priestly celibacy – often arguing that abandonment of the requirement would alleviate the priest shortage. Looking at the Eastern Orthodox, who have had married priests for a millennium, we see that in Greece the priestly vocation crisis so acute that many parishes now have lay administrators (quite shocking to Orthodox sensibilities). Optional celibacy is clearly not a panacea. For a comprehensive treatment of the topic, I would recommend a work I edited: Priestly Celibacy: Its Scriptural, Historical, Spiritual, and Psychological Roots (Newman House Press, 2001).

7Discourse 3 to Mixed Congregations, with its very realistic title, “Men, not Angels, the Priests of the Gospel.”


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About Peter M.J. Stravinskas 242 Articles
Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas founded The Catholic Answer in 1987 and The Catholic Response in 2004, as well as the Priestly Society of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, a clerical association of the faithful, committed to Catholic education, liturgical renewal and the new evangelization. Father Stravinskas is also the President of the Catholic Education Foundation, an organization, which serves as a resource for heightening the Catholic identity of Catholic schools.

42 Comments

  1. This is an example of a theology of priesthood that reinforces clericalism, putting into a misplaced pedestal the ordained, which Vatican II in returning to the sources of sacred scripture and patriotic literature sought to correct by reminding God’s people that all the baptized share in the high priesthood of Christ. Lumen Gentium (LG 10) called this the common priesthood of all believers or the royal priesthood. The ordained or ministerial (servant) priesthood (bishop, presbyter, deacon) are to serve – not lord it over – the royal priests, the 99% of God’s people. The 1% or the ordained are servant priests. Sadly and badly, faulty seminary theological training and clericalist culture like the one this essay promotes perpetuate this out of order royal consciousness or elitism (translated into entitlement, power, domination) among servants. The ordained are best to be reminded that at Chrism Mass, the priesthood celebrated is first of all that of the high priesthood of Christ which is shared in the common priesthood of the baptized or the royalty and that the ordained are renewing their vows of servanthood to, not lordship over, the majority of God’s people.

  2. Pray, brethren (he exhorts us),
    that my sacrifice and yours
    may be acceptable to God,
    the almighty Father.

    Quote. “Those four words, which I’ve deliberately italicized, are there to remind us that there are in fact two sacrifices going on, one of which is more necessary than the other.

    “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.” —Dei Verbum

    I have always understood that the Mass/Sacrifice always required a sharing as in a recipient being present. As we are taught that a Sacrament is An Outward Sign of Inward Grace. Baptism without a baby (Recipient). Confession without a penitent. Holy ‘Communion’ /Sharing without a recipient. Confirmation with a person. Marriage without a groom or bride. Holy orders without a participant Anointing without a sick person. So, is it not fair, to say all of these examples would fracture this teaching?

    So, in this my understanding, you cannot have one (Sacrifice) without the other. A priest acts as a conduit to God’s grace through the Sacraments he is not the Sacrament he cannot forgive himself, ordain himself etc.

    “From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacrament also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them” (CCC, 1128)

    And the implication of this statement is that the celebrant no matter how worthy or unworthy he may be cannot take and most not take anything away from the ‘Glory (Word/Will) of God’. As Christ’s Sacrifice stands alone for perpetuity, we can memorialize it and imitate it but we cannot claim it as our own in any way whatsoever rather we all can only humbly partake of it and imitate/offer it in our daily lived lives as the fruits of the sacrament also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them”

    When His Word is acted upon in ‘obedience’ to His Divine Prerogative as given at the Last Supper. To my understanding Grace (Gods’ gift) is only given when in obedience the ordained celebrant re-enacts Christ’s actions in a memorial to Him. Because obedience to God is essentially love of God.

    “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT”
    For this is my body,
    Which will be given up for you”

    So, in Truth, via the Holy Spirit, it would not be possible to say these words without a participant being present. For to do so would be a lie/deception/blasphemy against the breath of the Holy Spirit, the inviolate Word (Will) of God which sits at the base of all of the Sacraments.

    So how can a priest Consecrate the Host in isolation?

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

    • “So how can a priest Consecrate the Host in isolation?” Well, it must be that the assembly of the entire Communion of Saints is present at each Mass. My God! A fully Eucharistic Church for all time! More than a local congregation–the Lutheran thingy.

      Vatican II warns against the laicization of the clergy and the clericalization of the laity.

      The Church is both an evangelical (spiritual) mystery and a “hierarchical communion.” That is, the roles of the ordained and laity “differ in kind as well as degree.” “Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated” (Lumen Gentium, n. 10).

      Interrelated, but not identical. Critical distinctions, yes? The sacrament of Holy Orders actually means something categorical. A priest, even in your so-called and gratuitous “isolation,” can actually say Mass! Otherwise, go with Luther.

        • If I may add to your explanation Peter I offer the following:
          In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformers expressed opposition to any Mass without a congregation, but the Council of Trent defended the existing practice. Canon 6 of session XXII of the council says, “The sacred and holy Synod would agree indeed that, at each Mass, the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire, but also by the sacramental participation of the Eucharist. But not therefore, if this be not always done, does It condemn, as private and unlawful, but approves of and therefore commends, those Masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally” (Session 22 Council of Trent).
          The theology is given by Pope Paul VI. Pope Paul wrote, “even if a priest celebrates it privately a Mass is not private but an act of Christ and of the Church” (Mysterium Fidei 32). The Church no longer uses the term “private Mass”, saying instead “Masses celebrated without the people” (Paul VI Motu Proprio In Missis sine populo celebratis article 2).
          Saint Thomas Aquinas had identified the sacramental character of the sacrifice incorporating both priest and Christ, “Reply to Objection 3. For the same reason (Reply to Obj 2) the priest also bears Christ’s image, in Whose person and by Whose power he pronounces the words of consecration, as is evident from what was said above (ST 3a 82:3). And so, in a measure, the priest and victim are one and the same” (ST 3a 83: 1 Ad 3).
          This latter identification I’ve long held and have expressed here. It’s indeed mystical, real, and salvific. A humbling truth of God’s goodness.

