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The History of Holy Orders The New Testament The presen


The History of Holy Orders The New Testament The present state of scholarship demands great caution in our speaking about ordination, its meaning or its rites in the NT. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The History of Holy Orders The New Testament The presen

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • The present state of scholarship demands great
    caution in our speaking about ordination, its
    meaning or its rites in the NT.
  • The words ordain and ordination are not found
  • There is considerable disagreement about the
    extent to which this later Christian use may
    coincide with the categories of the NT
  • With its pattern, or varied patterns, of
    understanding, vocabulary and practice.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • The evidence suggests that the church had both
    unity and differentiation from the beginning.
  • There is equality based on baptism
  • This equality nevertheless requires authority,
  • That is structured and maintained as a unity
    through special ministers.
  • Ministry rather than order or status is the
    predominant emphasis
  • a mission to be accomplished
  • a task to be done
  • Rather than a class to be entered or a status to
    be attained.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • These differences should not be exaggerated
  • ministry may well involve position
  • a mission may carry with it or may require a
    certain personal status
  • ministers may be grouped together because of the
    nature of their function.
  • Ministry does not however arise merely out of
    sociological pressure
  • its necessity is found at a deeper level in the
    person and mission of Jesus Christ.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • The entire ministry is ultimately the work of God
  • (1 Cor 126),
  • the gift of Christ
  • (Eph 4712)
  • and of the Holy Spirit
  • (1 Cor 12411 cf. Acts 2028)
  • in and through and for the church,
  • the body of Christ.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • The most important forms of ministry can be
    characterized as those of leadership
  • Preaching the gospel and founding new churches,
  • Supervising and nurturing the growth of the young
  • Leading the communities as they become
  • This ministry of leadership manifests itself in a
    variety of activities
  • Instruction, encouragement, reproof, visitation,
    appointment and supervision of some ministries,
    and so on
  • Aall that is demanded by the task of building up
    the body of Christ.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • Scholars are not agreed about the manner in which
    such Christian leaders came into being in the
    early church.
  • The recent trend has been towards the view that
    leaders emerged or were appointed in different
    ways in different communities with different
    church orders.
  • Is there any evidence of a rite associated with
  • Rather than discuss the question simply as a NT
    issue, it seems best to look at it with an eye to
    subsequent developments.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • The NT mentions the laying-on of hands on four
    main occasions that could be important for our
    consideration of the sacrament of orders
  • (Acts 66 133 1 Tim 414 2 Tim 16 and cf. 1
    Tim 522).
  • Scholars do not agree on the background to this
    Christian action,
  • whether it was borrowed from a supposed Jewish
    rite of ordination
  • or was derived from more general OT influences
  • or was primarily a Christian introduction.
  • Nor is there agreement that in these instances
    the function and the meaning of the gesture are
    the same.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • In Acts 66 the seven are chosen in Jerusalem by
    the whole body of disciples for appointment by
    the apostles, who pray and lay their hands upon
  • In Acts 1313 Barnabas and Saul are set apart in
    the church at Antioch for a mission in obedience
    to a command of the Holy Spirit.
  • After fasting and prayer they (the prophets and
    teachers? others?) lay hands on Barnabas and Saul
    and send them on their mission.
  • They are understood to be sent out by the Holy
    Spirit (134).
  • In neither of these cases do scholars agree about
    the function or the meaning of this imposition of

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • The second especially may have been no more than
    a blessing or the acknowledgment of a mandate
  • (cf. Acts 1426, which may interpret this rite
    in saying that they were commended to the grace
    of God for this work).
  • One other text from Acts makes an interesting
  • According to 1423, Paul and Barnabas appointed
    elders in every church with prayer and fasting.
  • The mention of prayer and fasting and the absence
    of reference to the laying-on of hands are worth
    noting, though it could well be that the latter
    is presupposed.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • There is also disagreement as to the meaning of
    the imposition of hands in the two instances from
    the pastoral epistles
  • (1 Tim 414 2 Tim 16),
  • But there is a firmer consensus that it is part
    of what may be called with greater confidence an
    ordination rite.
  • The choice of Timothy may have been made by
    prophetic utterance
  • (1 Tim 118 414 cf. Acts 132)
  • The core of the rite by which he was commissioned
    is presented as the laying-on of hands done by
    the body of presbyters and by Paul
  • (1 Tim 414 2 Tim 16).
  • Probably this was done in public
  • (cf. 2 Tim 22 before many witnesses).

