"And, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood
to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
- 1 Peter 2:5
What is Holy Orders?
In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, or Ordination, the priest being ordained vows to lead other Catholics by bringing them the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), by proclaiming the Gospel, and by providing other means to holiness.
Why do we need an ordained priesthood?
While all Christians are called to share in the priesthood of Christ through Baptism, ordained priests serve the people of God in a special way. "The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the 'common priesthood of the faithful.' Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community." (CCC, 1591). Consequently, it is these ordained priests who are capable of performing the sacraments, celebrating the Mass and, in a special way, ministering to the faithful.
Who can be ordained a priest?
"The Church confers the sacrament of Holy Orders only on baptized men (viri), whose suitability for the exercise of the ministry has been duly recognized. Church authority alone has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders." (CCC, 1598). This dates back to when Jesus called the Apostles. Since He only called men, the Church teaches that only men are called to ordained ministry. However, all Christians are called to a vocation: single life, married life, religious life or ordination.
How do I know if I have a vocation to the priesthood?
Most men who become priests do not experience some miraculous event such as Moses' burning bush or Samuel's call in the night which tells them they should become a priest. Rather, vocations are discerned or figured out through prayer, conversations with priests, and a willingness to understand what God is calling you to do. Should you feel a call to the priesthood, try spending some quiet time talking to God about it or talking to your parish priest about how he made his decision to be come a priest.