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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

397

presenting a fragrant offering to you,

through Jesus Christ, your Son. . . .

79

1587

The spiritual gift conferred by presbyteral ordination is

expressed by this prayer of the Byzantine Rite. The bishop, while

laying on his hand, says among other things:

Lord, fill with the gift of the Holy Spirit

him whom you have deigned to raise to the rank of the

priesthood,

that he may be worthy to stand without reproach before your

altar,

to proclaim the Gospel of your kingdom,

to fulfill the ministry of your word of truth,

to offer you spiritual gifts and sacrifices,

to renew your people by the bath of rebirth;

so that he may go out to meet

our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, your only Son,

on the day of his second coming,

and may receive from your vast goodness

the recompense for a faithful administration of his order.

80

1588

With regard to deacons, “strengthened by sacramental

grace they are dedicated to the People of God, in conjunction with

the bishop and his body of priests, in the service (

diakonia

) of the

liturgy, of the Gospel, and of works of charity.”

81

1589

Before the grandeur of the priestly grace and office, the

holy doctors felt an urgent call to conversion in order to conform

their whole lives to him whose sacrament had made them minis-

ters. Thus St. Gregory of Nazianzus, as a very young priest, ex-

claimed:

We must begin by purifying ourselves before purifying

others; we must be instructed to be able to instruct, become

light to illuminate, draw close to God to bring him close to

others, be sanctified to sanctify, lead by the hand and counsel

prudently. I know whose ministers we are, where we find

ourselves and to where we strive. I know God’s greatness

and man’s weakness, but also his potential. [Who then is the

priest? He is] the defender of truth, who stands with angels,

gives glory with archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the

altar on high, shares Christ’s priesthood, refashions creation,

restores it in God’s image, recreates it for the world on high

and, even greater, is divinized and divinizes.

82

79

Roman Pontifical,

Ordination of Bishops 26, Prayer of Consecration; cf. St.

Hippolytus,

Trad. ap.

3: SCh 11, 44-46.

80 Byzantine Liturgy,

Euchologion.

81

LG

29.

82 St. Gregory of Nazianzus,

Oratio

2, 71, 74, 73: PG 35, 480-481.

1564

1569

460