“Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to His apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate (Bishop,) presbyterate (Priest,) and diaconate (deacon.)” (CCC 1536)
There are two notable ways in which the sacrament of Holy Orders differs from the other sacraments.
1. One is the fact that Holy Orders can be administered only by a bishop. Only a bishop has the power to ordain priests.
2. The second way is that Holy Orders is not received all at once.
The sacrament of Matrimony is the only one of the seven sacred mysteries to be explicitly called such in the New Testament: Holy Matrimony. Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman as spouses in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a glorious vision of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.
There are two sacraments at the service of Communion: Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. Both of these sacraments confer a special grace directed not towards the salvation of the one who receives the sacrament, but to the salvation of those who are served by the one ordained or married. In Baptism and Confirmation, we are consecrated or set apart from the world by God and for God; in Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony we receive another consecration. Bishops, priests, and deacons are consecrated to feed the Church by the Word and grace of God, and spouses are consecrated for the duties and dignity of marital love and family life.
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the messianic mission of Christ continues in His Church until the end of time. The three degrees of this one sacrament (episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate) are a participation in the apostolic offices of teaching, sanctifying, and governing given by the Lord Jesus to the Twelve. In Roman law, the word "order" designated a group or civil body within society, and "ordination" means incorporation into an "order."
Sacred Scripture describes to us the three offices of ministry proper to the New Covenant, and each of these offices constitutes a single such "order" in the Church: the Order of Bishops, the Order of Priests (or Presbyters), and the Order of Deacons. A baptized person is ordained into one of these three Orders by a prayer of consecration and the laying on of hands by a true bishop in apostolic succession, and this liturgical action of Christ and the Church confers on the one ordained the sacred power to preach the Word of God and administer the other sacraments, according to the station of each Order.
Bishops and presbyters share by different degrees in the one ministerial priesthood of the New Covenant; by their consecration, bishops and priests are configured to the Lord Jesus in such a way that they can act in His Person in the sacred liturgy and stand in the Person of Christ, Head and Bridegroom of the Church. The ministerial priesthood has the task of representing Christ the Head of the Church before the whole assembly and also of acting in the name of the whole Church when offering to God the prayer of the Church. Deacons are ordained unto a ministry of service, but not to the priesthood. Deacons assist bishops and priests in the celebration of the sacred mysteries, in works of charity, in blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel, in administering baptism, and in presiding over funerals.
The sacrament of Matrimony is the only one of the seven sacred mysteries to be explicitly called such in the New Testament: Holy Matrimony. Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman as spouses in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a glorious vision of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. In other words, the whole of creation and redemption is a marriage between God and His people, and for this reason St. Paul teaches that the union of husband and wife is an image or icon of the union between Christ and His Church (Eph 5:25-32).
St. John tells us that the first miracle worked by the Lord Jesus was at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11), thus revealing the intimate connection between the messianic mission of Christ and the dignity of marriage, which is the one blessing of God not lost by original sin or washed away in the flood. The bond of husband and wife, however, was disfigured by sin (like everything else in nature), and requires the grace of Christ to be purified, healed, and restored to its original dignity.
Because of the weakness of human nature after sin, Lord Jesus restored the original pattern of spousal love by revealing that the true bond of marriage, once begun by the mutual consent of the spouses, can never be broken in this life.
By restoring the original order of creation, Jesus was not giving us a burden too heavy to carry, because He Himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage as a permanent union by following Him in the Way of the Cross, renouncing oneself, and living for the sake of the other. The grace of sacramental marriage is a fruit of Christ's holy Cross, the source of all Christian life.
Unlike the other six sacraments which are all administered by a bishop, priest, or deacon, the sacrament of matrimony is administered by the husband and wife to each other; the priest or deacon is merely the Church's witness who blesses the union created by the exchange of consent. The marriage bond, created only by those who are truly free by God's law to marry, is an irrevocable covenant which binds the spouses to each other for life, and the sacrament of matrimony conveys the special grace necessary to strengthen them for lifelong fidelity and growth in holiness.
Christ dwells with the spouses and gives them the grace to take up their crosses daily, to rise again after they fall, to forgive one another, to bear each other's burdens, to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ, and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love.
As you consider the possibility of celebrating your marriage at St. Uriel's, there are some parish guidelines which will provide some detail regarding weddings in the Church. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us at