Who Can Confer Holy Orders?

Ephesians 4:11-12

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

As with all the sacraments, the One who really confers them is Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, as with all the sacraments, Jesus works through those people whom he chooses. In the case of the sacrament of Holy Orders, only a validly ordained bishop who has himself received the sacrament from a valid bishop and is in succession from the apostles can confer the sacrament. This seems like a no-brainer, but history is full of people who believe they are so very special that God has contradicted himself and made end-runs around the system he himself created in order to make them bishops or apostles or priests without the trouble of receiving their office from the Church. Paul is often regarded as Exhibit A in this quest for Independence. But, as we saw yesterday, Paul was himself ordained by the Church of Antioch before setting out on his apostolic work. Yes, Jesus called him on the Damascus road. But Paul, being a good Catholic, did not take this as license to act like the Lone Ranger. He united himself with the Church and spent many years learning and serving in obscurity before he received the sacrament of Holy Orders in Acts 13 and begin his mission. Nobody declares themselves an apostle, bishop, priest or deacon. Jesus does it through his Holy Church. Today, ask Jesus to show you your calling and confirm it through his Church.

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