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • In or through this rite a spiritual gift,
  • a gift of God,
  • has been conferred.
  • This gift is at the service of the word,
  • strengthening Timothy to bear public witness to
    the gospel
  • (2 Tim 1814).
  • He is warned not to neglect
  • he is to rekindle this gift of God that he has
    received and
  • in fact the last two chapters of I Timothy
    envisage a broad range of responsibility for the
    apostolate and the community.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • It is a power that enables him to carry out his
  • a charism for the office that he has received.
  • Here we have the makings of a later explicitly
    sacramental understanding of such a rite.
  • No doubt these texts, partial as they are,
    represent different situations of time and place.
  • They may not simply be collated in the
    expectation that the ensemble will provide the
    ordination rite of the early church or of St
  • Scholars maintain that the pattern of ministry,
  • its understanding and its mode of appointment or
  • may be more varied than has been acknowledged in
    the past.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • The precise influences that led to the Christian
    use of the laying-on of hands are unclear
  • and so the meaning of this action, and in some
    cases its role, are also unclear.
  • It is not evident that some such form was always
    and everywhere used during the NT period or
    indeed for some time after it,
  • Nor is there any probability that all these
    elements were present on all occasions.
  • But neither can it be proved from the evidence of
    the NT that such a form was exceptional.
  • Elements do undoubtedly emerge from the church of
    the NT that will influence all later generations
    and that will in fact endure.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • Subject to all the qualifications that have been
    made, the following may serve as a summary of
    some of the points from the NT that will be
    prominent also in the subsequent tradition.
  • In the appointment of ministers to positions of
    leadership the whole local body of the church and
    yet also particular ministers or groups of
    ministers have an important role.
  • The context of worship, of prayer and fasting is
    mentioned, suggesting a liturgical setting and
    referring the ministry and appointment to it to
  • Hands are laid on the candidate by a group within
    the church and/or by such individuals as Paul and

The History of Holy Orders
  • The New Testament
  • What the church does through its corporate action
    or through its leaders is regarded as inspired by
    the Holy Spirit
  • Through the churchs choice and the liturgical
  • God provides for the church and gives a spiritual
    gift that in some way endures.
  • This inter-working of God-whole church-special
    ministers in the appointment of ministers is to
    be noted,
  • as is the religious form of prayer-fasting-liturgi
    cal rite that is part of it.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • During the 2nd century,
  • Episcopacy, presbyterate and diaconate
  • emerge almost everywhere as the most important
    ministries and form what will be the universal
  • From the letter of Clement onwards,
    correspondences are noted between the Jewish
    structure of authority and the Christian.
  • Ignatius of Antioch already presents the bishop
    as an image of the Father
  • Here and elsewhere bishop, presbyter and deacon
    are related in a variety of ways to God and to
    Jesus Christ.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • These comparisons manifest the conviction that
    the existence and the pattern of this ministry in
    the church are willed by God and mediate the
    authority and the power of God.
  • Between God and the church is Jesus Christ,
  • who came from God and from whom the power and the
    authority of the church originated historically.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • In the 2nd and 3rd centuries a consensus may not
    yet have emerged as to the way in which the
    church commissions these ministers.
  • Order, Ordain, Ordination.
  • Clement of Rome and Irenaeus had employed the
    language of structure and function with regard to
    the church,
  • But Tertullian is the first that we know to use
    the Latin words ordo-ordinare-ordinatio as part
    of the Christian terminology.
  • The meaning the words have in his writings is
    that of the common usage of the time,
  • He extends this to certain Christian realities
    and actions, giving them a new application.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • He is followed closely by his fellow North
    African, Cyprian, and some of Cyprians
  • The terminology is still fluid at this stage and
    the words are not yet the technical terms that
    they will become later.
  • Ordo for Tertullian generally denotes a certain
    group or class in the church
  • With the adjectives ecclesiasticus or
    sacerdotalis, denotes at least the combined
    episcopacy, presbyterate and diaconate,
  • Which are distinguished from the plebs or laici.
  • This ordo is marked by authority and function in
    the church.
  • The word is thus strongly institutional.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • The verb ordinare and its noun ordinatio are used
    in a similar way.
  • To ordain is to designate someone to some
    function, to install in a charge, to give a
  • It is a juridical word, suggesting a legal act
    carried out by authority
  • It fits well into an understanding of the church
    as structured in different groups distinguished
    by different responsibilities and powers.
  • It conveys a markedly functional understanding of
    the act and its effects.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • In broader usage the ordination could include the
    preparatory stages
  • But in a more formal sense it was distinguished
    from the election of the candidate by the
  • By ordination the minister is invested with his
    charge and with all the powers that it requires.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • There is strong and widespread evidence for the
    laying-on of hands, at least in the ordination of
  • It cannot be proved that this took place in every
  • It seems more plausible to hold that it was used
    also for the presbyterate and the diaconate.
  • It may have been regarded as a sign, but not an
    essential one, of the intention to ordain the
    candidate to the particular charge.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • In some places the ordination of a bishop
    required the approval of neighboring bishops or
    provincial synods
  • This showed concern for such ecclesial realities
  • The apostolic succession
  • The unity and communion of the churches in the
    universal church
  • The personal and ecclesial standing of the new

