angels Topics

Art & Architecture
Articles
Documents
Promulgation
Furnishings
Principles
Sacred Music
Lit. Year
Eucharist
Lit. of Hours
Oth. Sacraments
Theology
Liturgical Texts
Participation
Rubrics & Law

cross

The Catholic Liturgical Library
HomeNewFAQSearchForumLinksMailCatholic Store
You are here: Documents > The Other Sacraments and Sacramentals > Apostolic Constitution approving new rites of ordination of deacons, priests, and bishops  Back one page.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsEndnotes

Text

Paul, Bishop
Servant of the Servants of God for an Everlasting Memorial

The revision of the Roman Pontifical is prescribed in a general way by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council [1] and is also governed by the specific conciliar directive ordering the revision of "both the ceremonies and texts" of the ordination rites. [2]

Among the rites of ordination the first to be considered are those that constitute the hierarchy through the sacrament of orders, conferred in its several degrees. "The divinely established eclesiastical ministry is exercised at different levels by those who from antiquity have been called bishops, presbyters, and deacons." [3]

The revision of the rites for ordinations is to follow the general principles that must direct the entire reform of the Liturgy according to the decrees of Vatican Council II. But in addition a supreme criterion for that revision must be the dear teaching of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church concerning the nature and effects of the sacrament of orders. This teaching must of course receive expression through the Liturgy itself in its own way, because "the texts and rites should be so drawn up that they express more clearly the holy things they signify and that the Christian people, as hr as possible, are able to understand them with ease and to take part in the rites fully, actively, and as befits a community." [4]

The Council teaches that episcopal consecration bestows the fullness of the sacrament of orders, that fullness of power, namely, which in both the Church's liturgical practice and the language of the Fathers is called the high priesthood, the summit of the sacred ministry. But episcopal consecration, together with the of office of sanctifying also confers the offices of teaching and governing offices that of their very nature can be exercised only in hierarchic communion with the head of the college and its members. For from tradition, expressed especially in Liturgical rites and in the usage of the Church of both East and West, it is dear that the laying on of hands and the words of consecration bestow the grace of the Holy Spirit and impress a sacred character in such a way that bishops in an eminent and visible way carry on the role of Christ himself as teacher, shepherd, and high priest and act in his person. [5]

To these words must be added a number of important doctrinal points concerning the apostolic succession of bishops and their functions and duties. Even if these themes are already present in the rite of episcopal consecration, it still seems that they must be better and more precisely expressed. To ensure this, it was judged appropriate to take from ancient sources the consecratory prayer that is found in the document called the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome, written at the beginning of the third century. This consecratory prayer is still used, in large part, in the ordination rites of the Coptic and West Syrian liturgies. Thus in the very act of ordination there is a witness to the harmony of tradition in East and West concerning the apostolic office of bishops.

With regard to presbyters, the following should be especially recalled from the acts of the Council: "Even though they do not possess the fullness of the priesthood and in the exercise of their power are subordinate to the bishops, priests are nevertheless linked to the bishops in priestly dignity. By virtue of the sacrament of orders, in the image of Christ the eternal High Priest (see Heb 5:1-10 and 7-24, 9:11-28), they are consecrated to preach the Gospel, to shepherd the faithful, and to celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament." [6] Elsewhere the Council says: "By ordination and the mission they receive from the bishops, presbyters are promoted to the service of Christ the Teacher, Priest, and King. They share in his ministry of unceasingly building up the Church on earth into the people of God, the Body of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit." [7] In the ordination of presbyters, as formerly given in the Roman Pontifical, the mission and grace of the presbyter as a helper of the episcopal order were very clearly described. Yet it seemed necessary to reduce the entire rite, which had been divided into several parts, to a greater unity and to express more strikingly the central part of the ordination, that is, the laying on of hands and the consecratory prayer.

