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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Priesthood)

St. John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars (patron saint of priests)

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Priests / Priesthood

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Priests / Priesthood

The Priesthood is Not Derived From the Community

The Hierarchical Priesthood Vs. the 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful'



Priests / Priesthood

Also See: Priests (Topic Page)

"My covenant with him was one of life and peace; fear I put in him, and he feared me, and stood in awe of my name. True doctrine was in his mouth, and no dishonesty was found upon his lips; He walked with me in integrity and in uprightness, and turned many away from evil. For the lips of the priest are to keep knowledge, and instruction is to be sought from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts." (Mal. 2:5-7)

"Then [Jesus] summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness." (Mt. 10:1)

"Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 10:40)

"[Jesus] went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons" (Mk. 3:13-15)

"In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles" (Lk. 6:12-13)

"And taking bread, [Jesus] gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. In like manner the chalice also, after he had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you." (Lk. 22:19-20) [DR Trans.]

"[Jesus said,] 'And (behold) I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.'" (Lk 24:49)

"Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Jn. 13:20)

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.' And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.'" (Jn. 20:19-23)

"And when they had ordained to them priests in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in whom they believed." (Acts 14:23) [DR Trans.] [Note: for information on the term 'church' see "A Note Regarding the Term 'Church' "(Church Talk Section) (click here)]

"And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors; after that miracles; then the graces of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches." (1 Cor. 12:28) [DR Trans.]

"This saying is trustworthy: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task." (1 Tm. 3:1)

"Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate." (1 Tm. 4:14)

"So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, (overseeing) not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." (1 Pt. 5:1-4)

"Human words are insufficient to do justice to the mystery which the priesthood involves." (Pope John Paul II)

"Great is the dignity of priests." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, c. 391 A.D.)

"If I saw an angel and a priest, I would bend by knee first to the priest and then to the angel." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"[P]riests have a infinite dignity that surpasses all understanding, even surpasses the dignity of the angels!"

"Those men are received by the Church as its rulers whom the Holy Ghost prepares" (Pope St. Leo I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"Can. 948 Ordination, by the institution of Christ, distinguishes clerics from laity for the governance of the faithful and the ministry of divine cult." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"The priest receives from Christ the treasures of salvation in order duly to distribute them...among the people to whom he is sent." (Pope John Paul II)

"To the carnal eye the priest looks like other men, but to the eye of faith he is exalted above the angels, because he exercises powers not given even to angels." (Gibbons)

"Now, the powers conferred by the imposition of the bishop's hands on the ministers of the Church are the most marvelous gift that is known on earth, yea, in heaven itself." (Liturgical Year)

"Can. 2. If anyone says that besides the priesthood there are in the Catholic Church no other orders, both major and minor, by which as by certain grades, there is an advance to the priesthood: let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"There is one God, and Christ is one, and there is one Church, and one chair founded upon Peter by the word of the Lord. Another altar cannot be constituted nor a new priesthood except the one altar and the one priesthood." (St. Cyprian, 3rd century A.D.)

"Two there are…by which this world is chiefly ruled, the sacred authority of the priesthood and the royal power. Of these the responsibility of priests is more weighty in so far as they will answer for the kings of men themselves at the divine judgement." (Pope St. Gelasius I)

"Nor do we permit any of the laity to perform any of the offices belonging to the priesthood; as, for instance, neither the sacrifice, nor baptism, nor they laying of hands, nor the blessing... For such sacred offices are conferred by the laying on of hands of the bishop." ('Constitutions of the Holy Apostles', 4th century A.D.)

"In all ages, priests have been held in the highest honor; yet the priests of the New Testament far exceed all others. For the power of consecrating and offering the Body and Blood of our Lord and of forgiving sins, which has been conferred on them, not only has nothing equal or like it on earth, but even surpasses human reasoning and understanding." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Can. 1. If anyone says that there is not in the New Testament a visible and external priesthood, or that there is no power of consecrating and offering the true Body and Blood of the Lord, and of forgiving and retaining sins, but only the office and bare ministry of preaching the Gospel, or that those who do not preach are not priests at all: let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"The Christian priesthood, being of a new order, can be understood only in the light of the newness of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff and eternal Priest, who instituted the priesthood of the ministry as a real participation in His own unique priesthood. The minister of Christ and dispenser of the mysteries of God, therefore, looks up to Him directly as his model and supreme ideal." (Pope Paul VI, 1967)

