The outward and visible sign of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the laying-on-of-hands by the Bishop accompanied by the prescribed prayer of Ordination. The inward and spiritual grace is being set apart, authorized, and spiritually empowered to act in the Name of God and of his Church as a Bishop, Priest, or Deacon.
All Christians are called to share in the Church's mission and ministry in virtue of their Baptism. Holy Orders is the Sacrament by which some are further called to share in Christ's offices of teaching, governing, and sanctifying the Church as given to the Twelve Apostles and handed down through the laying-on-of-hands in apostolic succession.
Holy Orders is one Sacrament with three degrees: the Episcopate, the Presbyterate, and the Diaconate: i. e. Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Each of these Orders has its own responsibilities described in Scripture and in the Ordination services.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders is unrepeatable in that one cannot be ordained to the same Order more than once. It is also indelible in that the person ordained continues forever in God's sight as a Bishop, Priest, or Deacon of the Church.
Discerning a vocation to Holy Orders involves both a subjective sense of calling as experienced by the individual and the community's examination, testing, and validation (or not) of that call: often a long and arduous process!
This discernment of vocations takes place first within the parish and then, if it goes forward, at the diocesan level. If you believe you may be called to serve God and his Church as a Deacon or Priest, the first step (after prayer) is always to talk with your parish clergy.
While most Christians do not have the vocation to Holy Orders, all baptized persons do have a vocation to some form of ministry or service in the Church and the world. The Church fulfills its mission through a variety of ministries, lay and ordained. If you sense that God may be calling you to serve, please discuss this all-important question with your clergy.
One possible vocation not to be overlooked is that of the religious life: i. e. becoming a member of an Anglican community of monks or nuns. One such community for women with long ties to St. Uriel's is the Community of Saint John Baptist at Mendham, New Jersey.
Fra Angelico, Peter Consecrates Stephen (Detail)
Fresco Painted between 1447 and 1449
Niccoline Chapel, Vatican City