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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Why isn't it a sacrament when women become nuns, but it is when men get ordained?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, 
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

 From Catholic Answers website:

If a sacrament is an outward sign of grace, then why is the process of being ordained a sacrament for a priest but not a sacrament when women become nuns?  How is this fair?

A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ.  Jesus determines what a sacrament is and who will receive it.  As for the priesthood, it is not comparable to religious life.  In fact it 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 Jesus ordained only men would be unfair if all 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 that Jesus preached. 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, thereby drawing attention to them.  It acts as a beacon, reminding people that we all owe God the oblation of all that we are. Religious life is opened to men and women alike.

Answered by:  Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

I have heard it said that when an ordination occurs, the universe is changed forever.  What existed 30 seconds prior to ordination exists no more for eternity!  The man who stood before God and the Church is no more.  

Ordination confers on his soul a new ontological (that is, at its essence or at our very being) participation in the ministry of Christ.

This is why the priesthood is so very different from the ministry of Protestant churches.  Protestant ministers are about what they do.  The Catholic priesthood is who he is. Ontologically.  At his essence.  

As such, ordination is not the "deputizing" of someone to perform an assignment. It is NOT the admission of someone to a profession such as medicine or law.

And this is why women can never be ordained as priests.  For the priesthood is not about what he does--clearly, a woman can "do" everything a man may "do" in his job as a priest: a woman could indeed sit in a confessional, hear someone's sins and say the words--the same as any man can.  And perhaps offer more nurturing, counseling and better insight than a man...

and a woman could indeed say the words of consecration--perhaps with even more emotion, better diction, more sincerity, etc etc etc...

That is, women are quite capable of the doing part of what a priest does. 

When someone has an impoverished understanding of the priesthood he cannot see why women can't be priests--because he sees it as akin to being a counselor, or a manager, or an evangelist.  And who in the right mind would say that a woman can't be a counselor, or manage a business, or preach the good news?  But we understand that the priesthood is not about what he does, but about what he is.

So even if a woman were "ordained" to the priesthood, she would not be, at her essence a priest.  It's just not ontologically possible.  

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

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"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

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