Presbyterial Consecration

Presbyterial Consecration in the Roman Catholic Church, comprises the ceremonies and religious acts by which a deacon is invested with the presbyterial power-the power over the true and the symbolic body of Christ. The exterior apparatus of the ceremony consists in the oil of the catechumens, a chalice with wine and water, a paten with a host, some crumbs of bread, a vessel for the washing of the hands, some linen towels. The ceremony performed is as follows: The bishop, after consecrating the deacons, reads the Tractus (and the Sequence) to the last verse, exclusively. Then he advances with the infula to the middle of the altar, where he sits down on the faldistorium (chair). At this moment the archdeacon calls all to be ordained priests with the words. "Accedant qui ordinandi sunt ad ordinemr presbyterats." The notary reads their names; they proceed, each with taper in hand, to form a half-circle (in modum coronae) in front of the bishop, to whom they are introduced by the archdeacon with the words, "Reverend father, the holy Catholic Church requires that you consecrate the deacons here present for the burdensome office of priesthood." Whereupon the bishop asks, "Doest thou know that they are deserving of it?" The archdeacon answers. "So far as human weakness allows me a knowledge of it, I know and declare that they are worthy to take upon them the burden of that office." The bishop says, "God be thanked!" and turns to the clergy and people with these words: "Beloved brethren! as the pilot of a ship and those who travel on it share together both security and danger, they must in matters concerning their common interest share the same convictions. Not without good reason, the fathers have directed that the people also should be consulted on the choice of those who are to be admitted to the service of the altar; for sometimes a few can give information about the way of life and habits of those who present themselves for consecration not known to the masses, etc. If, therefore, any one have objections of importance, let him step out before God, and for God's sake speak fearlessly; yet let him not forget that he is only a man (that he may err)." After a short, expectant pause, the people assenting by their silence the bishop turns to the candidates and addresses them thus: "Consecrandi, filii dilectissimi, in presbyteratas officium, illud digne suscipere, ac susceptum lautabiliter exequi studeatis," etc. In the course of this allocution, mention is made of the high purpose of the New-Testament priesthood, and after a comparison with the priesthood of the Old Covenant, follow these words: "Hac certe mira varietate ecclesia sancta circumdatur ornatur et regitur: cum alii in ea pontifices, alii minoris ordinis sacerdotes, diaconi et subdiaconi, diversorum ordinum viri consecrantur, et ex multis et alternae dignitatis membris unum corpus efficitur." If no deacons or subdeacons have been consecrated, the Litany of All Saints is recited, while the ordinands are on their knees. Hereupon they step, in pairs, into the presence of the bishop, who, standing erect (with the infula), lays both his hands on the head of each of them, without speaking or singing. The same is done by all the priests present, dressed in the stola, and of whom there must be at least three. Then the priests and the bishop hold their right hands extended over the ordinands, and the bishop, standing with the infula, thus addresses the clergy: "Beloved brethren! let us implore God Almighty that he may pour over these, his servants, whom he has chosen for the office of priesthood, heavenly gifts in abundance, so that, with his help, they may be able to perform the duties which they have been deemed worthy of assuming. Amen." The bishop lays down the infula, turns towards the altar, and says, "Oremus." The ministri add, "Flectamus genua." The responsorium is "Levate!" Then he turns to the ordinands, saying, "Exaudi nos, queesumus, Domine Deus noster." After the conclusion — "in unitate ejusdem spiritils sancti Deus"— he extends his hands, saying, "Per omnia soecula," etc. Now follow long prayers, after which the bishop sits down with the miter, seizes that part of the stola which hangs backwards from the left shoulder of the ordinand lays it over his right shoulder, and puts both parts crosswise over each other on the chest, saying, "Take the yoke of the Lord upon thee; for his yoke is easy and his burden is light." Hereupon the bishop dresses each of them in the missal garment, which hangs loose in front, but is rolled or pinned up behind, saving, "Take the priestly garment, which means love; for God is mighty to increase love in thee and make thy work perfect." Response, "Thanks to God." Now the bishop rises, lays down the infula, and prays, while all kneel, "Deus sanctificationum omnium auctor," etc. After this the bishop kneels, facing the altar, and begins the hymn, "Veni Creator Spiritus," etc., which the choir sings. As soon as the first verse is sung the bishop rises, sits down on the chair, with the infula on his head, pulls off his gloves, puts on his ring, takes a white linen towel on his knees, and anoints the hands