in Roman antiquity designated an estab-
lished civil body, especially a governing body.
incorporation into an
In the Church there are established
bodies which Tradition, not without a basis in Sacred Scripture,
has since ancient times called
And so the
liturgy speaks of the
Other groups also receive this name of
chumens, virgins, spouses, widows, . . .
Integration into one of these bodies in the Churchwas accom-
plished by a rite called
a religious and liturgical act which
was a consecration, a blessing or a sacrament. Today the word “
” is reserved for the sacramental act which integrates a man into
the order of bishops, presbyters, or deacons, and goes beyond a simple
election, designation, delegation,
by the community, for it
confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a “sacred
which can come only from Christ himself
through his Church. Ordination is also called
for it is a
setting apart and an investiture by Christ himself for his Church. The
laying on of hands
by the bishop, with the consecratory prayer,
constitutes the visible sign of this ordination.
The priesthood of the Old Covenant
The chosen people was constituted by God as “a kingdom
of priests and a holy nation.”
But within the people of Israel, God
chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for
liturgical service; God himself is its inheritance.
A special rite
consecrated the beginnings of the priesthood of the Old Covenant.
The priests are “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to
God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”
Instituted to proclaimtheWordof God and to restore commu-
nion with God by sacrifices and prayer,
this priesthood nevertheless