Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to His twelve apostles (disciples) continues to be exercised until the end of time: thus it is the Sacrament of Apostolic ministry. It includes three hierarchical degrees: 1) Episcopate (Bishop), 2) Presbyterate (Priest) and Diaconate (Deacon).
"For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through
the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control." (2 Tim 1: 6-7) The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the "common priesthood of the faithful." Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community. The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching (munus docendi), divine worship (munus liturgicum) and pastoral governance (munus regendi). Since the beginning, the ordained ministry has been conferred and exercised in three degrees: that of Episcopate (bishops), that of Presbyters (Priests), and that of Diaconate (Deacon). The ministries conferred by ordination are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church: without the bishop, presbyters, and deacons, one cannot speak of the Church (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Trall. 3,1).
(from Catechism of the Catholic Church 1591-1593)
From the moment of Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary until His Resurrection, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. In biblical language, He was anointed by the Holy Spirit and thus established by God the Father as our high priest. As Risen Lord, He remains our high priest. While all the baptized share in Christ’s priesthood, the Ministerial Priesthood shares this through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Ordination to the priesthood is a calling to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. Christ reminded his Apostles that they needed to ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest. Those who seek priesthood respond to God’s call using the words of the prophet, Isaiah, “Here I am, send me” (Is 6:8).
If you are feeling God is calling you to become a priest, deacon (who can have a wife), or to religious life, contact the Pastor of your local parish.