White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

The Order of the Episcopate (Bishop)

May the peace of Christ be with you and yours.

Introduction to Holy Orders

Ministry means "service." The Church is the People of God (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, II) who engage in a variety of ministeries (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 18; Decree on Ecumenism, n. 2). All human beings, by Baptism, share in the ministry of Christ as prophet, priest, and king. "Everything which has been said so far concerning the People of God applies equally to the laity, religious, and clergy." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, nn. 30). We limit our conversation here to the ministry of Orders wherein the presbyter and bishop integrate and coordinate the various ministeries with the deacon serving each. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 30; Decress on the Bishops' Pastoral Office in the Church, n. 17).

In the early church there existed not only many different types of ministry but also different ways in which individuals exercised these ministeries. These ministeries we may view in two broad strokes: a missionary ministeries which apostles, prophets, and teachers exercised and residential ministeries which presbyters exercised in Jewish-Christian communities and bishops and deacons exercised in Gentile-Christian communities.

Hence, the Orders of the Episcopate, Presbyterate, and Diaconate are ministeries and not so-called canonical states-in-life. In contemporary Catholic theology, the ordained ministry is one of ministery or service, leadership, preaching the word, the minister's representational aspects, and the traditional ontological and cultic dimensions. (The preceding edited from Catholicism, Richard P. McBrien, ISBN0-06-065405-8, pp. 776-8, 770, 772, 876).

To explain these ministeries, we offer you from The Roman Pontifical, with slight editions, the ordaining bishop's homily to and the Prayer of Consecration over the ordinand.


Consider carefully the position in the Church to which our brother is about to be raised. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was sent by the Father to redeem the human race, in turn sent twelve apostles into the world. These people were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel and gather every race and people into a single flock to be guided and governed in the way of holiness. Because this service was to continue to the end of time, the apostles selected others to help them. By the laying of hands which confers the sacrament of orders in its fullness, the apostles passed on the gift of the Holy Spirit which they themselves had received from Christ. In that way, by a succession of bishops unbroken from one generation to the next, the powers conferred in the beginning were handed down, and the work of the Savior lives and grows in our time.

In the person of the bishop, with his priests around him, Jesus Christ, the Lord, who became High Priest for ever, is present among you. Through the ministry of the bishop, Christ himself continues to proclaim the Gospel and to confer the mysteries of faith on those who believe. Through the fatherly action of the Bishop, Christ adds new members to his body. Through the bishop's wisdom and prudence, Christ guides you in your earthly pilgrimage toward eternal happiness.

Gladly and gratefully, therefore, receive our bother whom we are about to accept into the college of bishops by the laying on of hands. Respect him as a minister of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God. He has been entrusted with the task of witnessing to the truth of the Gospel and fostering a spirit of justice and holiness. Remember the words of Christ spoken to the apostles: "Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me."

Bishop then addresses the bishop-elect: You, dear brother, have been chosen by the Lord. Remember that you are chosen from among human beings and appointed to act for men and women in relation to God. The title of bishop is not one of honor but of function, and therefore a bishop should strive to serve rather than to rule. Such is the counsel of the Master: the greater should behave as if he were the least, and the leader as if he were the one who serves. Proclaim the message whether it is welcome or unwelcome; correct error with unfailing patience and teaching. Pray and offer sacrifice for the people committed to you care and so draw every kind of grace for them from the overflowing holiness of Christ.

As a steward of the mysteries of Christ in the church entrusted to you, be a faithful overseer and guardian. Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over his family, always be mindful of the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and is known by them and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them.

As a father and a brother, as a human being being human, love all those whom God places in your care. Love the priests and deacons who share with you the ministry of Christ. Love the poor and the infirm, strangers and the homeless. Encourage the faithful to work with you in your apostolic task; listen willingly to what they have to say. Never relax your concern for those who do not yet belong to the one fold of Christ; they too are commended to you in the Lord and are already one in the Lord. Never forget that in the Catholic Church, made one by the bond of Christian love, you are incorporated into the college of bishops. You should therefore have a constant concern for all the churches and gladly come to the aid and support of churches in need. Attend to the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit appoints you an overseer of the Church of God — in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, whose role of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd you undertake — and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the Church of Christ and supports our weakness with his strength.


The Bishop extends his hands over the Bishop-Elect and says:
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies and God of all consolation, you dwell in heaven, yet look with compassion on all that is humble. You know all things before they come to be; by your gracious word you have established the plan of your Church. From the beginning you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation. You established rulers and priests, and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you. From the creation of the world you have been pleased to be glorified by those whom you have chosen.

So now pour out upon this chosen one that power which is from you, the governing spirit whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit given by him to the holy apostles, who founded the Church in every place to be your temple for the unceasing glory and praise of your name.

Father, you know all hearts. You have chosen your servant for the office of bishop. May he be a shepherd to your holy flock, and a high priest blameless in your sight, ministering to you night and day; may he always gain the blessing of your favor and offer the gifts of your holy Church. Through the Spirit who gives the grace of high priesthood grant him the power to forgive sins as you have commanded, to assign ministries as you have decreed, and to loose every bond by the authority which you gave to your apostles.

May he be pleasing to you by his gentleness and purity of heart, presenting a fragrant offering to you, through Jesus Christ, your Son, through whom glory and power and honor are yours with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, now and forever.

People: Amen.

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Order of Presbyterate
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