      • There is more that should be said, since what is discussed here involves my priesthood, as well as the contemplative life I’ve chosen with the blessing of my bishop. And in which permission is granted to offer Mass without the community, although not alone as explained.
        As a priest, as articulated so well by Aquinas I, in a real sense, identify with Christ both in the power conferred, and in the sacrifice itself. As an oblation with Christ, in Christ, and through Christ to Him whose justice escapes all human judgment. In that, whatever may be said, alluded to that impugns me I welcome, since my offering of myself is made more pleasing to the divine master. An offering in imitation of Christ on behalf of those I love, the community I served and still serve, and those who speak ill of me. What I’m able to bear in suffering out of love for the salvation of others explains the meaning of learning obedience as he did through suffering. Suffering that sweetens the draft from the chalice. As mediator and victim however insignificant compared to the one I serve as his priest.

      • Thank you, Peter, for your comment I know virtually nothing about a Lutheran thingy and little about Luther himself you mention a local congregation I suppose by this you mean a physical presence so I am not the first person to come across this conundrum. Our faith should be simple to understand as these words are

        “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT
        For this is my body,
        Which will be given up for you”

        The intention that is manifest in this statement is that we partake of ‘His physical presence’ now in the present moment in our mortal bodies and if we prove to be worthy, the grace received will lead us into eternal life. While those who have gone before us, can no longer partake of the sacrament (Eat of it) on the earthly plane which sits between heaven and hell, for some this will be terrible whereas for others they will now dwell in continued joy within His living presence which is the fruit (Completion) of the Sacrament that was received on the physical plane.

        I have made my genuine concerns known in my opening post above in that we are taught that a Sacrament is an outward sign of inward grace, which to my ‘personal’ understanding goes back to early childhood reinforced over many years by being aware of priests who would never celebrate without a celebrant, concluding that the mass always necessitates a shared communion with other human beings on earth, as given by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper and also the Emmaus encounter; as do all of the other sacraments.

        Until very recently I was not aware that the Church permitted her priests to consecrate the Host without a communicant present. Obviously, I am aware and believe in the Communion of Saints and I will now revaluate my position but my present position is ingrained reinforced by my personal understanding of Christ’s inviolate Words at the last supper,

        “Vatican II warns against the laicization of the clergy and the clericalization of the laity”

        I am most willing to acknowledge the beauty of a priest or any other individual who lifts up their heart in prayer before Him and pray that I would never be a deliberate hindrance to one that does so.

        kevin your brother
        In Christ

        • Good Kevin. I appreciate your comment and the kindness in which it was made. As it turns out comments in response, myself, Meiron assisted you. When I mention offering the Mass for the community, that I serve in person for years I referred to their presence to me figuratively and spiritually by my desire in prayer.
          As Pope Paul VI notes the Mass is an act of the Church, in that through Christ, head of the Mystical Body it is at it were collectively present.
          A great sense of support during this life’s difficulties is that as members of the Mystical Body we’re never alone, the recipient of the prayers and sacrifices, Masses offered worldwide, and of course Christ and the Father present to us in the Holy Spirit.

    • Kevin,
      I will attempt to answer you and pray that we are left in peace by some who would rather contend against us than against perceived errors. Please know that my words are MY UNDERSTANDING based NOT on some hysterically self-devised or imagined mystical predilection. My understanding comes primarily from (among others) a wonderful book based on Thomas Aquinas’ sacramental theology of the Eucharist: “A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist” by Abbot Vonier. Aidan Nichols and Peter Kreeft introduced and prefaced the Zaccheus Press 2003-4 edition. I cannot recommend the book more highly for those who desire to delve more deeply into Aquinas’ teaching on the Eucharist. Vonier’s work of 1925 contains no contaminant of any theology based on modernity’s loves of rationalism, naturalism, historical-criticism, progressivism, or other ‘spirits’ of VCII. Vonier’s theology (which is also Aquinas’ and the Council’s of Trent) is not based on any post Christian, Protestant, ecumenical theology.

      Vonier explains that a sacrament is, as you say, a sign signifying grace, instituted by Christ; it is an instrument through which the believer receives God’s salvific grace. Because sacraments convey Christ’s grace and because that grace is eternal, based as it is on Christ’s eternal life itself, sacraments have eternal effects and transcend time.

      A sacrament conveys grace in the present – it signifies and/or mystically represents (It makes present in the present time) the past saving action of Jesus Christ. It also points to the ‘commmunion’ of all who have lived in Christ now, in the past, and in the future. (
      Cf Beaulieu’s remark on the participatory communion of saints).

      The priest may participate alone in the sacrament. The Eucharistic sacrament is not invalid if only the priest receives. The priest participates with all those in spiritual communion or living in Christ. By virtue of the sacrament’s eternal signification, the priest is not spiritually alone. Others who participated in the past and those who will participate in the future, those in ‘communion’ with the Lord, are present in God’s eternal time which He makes present to us today.

      Hoping this helps. I cannot urge you enough to ‘pick up and read’ Vonier’s book.