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Though this cluster of words conveys a primarily
    juridical understanding of the reality they refer
  • there is also a spiritual side that is important.
  • There is emphasis
  • on the qualities of holiness demanded in the
    person to be ordained,
  • on the acts of sanctification for which
    ordination grants authority and power
  • and on the priestly nature of the order to which
    it gives access.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • The churchs act of ordination is grounded on the
    will of God and the authority of Christ.
  • God ordains and the church ordains, and these are
    in direct relation.
  • The sanctifying mission of the church that has
    its origin in God and is derived through Christ
    is engaged
  • Through the act of the qualified leaders of the
    church the candidate is divinely empowered to
  • Thus while the early terminology of order and
    ordination is primarily juridical,
  • from the beginning it is also spiritual and has
    clearly sacramental elements.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Ordination Rites.
  • A picture that is different in some respects
    emerges from the Apostolic Tradition (written in
    Greek at Rome about 215 by Hippolytus).
  • There bishop, presbyter and deacon are ordained
  • Hippolytus uses the word by the bishop in a
    liturgical rite which has as its core the
    imposition of hands accompanied by prayer.
  • The bishop certainly and probably the other
    ministers were chosen by the whole community.
  • The prayers provide a context of understanding
    for the ordination by referring to deeds of God
    in the OT or in the event of Christ
  • All pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the
    candidate, indicating the tasks that the ministry

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Thus, by imposition of hands and prayer the
  • the qualified minister of ordination
  • accompanied by other bishops or other ministers
    and by the people,
  • gives the churchs commission.
  • Through this ordination a gift of the Holy Spirit
    is communicated,
  • A gift that is the ground of the ministry in
    question and that empowers the candidate for its
  • This represents an understanding of ministry and
    commissioning for it
  • for which there is evidence in the NT
  • and which had been growing in confidence during
    the 2nd century.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • The pattern of ordination so plainly given in
    Hippolytus will be followed in the later Roman
  • The prayers will have the same general character
  • They will be strong in OT typology
  • They will continue to be addressed to the Father
    and to have a clearly trinitarian structure
  • They will have a petition for the gift of the
    Spirit and will set it in some relation to the
    tasks of the ministry and requisite qualities in
    the minister.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • From all this there emerges the conviction that
    the ministry of leadership in its threefold form
    is a gift of God for the church,
  • A gift foretold and prefigured in the OT,
  • A gift that had its historical origin and was
    supremely manifest in Jesus Christ,
  • A gift that God continues to make to the church
    through the Holy Spirit in each ordination.
  • This is a gift to be acknowledged and proclaimed
    in a prayer that has a certain eucharistic
  • a gift to be prayed for humbly over the

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • When the community of the church chooses its
  • this is understood to be the expression or
    announcement of Gods choice,
  • as the rite of ordination is the act of the
    church through which God operates.
  • In other words, no opposition is thought to exist
    between God and the church in the process and the
    rite of ordination.
  • God announces and accomplishes the divine will
    through the churchs election and its ordination
  • The churchs action makes known and realizes
    Gods provident gift.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Through the churchs act of ordination
  • the gift of the Holy Spirit is communicated to
    the candidate,
  • conveying the ministry or function together with
    the spiritual empowerment required for its
  • These are elements that later theologians will
    bring together in speaking of the sacrament of

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Ordination rites will grow in importance and be
    acknowledged as the ground of these ministries.
  • Whereas in the first two to three centuries it
    seems that one presided at the liturgy because of
    ones position as leader of the community,
  • Subsequently one is understood to preside and so
    to lead the community
  • because one has been ordained.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Five important qualities of ordination and of the
    ordained ministry should be noted from this
  • Christological
  • Pneumatological
  • Ecclesial
  • Priestly
  • Personal

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Christological.
  • Jesus, coming from God, is the historical origin
    of this authoritative ministry in the church,
    which therefore must always be related back to
  • In his life he gave the supreme example of
    authentic ministry, and so he remains always the
  • What he taught and preached must be passed on
    faithfully, so that the churchs ministers must
    at all times be faithful to Christs gospel.
  • As the risen Lord he is active in the church
    through his Spirit and the Spirits gifts.
  • In carrying out his responsibility the minister
    is serving Jesus Christ, who is thus in a sense
    the goal of the ministry.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Christological.
  • This characteristic of ministers and ministry can
    be summed up in the phrases,
  • servants of Jesus Christ,
  • the service of Jesus Christ,
  • understood in all their virtualities.
  • It is much of this that is implied in the word
    increasingly used from the second century,
  • The apostolic character of the ministry declared
    its authentic relationship to its historical
    origin in Jesus Christ, and so grounded its
    fidelity to him.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Pneumatological.
  • There is recurring reference to the role of the
    Holy Spirit in the provision of ministry
  • And regular petition for the appropriate gift of
    the Spirit in the various rites of ordination.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Ecclesial.
  • The ecclesial character of ministry and
    ordination is particularly evident in these early
  • Ministers are of the church and represent it,
    public figures of leadership in and for the
  • In many cases chosen by the whole people
  • Ordained by the qualified minister of the church,
    the bishop, in the presence of all
  • And perhaps confirmed by neighboring churches.
  • Public service in the church is the summary of
    the ministry.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Priestly.
  • While the NT uses priestly terms both of Jesus
    and of the whole church, it does not do so of any
    Christian minister.
  • It is only about the turn of the 2nd century that
    such an extension of sacerdotal vocabulary begins
    to be common
  • First of all and primarily with reference to the
  • Then more slowly and in a subordinate way of the
  • (notably so in the Roman tradition).