of each of the ordinands kneeling before him with the oil of the catechumens, passing with his thumb dipped into the holy oil crosswise from the thumb of one hand to the index of the other, with this prayer: "Consecrate and sanctify, O Lord, these hands by this anointment and our blessing." Then, with his right hand, he makes the sign of the cross over the hands of the candidate whom he consecrates, and continues: "In order that everything that they bless may be blessed, and what they consecrate may be consecrated and sanctified, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Each of the ordinands says "Amen." (From this anointment the thumbs and forefingers of a priest are called the canonic fingers; and as this anointment is performed on the inner side of the hand, the priests to whom the last sacraments are administered are anointed on the outside of the hand.) Then the bishop joins the hands of each of them, and one of the ministrants ties them together with a piece of linen. When all hands are anointed, the bishop wipes his thumb with crumbs of bread; then he presents to each of them a chalice with wine and water, with the paten placed over it, and containing a host. The ordinands touch the top of the chalice and the paten with the index and middle finger, and the bishop says to each in particular, "Receive the power of offering God the sacrifice and to say mass for the living as well as for the dead, in the name of the Lord." Response: "Amen." Now the bishop washes his hands, returns to his chair, and reads the last verse of the Tractus, and then the Gospel. Meanwhile one of the newly consecrated deacons steps in front of the altar with the book of the Gospels, prays the "Munda cor meum," and reads the Gospel, after receiving the benediction thereto. The newly consecrated priests wipe their hands with breadcrumbs, wash them, and dry them with the linen with which they were bound. The water used for washing is poured into the piscina. As all consecrated receive the Eucharist at the hands of the bishop, there must be as many hosts prepared as there are candidates for ordination. After the reading of the offertorium (short prayer preceding the sacrifice of the bread and wine), all those who have been consecrated-first the priests, then the deacons, then the others according to their rank-step in pairs into the presence of the bishop, who sits on his chair with the infula on his head, kneel down, kiss his hand, and present a burning taper as an offering. The bishop, after receiving the offerings, washes his hands, lays down the infulla, rises, and, the chair being removed, continues the ceremony of the mass. The consecrated priests kneel down behind the bishop on the prie-dieus prepared for them, each his mass-book open before him; they say with the bishop the prayers accompanying the offering of the bread and the wine, and the whole mass. The bishop speaks slowly and somewhat loud, so that the consecrated priests can at the same time pronounce the same words, especially the words of consecration. The "secreta" (silent prayer) for the consecrated ones is pronounced with the secreta of the mass of the day under one formula of conclusion: "Per Dominum nostrum," etc. The secreta pro ordinandis is, "We ask thee, O Lord! let thy holy mysteries effect that we offer thee these offerings with a worthy disposition, through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son," etc. After the paternoster and the prayer "Domine Jesu Christe, qui," etc., which follows the "Agnus Dei," the bishop kisses the altar; and after the first of the newly consecrated has done the same, he kisses him at each step, with the words "Peace be with you." The new priest answers, "And with your mind." Each of the consecrated ones gives the kiss of peace to the other person ordained to the same rank and standing next. After the communion of the bishop, the deacons and subdeacons (if there are any) pray "Confiteor" in a subdued voice, the bishop, facing them, pronouncing the "Misereatur vestri" and "Indulgentiam." If priests only have been ordained, they do not receive absolution, as they perform the sacrifice together with the bishop. All proceed, two by two, to the highest step of the altar, and receive the sacrament in the form of the bread. The bishop says, "The body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve you for eternal life." Each answers "Amen." When all have partaken of the communion, the bishop removes the paten from his chalice, moistens his fingers, takes the ablution, puts on the infula, and washes his hands. Then he lays down the infula again, and, standing at the epistle side of the altar, sings the responsorium, "Henceforward I shall no more call you my servants, but my friends, because you have known everything which I have done among you. Alleluia," etc. Then the bishop, with the infula, turns to the newly consecrated priests, who recite the credo. This done, the bishop sits down on his chair in the middle of the altar, and puts both hands on the head of each of them, who kneel before him, saying, "Take the Holy Spirit; they whom thou shalt forgive their sins, they shall be forgiven; and