"Bishops and priests being, as they are, God's interpreters and ambassadors, empowered in His name to teach mankind the divine law and the rules of conduct, and holding, as they do, His place on earth, it is evident that no nobler function than theirs can be imagined...they exercise in our midst the power and prerogatives of the immortal God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Sacrifice and priesthood are so united by the ordinance of God that both have existed in every law. Since, therefore, in the New Testament the Catholic Church has received from the institution of the Lord the holy, visible sacrifice of the Eucharist, it must also be confessed that there is in this Church a new visible and external priesthood, into which the old has been translated [Heb. 7:12]. Moreover, that this was instituted by that same Lord our Savior, and that to the apostles and their successors in the priesthood was handed down the power of consecrating, of offering and administering His Body and Blood, and also of forgiving and retaining sins, the Sacred Scriptures show and the tradition of the Catholic Church has always taught." (Council of Trent)

"Jesus appeared to his Apostles on the day of his Resurrection, and said to them: As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. Now the Father sent his son that he might be the Shepherd of men; and we have heard Jesus bidding Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep. The Father sent his Son that he might be the Teacher of men; and we have seen Jesus entrusting to his Apostles the truths which were to be proposed to us as the object of our faith. But the Father sent the Son that he might also be the High Priest of men; Jesus must, therefore, leave this same priesthood on earth, that it may be continued among us to the end of time. Now what is a priest? He is the mediator between heaven and earth; he reconciles man to his God, by offering [the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass] that gives infinite honor to God and atones for man's sin; he cleanses the sinner's conscience, and makes him a just man; he, in a word, unites man to his God by the mysteries of which he is the dispenser." (Gueranger)

"Moreover, since the ministry of this holy priesthood is a divine thing, it was proper that it should be exercised more worthily and with deeper veneration, that in the most well ordered arrangement of the Church, there should be different orders of ministers [Matt. 16:19; Luke 22:19; John 20:22 f.], who by virtue of their office should administer to the priesthood, so distributed that those who already had the clerical tonsure should ascend through the minor to the major orders. For the Sacred Scriptures make distinct mention not only of the priests, but also of the deacons [Acts 6:5; 1 Tim. 3:8 f.; Phil. 1:1], and teach in the most impressive words what is especially to be observed in their ordination; and from the very beginning of the Church the names of the following orders and the duties proper to each one are known to have been in use, namely those of the subdeacon, acolyte, exorcist, rector, and porter, though not of equal rank; for the subdiaconate is classed among the major orders by the Fathers and the sacred Councils, in which we also read very frequently of other inferior orders." (Council of Trent)

"These august powers are conferred upon the priest in a special Sacrament designed to this end: they are not merely passing or temporary in the priest, but are stable and perpetual, united as they are with the indelible character imprinted on his soul whereby he becomes 'a priest forever'; whereby he becomes like unto Him in whose eternal priesthood he has been made a sharer. Even the most lamentable downfall, which, through human frailty, is possible to a priest, can never blot out from his soul the priestly character. But along with this character and these powers, the priest through the Sacrament of Orders receives new and special grace with special helps. Thereby, if only he will loyally further, by his free and personal cooperation, the divinely powerful action of the grace itself, he will be able worthily to fulfill all the duties, however arduous, of his lofty calling. He will not be overborne, but will be able to bear the tremendous responsibilities inherent to his priestly duty; responsibilities which have made fearful even the stoutest champions of the Christian priesthood, men like St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory the Great, St. Charles and many others." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"[T]he priesthood is a great gift of the Divine Redeemer, Who, in order to perpetuate the work of redemption of the human race which He completed on the Cross, confided His powers to the Church which He wished to be a participator in His unique and everlasting Priesthood. The priest is like 'another Christ' because he is marked with an indelible character making him, as it were, a living image of our Savior. The priest represents Christ Who said 'As the Father has sent me, I also send you'; 'he who hears you, hears me'. Admitted to this most sublime ministry by a call from heaven, 'he is appointed for men in the things pertaining to God, that he may offer gifts and sacrifices [e.g. the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass] for sins'. To him must come anyone who wishes to live the life of the Divine Redeemer and who desires to receive strength, comfort and nourishment for his soul; from him the salutary medicine must be sought by anyone who wishes to rise from sin and lead a good life. Hence all priests may apply to themselves with full right the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles: 'We are God's helpers'. This lofty dignity demands from priests that they react to their exalted office with the strictest fidelity. Since they are destined to promote the glory of God on earth and to cherish and increase the Mystical Body of Christ, they must be outstanding by the sanctity of their lives in order that through them the 'fragrance of Christ' may be spread everywhere." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950 A.D.) 