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Priestly.
  • By the Carolingian era in the West there will be
    a change
  • it will become more and more the practice to
    speak of the presbyter primarily as sacerdos.
  • Involved in this change of usage there can be
    detected a practical and theological shift in the
    relationship between bishop and presbyter
  • Priestly vocabulary was not generally extended to
    the deacon. Hippolytus had said of him explicitly
    that he was not ordained to the priesthood.
  • The introduction of priestly terminology and its
    increasingly widespread acceptance had enormous
    theological and practical consequences for the
    understanding and the exercise of the sacrament
    of orders.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Personal.
  • The one ordained is not merely a functionary but
    a minister of Christ and of the church,
  • So his call requires a full personal response
  • Commitment to this ministry
  • And holiness of life in imitation of Christ.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons.
  • The triple pattern of episcopacy-presbyterate-diac
    onate takes some time to emerge and to establish
  • but it then becomes universal in the church
  • The Reformation will bring some break in the
  • The functions of these orders and the
    relationships between them do not remain

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons.
  • The bishop becomes the focus of ministry, the
    center of leadership
  • The office mediates divine authority, involving
    supervision or leadership by the individual
    bishop and on the part of the whole episcopal
  • This is a reality of which the patristic church
    was strongly conscious.
  • But the exercise of this changes considerably as
    the territory of the bishops episkope grows.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons.
  • The presbyterate, for some time primarily a
    council to advise the bishop, becomes more
  • Individual presbyters, regularly and no longer
    only in the absence of the bishop, carry out many
    formerly episcopal functions,
  • They emerge as leaders of areas and groups of
  • Preaching, presiding over the eucharist and other
    liturgical functions,
  • So that the presbyterate becomes more markedly
    pastoral and liturgical in character.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Early Developments
  • Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons.
  • Throughout the patristic period deacons have
    important pastoral and administrative tasks in
    addition to their liturgical functions
  • It will be some time before the deacon loses his
    strong and distinctive role in the church to
    become almost exclusively a liturgical minister
    overshadowed by the presbyter.
  • It is important to note of all these that the
    ministry has a broad scope that is not
    exclusively or predominantly liturgical either in
    its exercise or in the way it is understood.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The theological contribution of the Scholastics
    in the 12th and 13th centuries was influenced by
    changes in the practical exercise of orders that
    had been taking place for several centuries
  • These changes reflected a sharpening of the
    distinction between laity and clergy
  • They were part of an older and broader process of

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • With the spread of the church and the social
    organization of the time,
  • The presbyter continued to establish himself and
    the functions of his ministry in a more defined
    and more independent way vis-à-vis the bishop
  • (and also at the expense of the deacon).
  • In practice he became the priest, the minister
    par excellence of the eucharist and of other
    sacraments too.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • Decline in the popular understanding of Latin
  • and generally in the level of popular
    participation in the liturgy
  • changed the relationship between the presbyter
    and the people.
  • It increased the emphasis on his sacramental
  • Mass celebrated by the priest alone or with a
    single minister began to be common.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • There were changes too in the Roman ritual of
    ordination, which now came to incorporate
  • investiture, anointing and the traditio
  • The last two would become important for the
    Scholastic discussion of the matter of the
  • While all three would enhance the perception of
    the ordained minister as a figure of sacred
    status and power.
  • A more general change of great consequence was
    the gradual loss of communication and mutual
    influence between the churches of West and East.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Sacrament of Orders.
  • In the course of the 12th century sacrament
    came to be defined narrowly
  • Orders was recognized as one of the seven
  • And the sacrament of orders became a technical
  • In addition to the issues common to all the
    sacraments, this raised a number of particular
  • There had long been discussion about the number
    of orders, and this continued to be debated.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Sacrament of Orders.
  • The more common view emerged that there were
    seven orders
  • There was less agreement that subdiaconate and
    the minor orders, recognized to be of
    ecclesiastical institution, were sacramental in
    the strict sense.
  • The question was posed most acutely of the
  • Theologians agreed that orders was a single
    sacrament and not several
  • They disagreed about the precise relationship
    between this unique sacrament and its several

