A Note on the Holy Orders of Ministry in Christ's Holy Catholic Church

The Society of the Precious Blood gives thanks to God for the gift of the ordained ministry to the Church.  As Evangelical Catholic Christians, we have received the Holy Tradition of the ancient Catholic faith, that the ordained ministry exists in three-fold manner: the orders of deacon, priest, and bishop.  These orders of ministry exist to serve the baptized people of God wherever they are gathered throughout the world and are instituted in the ministry of Jesus himself, who provided for ministries of service, healing, teaching, proclamation, and apostleship.  Deacons are ordained to a ministry of Word and Service.  They proclaim the Gospel in our midst and are bridge ministers between the Church and the World.  They make the larger Church aware of the needs of those outside the four walls of parish church buildings.  They assist in liturgical celebrations, such as the Holy Eucharist, as ministers of the table, preparing the altar, etc., according to their description as "servants at table" in Acts 6.  Priests (we use "Priest," "Pastor," and "Presbyter" interchangeably) serve as ministers of Word and Sacrament, celebrating the Eucharist, baptizing, preaching, and teaching.  Because the bishop of the local church cannot be in every parish, presbyters celebrate the Holy Eucharist on behalf of the bishop for the local assembly.  Bishops are called, ordained, and consecrated to the ministry of episkopē, which is the Greek word denoting "oversight."  They guard, defend, and teach the apostolic faith.  Bishops ordain priests, deacons, and other bishops.  They are the locus of unity for the local church and points of unity for the universal church. One is a Catholic Christian and in communion with Christians in other local churches by believing the pure Gospel and being in full communion with their own local bishop.  The bishop is the chief priest and pastor of a local geographical area--the diocese or synod--and exercises leadership in concert with the clergy and the the baptized laypeople in synod.  Thus, the nature of the Church is episcopal-synodal, meaning governed and working as a joint effort between the bishop and people, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

This form of church life has its roots in the forming Church in the New Testament and has been handed down to us by the witness of Holy Tradition and the councils of the first millennium.  We adhere to and celebrate the gift of holy ministry to the Church.

Being that the nature of the Church is episcopal-synodal, with the basic unit of the Church being the local church, or diocese, the Oratory does not provide for the ordination of persons to the diaconate or priesthood.  That is the provenance of the local church and its bishop.  Oratorians individually and the Society at large is happy to accompany, support, pray for, and encourage those who are studying, under episcopal sponsorship, for holy orders. When appropriate and requested by a bishop, we will happily assist in the formation process.

At the same time, for various reasons there will be ordained persons whose primary clerical faculties come from within the society and those clergy are under a promise of obedience to the Bishop Protector.  Priests and Deacons who are Oratorians are to minister, respective to their orders, at the request and direction of their local bishop and with the consent of the Bishop Protector.  Never are Oratorians to break this complementarity.  An aim of the Society is to augment the ministry of the local church by providing assistance where needed and requested.

Do you feel a call from the Holy Spirit for ordained ministry?  We celebrate that!  It is a holy calling and sacred trust to be called to the ministries of the diaconate or priesthood.  A call to holy orders should spring naturally from your ministry as a baptized Christian in your faith community and be affirmed by the local community.  

As we do not provide for ordination, we would be delighted to refer you to your local church.  You should also be in conversation with your pastor.

We recommend doing some research to find your local church based on your personal faith tradition:

The Episcopal Church

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Moravian Church in North America

© 2017 by The Oratory of Saint Martin of Tours

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