      Blessings in Christ,

      • Thank you meiron for your comment for which I am most grateful “The Eucharistic sacrament is not invalid if only the priest receives. The priest participates with all those in spiritual communion or living in Christ

        By receives, do you mean actually physically eating the Host?
        Are the bread and wine consecrated in this spiritual communion?

        kevin your brother
        In Christ

      • meiron please ignore my comment APRIL 10, 2022 AT 2:14 AM As I misread your post as I read “The Eucharistic sacrament is not –valid if only the priest receives”
        kevin your brother
        In Christ

        • Kevin,

          The encyclical “Mediator Dei” (Pius XII, 1948) offers further clarity. Paragraphs 87-112, specifically 96 (below) 103, 112 seem to address your concern.

          “…Moreover, this sacrifice, necessarily and of its very nature, has always and everywhere the character of a public and social act, inasmuch as he who offers it acts in the name of Christ and of the faithful whose Head is the divine Redeemer, while he offers it to God for the holy Catholic Church and for the living and the dead. This is undoubtedly so, whether the faithful are present…or are not present, since it is in no wise required that the people ratify what the sacred minister has done. “

      • Your comment: “I will attempt to answer you and pray that we are left in peace by some who would rather contend against us than against perceived errors.”

        Possibly intended for me…well, if so, I accept that, readily. In trying to be clear I was also a bit blunt, and simply did not suspect the truth that Kevin is among those many really innocent souls misled by a generation of priests following Vatican II, many of whom were themselves misled in their watered-down seminary training. If needed, my apology to Brother Kevin.

        And, however, because we are dealing with an alloy of “perceived errors” and the deliberate perpetrators (now most evident in the German synodal wayward), we can all understand the depth of the crisis confronted by the USCCB when, over clever opposition, they decided in November to make an issue out of Eucharistic coherence.

        Not only coherence between public morality and reception of the Sacrament, but also about the truly inclusive nature of the Eucharistic Mass itself.

        • No, Peter. It was not about you. Sorry that you may have thought so. I’ve never found your comments reflective of any spirit of ad-hom (inadvertent or intended) against any commenter.

  3. Your endnote #1 is at best problematic. Wording? Should we conclude with the “magisterial” Fr. Nichols and with your minority view that an ostensibly non-sacramental diaconate is open to both males and females? How does Fr. Nichols (Ignatius, 1991) stack up against Cardinal Gerhard Muller (Ignatius, 2000)?

    “There is not one single pronouncement of the Magisterium that would call into question the connection between the sacramental diaconal ministry (insofar as it is understood as a distinct degree rooted in the one [italics] Sacrament of Orders and not as a particular ecclesiastical office of service) and baptized males. In view of the unanimity of tradition, attempts to dispute the sacramental character of the diaconate must also be rejected as clearly heretical” (Muller, “Priesthood and Diaconate,” Ignatius, 2000, p. 57).

  4. A full apprehension of all knowledge escapes me. Not that I would want such, since knowingly I’m not equipped to administer such knowledge. Although, I do know what satisfies my intellect. As such I tend to agree with Aquinas and Fr Stravinskas on his ministerial outline simply because of his honest humility [pride is the surfeit of error or visa versa]. Insofar as Cardinal Gerhard Müller he is not impugning those who deny the deaconate is a sacrament, rather those who would deny that it is distinctly the sacrament of baptized males in service to the order of priesthood [and to the Mystical Body]. Like matrimony it is a sacrament of service. Not a sacrament of holy orders.
    If tradition now holds the opinion that the diaconate is among three degrees of holy orders, traditionally deacons nevertheless do not and are not permitted to exercise any of the functions of the ordained priest. He cannot absolve sin, he cannot consecrate the Eucharist, he cannot anoint the sick, he cannot confer the last sacraments to the dying. A deacon can only exercise those functions that are also available to the laity.
    That aside, I thank Fr Stravinskas for the reminder of the awesome responsibility of Holy Orders to Christ and Church, to the laity, and of the joy and honor of the Apostolic commission to carry on the work of salvation in imitation of our true priest Jesus Christ.

    • Forgive me deacons. Of Course deacons unlike laity can read the Gospel and preach. That function is consistent with priesthood. So the question is still open to discussion. Although it appears this ministry would be consistent to Holy Orders.

  5. Thank you Father Stravinskas and Father Morello. I just wanted to say, when I was a child we still had 3 priests in our parish. In abbeys quite often priest-monks would read mass on side altars. If you visit Rome at St. Peter’s you see priests celebrating the mass on side altars to offer sacrifice to God. The Priest and Christ in persona Christi at consecration unite by word and holy divine power together. It took me a long time to understand that the people of God are to offer themselves up also with Christ as recipients (heirs) of the divine food of GOD INCARNATE. At the last supper Jesus Christ ordained the apostles as His Priests. He set them aside to unite with Him for the salvation of His beloved creatures. Good read for holy week: “The Dolorous Pasion of our Lord Jesus Christ”, especially the Last Supper and the Agony, by Blessed Catherine Emmerich, whose revelations made Mel Gibson make the film The Passion of the Christ.

  6. I now realize Kevin your response was actually to Peter Beaulieu. Nonetheless, it addresses our discussion, and is, as well a welcome response from you to the issue of Priests offering Mass without people.

    • A continuation from the comment by Fr Peter Morello APRIL 11, 2022 AT 2:43 PM

      Thank you, Peter, (Fr. Peter Morello) for your reconciliatory comment I never doubted the sincerity/intent of your prayers and yes, your comments with those of Meiron have given me a broader understanding of the masses that are offered in the worldwide church. While being comforted with these words of yours “A great sense of support during this life’s difficulties is that as members of the Mystical Body we’re never alone….

      Although at the same time feeling saddened that I am not in total accord with you on this matter nevertheless I feel genuine warmth from your comment which is humbling as I realize how much service you have given to our Lord and the flock over so many years.