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Sacrament of Orders.
  • For some, no one order had the fullness of the
    sacrament, which was constituted rather by all
    the orders taken together.
  • However, the more common opinion was that the
    priesthood contained the fullness of the
    sacrament as being the fullness of order
  • and that the other orders participated in this
    plenitude, being ordered to this single end.
  • This view fit well into the widespread medieval
    way of understanding reality in terms of
    hierarchy, order and participation.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Status of Episcopacy.
  • The status of episcopacy and the relationship
    between it and the presbyterate were not new
  • In the patristic church episcopacy was commonly
    presented as the supreme order and the high
    priesthood, with the presbyterate, especially in
    the Roman rite of ordination, explicitly and
    emphatically designated as subordinate
  • From at least the time of St. Jerome and
    Ambrosiaster there had been another view.
  • The proponents of this argued that presbyteroi
    and episkopoi were synonymous in the NT
  • They maintained that bishop and presbyter were
    equal as priests, the difference between them
    being a matter of ecclesiastical institution
    related to authority.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Status of Episcopacy.
  • We have seen already the change in the way in
    which the term priest came to be applied to
    bishops and presbyters.
  • Now the Scholastics posed the question is
    episcopacy an order?
  • Among theologians there developed a strong
  • to define orders with reference to the Eucharist
  • and to locate the essence of priesthood in the
    power over the body and blood of Christ exercised
    in the Eucharist.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Status of Episcopacy.
  • Since in this precise respect the powers of
    bishop and of presbyter (now increasingly called
    priest, sacerdos) are the same,
  • The majority of theologians held that episcopacy
    in itself is not
  • An order but an ecclesiastical honor
  • An office of jurisdictional power only
  • and so they denied it sacramental status.
  • The contrast with the earlier tradition is
  • The high priest of the liturgy, the pastor and
    teacher par excellence was in danger of becoming
    an administrator.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Status of Episcopacy.
  • The memory of the past had not disappeared, and
    some theologians, together with canonists
    generally, tried to provide for the episcopal
    office within the scheme of orders.
  • Others, too, recognized the special dignity of
    the episcopacy on the grounds that its power of
    jurisdiction is also a power over the body of
    Christ, the mystical body that is the church.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • Character.
  • A number of factors contributed to the
    development of the concept of character among the
  • Notably the earlier and continuing debate about
    the status of those ordained by a heretical or
    schismatic minister.
  • The question had arisen in a corresponding way
    earlier for Baptism,
  • The Scholastic theologians took up the words
    signaculum (seal) and character to provide the
    basis of an answer to the controverted question.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • Character.
  • The words were used by the Scholastics both of
    the external sacramental rite and of its
  • interior effect
  • The inner reality that was the necessary effect
    of the celebration of the sacrament and that
    remained in the recipient in a permanent manner.
  • In general theologians maintained that the
    character was a spiritual power or capacity,
    divinely given, enabling the recipient to carry
    out the proper ministerial functions.
  • Because of the close link established between
    order and the Eucharist, a number of theologians
    gave the character a Christological interpretation

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • Character.
  • It was St. Thomas more than anyone who developed
    and deepened this.
  • St. Thomas was strongly conscious that all
    Christian cult,
  • with the Eucharist at its center,
  • is derived from the unique priesthood of Christ.
  • Christ is the source of this and its true
  • Others can join in it only to the extent that he
    gives them this capacity, through the
    participation in his priesthood that they receive
    from him.
  • This is precisely what the character is and does.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • Character.
  • It is the character of Christ,
  • a configuration to him,
  • a sharing in his priesthood
  • that empowers the Christian to have part in the
    whole Christian economy.
  • This general presentation of the character
    applies analogously to baptism, confirmation and
  • St. Thomas understanding of it in respect of
    orders can be dealt with appropriately through
    consideration of the phrase in persona Christi.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • In Persona Christi.
  • In general this traditional phrase was originally
    used of biblical words, to attribute or refer to
    someone the words spoken by another
  • As if the one were represented in and spoke
    through the other.
  • Hence in persona Christi meant that the words
    spoken should be referred or attributed to
  • During the Scholastic period the use of the
    phrase underwent considerable development,
    particularly with respect to the Eucharist, in a
    desire to determine the status of the biblical
    eucharistic words of Christ as spoken by the
    priest at the consecration.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • In Persona Christi.
  • St. Thomas gave the phrase a technical sense,
  • to mean that the consecratory words were spoken
    by the priest in the name of Christ, who so
    engages himself in the priests speaking of the
    words that the deed is in fact his and not the
  • The phrase is used almost exclusively of the
    Eucharist by St. Thomas,
  • But it is worth noting that on occasion he refers
    to the whole ministerial priestly action as
    action in persona Christi.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • In Persona Christi.
  • He expresses a similar understanding in different
    terms in his teaching that the priest as minister
    is an instrument of Christs own action.
  • This power to act in persona Christi is conferred
    through the sacrament of priestly ordination
  • Because there the priest is configured to Christ
    by the sacramental character, being made to share
    in Christs priesthood.
  • The character is permanent
  • Which means that the ministers participation in
    Christs priesthood, his priestly empowerment,
    cannot be lost.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • In Persona Christi.
  • St. Thomas technical use of the phrase in
    persona Christi
  • together with the somewhat broader expressions
    gerere personam, gerere vicem Christi
  • sum up for his time and later with respect to the
    priesthood and the eucharist the earlier
    universal tradition
  • that in the sacraments as celebrated by the
    ministers of the church Christ is present and

