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Holy Orders

Holy Orders ImageHoly Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time; thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry.  It includes three degrees: episcopate; presbyterate; and diaconate.  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, divine worship, and pastoral governance.

"Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1536)

"In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. The divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them 'will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore, . . . the apostles took care to appoint successors.' "
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 860)