Finally, with regard to deacons, in addition to the content of our Motu Proprio Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem, issued 18 June 1967, the following should be especially recalled: "At a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, who receive the laying on of hands 'not unto priesthood, but only for a ministry service' (Constitutions of the Church of Egypt 3, 2). Strengthened by sacramental grace, they have as their service for the people of God, in communion with the bishop and his college of presbyters, the diakonia of liturgy, word, and charity." [8] In the ordination of deacons a few changes had to be made to satisfy the recent prescriptions about the diaconate as a distinct and permanent grade of the hierarchy in the Latin Church or to achieve a greater simplicity and clarity in the rites.

Among the other documents of the magisterium pertaining to sacred orders, we consider one worthy of particular mention, namely, the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis published by our predecessor, Pius Xll, 30 November 1947. In this Constitution he declared that "the sole matter of the sacred orders of diaconate and presbyterate is the laying on of hands; likewise the sole form is the words determine, the application of this matter, which unequivocally signify the sacramental effects--namely, the power of orders and the grace of the Holy Spirit and are accepted and used as such by the Church." [9] After this, the document determines which laying on of hands and which words constitute the matter and form in the conferring of each order.

It was necessary in the revision of the rite to add, delete, or change certain things, in order to restore the texts of the rite to the form they had in antiquity, to clarify expressions, or to bring out more clearly the effects of the sacraments. We therefore think it necessary, so as to remove all controvers and avoid perplexity of conscience, to declare what are to be held as the essentials in each revised rite. By our supreme apostolic authority we decree and establish the following with regard to the matter and form in the conferring of each order:

In the ordination of deacons, the matter is the laying of the bishop's hands on the individual candidates that is done in silence before the consecratory prayer; the form consists in the words of the consecratory prayer, of which the following belong to the essence and are consequently required for validity:

Lord,
send forth upon them the Holy Spirit,
that they be strengthened
by the gift of your sevenfold grace
to carry out faithfully the work of the ministry.

In the ordination of presbyters, the matter is likewise the laying of the bishop's hands on the individual candidates that is done in silence before the consecratory prayer; the form consists in the words of the consecratory prayer, of which the following belongs to the essence and are consequently required for validity:

Almighty Father,
grant to these servants of yours
the dignity of the priesthood.
Renew within them the Spirit of holiness.
As co-workers with the order of bishops
may they be faithful to the ministry
that they receive from you, Lord God,
and be to others a model of right conduct.

Finally, in the ordination of a bishop, the matter is the laying of hands on the head of the bishop-elect by the consecrating bishops, or at least by the principal consecrator, that is done in silence before the consecratory prayer; the form consists in the words of the consecratory prayer, of which the following belong to the essence and are consequently required for validity:

So now pour out upon this chosen one
that power which is from you,
the governing Spirit
whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ,
the Spirit given by him to the holy apostles,
who founded the Church in every place to be your temple
for the unceasing glory and praise of your name.

This rite for the conferring of the orders of diaconate, presbyterate, and episcopate has been revised by the Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy "with the employment of experts and with the consultation of bishops, from various parts of the world." [10] By our apostolic authority we approve this rite so that it may be used in the future for the conferral of these orders in place of the rite now found in the Roman Pontifical.

It is our will that these our decrees and prescriptions be firm and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors and other prescriptions, even those deserving particular mention and amendment.

Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, 18 June 1968, the fifth year of our pontificate.

Table of ContentsEndnotes

You are here: Documents > The Other Sacraments and Sacramentals > Apostolic Constitution approving new rites of ordination of deacons, priests, and bishops  Back one page.

Home | New | FAQ | Search | Forum | Links


All contents © copyright, 1998-2014
The Catholic Liturgical Library
http://www.catholicliturgy.com

You are here: Documents > The Other Sacraments and Sacramentals > Apostolic Constitution approving new rites of ordination of deacons, priests, and bishops  Back one page.

Home | New | FAQ | Search | Forum | Links


All contents © copyright, 1998-2014
The Catholic Liturgical Library
http://www.catholicliturgy.com