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The Sacrament of Holy Orders

What Is the Sacrament of Holy Orders?

Holy Orders is a sacrament of the Catholic Church by which a man is ordained to be a deacon, priest, or bishop. It is a sacrament of service.

Like Baptism and Confirmation, the Sacrament of Holy Orders leaves an indelible mark on the soul. Once a priest, always a priest. This is a lifelong commitment, like Holy Matrimony.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by a bishop. He lays hands on the man being ordained and speaks words of ordination. The man receives the Holy Spirit in a special way. A man being ordained a priest or a bishop is also anointed with oil in this sacrament.


Deacons server the people in a number of ways. They can baptize and serve as the witness at a marriage. They also assist at Mass, although they cannot celebrate Mass on their own. They also often help the pastor of a parish in other ways. A deacon can be a married man. This is called a permanent deacon. A deacon can also be in formation for the priesthood. This is called a transitional deacon.


Priests are men who consecrate the bread and wine at Mass. They can also hear confessions and anoint the sick. They live a life of service to the people of God. As a priest, he doesn’t abandon his gifts and the things he is passionate about. He uses them to serve the church.

The priest acts "in persona Christi" or "in the person of Christ". He is a symbol of the Bridegroom in the Eucharist, which is the wedding feast of the Lamb. This is why girls cannot be priests. A priest cannot marry after he is ordained.


A bishop is a leader of a diocese. He is considered a successor of the apostles. He can confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Bishops usually also confer the Sacrament of Confirmation, although priests can do this also.


Video: A Day In the Life of A Priest

In this video, Fr. John Muir shows us what a typical day is for him. What does he do? Goes for an early morning run, makes breakfast, says morning prayer, listens to his favorite music, does outreach on a university campus, says mass (five minutes late), has Chinese food for lunch with a brother priest, does some administrative work, hears confessions, and more.

Pray for More Vocations to the Priesthood

Why should we pray for more vocations to the priesthood? It is no secret that we need more priests in the Catholic Church. Giving your whole life to the service of the Church is counter-cultural and many young people do not even consider it. God calls us all to a specific vocation. So we should pray that those being called to the priesthood will hear and answer that call and receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

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Pray for Priests through the intercession of St. John Vianney

pray for priests
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We need to pray for priests who, like St. John Vianney, dedicate themselves to serving God's people. Priests live a life of service to show the mercy and love of God. It it often difficulty for them. We should pray for them and also tell them how much we appreciate them.

Video: Four Rules for Discernment

The Sacrament of Holy Orders is a lifelong commitment, so discernment is needed before receiving it. Think of the choice before you and then prayerfully consider. This video suggests four questions:

  1. Is this a good door?
  2. Is this an open door?
  3. Is this a wise door?
  4. Is this a door that I want?

Watch the video for a longer explanation.

Sacrament Scavenger Hunt
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Sacrament Scavenger Hunt

This scavenger hunt introduces some of the symbols and concepts of the sacraments in a fun way, including the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Hide various sacrament related items around your meeting space or grounds. This article includes a list and some tips.

Some of the items are directly related to sacraments. Others are more “fun” to start up a conversation. Use whatever you feel is best for your group and meeting. These are just ideas. Add your own also.

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