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • There was a similar traditional phrase, in
    persona ecclesiae, which resembled in persona
    Christi in that it indicated that words were
    spoken by someone in the name of the church.
  • With the Scholastics, St. Thomas especially, it
    too was developed, so that in celebrating the
    eucharist the priest was said
  • to offer the sacrifice,
  • to proclaim faith,
  • to utter the prayers in persona ecclesiae,
  • though the use of the phrase was not confined to
    the eucharist or to the churchs ministers.
  • For the great Scholastics it acquired the sense
    that the church engages itself and its faith in
    the official cultic actions of its ministers so
    that they represent it and act with its authority
    and its sanctifying power.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • In persona Christi and in persona ecclesiae are
    not exactly parallel expressions,
  • The latter had a somewhat broader usage
  • (for example, the server at Mass or even the
    unbaptized person who baptizes in emergency act
    in persona ecclesiae).
  • For St. Thomas while the validly ordained priest
    who has been rejected by the church does indeed
    act in persona Christi in celebrating the
  • he does not act in persona ecclesiae.
  • Later this expression will largely lose its
    strong Scholastic sense and will come to be
    interpreted in a more juridical way, as if it
    were merely a matter of delegation to act in the
    name of the church.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The two phrases and the relationship between them
    are important for understanding the nature and
    function of the ordained ministry.
  • Overwhelmingly but not exclusively cultic in
    their reference,
  • they sum up the traditional datum that the
    Christian liturgy is an act both of Christ and of
    the church,
  • and in their different ways they aim to state
    more exactly the role of the minister
    particularly in the celebration of the eucharist.
  • They have entered into the Catholic theological
    tradition and express theological positions
    acquired and confirmed by later tradition.
  • But they are still phrases of their time, from
    their own background of theology and practice.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • That theology lacked a developed ecclesiology
  • neither theology nor liturgical practice was
    strong in attending to the role of the lay
    faithful in the celebration of the sacraments.
  • Thus in the Middle Ages the understanding of
    orders became more narrowly cultic.
  • Theologians commonly defined order by its
    reference to the eucharist,
  • they characterized it in terms of spiritual
  • The majority of the great Scholastics, including
    St. Thomas, held as the matter and form of the
    sacrament of priestly ordination
  • the handing over of the chalice with wine and the
    paten with bread to the candidate together with
    the accompanying formulary, seeing in this the
    act that confers the essential priestly power.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • Through all of this another change may be
  • the predominant image of the ordained person,
  • formerly that of a minister,
  • now became more sacral or hieratic.
  • The central work of the ordained person was
    related to the eucharist,
  • a more sacral understanding was found to
    correspond well with this.
  • In the ritual for ordaining priest and bishop a
    rite of anointing was introduced
  • slowly the interpretation of the central prayer
    and of the rite as a whole changed.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The earlier sense of the prayer has been spoken
    of as a blessing or consecration.
  • The blessing in early times might still have been
    understood in the Jewish sense as a prayer in
    which God is blessed.
  • Later it was thought of as a prayer which sought
    the blessing of God on the candidate.
  • Now it came to be interpreted as a prayer that
    blessed, or through which God blessed, the
    candidate, a prayer of consecration.
  • And so, the ordained minister became a
    consecrated person, and in the case of bishop and
    priest the anointing served to confirm this.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The investiture in appropriate apparel likewise
    can be interpreted in such a way as to reinforce
    the predominantly hieratic image that emerged.
  • This new image of a sacral figure with sacred,
    spiritual power remained the dominant one until
    the changes set in motion by Vatican ii.
  • It is easy to see how this sacral model of the
    priesthood can be linked
  • to the strongly christological understanding
    involved in the phrase in persona Christi
  • and the configuration to Christ on which this is
  • to produce eventually the common conception of
    the priest as alter Christus.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Middle Ages
  • The connection is made directly and immediately
    between the individual and Christ.
  • But the christological point of reference is
    almost exclusively liturgical
  • in this respect is much narrower than what we
    have seen in the patristic period.
  • And the ecclesiological reference too is
  • although order is presented as order in and for
    the church.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The 16th Century
  • The questions raised by the Reformation about the
    sacrament of orders arose chiefly from the more
    basic issues of
  • justification,
  • grace and good works,
  • the nature and the application to us of Christs
    redemption, etc.
  • that were the ground of the 16th-century
  • But there were also some more particular
  • is there a sacrament of orders in the church by
    the institution of Christ?
  • Is the rite of ordination as practiced by the
    Catholic church a sacrament?
  • What are the essential functions of such special
  • How is this special ministry related to the
    priesthood of all believers?

