St. Pius X on Priestly Sanctity

The Ordination into the Priesthood is the Sacrament known as Holy Orders. This sacrament is administered by the 'laying of hands', the candidate Deacons for Priesthood, kneel before the Bishop. In silence the Bishop lays his hands upon the head of each individual candidate. The prayer belonging to the imposition of hands is said by the Bishop; by this, the Holy Spirit then enters the candidate imparting on him all Priestly powers. The Sacrament of Holy Orders confers Sanctifying Grace to the recipient. The Bishop, through his power of ordaining, is enabled to provide his diocese with Priests and Deacons. Through his Priests, he causes his people to be born into the Church; he feeds them with the Bread of Life and tends to them in spiritual illness.

A priest is a man set apart from others to offer Sacrifice to God, and to administer the Sacraments of the Church. Only a priest can confect the Holy Sacrifice, or administer the Sacraments.

Our Lord chose twelve men as His apostles, He set these apart with a special mission-- to dedicate their lives to teaching His doctrines; and offering the Sacraments. "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations ...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (St. Matt.28:19)

It was to the Apostles that our Lord said "do this in memory of me" thus ordaining them priests and giving them the power to confect the Holy Eucharist. Since our Lord, the High Priest, instituted the Sacrifice of the Mass, it would be only logical that priests would be required to offer the Sacrifice. "Since therefore in the New Testament the Catholic Church has received from the Lord's institution the holy visible sacrifice of the Eucharist it must also be admitted that in the Church there is a new, visible and external priesthood" says the Council of Trent.

"'As the Father has sent Me, so I also send you'. When he had said this, he breathed upon them and said to them, 'Recieve the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.'" (St. John 20:21-22)

Thus, he commissioned the apostles to carry on His mission, and gave them the power to remit or retain sins through the Sacrament of Penance.

He prayed for them before His passion-- "Even as Thou hast sent Me into the world, so I also have sent them into the world... Yet not for these only do I pray, but for those also who through their word are to believe in Me"(St. John,17:17-10).

The priest, like the apostles, gives up the things of the world and dedicates his life entirely to God and His service, wishing only the Lord for his portion.

The Deacon: receives the power of worthily assisting the Priest and the Bishop and of preaching the Gospel.

The Priest: receives the power of forgiving sin and of offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He is made another Christ; a living representative of the Redeemer, Whose work he continues.

The Bishop: receives the power of confirming and ordaining. He is given the plentitude of the Priesthood and is made a Successor of the Apostles.


"For which cause I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of GOD which is in thee, by the imposition of hands." 2 St. Timothy 1:6

"Neglect not the Grace that is in thee, which was given thee...with imposition of hands of the Priesthood." 1 St. Timothy 4:14

"And when they had ordained to them Priests in every Church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord..." The Acts 14:22

From the above verses, it is noted that the words "Stir up the grace of GOD which is in thee", "Neglect not the grace that is in thee," and "...they had ordained to them Priests", is a reference to the Power of the Holy Spirit contained in the (Ordained) Priesthood, through the imposition of hands.

This method (the imposition of hands) of Ordaining Priests was the method adopted by the Apostles of Christ and handed down throughout the history of the Church.


1) Celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:

"Take ye, and eat: this is My Body, which shall be delivered for you: Do this for the commemoration of Me." 1 Corinthians 11:24

2) To preach and interpret Sacred Scripture:

"Going therefore, teach ye all nations...teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." St. Matthew 28:19-20

3) Defend the teachings of the Church:

"Embracing that faithful Word which is according to Doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound Doctrine and to convince the gainsayers." TITUS 1:9

4) The Minister for Baptizing:

"Going therefore...Baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." St. Matthew 28:19

5) The Minister for Confession:

"...Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." St. John 20:22-23

6) The Minister for Matrimony: The Priest is Christ's Instrument for couples to be married:

"Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore GOD hath joined together, let no man put asunder." St. Matthew 19:6

7) The Minister for Last Rites:

"If any man sick among you? Let him bring in the Priests of the Church and let them pray over him, Anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord." St. James 5:14

Jesus established the Seven Sacraments of the Church to prepare His people for Heaven.


Pope - The bishop of Rome, vicar of Christ on earth, successor of St. Peter, visible head of the whole Catholic Church.

Cardinal - An honorary title given to priests or bishops because of their important positions in the Church; Cardinals elect the new Pope.

Bishop - Rules over the people and priests of his diocese; can give Confirmation and Holy Orders.

Monsignor - A priest gets this honorary title from the Pope because of his important position in the Church. Pastor Rules over a parish; is subject to the bishop of the diocese.

Priest - Diocesan priests work in a diocese; religious priests belong to a religious order - like the Franciscans, Dominicans, etc...

Monk - Monks live in a monastery, follow a strict rule under a superior - like the Benedictines and the Trappists; some are priests, others are brothers.

Brother - A religious who is dedicated to teaching, hospital work or contemplation; takes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but does not receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Sister - A religious who is dedicated to teaching, hospital or social work, or contemplation; takes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and belongs to a religious order or community. Cloistered sisters are usually called nuns; loosely speaking, all sisters are often called nuns.