they," etc. Then he pulls down the missal garment, saying, "In the garment of innocence the Lord dresses thee." Then each of the young priests approaches again, kneels before the bishop, puts his folded hands into the bishop's hands; and he, if he is the diocesan bishop, says to each, "Doest thou promise to me and my successors reverence and obedience?" Answer: "I promise." If the newly consecrated belongs to another diocese, the bishop says, "Doest thou promise to the bishop," etc. After the answer "I promise," the bishop kisses each of them, holding still his hands in his, and says, "'The peace of the Lord be with thee always." Now the bishop takes his cross and gives, sitting, the following admonition to the new priests: "Quia res quam tractaturi estis satis periculosa est," etc. Finally he pronounces, standing, the triple benediction over the kneeling priests: "The blessing of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost come upon you, that you may be blessed in your priesthood, and offer expiatory sacrifices for the sins and transgressions of the people of God, to whom glory and praise be given in all eternity. Amen." The bishop continues the mass, and connects with the last missal prayer the prayer for the consecrated ones: "Quos tuis, Domine, reficis sacramentis," etc., under one formula of conclusion. Then follows the "Ite, missa est" or the "Benedicamus Domino," as the time may require. This is followed by the "Placeat tibi sancta Trinitas;" and the bishop, the infula on his head and the cross in his hand, pronounces the benediction in the usual manner: "The name of the Lord be blessed." etc. Response: "Now and in all eternity." "Our help comes in the name of the Lord." Response: "Who hath created heaven and earth." "The blessing of the Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost descend upon you and remain with you. Amen." Then the bishop holds a parting address to the newly consecrated: "Beloved sons, consider earnestly what consecration you have received and what burden has been put on your shoulders. Let it be your foremost endeavor to lead a holy, godly life, and to please God Almighty," etc. Finally the archdeacon turns to the clergy and people and announces an indulgence. Hereupon the bishop reads the last Gospel, returns to his seat, and lays down the pontifical robes. The consecrated priests repair to the vergery and put down the missal garments. It must not be overlooked that the ordained priests, after the offertorium, from the sacrificial act, "Suscipe, sancte Pater," say all the missal prayers with the bishop — concelebrate with him. This concelebration is in use also in the Greek Church. It is difficult to ascertain the age of this custom. It seems to have been adopted at different times in different places. The Synod of Carthage, in 398, in the accurate description it gives of the consecration, does not mention the anointment, neither does Isidore of Spain; but the rite was known to Theodulph of Orleans and Amalarius of Treves. The rite of the consecration differs considerably in the Eastern Church from the account given above; but the imposition of the hands is also the essential part of it. According to Goar's description, the principal parts of the Greek rite are the following: Two deacons lead the ordinand to the church-door; here they leave him; he is received by two priests, who walk thrice with him around the communion- table, singing, "Sancti martyres praeclare praeliati." Passing before the bishop, they bow, and the ordinand kisses his knee. The bishop rises, the ordinand approaches, and the bishop makes three times the sign of the cross over the candidate's head. The deacon exclaims, "Attendants!" and the bishop lays his right hand on the candidate's head, saying, "Divina gratia, quoe semper infirma curat, et ea quie desunt adimplet, promovet N. devotissimum diaconum in presbyterum: oremus pro eo, ut veniat super eum sanctissimi Spirituis gratia." The people present say thrice, "Domine, miserere." The bishop makes again the sign of the cross and puts his right hand on the candidate, saying, in an undertone, while the deacon exclaims "Dominum precemur," the prayer, "Deus principio et fine carens, omni creatura antiquior . . . ipse omnium Domine, istum quem tibi a me promoveri complacuit, in conversatione inculpati, et fide indeficiente ingentem etiam hane gratiam Sancti tui Spirituis recipere complaceat," etc. Again the bishop implores the gift of the Holy Ghost for the newly consecrated, extending his hand over him with the words, "Deus in virtute magnus, intellectu investigabills . . . ipse Domine, etiam et istum, quem tibi presbyteri gradum subire complacuit, dono sancto tui Spiritus adimple, ut inculpate sancto tuo altari assistere dignus fiat," etc. This short extract shows that the Greek rite resembles greatly the Latin ceremony and diverse from it specially in this, that it prescribes only the imposition of one hand. The traoditio instrumentorum is not part of the Greek rite. — Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen Lexikon, s.v. Presbyteriatsweihe. See Foye, Romish Rites (Lond. 1851).

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