Priesthood - indelible mark


#1

Hello. I was wondering if someone can explain to me the sources behind the Catholic doctrine of the priesthood being an indelible mark on the soul? I was talking with an Orthodox friend of mine and he was saying that to the Orthodox, Holy Orders is not permanent and if a priest renounces his ministry, then he is no longer a priest. Don't get me wrong, I believe in the Catholic teaching, I was just wondering how I can defend the Catholic position. He claimed that the Catholic idea didn't come along until Augustine. Thanks.


#2

Of course, looking back on this, I always forget how early of a Church father St. Augustine actually is... but if there are any scriptural verses I can use to show how this is true, I'd appreciate it.


#3

[quote="AdvanceAlways, post:1, topic:316480"]
Hello. I was wondering if someone can explain to me the sources behind the Catholic doctrine of the priesthood being an indelible mark on the soul? I was talking with an Orthodox friend of mine and he was saying that to the Orthodox, Holy Orders is not permanent and if a priest renounces his ministry, then he is no longer a priest. Don't get me wrong, I believe in the Catholic teaching, I was just wondering how I can defend the Catholic position. He claimed that the Catholic idea didn't come along until Augustine. Thanks.

[/quote]

Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it.

VII. THE EFFECTS OF THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS

The indelible character
1581 This sacrament configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ's instrument for his Church. By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of priest, prophet, and king.
1582 As in the case of Baptism and Confirmation this share in Christ's office is granted once for all. The sacrament of Holy Orders, like the other two, confers an indelible spiritual character and cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily.74
1583 It is true that someone validly ordained can, for grave reasons, be discharged from the obligations and functions linked to ordination, or can be forbidden to exercise them; but he cannot become a layman again in the strict sense,75 because the character imprinted by ordination is for ever. The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently.
1584 Since it is ultimately Christ who acts and effects salvation through the ordained minister, the unworthiness of the latter does not prevent Christ from acting.76 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 dear and reaches the fertile earth. . . . The spiritual power of the sacrament is indeed comparable to light: those to be enlightened receive it in its purity, and if it should pass through defiled beings, it is not itself defiled.77


#4

[quote="davidv, post:3, topic:316480"]
Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it.

[/quote]

Thank you for the Catechism quotes. Unfortunately that doesn't help much... the CCC passages don't even explain, aside from Augustine, how the doctrine is backed up...


#5

[quote="AdvanceAlways, post:4, topic:316480"]
Thank you for the Catechism quotes. Unfortunately that doesn't help much... the CCC passages don't even explain, aside from Augustine, how the doctrine is backed up...

[/quote]

Here are the footnotes to the CCC passages.

74 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1767; LG 21; 28; 29; PO 2.
75 Cf. CIC, cann. 290-293; 1336 § 1 3o, 5o, 1338 § 2; Council of Trent: DS 1774.
76 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1612; DS 1154.
77 St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 5,15:PL 35,1422.


#6

[quote="davidv, post:5, topic:316480"]
Here are the footnotes to the CCC passages.

[/quote]

Thank you for the help. I feel like I'm being a total pain here, but since I'm discussing the issue with an Orthodox Christian, quoting Trent won't help my cause. It sounds like St. Augustine is the best source... Did Trent base their conclusion purely on the writings of St. Augustine? At least in the time I've spend perusing my Catechism and looking for information on the net, it seems that no one can point to anything before Augustine, or between Augustine and Trent to support the Catholic position...


#7

[quote="AdvanceAlways, post:6, topic:316480"]
Thank you for the help. I feel like I'm being a total pain here, but since I'm discussing the issue with an Orthodox Christian, quoting Trent won't help my cause. It sounds like St. Augustine is the best source... Did Trent base their conclusion purely on the writings of St. Augustine? At least in the time I've spend perusing my Catechism and looking for information on the net, it seems that no one can point to anything before Augustine, or between Augustine and Trent to support the Catholic position...

[/quote]

The nature of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is what it is because was instituted by Christ. It is taught by the Church because is was taught to the apostles by Christ. Augustine and Trent may have fleshed out the understanding of the nature of this Sacrament, but its nature existed from the beginning.


#8

You can no more renounce your Priesthood than you can renounce your Baptism. Plain and simple.


#9

[quote="AdvanceAlways, post:1, topic:316480"]
HI was talking with an Orthodox friend of mine and he was saying that to the Orthodox, Holy Orders is not permanent and if a priest renounces his ministry, then he is no longer a priest.

[/quote]

An Orthodox priest might renounce his priestly faculties (a Catholic priest could do the same), but I am very sure that the Orthodox agree with Catholics that Orders confers an indelible mark.

If the Orthodox actually taught otherwise, then their priesthood would not be compatible with Catholic priesthood (because it would not share the same ontological nature, which is absolutely essential). Yet, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches mutually recognize the validity of each other' s Sacraments, so they must share the same understanding of the nature of the Sacrament of Orders.

What is said of Jesus' priesthood extends to his ordained priests:

For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." [Heb 7:17]

Any man who shares in Our Lord's priesthood is also a priest forever. Otherwise, he would not truly share in that priesthood. That would be like saying that the general is committed to the end, but his officers could quit the field anytime they pleased.


#10

[quote="DavidFilmer, post:9, topic:316480"]
An Orthodox priest might renounce his priestly faculties (a Catholic priest could do the same), but I am very sure that the Orthodox agree with Catholics that Orders confers an indelible mark.

If the Orthodox actually taught otherwise, then their priesthood would not be compatible with Catholic priesthood (because it would not share the same ontological nature, which is absolutely essential). Yet, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches mutually recognize the validity of each other' s Sacraments, so they must share the same understanding of the nature of the Sacrament of Orders.

What is said of Jesus' priesthood extends to his ordained priests:

Any man who shares in Our Lord's priesthood is also a priest forever. Otherwise, he would not truly share in that priesthood. That would be like saying that the general is committed to the end, but his officers could quit the field anytime they pleased.

[/quote]

The Orthodox do not believe that the sacrament of Holy Orders confers an indelible mark. Furthermore, the statement that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches mututally recognize each other's sacraments is not entirely true. The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Orthodox sacraments; there is no uniform Orthodox position on Catholic sacraments--some Orthodox recognize their validity, some are "agnostic" on the question, and some deny their validity.

orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/canon_law/scouteris_priesthood_unity.htm


#11

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