Holy Orders “The Lord hath sworn, and He will not relent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.” —Psalm 110:4 (109)
“Holy Orders is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. … [Ordination is] the sacramental act which integrates a man into the order of bishops, presbyters, or deacons … for it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a ‘sacred power’ which can come only from Christ Himself through His Church.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church #1536, 1538
“Priests by sacred ordination and mission which they receive from the bishops are promoted to the service of Christ the Teacher, Priest and King. They share in His ministry, a ministry whereby the Church here on earth is unceasingly built up into the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.” —preface of Presbyterorum Ordinis, Pope Paul VI
In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, or Ordination, a man is imprinted with an indelible sacred character in conformity to Jesus Christ. The resulting deacon, priest, or bishop is thus made capable of leading other Catholics to holiness in a particular way that differs in kind from the role of the lay faithful. Holy Orders confers specific abilities and duties which depend on the degree of ordination. Deacons are ordained for tasks of service. Ordained priests exercise the power of consecration and absolution in persona Christi. Bishops share in the apostolic succession united under the authority of the Pope.
“The minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is made like to the High Priest and possesses the power of performing actions in virtue of Christ’s very person.” —from Mediator Dei, Venerable Pope Pius XII