Holy Orders is a sacrament in which men are approved or “ordained” by the Church to perform the other six စက္ကမင်မင်္. The men may be deacons, priests or bishops.
သို့သော်, the sacrament of Holy Orders is performed only by bishops, and that follows directly from the Bible.
There is an established way in Scripture in which God’s call to the ministry is given and received. It flows from God to Jesus, from Jesus to the Apostles, and from the Apostles to their successors (ကြည့်ရှု လုကာခရစ်ဝင်ကျမ်း 10:16 နှင့် ယောဟန်၏ဧဝံဂေလိတရားကို 13:20; 20:21). ဒါကြောင့်, the sacrament of Holy Orders can be performed only by an Apostle or only by one on whom apostolic authority has been conferred. ဥပမာအားဖြင့်, Paul writes in his တိမောသေဖို့ပထမဦးစွာပေးစာ (4:14), “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you” (ကြည့်ရှု 5:22, သူ၏ Second Letter to Timothy, 1:6, နှင့်သူ၏ တိတုမှပေးစာ 1:5). ဒါကြောင့်, the sacrament follows an unbroken chain from Jesus to today’s newest Catholic priest. (More on this below.)
In the early Church, a hierarchy developed that consisted of bishops, presbyters (or elders), and deacons, which corresponded to Israel’s three-tiered structure of high priest, ယဇ်ပုရောဟိတ်, and Levites (ပေါလုရဲ့ကြည့်ရှု Letter to the Phillipians, 1:1; Saint James’ Epistle, 5:14; The Book of Numbers, 32; The Second Book of Chronicles 31:9-10).1 ဣသရေလအမျိုး၌, the priest was seen as God’s unique emissary (ကြည့်ရှု မာလခိ 2:7), being set apart from the assembly by an anointing and the imposition of hands (ကြည့်ရှု ထှကျမွောကျရာ 30:30 သို့မဟုတ် တရားဟောရာ 34:9).
Given that the Apostles were Jews, the Church adopted these Jewish customs for her rite of ordination.
Aren’t We all Priests?
အဘယ်သူမျှမ, but sometimes people are confused by the Bible’s message that all believers are called to share in Christ’s priesthood. ဥပမာအားဖြင့်, Saint Peter’s ပထမဦးစွာပေးစာ (2:9) ပြည်နယ်များ, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.” These words are a reference back to ထှကျမွောကျရာ 19:6, “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Reserving the authority to perform sacraments to a special group of individuals (ယဇ်ပုရောဟိတ်) is known as sacerdotalism.
In the Old Covenant, a smaller, sacerdotal priesthood existed within the larger priestly nation of Israel. ကျနော်တို့ကိုရှင်းပြအဖြစ်, it is the same in the New Covenant.
The Bible reveals the sacerdotal priesthood to be a kind of spiritual fatherhood, which is why the Catholic Church teaches that priestly ordination is reserved for men alone. ဥပမာအားဖြင့်, in the Old Testament, ကို Book of Judges (18:19) ပြည်နယ်များ: “Come with us, and be to us a father and a priest.”
အလားတူပဲ, ဓမ္မသစ်ကျမ်းတွင်, Paul writes in his ကောရိန်သုပထမပေးစာ (4:15) ကြောင်း “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.” Paul elaborates more on this spiritual fatherhood or sacerdotal priesthood at the start of that same chapter, when he says, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (4:1).2
At the start of His ministry, Jesus remarked that the crowds resembled “sheep without a shepherd,” ဟုဆို, “The harvest is plentiful, ဒါပေမယ့်လုပ်သားများအနည်းငယ်ရှိပါတယ်; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (ကြည့်ရှု မဿဲ 9:36, 37-38). These remarks preface His selection of the Twelve Apostles, whom He empowered and sent out as His vicarious shepherds over the faithful (ကိုကြည့်ရှု ယောဟန်၏ဧဝံဂေလိတရားကို 21:15-17; ကို တမန်တော်၏တမန်တော် 20:28; နှင့်ပေတရု၏ ပထမဦးစွာပေးစာ 5:2). “You did not choose me,” He later reminded them, “but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (ယောဟန်သည် 15:16). “How can men preach unless they are sent?” writes Paul in his ရောမအက္ခရာ, 10:15.
