A priest is a baptised man who has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Through this sacrament, a man enters into the ministerial priesthood which gives him a sacred power to serve (CCC 1592). The ministerial priesthood is given to serve the common priesthood; all the people of God are called to participate in the common priesthood (CCC 1546-1547). A priest is “a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads His Church” ; therefore it is the mission of the Catholic priest “to feed the Church by the word and grace of God” (LG, 11). As such, a priest is a mediator or ‘bridge-builder’ between God and humanity; he does this by participating in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ, who unites God and humanity in his very being. The priest carries out this ‘bridge-building’ through teaching, divine worship and leading the people (CCC 1592).
A priest offers the ministry of Jesus Christ to us today. When a priest offers the holy sacrifice of the Mass, it is Christ who offers the sacrifice. When he absolves sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it is Christ who forgives. When he partakes in the mission of the Church to teach and evangelise, it is Christ who speaks through him. When he offers love, comfort and support to God’s people, Christ is truly present with them. For this reason, St John Vianney explained the priesthood in the following terms: “The priest continues the work of redemption on earth … If we really understood the priest on earth we would not die of fright but of love … The priest is the love of the heart of Jesus” (CCC 1589)
3 Minute Catechism: What are Catholic Priests?
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP with 4 newly Ordained Priests , October 2015
Photo by Giovanni Portelli
Banner Photo Credit: Giovanni Portelli