Epistle of Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria

1 Timothy 4:8-16

Godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. A faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we labor and are reviled, because we .hope in the living God, Who is the Saviour of all men, especially of the faithful. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth: but be thou an example of the faithful, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in chastity. Till I come, attend unto reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine. Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood. Meditate upon these things, be wholly in these things: that thy profiting may be manifest to all. Take heed to thyself, and to doctrine: be earnest in them. For in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.


Verse 8. Some think S. Paul alludes in this verse to the corporal exercises of wrestlers, which procured them but a little short renown, whereas the works of piety have a more lasting reward. Menochius. Tirin. — Corporal exercises of temperance, mortification, &c. are good, but not to be compared with the spiritual virtues of charity, piety, &c. D. Bernard.

Verse 10. Of all men, and especially of the faithful, who have received the grace of faith. Wi.

Verse 12. Let no man despise thy youth. That is, let thy behaviour be such that no one can have occasion to despise thee. He seems then about the age of forty. Wi.

Verse 13. Attend to reading, &c. He recommends to him the reading of the Holy Scriptures; which, says S. Amb. (l. 3. de fid. c. vii.) is the book of priests. Wi.

Verse 14. Neglect not the grace. The Greek seems to imply the gifts of the Holy Ghost, given by the sacraments, by prophecy; which may signify, when the gift of preaching or of expounding prophets was bestowed upon thee. — With the imposition of the hands of the priesthood. Some expound it, when thou didst receive the order of priesthood, or wast made bishop: but the sense rather seems to be, when the hands of priests of the first order (i.e. of bishops) were laid upon thee, according to S. Chrysostom. Wi. — S. Austin sayeth that no man can doubt whether holy orders be a sacrament; and that no one may argue that he uses the term improperly, and without due precision, he joineth this sacrament in nature and name with baptism. Cont. Ep. Parmen. l. 2. c. xiii. S. Ambrose on this verse understands in the words imposition of hands, all the holy action and sacred words done and spoken over him when he was made a priest; whereby, says the saint, he was designed to the work, and received authority that he durst offer sacrifice in our Lord’s stead unto God.


910: When Extreme Unction Should be Administered

JULIUS III 1550-1555
SESSION XIII (Oct. II, 1551)
Decree On the Most Holy Eucharist

And now, as regards the prescribing of those who can receive and administer this sacrament, this, too, was clearly expressed in the words above. For it is also indicated there that the proper ministers of this sacrament are the presbyters of the Church [can. 4], under which name in that place are to be understood not the elders by age or the foremost in rank among the people, but either bishops or priests duly ordained by them with the “imposition of the hands of the priesthood” [1 Tim. 4:14; can. 4]. It is also declared that this unction is to be applied to the infirm, but especially to those who are so dangerously ill that they seem to be facing the end of life, for which reason it is also called the sacrament of the dying. But if the sick should recover after the reception of this sacrament of extreme unction, they can with the aid of this sacrament be strengthened again, when they fall into another similar crisis of life. Therefore, under no condition are they to be listened to, who contrary to so open and clear a statement of the Apostle James [Jas. 5:14] teach that this unction is either a figment of the imagination or a rite received from the Fathers, having neither a command of God nor a promise of grace [can. 1]; and likewise those who assert that this has now ceased, as though it were to be referred to the grace of healing only in the primitive Church; and those who maintain that the rite and practice which t e holy Roman Church observes in the administration of this sacrament are opposed to the thought of James the Apostle, and therefore ought to be changed to another; and finally, those who affirm that this extreme unction may be contemned by the faithful without sin [can. 3] or all these things very manifestly disagree with the clear words of this great Apostle. Nor, indeed, does the Roman Church, the mother and teacher of all others, observe anything else in the administration of this unction with reference to those matters which constitute the substance of this sacrament than what the blessed James has prescribed. Nor, indeed, could there be contempt for so great a sacrament without grievous sin and offense to the Holy Spirit.

These are the things which this sacred ecumenical Synod professes and teaches concerning the sacraments of penance and extreme unction, and it sets them forth to be believed and held by all the faithful of Christ. Moreover, the following canons, it says, must be inviolately observed, and it condemns and anathematizes forever those who assert the contrary.

959: The Order of the Priesthood is Truly a Sacrament

PIUS IV 1559-1565
SESSION XXIII (July 15, 1563)

Since from the testimony of Scripture, apostolic tradition, and the unanimous consensus of opinion of the Fathers it is evident that by sacred ordination, which is performed by words and outward signs, grace is conferred, no one can doubt that order is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the Church [can. 3]. For the Apostle says: “I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sobriety” [2 Tim. 1:6, 7; cf. 1 Tim. 4:14].

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