      The single Salvific act (Sacrament/outward sign) of the Crucified Christ hangs for eternity between heaven and hell on the dry wood of the cross as an ‘outward sign’ on the ‘earthly’ plain of the loving goodness of God, suffering while transforming the dry wood of the cross into the Tree of Life, passing judgment on the prince of this world while drawing/’Offering’ mankind its fruit in these words

      “Take and eat this is my body”

      If I were a priest Peter, I know in my own heart that I could not say these ‘His’ inviolate words before Him without a person being present as my own conscience tells me that to do so would be a sin against the Holy Spirt the Spirt of Truth as I would be aligning myself in a lie with the prince of this world who is a liar. While understanding that we are judged on our ‘intent’ before Him.

      It could be said that this belief in the inviolate word of God would have protected the Church from the commercialization of private masses by some priests in the Middle Ages which then encompassed indulgences etc…. In effect, the belief in God’s inviolable Word protects the integrity of the Church.

      This same understanding/acceptance of the inviolability of His Word (Will) is also found within this statement which has been endorsed by the Church

      “Paint a picture according to the vision you see”

      Only Sr Faustina (Now St) can paint this picture because no one else can see what she saw, this obligation rested upon her shoulders alone. The result no matter how poorly painted/drawn has no significance as ‘obedience to God is the love of God’ your words Peter.

      Some may say that in these two examples I am taking His Word too literally so it comes back to our conscience which for me draws me into One Iota which in turn with the guidance of the Holy Spirit of Truth leads us into ‘all truth’ /humility before our Father in heaven.

      Sincerely
      kevin your brother
      In Christ

      • “If I were a priest Peter, I know in my own heart that I could not say these ‘His’ inviolate words before Him without a person being present as my own conscience tells me” (Kevin). At times we’re compelled by a higher order of justice to submit our conscience to what we personally find objectionable. It may not mean our understanding is without merit, rather that there is meaning that escapes our comprehension.
        An example is the earlier response I gave to your question, whether I’m justified to offer Mass without people, [I suggested I offer it] “To him who escapes our judgment”, is later referenced by me April 9, “As a priest, as articulated so well by Aquinas I, in a real sense, identify with Christ both in the power conferred, and in the sacrifice itself. As an oblation with Christ, in Christ, and through Christ to Him whose justice escapes all human judgment”. Here the priest may as I do consciously offer himself with Christ when in raising the Eucharist to the Father as an oblation, to wit the offer of myself to Him communicating my love for Him.
        This intent also encompasses my priest’s role as mediator for the laity, when in offering myself I also offer myself for them, and to them as their pastor [as when we lay down our life for the sheep].

        • An added note, when offering Mass without people, when I raise the consecrated Holy Eucharist it is, as said to the Father with the intent of offering myself with Christ as an oblation. When with people present I offer the raised Eucharist inclusive of that intention, and most importantly that the people adore the risen Christ, offered for them and to them, for their salvation as their food and drink. The same Christ who alone reveals to us the Father.

          • Thank you, Peter (Fr. Peter Morello) for your comment “At times we’re compelled by a higher order of justice to submit our conscience to what we personally find objectionable”

            And that higher-order is the inviolable Word of God. If I had lived a hundred years ago it appears that my uneducated thinking based on trust/faith in the inviolable living Word of God would be very closely aligned to the teaching of the Church at that time which goes back to the very early church in that a mass without people is not a mass.

            Please see my post direct at Peter D Beaulieu below

            kevin your brother
            In Christ

      • But, Brother Kevin, what if it’s not about either being too “literal” or only one’s own “conscience”? What if it’s more about illuminating distinctions, as between revelation and intuition, between steadfastness and deafness, between isolated (!) conscience and an informed conscience, even between our being left-brained too much at the expense of being right-brained, and—between members of the Church all in some sense, yes, offering the Mass . . . but NOT in the same sense or by assuming the same role in kind and degree . . .

        What if all the Masses said by an “isolated” priest, without us physically present, have actually been valid and efficacious? “Do this in memory of me.” And they do . . .

        St. Pope John Paul II had a prayer before Mass, about which we all may agree:

        “Eternal Father, we members of your blessed son Jesus Christ’s Mystical Body (His Church), in prayerful union with other members of His Church throughout the world, especially those who are suffering or living under oppression, and those who desire to go to Mass but are unable to do so; In spiritual communion with the intentions and affections of The Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Sorrows on Calvary, the Angels and Saints in Heaven, our patron Saints, our Guardian Angels—We all join in offering this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, this unbloody RENEWAL AND EXTENSION of Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross for the following intentions:

        1) To ADORE and worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and to pledge our love and loyalty forever to the God who made us to Know, Love and Serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

        2) To THANK Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for opening the gates of Heaven by His sacrificial death on Calvary and to thank God for all the blessings and graces He has bestowed upon us throughout our lives especially for the supernatural gifts of Faith, Hope, and Charity; those gifts of Truth, Love and Peace which Christ promised to leave with us.

        3) We express our SORROW for having offended God in any way throughout our lives and offer our prayers, works, sufferings, joys and even ourselves [underlined], to the Eternal Father with this sacrifice of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of His Dearly Beloved Son in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

        4) Finally, we PETITION the Triune God for the Grace from this Eucharist to conform every conscious endeavor of our lives to the will of the Father in all things as did Christ. We also pray for all persons, places and things—absent, present, living and dead—for which we are bound in conscience or have expressed a desire to pray for, especially for an increase in vocations, for peace among nations, for the conversion of Russia and for the end of the unspeakable crime of abortion. AMEN.”

