The sacrament of Holy Orders, like marriage, is a sacrament of mission, or vocation. Today there are two vocations which make up Holy Orders – priest and deacon.
Each of us is called to the kingdom of God. Through baptism, we are called His children and so have a mission as Christians to witness (in other words, to live) the faith.
Continuing the Apostles Work
The sacrament of Holy Orders goes a little further. Those who are ordained are given a special grace to continue the work of the apostles in spreading the Good News, the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This good news is to be spread by word and by the living example of faith. Through ordination the priest or deacon is called to be there for the salvation of others.
A deacon is bearing witness to the Good News by proclaiming the Gospel, by preaching and by administering the sacraments of baptism and marriage. A priest does this through proclaiming the Gospel, by preaching, and through the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation, marriage, the Sacrament of the Sick and by presiding at the Lord’s Table at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
A Holy Calling
A priest is called to a life of offering sacrifice and the life of a deacon is called to be one of service to all. In both ordinations, the sacrament is conferred by a bishop, through calling down of the Holy Spirit and the anointing with Holy Oils.