NEW RITES FOR SACRED ORDINATION
Pope Paul VI
The following Apostolic Constitution, approving of the new Rites for the Ordination of Deacons, Priests and Bishops, was issued by the Holy Father Pope Paul VI on June 18th, 1968.
The revision of the Roman Pontifical was prescribed by the Second Ecumenical Council, not only in a general way (1), but was also governed by specific norms by which the same Sacred Synod ordered the rites of Ordination to be modified "both with regard to ceremonies and with regard to texts" (2).
Among the rites of Ordination those above all must be considered by which, through the Sacrament of Orders, conferred in its varying degrees, the Sacred Hierarchy is constituted: "thus the divinely established ecclesiastical ministry is exercised on different levels by those who from antiquity have been called bishops, presbyters and deacons."(3).
In the revision of the rites of Sacred Ordination, however, in addition to the general principles by which the whole reform of the Liturgy ought to be governed, according to the prescriptions of the Second Vatican Council, attention should be paid especially to that wonderful doctrine on the nature and effects of the Sacrament of Orders which was proclaimed by the same Council in the Constitution on the Church. This doctrine must assuredly be expressed by the Liturgy in its own proper way, for "both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify. Christian people, as far as possible, should be able to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community." (4)
Council's teaching on Episcopal consecration
Now the same holy Synod teaches: "By episcopal consecration is conferred the fullness of the sacrament of Orders, that fullness which in the Church's liturgical practice and in the language of the holy Fathers of the Church is undoubtedly called the high priesthood, the apex of the sacred ministry. But episcopal consecration, together with the office of sanctifying, also confers the office of teaching and governing. These, however, of their very nature, can be exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head and the members of the college. For from tradition, which is expressed especially in liturgical rites and in the practice of the Church both of the West and of the East, it is clear that, by means of the imposition of hands and the words of consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is so conferred, and the sacred character so impressed, that bishops in an eminent and visible way undertake Christ's own role as Teacher, Shepherd and High Priest, and that they act in his person." (5).
"Apostolic Tradition" of Hippolytus
To these words must be added many other admirable points of doctrine concerning the apostolic succession of the bishops as well as their tasks and offices which, although they are already contained in the Order of episcopal consecration, ought to be expressed, it seems, in a better and more accurate way. For the better attainment of this end it has been judged opportune to take from the ancient sources the prayer of consecration found in what is called the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome, written at the beginning of the third century and which is still preserved, in great part, in the liturgy of Ordination of the Copts and of the Western Syrians. In this way the agreement of both Eastern and Western tradition with regard to the apostolic task of the bishops will be borne witness to in the act of Ordination itself.
The mission and grace of the priest
With regard to the presbyters the following statements from the Acts of the Second Vatican Council should be particularly recalled to mind: "Although presbyters do not possess the highest degree of the priesthood, and although they are dependent on the bishops in the exercise of their power, they are nevertheless united with the bishops in sacerdotal dignity. By the power of the sacrament of Orders, and in the image of Christ, the eternal High Priest, (Heb. 5: 1-10; 7: 24. 9: 11-28), they are consecrated to preach the gospel, shepherd the faithful, and celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament." (6) And we read the following in another place: "By sacred ordination and by the mission they receive from their bishops, presbyters are promoted to the service of Christ the Teacher, the Priest and the 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 presbyteral Ordination, as it is found in the Roman Pontifical, the mission and the grace of the presbyter as coadjutor of the episcopal Order is most clearly described. Nevertheless, it seems necessary to reduce the whole rite; which, before this was divided into a number of parts, to a greater unity, and to place the .central part of the Ordination, that is, the imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration, in a more vivid light.
The Order of Diaconate
Finally, with regard to deacons, in addition to those things contained in the Apostolic Letter SacrumDiaconatus Ordinem published by Us, in the Motu Proprio of June 18, 1967, the following words arc to be recalled: "At a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, upon whom hands are imposed not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of Service (Constitution of the Egyptian Church, 111, 2). For strengthened by sacramental grace, in communion with the bishop and his group of priests, they serve the People of God in the Ministry of the liturgy, of the word, and of charity." (8). In the Ordination to the diaconate, however, a few changes will have to be made, paying attention both to the instructions recently given about the diaconate as a special and permanent grade of the hierarchy in the Latin Church, and to a greater simplicity and clarity of the rites.
Constitution of Pius XII
Among the other documents of the supreme Magisterium dealing with sacred Orders, We judge worthy of special mention the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis, published by Our predecessor Pius XI I on November 30, 1947, in which it is declared that "the matter, and the only matter, of the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the Priesthood, and the Episcopacy is the imposition of hands; and that the form, and the only form, is the words which determine the application of this matter, which univocally signify the sacramental effectsnamely, the power of Order and the grace of the Holy Spiritand which are accepted and used by the Church in that sense." (9) After this the same document decrees what imposition of hands and what words constitute the matter and the form in the conferring of each Order.
