Meaning of Priest hood
Priesthood can be described as a noble profession just like lawyers and doctors. A Priest is a person especially consecrated to the service of a divinity and through whom prayers, sacrifices, and other service is offered to the object of worship (Dictionary definition). Before the birth of Jesus Christ, priests had existed and they had solemn duties such as ;
- Acting as a Mediator – a means through which the divinity communicates to its worshipers and vice versa.
- The priest also acts as an Ambassador as he exalts the name of the divinity and represents it to the worshipers.
- Offering sacrifices required for each and any given occasion.
Melchizedek was the first priest mentioned in the bible (Genesis 14: 18) “And Melchizedek, the king of salem and priest of God most high, brought Abram some bread and wine”. Subsequently Aaron and sons where ordained priests with garments such as Official Tunic, Sash, Chest piece, Gold medallion, Turban, Urim, Thummim, Badge of holiness, (as recorded in Leviticus 8:7-9), with specific instructions for priestly conduct such as priests not being allowed to drink wine and other alcoholic drinks; and the priests duty to separate clean from unclean animals. This and other priests from the house of Levi in the old testament were also made to follow these instructions. We must also note that High priests common in the old testament serves functions like entering the Holy of Holies once a year on the day of atonement.In the new testament on the other hand, and till this day and age the basis of priesthood was made upon the lifestyle and death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Jesus was the perfect priest of the bible as all other priests were ordained in preparation of his coming, therefore bible verses such as the gospel of St. John 1:29 (the next day John coming toward him and said,” Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”) and the book of Hebrew 7:15-17 (“This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared.16. Jesus became priest not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed”)and Hebrew 7:24 (“But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever”) describes reasons why Jesus is the perfect priest.
The sacrament of Holy Order according to the catechism of christian doctrine used by the Catholic church is the sacrament by which Bishops, priests and other ministers of God are ordained and receive power and grace to perform their sacred duties.
Rites Of Ordination
The Rite of Ordination is what “makes” one a priest, having already been a deacon and with the minister of Holy Orders being a validly ordained bishop.The Rite of Ordination occurs within the context of Holy Mass. After being called forward and presented to the assembly, the candidates are interrogated. Each promises to diligently perform the duties of the Priesthood and to respect and obey his ordinary (bishop or religious superior). Then the candidates lie prostrate before the altar, while the assembled faithful kneel and pray for the help of all the saints in the singing of the Litany of the saints. The essential part of the rite is when the bishop silently lays his hands upon each candidate (followed by all priests present), before offering the consecratory prayer, addressed to God the father, invoking the power of the Holy Spirit upon those being ordained. After the consecratory prayer, the newly ordained is vested with the stole and chasuble of those belonging to the Ministerial Priesthood and then the bishop anoints his hands with chrism before presenting him with the chalice and paten which he will use when presiding at the Eucharist.
Rudiments require to become a priest in the Catholic church.
- He must be born into the kingdom of the spirit of God (GS John 3:5 which states ‘Jesus replied,” i assure you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the spirit”.)
- He must be righteous in character through our lord Jesus as stated in 1 Corinthians 1:30 (“God has united us with Christ Jesus,for our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and freed us from sin”) and in Romans 6:19 (Because of weakness of your human nature, i am using slavery to help you understand all this.Previously you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so you will become holy.) and Romans 14:18 (if you serve Christ in this attitude, you will please God and others will approve of you too.) and in 1Peter 2:9 (But you are not like that , for you are a chosen people. You are priests,* a holy nation, Gods very own possession.)
- He must be ordained; to be purified of sin 2Corinthains 7:1(Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit, and let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.),Separate themselves from unbelievers 2Corinthains 6: 17 (Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them says the lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and i will welcome you.) offer his body a a living sacrifice Romans 12:1 (And so dear brothers and sisters ,* i plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you, Let them be a holy and living sacrifice- the kind he will find acceptable.)
- He must be educated on the catholic doctrine in seminary and further theological studies.
Hierarchy In The Roman Catholic Church
- Pope- The Pope is the bishop of Rome by virtue of that is also the vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal church, Patriarch of the Latin Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovergin of the Vatican city State and a Servant of God. The pope is a pronominal honorific not an office or title, it means father which is also a common honorific of all the members of the clergy.
- The Cardinals- they are the princes of the Catholic Church appointed by the Pope. All the Cardinals in Vatican are collectively called College of Cardinals. The basic duty of these Cardinals are to advice the Pope on issues under the jurisdiction selected for them by the pope. It is also a very important point to note that all cardinal were not always bishops first examples of these cardinals include; Domenico Bartolucci, Karl Joseph Becker, But Pope John XXIII in 1962 made it mandatory that to be selected as a cardinal, one must be a bishop or be ordained a bishop once selected.
- Arch Bishops – these Cleric members were elected to monitor the affairs of a province of Catholic Cathedrals, parishioners, and diocesan bishops, to convey the performance of his assigned country back to the pope and to relay papal decrees back to the church.
- Diocesan Bishops -this bishop is in charge of a dioceses. His clerical duties include: Posting of priests to different parishes within the dioceses, overseeing the affairs of all the parishes in the dioceses. He allocates some money for their up keep. He performs the the Sacrament of Confirmation and Holy Order within the dioceses.
- Coadjutor Bishop – He is next in line of succession upon the demise of the diocesan bishops. He is given almost equal rights as the Diocesan bishops.
- Suffragan bishop – A suffragan bishop leads a diocese within an ecclesiastical province other than the principal diocese, the metropolitan archdioceses.
- Auxiliary Bishop – This bishop holds the post of the vicar general. He is in charge of sects in the province that have not been proclaimed a dioceses.