What happens in ordination

In priestly ordination the bishop calls down God’s power upon the candidates for ordination. It imprints upon the souls of these men an indelible seal that can never be lost. As a collaborator with his bishop, the priest will proclaim the Word of God, administer the sacraments, and, above all, celebrate the Holy eucharist.

During the celebration of a Holy Mass, the actual ordination of priests begins when the candidates are called by name. After the bishop’s homily, the future priest promises obedience to the bishop and his successors. The actual ordination takes place through the imposition of the bishop’s hands and his prayer.

In diaconal ordination the candidate is appointed to a special service within the sacrament of Holy Orders. For he represents Christ as the one who came, “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28). In the liturgy of ordination we read: “As a minister of the Word, of the altar, and of charity, [the deacon] will make himself a servant to all.” The original model of the deacon is the martyr St. Stephen. When the apostles in the original Church of Jerusalem saw that they were overwhelmed by their many charitable duties, they appointed seven men “to serve tables”, whom they then ordained. The first mentioned is Stephen: “full of grace and power”, he accomplished much for the new faith and for the poor in the Christian community. Over the centuries the diaconate became merely a degree of Holy Orders on the way to the presbyterate, but today it is once again an independent vocation for both celibates and married men. On the one hand, this is supposed to reemphasize service as a characteristic of the Church; on the other hand, it helps the priests, as in the early Church, by establishing an order of ministers who take on particular pastoral and social duties of the Church. Diaconal ordination, too, makes a lifelong, irrevocable mark on the ordained man.

What sins must be confessed?

Under normal circumstances, all serious sins that one remembers after making a thorough examination of conscience and that have not yet been confessed can be forgiven only in individual sacramental confession.

Of course there will be reluctance before making a confession. Overcoming it is the first step toward interior healing. Often it helps to think that even the Pope has to have the courage to confess his failings and weaknesses to another priest – and thereby to God. Only in life-or-death emergencies (for instance, during an airstrike in wartime or on other occasions when a group of people are in danger of death) can a priest administer “general absolution” to a group of people without the personal confession of sins beforehand. However, afterwards, one must confess serious sins in a personal confession at the first opportunity.

“According to the Church’s command, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.” Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.” (CCC 1457)

What is required for forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance?

What is required for the forgiveness of sins is the person who undergoes conversion and the priest who in God’s name gives him absolution from his sins.

Essential elements of every confession are an examination of conscience, contrition, a purpose of amendment, confession, and penance.

The examination of conscience should be done thoroughly, but it can never be exhaustive. No one can be absolved from his sin without real contrition, merely on the basis of “lip-service”. Equally indispensable is the purpose of amendment, the resolution not to commit that sin again in the future. The sinner absolutely must declare the sin to the confessor and, thus, confess to it. The final essential element of confession is the atonement or penance that the confessor imposes on the sinner to make restitution for the harm done.

What is the Holy Eucharist?

The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament in which Jesus Christ gives his Body and Blood himself for us, so that we too might give ourselves to him in love and be united with him in Holy Communion. In this way we are joined with the one Body of Christ, the Church.

After Baptism and Confirmation, the Eucharist is the third sacrament of initiation of the Catholic Church. The Eucharist is the mysterious center of all these sacraments, because the historic sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is made present during the words of consecration in a hidden, unbloody manner. Thus the celebration of the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen gentium, 11). Everything aims at this; besides this there is nothing greater that one could attain. When we eat the broken Bread, we unite ourselves with the love of Jesus, who gave his body for us on the wood of the Cross; when we drink from the chalice, we unite ourselves with him who even poured out his blood out of love for us. We did not invent this ritual. Jesus himself celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples and therein anticipated his death; he gave himself to his disciples under the signs of bread and wine and commanded them from then on, even after his death, to celebrate the Eucharist. “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24).

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.” (CCC 1324)

Méditations sur la liturgie d’aujourd’hui

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“Scène de lavement des pieds” tirée du Maître du Livre de Raison

Évangile selon St Jean, chapitre 13, 1-15

Avant la fête de la Pâque, sachant que l’heure était venue pour lui de passer de ce monde à son Père, Jésus, ayant aimé les siens qui étaient dans le monde, les aima jusqu’au bout.
Au cours du repas, alors que le diable a déjà mis dans le cœur de Judas, fils de Simon l’Iscariote, l’intention de le livrer, Jésus, sachant que le Père a tout remis entre ses mains, qu’il est sorti de Dieu et qu’il s’en va vers Dieu, se lève de table, dépose son vêtement, et prend un linge qu’il se noue à la ceinture ; puis il verse de l’eau dans un bassin. Alors il se mit à laver les pieds des disciples et à les essuyer avec le linge qu’il avait à la ceinture.
Il arrive donc à Simon-Pierre, qui lui dit : « C’est toi, Seigneur, qui me laves les pieds ? »
Jésus lui répondit : « Ce que je veux faire, tu ne le sais pas maintenant ; plus tard tu comprendras. »
Pierre lui dit : « Tu ne me laveras pas les pieds ; non, jamais ! » Jésus lui répondit : « Si je ne te lave pas, tu n’auras pas de part avec moi. »
Simon-Pierre lui dit : « Alors, Seigneur, pas seulement les pieds, mais aussi les mains et la tête ! »
Jésus lui dit : « Quand on vient de prendre un bain, on n’a pas besoin de se laver, sinon les pieds : on est pur tout entier. Vous-mêmes, vous êtes purs, mais non pas tous. »
Il savait bien qui allait le livrer ; et c’est pourquoi il disait : « Vous n’êtes pas tous purs. »
Quand il leur eut lavé les pieds, il reprit son vêtement, se remit à table et leur dit : « Comprenez-vous ce que je viens de faire pour vous ?
Vous m’appelez ?Maître ? et ?Seigneur ?, et vous avez raison, car vraiment je le suis.
Si donc moi, le Seigneur et le Maître, je vous ai lavé les pieds, vous aussi, vous devez vous laver les pieds les uns aux autres.
C’est un exemple que je vous ai donné afin que vous fassiez, vous aussi, comme j’ai fait pour vous.