        • Peter thank you for your comment. I now refer to your comment directed at
          meiron: Peter D. Beaulieu APRIL 12, 2022 AT 7:05 AM

          You say ”that Kevin is among those many really innocent souls misled by a generation of priests following Vatican II”

          I have read that the 1917 Code of Canon Law, when the traditional Latin Mass was the norm, then-canon 813.1 stated unequivocally “that a priest could not celebrate Mass without the presence of a ‘minister’ who would serve the Mass and make the responses”

          So, no Peter I did not learn this from a generation of priests following Vatican II.

          As it is fair to say that in the 1950s, I would have homed in on this through a fair number of priests who were born in the Victorian era. Although I do remember a priest once asking for the ‘presence of anyone who could respond in Latin, in this, we see a change from a minister to a lay member of the church at the latter end of the 1950s.

          This rapid change (In relation to Church history) can be seen in the life of Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858–1916), who was unable to offer Mass regularly because of his apostolate as a hermit in northern Africa. He petitioned Pope St. Pius X for a dispensation that would permit him to say Mass alone he had to wait many years for news of his dispensation on Jan. 31, 1908. “In the 20th century, from then on, the Church began to relax the restriction that prevented priests from saying Mass alone, leading to

          Quote “For generations, the Church’s position was firm: If a priest wanted to offer Mass, there had to be at least one other person present. Otherwise … the Mass could not be celebrated, period,” “The 1917 code’s refusal even to permit a priest to offer Mass in the absence of a congregation was actually much more stringent than the 1983 code’s canon 906, which allows a priest to say Mass alone for a ‘just and reasonable cause.'”

          1983 code’s canon 906 “ Except for a just and reasonable cause, a priest is not to celebrate the eucharistic sacrifice without the participation of at least some member of the faithful.”

          Leading to Canon 904: “Daily celebration is earnestly recommended.”

          Can. 904 Remembering always that in the mystery of the eucharistic sacrifice the work of redemption is exercised continually, priests are to celebrate frequently; indeed, daily celebration is recommended earnestly since, even if the faithful cannot be present, it is the act of Christ and the Church in which priests fulfill their principal function

          So, in just over 100 years, we have gone from
          A priest could not celebrate Mass without the presence of a ‘minister’ who would serve the Mass and make the responses”

          To Canon 904: “Daily celebration is earnestly recommended.”

          So, If I had lived a hundred years ago it appears that my uneducated thinking based on trust/faith in the His inviolable living Word would be very closely aligned to the teaching of the Church at that time which goes back to the very early church.

          kevin your brother
          In Christ

          • Ships passing in the night. By “innocent” I did not mean, say, or even imply “uneducated.”

            On the other hand, now you speak of a responding “minister” (singular), quite different from your claim near the beginning of this odyssey where CWR readers read that “the mass always necessitates a shared communion with other human beings [very plural] on earth…” Might I have misunderstood because you misspoke?

            Now, as for your singular “minister,” as the author of Canon Law, the Church can also revise this Law, as for the rubrics of the Mass–at the hands of an always sacramentally ordained priest–even within the past one hundred years, or the next ten thousand. The Code of 1917 replaced the unsystematic “Corpus of Canon Law”, an earlier compilation of church law that had been in force since the Middle Ages. And from the second or third century, a likely picture of the Mass is found in the Didache. By happy coincidence, this is the Second Reading today in the Liturgy of the Hours (Wednesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time).

            An assembly is present, but firstly a priest as such as we find in the Acts of the Apostles. As an extension of the bishop, and tracing back to the apostles commissioned by Christ, it is the priest who is sacramentally ordained, not the assembly (as in your necessitated (!) “human beings on earth”). To confuse the sacrament of Holy Orders as necessarily (!) depending upon the only-baptized members of a congregation (plural) is the Lutheran view, not the one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

  7. Thank you Peter for your comments “By “innocent” I did not mean, say, or even imply “uneducated.” “Yes, I agree, my apologies.

    “ it is the priest who is sacramentally ordained, not the assembly (as in your necessitated (!) “human beings on earth”). “ I do not dispute that the priest is sacramentally ordained. From my first post, “I have always understood that the Mass/Sacrifice always required (Necessitates) a sharing as in ‘a recipient’ being present”. (‘Participating’ in the Sacrament which is applicable to other Sacraments also).

    Here we see a shared understanding. 1 Corinthians 10:16 Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a ‘participation’ in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a ‘participation’ in the body of Christ?

    The inviolate Word of God protects the Church from misinterpretation.

    “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT”
    For this is my body,
    Which will be given up for you”

    Because in Truth, via the Holy Spirit, it would not be possible to say these words without a ‘participant’ being present. For to do so would be a lie/deception/blasphemy against the breath of the Holy Spirit, the inviolate Word (Will) of God which sits at the base of all of the Sacraments.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  8. God help me. I didn’t realise that the sacrament of Christ amongst his people in Eucharist was so complicated as indicated by the commentary here. I wonder if Jesus of Nazareth dreampt up this tangled web and for what mystical reason.

    • My posts above relate to the Inviolate Word (Will) of God which sits at the base of the Sacraments and our consciences.

      Once this sacred belief is breached relativism ensues creating a downward spiral of spiritual dissipation within one’s own heart. In turn, Sacred Scripture becomes relative within the Church’s teachings which creates a ‘tangled web’ as men look to each other for approval of their own perceived understanding of God’s Word (Will).

      All honest hearts know that when prayerful words are spoken there must be a participant.

