According to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, one must be ordained in order for him to become a priest. Ordination is one of the seven Sacraments, also referred to as Holy Orders or Cheirotonia (Laying of Hands). Accomplishing priesthood is not only about professionalism, one needs to prepare for it spiritually and mentally. There are three major aspects to priesthood according to the Roman Catholic Church namely: offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, hearing confessions and counseling. Additionally, priests are also responsible for the daily recitation of the principal and minor offices of the Liturgy of the Hours. The Catholic priests are also the only ministers of the Sacrament of Penance and the Anointing of the sick.
Most of the clergy are initially “transitional deacons” before becoming ordained priests; “permanent deacons”. The Roman Catholic Church requires that bishops be consecrated with the blessings of the pope, as a way of showing unity within the Church. The ordination of a bishop is executed by several bishops while the ordination of a deacon or priest is performed by one bishop.
It is the rite of ordination that makes one a priest; meaning that for one to be called a priest, he must be ordained. A person being ordained as a priest must have been a deacon first. Priests are ordained by a bishop only.
The ceremony of the rite of ordination is a very important moment for the person being ordained as a priest as it gives him a new responsibility in the Catholic Church. The occasion takes place within the context of the Holy Mass. The candidates are normally called forward and presented to the assembly after which they are then questioned. Every candidate promises to diligently perform the duties of the Priesthood and to give respect and obey his ordinary (who is a bishop or religious superior). Thereafter, the candidates lie prostrate before the altar, while the audience kneel and pray for the help of all the saints in the singing of the Litany of the Saints.
In the rite of ordination, the most crucial part is when the bishop silently lays his hands on each candidate before offering the consecratory prayer, which is addressed to God the Father, summoning the power of the Holy Spirit upon them. After the prayer, the newly ordained priests are then vested with the stole and chasuble of those belonging to the Ministerial Priesthood and then the bishop anoints his hands with chrism before giving him the holy chalice and paten which the priest will use when presiding at the Eucharist. After that, the people bring forward gifts of bread and wine and give them to the new priest.
The ordained lies prostrate during ordination as a symbol of his unworthiness for the office to be assumed and his dependence upon God and the prayers of the Christian community.