The History of Holy Orders
  • The 16th Century
  • Issues such as these challenged both the current
    theology and the practical exercise of orders in
    the Catholic church.
  • The Council of Trent did not purport to give a
    full, worked-out theology of orders or
  • What it did was to defend on the basis of the
    churchs long tradition the theology and practice
    of orders that it had received
  • in the face of attack it affirmed what it
    regarded as essential positions and legitimate
  • it did so largely in the categories and the terms
    of the Scholastic theologians.
  • In addition, it issued a set of reform decrees
    and attacked abuses,
  • initiating a change in the context that had given
    rise to some more theological criticisms.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The 16th Century
  • Thus Trent upheld a visible, external priesthood
    with its center in the eucharist and the
    remission of sin
  • this is not a priesthood belonging to all
    believers nor is it a simple ministry of
  • Orders-ordination is a true and proper sacrament
    instituted by Christ
  • it is not simply the act of the people or of the
    candidate or of any secular power
  • by it the Holy Spirit is given and a permanent
    character is imprinted (the nature of this
    character is not determined).

The History of Holy Orders
  • The 16th Century
  • There is a hierarchy in the church that is
    divinely instituted, comprising several ranks
  • of these, bishops are superior to priests
  • (but the precise ground of the superiority is not
    stated, so that Trent left open the question
    whether or not episcopacy as such belongs to the
    sacrament of order)
  • the hierarchy also contains ministers
  • (who are likewise unspecified).
  • Thus Trent reaffirmed the traditional datum that
    the special ministry is not a human invention but
    the provision of God,
  • and it reinforced this by its insistence on the
    true sacramentality of orders and ordination.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The 16th Century
  • The strength of Trent was the long earlier
    tradition and particularly the great Scholastic
    synthesis on which it rested.
  • Its weakness was its failure to come to grips
    with some of the issues raised by the Reformers
  • together with the narrowness of the eucharistic
    base of the medieval theology of orders and
  • The teaching of Trent and the long
    anti-Reformation polemic that ensued combined to
    prolong the life and influence of this theology
    in the Catholic church down into the present
  • It is only in the past few decades that new and
    broader theological thinking has made its impact.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Second Vatican Council
  • The following summarizes some of the salient
    points of Vatican ii on orders and priesthood.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Second Vatican Council
  • While the Scholastic framework of orders took the
    eucharist as its base,
  • Vatican ii represented an important change in two
  • it preferred to start from the person and mission
    of Jesus Christ
  • and it broadened the scope beyond the liturgical
    to include teaching and pastoral leadership.
  • The churchs ministry is essentially related to
    that of Jesus.
  • As he was prophet/teacher, priest and
  • so the church shares in his work of teaching,
    sanctifying and shepherding/ruling.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Second Vatican Council
  • Vatican ii explicitly and deliberately affirmed
    that episcopacy is the fullness of orders.
  • As we have seen, medieval theologians commonly
    had identified the presbyterate as the highest
    degree of orders, seeing in the episcopacy a
    dignity or office superior in its authority or
    power of jurisdiction but not in its power of
  • From the post-Reformation period onwards there
    had been a change of theological opinion, but it
    was not until Vatican II that this was given such
    authoritative corroboration.
  • This teaching rejoins the common tradition of the
    patristic church

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Second Vatican Council
  • it enhances the episcopal office by giving it a
    sacramental rather than a jurisdictional
  • This means that the episcopal functions of
    teaching, sanctifying and pastoral leadership are
    grounded on the sacrament itself
  • and hence on Christ
  • and not on papal delegation.
  • It also strengthens the basis of episcopal
  • since membership of the college of bishops too
    derives from the sacrament and not from any other

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Second Vatican Council
  • The result of this is to make the episcopacy
    rather than the presbyterate the primary
    theological reference point of orders and
  • This was accompanied by restoration of the
    ancient idea of the presbyterium,
  • the single priestly body formed by the presbyters
    together in communion with their bishop.
  • It also rejoins another element from the early
  • the understanding that the presbyters formed a
    sort of council of advisers to the bishop.
  • Thus the interrelationship of episcopacy and
    presbyterate is stressed.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Second Vatican Council
  • This does not make the individual priest the
    delegate of the bishop any more than the bishop
    is the delegate of the pope,
  • since the sacrament of ordination
  • and therefore the call of the Lord
  • rather than episcopal empowerment
  • is the source of the presbyteral ministry.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Second Vatican Council
  • The council had little to say about the
  • but subsequent developments opened the
    possibility that it might emerge in time as a
    full and permanent ministry once again.
  • Thus not only did the council modify considerably
    the Catholic churchs theological presentation of
  • but it also aimed to strengthen the different
    orders and the network of relationships between

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Second Vatican Council
  • Vatican ii also recognized unambiguously the
    apostolate of all the baptized,
  • the participation that all Christians have in the
    triple function of Christ through the sacraments
    of initiation.
  • At the same time, it asserted an essential
    difference between the common priesthood of the
    faithful and the ministerial priesthood
  • while acknowledging that they are ordered one to
    the other.