      “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT”

      kevin your brother
      In Christ

      • Hi Kevin,
        I’ve only skimped the above conversation in its totality and I’ve not much time, but I hope you allow me a couple observations:

        There is a history of the change, as you’ve shown, between official Church allowance or non-allowance of private Mass. (I have only an inkling of historical knowledge). Is it possible that private Masses were allowed but were abused (pre-Reformation) so that they then became disallowed (post Reformation), only then to be allowed again through the course of history?

        Another idea: These words, Christ’s, were said initially to the Twelve. If we were to take a strict literal and contemporaneous interpretation, we could argue that these words ought have zero relevance. For example, one Protestant I know claims that Jesus’ words from the Cross to John re Mary his mother do not apply to Christians today…the words were spoken only to John per se, not to us.). Could we not also similarly argue that the words were given and intended solely for the Twelve? (I don’t suggest we subscribe to such methods of interpretation!)

        It is like a tree falling in a forest. If no one is there to hear the sound, is the sound truly made? Assume the priest says the words during Mass, and the priest is the sole participant. Are the words without ‘sound’? IOW(!), do they have an effect? Most Catholics know that these words of the Mass are repeated ad infinitum at every Mass. Most Catholics should know, too, that these words are not subject to innovation. Is it possible that these words ‘reverberate’ to us who may not be present? And to the priest, too, who objectively knows the truth that no one but he is hearing them if he is the only one present at a private Mass. They have been transmitted to no one PHYSICALLY, but their spiritual sound still has effect.

        The words are still objectively true, right? Jesus spoke them.

        The words may “spiritually reverberate.” An example may be to a child not yet the age of reason; at Mass, he will hear the words but is prohibited from taking what Christ offers. The words are still the good and true words of Christ, conveying his Divine will. Yet neither the words ‘take’ and ‘all’ do not apply to the child. That would not make the Words or the Divine Will less true, would it? The words will reverberate and have meaning for the child as he matures; the words will invite and incite him to obey when ‘his hour’ comes.

        Happy Easter, Kevin.

        • Thank you mieron for making the effort and giving your time to respond to my posts which were most welcomed. You say that “I’ve only skimped the above conversation in its totality So in response to your first paragraph. My last post to Peter D. Beaulieu above concluded with this accepted understanding from the early church which has been manifest throughout history

          1 Corinthians 10:16 Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a ‘participation’ in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a ‘participation’ in the body of Christ?

          So, it is fair to say a Mass without a participant (Communicant) would be an anomaly.

          “Another idea: These words, Christ’s, were said initially to the Twelve. If we were to take a strictly literal and contemporaneous interpretation, we could argue that these words ought to have zero relevance”

          Yes, I suppose you could make that claim but taken in context within the gospels and our understanding of these words “,I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst”….. etc. Concluding with Christ’s clear instructs at the last supper.

          “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT”
          For this is my body,
          Which will be given up for you”
          Do this in memory of me”

          Your point is a None starter as reflected in these words of yours (I don’t suggest we subscribe to such methods of interpretation!).

          ”It is like a tree falling in a forest. If no one is there to hear the sound, is the sound truly made? Assume the priest says the words during Mass, and the priest is the sole participant. Are the words without ‘sound’? IOW(!), do they have an effect? Most Catholics know that these words of the Mass are repeated ad infinitum at every Mass. Most Catholics should know, too, that these words are not subject to innovation. Is it possible that these words ‘reverberate’ to us who may not be present? And to the priest, too, who objectively knows the truth that no one but he is hearing them if he is the only one present at a private Mass”

          No, the priest’s words are not without sound but they are words that do not incorporate the full memorial to His given instructions and therefore do not fulfill His teaching/Will “TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT” as with the cup He said take this and divide it amongst yourselves. Without this sharing, there is no communion/Mass.

          The breaking of the bread clearly defines the intent behind the action which is one of sharing as does the giving of the Cup accompanied by these words “take this and divide it amongst yourselves” The priest cannot break the bread if there is no one to share it with neither can he pass the cup and say divide it amongst yourselves. For to do so would be a fraudulent act one incorporating a lie while using God’s sacred Word which is blasphemy.

          Because the intent behind the action of Jesus Christ breaking bread is one of sharing when the Priest breaks the bread, he has to stay true to His intent which is one of sharing this necessitates a communicant as he cannot share it with himself.

          Praise the Lord! Do I need to take this any further? meiron

          Happy Easter to you also meiron
          May His given joy dwell within our hearts this Easter time and always

          kevin your brother
          In Christ

          • Hi Kevin,
            Thank you for your Easter greeting and response.

            I offer some other thoughts. The bread broken and the blood poured out in which we participate is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ made for the purpose of showing God’s forgiveness of man’s sin. We are made whole through his having been broken. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies it produces much fruit.” (John 12:24) Jesus is not just a grain of wheat. Jesus is the grain of wheat, transubstantiated, and given sacramentally in every Mass. We who partake of His bread become leavened, salted, and become as His light (One Body) to the dark world.

            John 5:2-18 tells of the cripple at Bethsaida’s pool who laid 38 years because he had ‘no man’ to place him into the healing water. Jesus healed him, saying “Behold. Thou art made ‘whole.'”

            The healing, the being made whole, occurred on the Sabbath. The Pharisees then accused Jesus of BREAKING THE SABBATH. Well, they spoke words more true than they knew. Their idea of the Sabbath breaking differed from God’s!

            Jesus allowed Himself to be broken and then made whole in the resurrection to show, to prove and/or invite us to participate in his saving actions. Some of us are present and hear His words at Mass. Others are absent and yet still hear the words; some may not respond at initial hearing but may come to do so later. Some are present to hear the words but reject, deny or refuse to act on them, continuing in sin. Different men make all variety of response.

