THE PRIESTHOOD AND THE COUNCIL OF
For centuries, and
all through the Middle Ages, the Church remained in peaceful possession
of the doctrine of the priesthood and that of the Eucharistic
The Protestantism of the 16th century brought that peace to an end. By
their revolt against the Catholic Church, Luther and the other
rejected the Magisterium of the Church and put the Bible in its place:
sola scriptura. They rejected
as well-----and that was logical-----the
Divine origin of her hierarchy and the Sacramental character of her
They denied that the bread and wine are substantially and totally
into the Body and Blood of Christ and that the Mass is a true
The Catholic Mass was even one of Luther's "bete noires," and he
fought against it all his life. Faced with such extensive
the Church had to affirm her age-long doctrine; and that she did in the
Council of Trent . . . The doctrine of the Council of Trent has
great merit of being clear, unambiguous, definitive. It is presented as
the Catholic doctrine of all time; it demands our complete and
assent. Apart from the Council of Trent the Church has never pronounced
with its solemn and infallible magisterium on the ministerial
and the Sacrifice of the Mass which is indossolubly united with it.
the Council of Trent there had been no need to do so; after the
she felt no need as the Council had expressed itself so clearly and so
solemnly. It is important to notice that Trent pronounced first on the
Sacrifice of the Mass and only afterwards on the priesthood, in words
the same. It is above all the Sacrifice of the Mass which determines
the priest is. The power of offering it was given at the Last Supper.
The are nine specific
canons of The Council following the dogmatic declaration on the Mass .
. . we note the first three:
1. If anyone shall
say that in the Mass a true and real Sacrifice is not offered to God,
that this offering is only in the fact that Christ is given to us to
let him be anathema.
2. If anyone shall
say that by the words: 'Do this in commemoration of Me' Christ did not
institute the Apostles priests, or did not ordain that they and other
should offer His Body and Blood: let him be anathema.
3. If anyone shall
say that the Sacrifice of the Mass is only one of praise and
or that it is a mere commemoration of the Sacrifice consummated on the
Cross, and not propitiatory; or that it profits only him who receives
and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins,
satisfactions and other necessities: let him be anathema.
A year later, on July
15, 1563, the same Council promulgated its text of the Catholic
of order [the priesthood]:
The true and Catholic
doctrine . . . to condemn the errors of our time . . . Sacrifice and
are by ordinance of God so united that both have existed in every law.
Since, therefore, in the New Testament the Catholic Church has received
from Christ the holy, visible sacrifice of the Eucharist, it must also
be confessed that there is in that Church a new, visible and external
into which the old has been translated. That this was instituted by the
same Lord our Saviour, and that to the Apostles and their successors in
the priesthood was given the power of consecrating, offering, and
His Body and Blood, as also of forgiving and retaining sins, is shown
the Sacred Scriptures and has always been taught by the Tradition of
Catholic Church . . .
That doctrine is also
affirmed with anathema in the canons that followed the above
the fourth of which stated that Holy Orders imprinted a character.
THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDECH, by Michael Davies