Why aren't the priesthood and religious life equal?


Hi, I have 2 questions. First of all, is it or is it not true that a sacrament is an outward sign of inward grace? Secondly, if it is then why is the process of being ordained a sacrament for a priest but it is not a sacrament when women become nuns? How is this fair? Thanks, Em


Hi Em,

You are comparing apples and oranges. The priesthood is not comparable to religious life. In fact it’s not comparable to any other thing on the earth. It is a share in Christ’s priesthood which He Himself established. No one is worthy of it. A Catholic priest actually ministers in the Person of Christ. That He ordained only men would be unfair if human beings had a right to such an honor. The fact is, we don’t.

Religious life, on the other hand, is a way of living that is based on the evangelical counsels. The vows of religious life represent the totality of human existence. We are all called to be chaste (both married and single), we are all called to obey lawful authority, and we are all called to be poor in spirit. Religious life accentuates these by going a step farther and thereby drawing attention to them. It acts as a beacon, reminding all people that we all owe God the oblation of all that we are. Religious life is opened to men and women alike.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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