Méditations

1. Nous entrons aujourd’hui dans le cœur de la Semaine Sainte, dans ce Triduum Pascal, qui commence au soir du Jeudi Saint. Cœur de la Semaine Sainte, car cœur de la mission du Jésus, qui est venu pour sauver le monde, en obéissance complète à son Père du Ciel. Ces jours sont des jours de repentir, devant les souffrances de Jésus lors de sa Passion, qui sont les conséquences de nos péchés, jours de deuil devant Jésus qui meurt sur la croix, et jours de fête et de joie, car Jésus nous libère de l’emprise du mal, et, avec sa Résurrection, nous annonce notre propre résurrection.

2. En méditant sur le lavement des pieds, saint Augustin se demanda s’il n’y avait pas dans ce geste l’institution d’un autre sacrement, en plus de l’Eucharistie, de la confession, et des autres sacrements. Mais il se rendit compte que ce geste n’était pas le geste d’un nouveau sacrement, mais la signification profonde de tous les sacrements. Par les sacrements Jésus nous lave de nos péchés, nous purifie et nous fortifie avec la grâce. Peut-être voyons-nous parfois les sacrements comme un devoir nécessaire pour être de « bons chrétiens » : aller à la messe le dimanche, se confesser régulièrement, respecter le sacrement du mariage… S’il en est ainsi, c’est que nous n’avons pas compris ce que sont véritablement les sacrements. Loin d’un devoir qui nous incombe, c’est un service que nous recevons. Service d’un ordre surnaturel, infiniment précieux, que seul Jésus est en mesure de nous donner.

3. À la fin de ce passage, Jésus ajoute que ce qu’il fait est un exemple pour que nous fassions de même. Jésus nous fait passer de l’ancienne Loi, qui consistait essentiellement dans le respect des commandements, à la nouvelle Loi, la loi de l’amour. La nouvelle loi de l’amour ne consiste plus seulement à aimer son prochain comme soi-même, mais à aimer son prochain comme Jésus l’a aimé, comme Jésus l’aime. De cette loi de l’amour ne découle pas une série de préceptes, mais une attitude pour toute la vie. Attitude de service et de don, qui remplit tout ce que nous faisons.

– Frère Jean Marie Fornerod, LC

Christ’s Body and Blood

"Última Cena" by Juan de Juanes
“Última Cena” by Juan de Juanes

The central and still startling claim of the Catholic Church is that Jesus is really, truly, and substantially present under the forms of bread and wine. His presence is not simply evocative and symbolic, not simply the result of our thinking so or wishing so, but rather real, true, and substantial.

If you want to find this verified scripturally, look of course at the accounts of the Last Supper in Matthew, Mark, and Luke – and also in Paul. But look especially at the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. Jesus identifies himself as the “living bread come down from heaven,” and then he specifies, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

Now this was extremely objectionable language for a Jew of Jesus’ time. To eat someone’s flesh was a term of contempt. More to it, the drinking of an animal’s blood was expressly forbidden throughout the Old Testament – much less the drinking of a man’s blood. But when Jesus’ listeners object, Jesus does not soften his language – he intensifies it: “My flesh is real food and my blood real drink.”

How can we make sense of this claim? It has everything to do with who Jesus is. If he were simply an ordinary human being, his words would have, at best, a symbolic resonance. I can say, “This ring is a symbol of my love for you.” But Jesus is God, and what God says, is.

God’s word affects reality at the most fundamental level. Thus, when Jesus’ words over the bread and wine are spoken, they change into what the words signify. They become really, truly, and substantially the body and blood of the Lord.

The reality of this sacrament so important because “For whoever eats my bread and drinks my blood has eternal life.” The Eucharist, as the eternal presence of God, eternalizes those who consume it, making us ready for eternity. We participate in Jesus Christ through this sacrament.

This is why we should be very careful, even a little wary, as we approach the communion table. Do we know what we’re getting into?

– Fr Robert Barron

The Sacrement of Penance and Easter Duty

One of the duties of a Catholic is to fulfill the six Precepts of the Church, the positive laws which are “meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2041). Two of these precepts directly relate to the upcoming Easter season. The third precept is “You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.” This is tied in with the second precept to “confess your sins at least once a year.” If we want to receive Jesus worthily in Holy Communion during Easter, we need to cleanse our souls, especially of any mortal sin through the Sacrament of Penance. Most parishes offer extra confession times for Holy Week, but usually any priest is available on request to hear confession by appointment.