Nowhere in Scripture does a man assume the ministry for himself. “One does not take the honor upon himself, but is called by God, အာရုန်နည်းတူ,” write Paul in his ဟေဗြဲမှပေးစာ 5:4 (မိမိအကိုတွေ့မြင် Letter to the Colossians 1:25, လည်း). When certain Jewish exorcists attempt to rebuke evil spirits “by the Jesus whom Paul preaches,” the spirits reply, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (တမန်တော်၏တမန်တော်, 19:13, 15).
ဒါကြောင့်, a valid call to the ministry ordinarily involves the confirmation of the apostolic hierarchy. ဥပမာအားဖြင့်, ထဲမှာ Act of the Apostles (1:15), Matthias does not stand up and take his ministerial office by his own volition. He is elected according to the authority of Peter and the Apostles, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Neither does Paul, in spite of his dramatic conversion, set off on his own to preach the Gospel, claiming God’s anointing for himself. As mentioned in his ဂလာတိမှပေးစာ (1:18), he goes first to Jerusalem to receive the approval of the Apostles, and later he returns to verify the gospel he is preaching is correct (2:2).
While all Christians are called to evangelize, the Apostles and their successors have the unique call of safeguarding the Deposit of Faith and teaching the faithful. ထဲမှာ မဿဲခရစ်ဝင်ကျမ်း (28:19-20) Jesus says to the Apostles, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, ခမည်းတော်, သားတော်, သန့်ရှင်းသောဝိညာဉ်၏နာမ၌သူတို့ကိုဗတ္တိဇံကို, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
အလားတူပဲ, မိမိအခုနှစ် Second Letter to Timothy, Paul instructs: “Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us,… What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (ကျမ်းပိုဒ်ကိုကြည့်ပါ 1:14; 2:2; 1:13; နှင့် တမန်တော်၏တမန်တော် 2:42).
Actually, when His ministers teach it is Christ Himself who teaches through them as He said: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you, rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (လုကာ 10:16). Elsewhere He declares, “အမှန်ဆိုသည်ကား,, အမှန်တကယ်, ငါသည်သင်တို့ကိုအားဆင့်ဆိုရမည်, he who receives any one whom I send ငါ့ကိုလက်ခံ; and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (ယောဟန်သည် 13:20; အလေးပေးဆက်ပြောသည်).
The Apostles are given the authority of presiding over the Eucharistic celebration. ဥပမာအားဖြင့်, while instituting the Eucharist at the Last Supper, He bids them, “Do this in remembrance of me” (လုကာ 22:19 and Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, 11:23-24). The Apostles receive a unique share in His priesthood and with it the chief duty of offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice on behalf of the faithful (cf. ရှိ. 5:1).3
The Apostles also receive from Jesus the power to forgive sins through the gift of the keys given to Peter and the authority to” bind and loose” conferred on them as a group (cf. Matt. 16:19; 18:18). “ခမညျးတျောငါ့ကိုစေလွှတ်တော်မူသကဲ့သို့ပင်,” the Savior tells them, “သော်ငြားလည်း I send you. … Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (ယောဟန်သည် 20:21-23; အလေးပေးဆက်ပြောသည်).
- Though the fullness of the apostolic office with all its prerogatives was not passed down, the bishops, as direct successors to the Apostles, remained at the head of the hierarchy. ↩
- The word “mystery,” ဂရိ, mysterion, is translated in Latin as sacramentum သို့မဟုတ် “sacrament.” The Greek Orthodox continue to this day to refer to the Sacraments as the sacred “Mysteries.” ↩
- The Biblical view of the Eucharist as a Sacrifice (cf. Mal. 1:11; 1 Cor. 10:1-5, 15-22; 11:23-30; ရှိ. 10:25-26), တကယ်တော့, further points to the existence of a sacerdotal priesthood–for the presence of a sacrifice necessitates a priesthood to offer it. ပုပ်ရဟန်းမင်းကြီးစိန့် Clement, writing from Rome in about the year 96, clearly distinguished between the Eucharistic Sacrifice offered by the ministerial priesthood and the spiritual sacrifices offered by the priesthood of the laity (cf. Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians 40-41). Misunderstanding the Eucharistic Sacrifice, non-Catholics sometimes accuse Catholics of “re-sacrificing” Jesus at Mass. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is not a re-sacrificing, သို့သော်, but a re-presentation of the one Sacrifice of Calvary. Christ does not die again; His saving Flesh and Blood are made present on the altar under the appearances of Bread and Wine so that the faithful may “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” as Paul wrote in his ကောရိန်သုပထမပေးစာ (11:26). ↩