            I understand what you are saying, but I am not of the same opinion. I think that no other participant (other than a priest) is absolutely required at a private Mass. These same words are spoken at every Mass, private or full of people. The priest, who by Church law MUST communicate, does so on his own behalf as well as for those for whom the Mass is offered, for the whole Church (angels and saints) and for the entire world. The Mass is to commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to make Him present. Our presence is secondary.

            The priest participates in the Mass on different levels. He stands on his own behalf; he also acts in persona Christi, alter Christus. He also stands vicariously for the laity who may not be present. He is at the service of Christ who is for us, in us, with us. The priest is there when we aren’t, so we ought thank God for giving us His priests.

            Until the next topic,
            Blessings of the beautiful Easter season to you and yours, Kevin Walters.

        • Meiron,
          The conversation has drifted away, again, from the fact that, as for participation, the entire Communion of Saints is present at each Mass. Such is the Eucharistic Church.

          A distinction with a difference is the Consecration by the ordained priest, as then enabling the distribution of Communion with any physically present. Related to which is the confusion for some (not voiced by contributors to these pages) of the role of “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” versus the jargon “Eucharistic Ministers,” as if these lay people have some kind of blurred role in consecrating the Eucharist, and as if “extraordinary” pertains to an assembly of more than, say, a dozen! (A local priest of the old school also used to complain, rightly, about bulging polyester pants near the altar.)

          I think you’re onto something with the idea that private Masses, while still more than a non-mass or fraudulent or blasphemy, had become abused prior to the Council of Trent. The goal of Trent, relative to the Mass, was to standardize a universal form in place of a very wide range of local variations and abuses, rooted partly is poor priest training.

          The new missal of 1570, for example, added the Introit and the Confiteor at the beginning and the Gospel of St. John at the end (too bad St. John has been eliminated; but it cut into doughnut time!). It was also thought wise that priests should be systematically and better educated, specifically through the new institution of seminaries. After four centuries, the new risk of too much insularity is part of what the Second Vatican Council was/is all about. But, now, infiltration by radical Secularism (as in the German synodal wayward) is also fast upon us.

          Are we having fun, yet?

          • Peter, Thank you for your note.

            I for one am having fun. Are you? How can we not rejoice on Easter Monday? We’ll have time enough, later, to return to dig out the lost, stuck in the obstinate ruts one found attractive enough to stop one’s travel on the way; today, one may not desire escape. The rut is pretty enough.

            “…human kind
            Cannot bear very much reality.
            Time past and time future
            What might have been and what has been
            Point to one end, which is always present.” (T.S. Eliot)

            Yes, the conversation has drifted from the participation of the saints and angels in the Mass. Perhaps because some lack vision and ears to see or hear. Neither can we shake their hands, pat their backs or share with them the slathered virus-laden kiss in the name of something like Putin’s princely price for peace. [Soapbox up.] We’ve removed Christ from his cross and stripped his sacrificial blood and flesh from the Eucharist. Then we wonder whence has come apostasy of apocalyptic proportion. [Soapbox down.]

            I attend the TLM where I am insulated from the hand of any intermediate or mediate ‘minister of Holy Communion’ — extraordinary or otherwise! Praise be Our Lord and Savior, for Having Spared Us!

            There will be time enough, later. So a poet has once said, or so I believe.

            Easter Monday Blessings, Mr. PB.

  9. Although Kevin, Peter Beaulieu 4.18 comment was intended for you not Meiron [the content is clearly addressed to you, however intelligent we are we’re apt to make the occasional] I offer the following for thought.
    A Catholic priest is unlike others in the long historical list of types. Reason is Christ confers his gift of priesthood in a specific sacramental manner that exceeds the common priesthood of the faithful that all the baptized received. That is indicated in the laying of hands by a bishop. The passing of the faculties [powers] exercised by Christ. As his representative he’s called to offer himself for the sheep, as he did, prepared to lay down his life for them. That may be achieved by spending oneself entirely for the sheep in his care for them. Or it may be by offering his life for them as our missionaries have and continue to do.
    When He offers Mass alone with Christ [he’s never really alone] he offers himself in Christ’s oblation on behalf of the Mystical Body. Priests who are devoted to the Mass will offer it when no community is physically available in that sense. As did Cardinal József Mindszenty in Hungary and Cardinal Joseph Zen in China when imprisoned by Communists.
    It would be antithetical to God’s great love for these men, that he would condemn them for desiring to emulate him, especially when he’s given us that mediator charisma. Rather than condemn them, he would greatly bless them because they sought to glorify his name as the God who is love itself. Keep in mind also, that it’s not the word that condemns, rather it’s our manner of receiving it and interpretation of it.

    • Apparently I’m wrong, the comment was addressed to meiron. Nevertheless, my intention is for your benefit Kevin.

      • Thank you, Peter (Fr Peter Morello) for your comment.

        “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever”

        The Angels and the Saints continually rejoice before the Eternal Sacrifice and we are drawn into communion with them when in our own given time here on earth we partake of (Memorialize) the sacrifice of the Mass in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, through an ordained Priest. And this communion is initiated by the breaking of bread.

        When the Priest initiates the Sacrament by breaking the bread the intent behind the action (Breaking of bread) is one of sharing in the body of Christ. The intent precedes the action, and the action of the breaking (Sharing) of the bread must not take place unless there is a Communicant present, for a priest to do so would be a sacrilegious act, as in effect the priest would be ‘holding’ the Will of God in contempt.

        The intent behind the action of Jesus Christ breaking bread is one of sharing when the Priest breaks the bread, he has to stay true to His intent this necessitates a communicant as he cannot share it with himself.

