Those who receive the sacrament of Holy Orders — as a deacon, priest or bishop — areconsecrated in Christ’s name “to feed the Church by the word and grace of God.”
By virtue of our Baptism, all Christians are part of a common priesthood of believers. We are all called to participate in Christ’s mission. Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, bishops and priests are given a special role in carrying out this mission. They exercise a ministerial priesthood. Deacons also receive a special grace through ordination and are called to assist the ministry of bishops and priests (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1547, 1554). Pope Benedict XVI writes, “The priest is above all a servant of others” (Sacramentum Caritatis 23). In gathering the community, modeling Christ’s love for the poor, presiding at Eucharist, and evangelizing social realities, ordained ministers help Christians to imitate Christ’s mission of love and justice.
Representatives of Christ
Through ordination, priests become representatives of Christ to the Church—as witnesses of holiness and love, preachers of the Gospel, shepherds of the faithful, conveners of divine worship, and builders of the Church. Through their ministry, priests are called, in imitation of Christ, to “preach good news to the poor. . . proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk. 4:18) (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis 11). Deacons, too, are ordained to imitate Christ in his ministry of service and charity to the poor and needy in the community.