The History of Holy Orders
  • The Second Vatican Council
  • All of this opened up new possibilities, but
    Vatican ii could not work out fully either
    theologically or practically all the
    relationships that are involved
  • (between the mission and ministry derived from
    the sacraments of initiation and that derived
    from ordination, for example,
  • or between episcopal collegiality and papal
  • Much was incomplete, as the succeeding years have
  • Nevertheless, a different model of ministry began
    to emerge,
  • more dynamic,
  • multi-dimensional,
  • ecclesiological,
  • and a strong impetus was given to renewal and

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • What does it mean to speak of the sacramentality
    of orders?
  • It is to recognize the mystery of the church,
  • that it is the fundamental sacrament of
  • Ultimately it is the economy of God revealed and
    realized in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit that
    justifies and requires this ministry in the
  • it is this trinitarian mystery of salvation that
    grounds it.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • The experience of history has shown that this
    ministry is referred in a double way to Christ
  • to his historical mission and ministry,
  • which is the origin, exemplar and reference point
    of the churchs mission and ministry
  • to his abiding presence in the church,
  • as head of his body, in his Holy Spirit.
  • And it is referred to the Holy Spirit,
  • who accomplishes in the church the mystery first
    achieved in Christ.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • The sacramentality of orders proclaims that the
    church does not exist of itself or for itself or
    by its own resources.
  • What it preaches is the gospel of Christ
    entrusted to it.
  • Its work of sanctifying can begin and end only in
    God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.
  • What it is to build up is the body of Christand
    ultimately the aim for which it organizes itself
    is the Kingdom of God.
  • Sacramentality also proclaims that the
    ministerial activity of these orders is a genuine
    and efficacious preaching of Christs gospel,
  • sanctifying his church and building up his body
    to the glory of God. This ministry represents
    Christ to the church.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • Contemporary Roman Catholic theology speaks of
    different ways in which Christ is present to his
  • This ministry and its work is a primordial mode
    of the dynamic presence of Christ,
  • through word,
  • sacrament
  • and pastoral leadership.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • The sacramentality of orders also proclaims that
    the church is
  • the fruit of Christs work,
  • the communion of life achieved among Christs
    members by the Holy Spirit
  • the ordained ministry gives witness to and
    expresses the church,
  • its faith, its unity, its life of grace in the
    Holy Spirit in its return to the Father through
  • Thus this ministry represents the church to
    itself, to God, to the world.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • Ministry or representation of Christ,
  • ministry or representation of the church
  • together these two express the essential unity
    and the essential differentiation of the church
  • they are identified in the one complex reality
    that is the church.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • To number orders among the sacraments then is to
    acknowledge that this ministry belongs to the
    essential structure of the church,
  • expressing and engaging the mystery of salvation
    in all its dimensions trinitarian,
    christological, pneumatological, ecclesiological.
  • This mystery, however, is working itself out in
    the flux of history, a fact that touches the
    theology of orders in two related ways
  • historical issues have been posing questions for
    some time to the theology accepted since the
    Middle Ages
  • the great practical and theological changes that
    have been occurring inside and outside the church
    affect theological reflection on the sacrament of

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • The Roman Catholic church has begun to face the
    first of these seriously.
  • This effort coupled with the work initiated by
    Vatican ii bears closely on the second.
  • Four influences may be noted briefly.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • The general renewal of ecclesiology and of
    pneumatology together with the broadening of the
    concept of sacrament to embrace the church have
    provided a better ecclesiological context and
    basis for the theology of orders
  • they suggest a fuller theological integration of
    the traditional data that the ordained minister
    represents Christ and represents the church.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • Revived appreciation of the dignity and the role
    of all the baptized has brought not only a shift
    in theology but also significant changes in
    liturgical and pastoral practice.
  • This has been leading both in theory and in
    practice to some reassessment of the relationship
    between clergy and laity.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • Since 1972 ministry is no longer exclusively
  • there has been a remarkable expansion of interest
    in and diversification of ministry and
  • This is an important change in the context in
    which theologians reflect on ordination and the
    ordained ministry.
  • It also raises questions about the terminology to
    be used that may be theological issues at base.

The History of Holy Orders
  • Conclusion
  • History shows that the present triple form of the
    ordained ministry
  • while very ancient
  • does not seem to have existed everywhere from the
  • that the functions of each order together with
    the relationships between them have undergone
    considerable change.
  • And despite the debates of history and the
    declarations of Vatican ii,
  • both the meaning of fullness of order and the
    nature of the theological relationship between
    episcopacy and presbyterate
  • still require clarification.
  • All of this suggests that the nature of order or
    orders has still much to offer to the attention
    of theologians.