        You say “It would be antithetical to God’s great love for these men, that he would condemn them for desiring to emulate him, especially when he’s given us that mediator charisma. Rather than condemn them, he would greatly bless them because they sought to glorify His name as the God who is love itself.”

        One cannot help but acknowledge the beauty of truly committed priests while knowing without a doubt that God loves them in their commitment to shepherd the flock, as they follow in His footsteps in humility behind Him. And this sincerity can clearly be seen in those faithful priests who are persecuted/isolated/ imprisoned etc as their faith is manifest.

        While Heartfelt prayer the ‘offering up of one’s ‘accepted sufferings’ in the difficulties of this life with His on the Cross is always acceptable to Him and this applies also to the faithful in their sacrificial life whether they be religious or laity which has been manifest by many throughout the ages, some of whom have been denied the sacrament of Holy Communion due to persecuted/isolated/ imprisoned as with priests many have laid down their lives for their brothers and sisters in Christ which is reflected in these words

        Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
        the almighty Father

        Are the priests not also greatly blessed by having been given the gift to celebrate the Mass in obedience to His Will which glorifies His name? To deviate from the divine prerogative calls into question His inviolate authority with the possibility of serious consequences. In just over 100 years, we have gone from ‘A priest could not celebrate Mass without the presence of a ‘minister’ who would serve the Mass and make the responses”

        To Canon 904: “Daily celebration is earnestly recommended.”

        So, If I had lived a hundred years ago it appears that in my uneducated thinking based on trust/faith in the His inviolable living Word I would be very closely aligned to the teaching of the Church at that time which goes back to the very early church. While to my understanding The Orthodox Church does not and has not permitted her priests to say Mass without a participant (s)

        So, what has changed?

        So, in this my understanding, you cannot have one (Sacrifice) without the other. A priest acts as a conduit to God’s grace through the Sacraments he is not the Sacrament he cannot forgive himself, ordain himself etc.

        “From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacrament also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them” (CCC, 1128)

        And the implication of this statement is that the celebrant no matter how worthy or unworthy he may be cannot take and most not take anything away from the ‘Glory (Word/Will) of God’. As Christ’s Sacrifice stands alone for perpetuity, we can memorialize it and imitate it but we cannot claim it as our own in any way whatsoever rather we all can only humbly partake of it and imitate/offer it up our daily lived lives as the fruits of the sacrament also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them”

        When His Word is acted upon in ‘obedience’ to His Divine Prerogative as given at the Last Supper. To my understanding Grace (Gods’ gift) is only given when in obedience the ordained celebrant re-enacts Christ’s actions in a memorial to Him. Because obedience to God is essentially love of God.

        Yes, God is love and when in ‘obedience’ we do His Will we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

        “Sanctify them in the Truth; thy Word is Truth as thou didst send me into the World so I have sent them into the World and for their sake, I consecrate myself that they also may be consecrated in truth”

        and the fruit of this sanctification is the gift of peace a peace that the world cannot give. It could be said that obstacles (Not being able to say or participate in the Mass) whatever they may be, when accepted in humility only serve to increase our trust in Him and Him alone rather than trusting in one’s own efforts/opinions/image, as

        “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” ‘Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest in me.

        You say “Keep in mind also, that it’s not the word that condemns, rather it’s our manner of receiving it and interpretation of it”

        That is true but certain teachings cannot be misunderstood as in ‘One iota’ within the totality of the Commandments. “Take and eat this is my body” I would also include “Paint an image according to the vision that you see His inviolate Word/Will sits at the base of the Sacraments that have been instigated by God Himself.

        This acceptance of the Inviolate Word (Will) of God protects the Church (Faithful) from error as it forms our consciences.
        Once this sacred belief is breached relativism ensues creating a downward spiral of spiritual dissipation within one’s own heart. In turn, Sacred Scripture becomes relative within the Church’s teachings which creates a ‘tangled web’ as men look to each other for approval of their own perceived understanding of God’s Word (Will).

        Sincerely
        kevin your brother
        In Christ

        • Although Kevin the priest can and does feed himself. At God’s command, Take this all of you and eat of it. That doesn’t, cannot possibly exclude priests who offer Mass. That is why the priest always receives the Eucharist from Christ whether with the community or not.

          • Thank you, Peter (Fr Peter Morello) for your comment “the priest can and does feed himself. At God’s command, “Take this all of you and eat of it”. “That doesn’t cannot possibly exclude priests who offer Mass”

            Yes, I agree, absolutely! That is when the priest conforms to the intent of sharing in obedience to Jesus Christ’s command given to the apostles at the last supper.

            “This is my body which will be given up for you, do this in memory of me

            This re-enactment includes the priest as he memorializes the event, that is in one of sharing in Christ’s one and only eternal living sacrifice which through ordination ‘enacts the Sacrament’ of Holy Communion, the transformation of bread and wine, which enables the sharing of Christ’s body with the faithful at that moment in time.

            “That is why the priest always receives the Eucharist from Christ whether with the community or not”

            This understanding has not been reflected by the church down through the ages as it goes against the divine prerogative (That is one of sharing) as given by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves” Who can the priest pass the cup to?

            This takes us back to this statement “The intent behind the action of Jesus Christ breaking bread is one of sharing when the Priest breaks the bread, he has to stay true to His intent this necessitates a communicant as he cannot share it with himself. In effect, without a Communicant, the Mass cannot take place.

            No priest can possess a Sacrament, only perform (Bring) them in humble service to the flock/people; is that not what the Sacrament of Ordination is all about.

            Many thanks, Peter for the patience and time you have given to me on this matter.
            kevin your brother
            In Christ

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