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Part Two

The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him



Since it is ultimately Christ who acts and effects salvation

through the ordainedminister, the unworthiness of the latter does not

prevent Christ from acting.


St. Augustine states this forcefully:

As for the proud minister, he is to be ranked with the devil.

Christ’s gift is not thereby profaned: what flows through him

keeps its purity, and what passes through him remains clear

and reaches the fertile earth. . . . The spiritual power of the

sacrament is indeed comparable to light: those to be enlight-

ened receive it in its purity, and if it should pass through

defiled beings, it is not itself defiled.


The grace of the Holy Spirit


The grace of the Holy Spirit proper to this sacrament is

configuration to Christ as Priest, Teacher, and Pastor, of whom the

ordained is made a minister.


For the bishop, this is first of all a grace of strength (“the

governing spirit”: Prayer of Episcopal Consecration in the Latin



the grace to guide and defend his Church with strength and

prudence as a father and pastor, with gratuitous love for all and a

preferential love for the poor, the sick, and the needy. This grace

impels him to proclaim the Gospel to all, to be the model for his

flock, to go before it on the way of sanctification by identifying

himself in the Eucharist with Christ the priest and victim, not

fearing to give his life for his sheep:

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 from every bond by the authority which you

gave to your apostles.

May he be pleasing to you by his gentleness and purity of heart,

76 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1612; DS 1154.

77 St. Augustine,

In Jo. ev.

5, 15: PL 35, 1422.

78 Cf.

Roman Pontifical,

Ordination of Bishops 26, Prayer of Consecration; cf.

CD 13; 16.