Since in the revision of the rite it was necessary either to add, delete or change certain things whether to restore to the texts greater fidelity to the ancient texts or to express better the effects of the sacrament, We have deemed it necessary, both to clear up all controversy and to obviate anxiety of conscience, to declare what things in the revised rite are to be said to pertain to the essence of the rite. Hence, in virtue of Our supreme Apostolic authority, We decree and determine the following, with regard to the matter and the form in the conferring of each sacrament.
Matter and form of diaconate
In the Ordination of Deacons the matter is the imposition of the hands of the bishop, which takes place in silence over each one of those to be ordained before the prayer of consecration. The form consists of the words of the same prayer of consecration, of which the following pertain to the essence of the rite, and hence are required for validity:
"Send forth upon them, 0 Lord, we pray, the Holy Spirit, by whom they may be strengthened by the gift of your seven-fold grace in the faithful carrying out of the work of service." (Emitte in eos Domine, quaesumus, Spiriturn Sanctum, quo in opus ministerii fideliter exsequendi munere septiformis tuae gratiae roborentur).
Matter and form of priesthood
In the Ordination of Presbyters, the matter is likewise the imposition of the hands of the bishop, which takes place in silence over each one of those to be ordained before the prayer of consecration. The form consists of the words of the same prayer of consecration, of which the following pertain to the essence of the rite, and hence are required for validity: "Grant, we pray you, Almighty Father, to these your servants, the dignity of the Priesthood; renew within them the Spirit of holiness; may they obtain as a gift from you, 0 God, the office of second dignity, and by the example of their behaviour, may they provide a rule of conduct." (Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Pater, his famulis tuis Presbyterii dignitatem; innova in visceribus eorum Spiritum sanctitatis; acceptum a te, Deus, secundi meriti munus obtineant, censuramque morum exemplo suae conversationis insinuent.)
Matter and form of episcopal consecration
Finally, in the Ordination of a Bishop, the matter is the imposition of hands, performed in silence by the consecrating Bishops, or at least by the principal Consecrator, over the head of the Bishop-elect before the prayer of consecration. The form consists of the words of the same prayer of consecration, of which the following pertain to the essence of the rite, and hence are required for validity: "And now pour forth on this chosen one that power which is from you, the governing Spirit, whom you gave to your beloved Son Jesus Christ, whom be gave to the holy Apostles, who founded the Church in every place as your sanctuary, unto the glory and unending praise of your name." (Et nunc effunde super hunc electum eam virtutem, quae a te est, Spiritum principalem, quem dedisti dilecto Filio Tuo Jesu Christo, quem ipse donavit sanctis Apostolis, qui constituerunt Ecclesiam per singula loca, ut sanctuarium tuum, in gloriam et laudem indeficientem nominis tui) .
We ourselves, therefore, by Our Apostolic authority, approve the rite for the conferring of the sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the Presbyterate, and the Episcopate, a rite revised by the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de sacra Liturgia "after consultation with bishops from various parts of the world and with the aid of experts." (10), so that henceforth it may be used in the conferring of these Orders in place of the rite still found in the Roman Pontifical.
We wish these statutes and prescriptions of Ours to be firm and efficacious both now and for the future, notwithstanding, in so far as this may be necessary, the Apostolic Constitutions and Ordinations published by Our Predecessors, and other prescriptions even those worthy of special mention and derogation.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, on June 18th, 1968, the fifth year of Our pontificate.
PAULUS PP. VI
(1) Vatican Council II. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 25: A.A.S. 56, 1964, p. 107.
(2) Ibid., n. 76: A.A.S. 56, 1964, p. 119.
(3) Vatican Council II. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, n. 28: A.A.S. 57, 1965, p. 33-34.
(4) Vatican Council II. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 21: A.A.S. 56, 1964, p. 1-6.
(5) Vatican Council II. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, n. 21: A.A.S. 57, 1965, p. 25.
(6) Ibid., n. 28: A.A.S. 57, 1965, p. 34.
(7) Vatican Council II. Decree on the Life and Ministry of Priests, PresbyterorumOrdinis, n. 1: A. A. S. 58, 1966, P. 991.
(8) Vatican Council II. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, n. 29: A.A.S. 57, 1965, p. 36.
(9) A.A.S. 40, 1948, p. 6.
(10) Cfr. Vatican Council II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, SacrosanctumConcilium, n. 25: A.A.S. 56, 1964, P. 107.
Weekly Edition in English
27 June 1968, page 2
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