"The Catholic priesthood - divine in its origin, supernatural in its essence, immutable in its character, is not an institution that can accommodate itself with ease to human systems and opinions. A participation of the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ, it must perpetuate even to the consummation of ages the same mission that the Eternal Father confided to His Incarnate Word: 'Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos.' To work the eternal salvation of souls will always be the great commandment of which it must never fall short, as to faithfully fulfil it, it must never cease to have recourse to those supernatural aids and those divine rules of thought and of action which Jesus Christ gave His Apostles when He sent them throughout the whole world to convert the nations to the Gospel. Therefore St. Paul in his letters reminds us that the priest can never be anything but the legate, the minister of Christ, the dispenser of His mysteries, and he represents Him to us as dwelling in a high place, as a mediator between heaven and earth, to treat with God, about the supreme interests of the human race, which are those of everlasting life. The idea that holy books give us of the Christian priesthood, is that it is a supernatural institution superior to all those of earth, and as far separated from them as the divine is from the human. This same high idea is clearly brought out by the works of the Fathers, the laws of the Roman Pontiffs, and the Bishops, by the decrees of the Councils, and by the unanimous teaching of the Doctors and of the Catholic schools. Above all, the tradition of the Church with one voice proclaims that the priest is another Christ, and that the priesthood though exercised on earth merits to be numbered among the orders of heaven because it is given to them to administer things that are wholly celestial and upon them is conferred a power that God has not trusted even to the angels; a power and ministry which regard the government of souls, and which is the art of arts." (Pope Leo XIII, "Fin Dal Principio", 1902 A.D.)

"The human race has always felt the need of a priesthood: of men, that is, who have the official charge to be mediators between God and humanity, men who should consecrate themselves entirely to this mediation, as to the very purpose of their lives, men set aside to offer to God public prayers and sacrifices in the name of human society. For human society as such is bound to offer to God public and social worship. It is bound to acknowledge in Him its Supreme Lord and first beginning, and to strive toward Him as to its last end, to give Him thanks and offer Him propitiation. In fact, priests are to be found among all peoples whose customs are known, except those compelled by violence to act against the most sacred laws of human nature. They may, indeed, be in the service of false divinities; but wherever religion is professed, wherever altars are built, there also is a priesthood surrounded by particular marks of honor and veneration. Yet in the splendor of Divine Revelation the priest is seen invested with a dignity far greater still. This dignity was foreshadowed of old by the venerable and mysterious figure of Melchisedech, Priest and King, whom St. Paul recalls as prefiguring the Person and Priesthood of Christ Our Lord Himself. The priest, according to the magnificent definition given by St. Paul is indeed a man Ex hominibus assumptus, 'taken from amongst men,' yet pro hominibus constituitur in his quae sunt ad Deum, 'ordained for men in the things that appertain to God': his office is not for human things, and things that pass away, however lofty and valuable these may seem; but for things divine and enduring. These eternal things may, perhaps, through ignorance, be scorned and contemned, or even attacked with diabolical fury and malice, as sad experience has often proved, and proves even today; but they always continue to hold the first place in the aspirations, individual and social, of humanity, because the human heart feels irresistibly it is made for God and is restless till it rests in Him. The Old Law, inspired by God and promulgated by Moses, set up a priesthood, which was, in this manner, of divine institution; and determined for it every detail of its duty, residence and rite. It would seem that God, in His great care for them, wished to impress upon the still primitive mind of the Jewish people one great central idea. This idea throughout the history of the chosen people, was to shed its light over all events, laws, ranks and offices: the idea of sacrifice and priesthood. These were to become, through faith in the future Messias, a source of hope, glory, power and spiritual liberation. The temple of Solomon, astonishing in richness and splendor, was still more wonderful in its rites and ordinances. Erected to the one true God as a tabernacle of the divine Majesty upon earth, it was also a sublime poem sung to that sacrifice and that priesthood, which, though type and symbol, was still so august, that the sacred figure of its High Priest moved the conqueror Alexander the Great, to bow in reverence; and God Himself visited His wrath upon the impious king Balthasar because he made revel with the sacred vessels of the temple. Yet that ancient priesthood derived its greatest majesty and glory from being a foretype of the Christian priesthood; the priesthood of the New and eternal Covenant sealed with the Blood of the Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. The Apostle of the Gentiles thus perfectly sums up what may be said of the greatness, the dignity and the duty of the Christian priesthood: Sic nos existimet homo Ut ministros Christi et dispensatores mysteriorum Dei - 'Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God.' The priest is the minister of Christ, an instrument, that is to say, in the hands of the Divine Redeemer. He continues the work of the redemption in all its world-embracing universality and divine efficacy, that work that wrought so marvelous a transformation in the world. Thus the priest, as is said with good reason, is indeed 'another Christ'; for, in some way, he is himself a continuation of Christ. 'As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you,' is spoken to the priest, and hence the priest, like Christ, continues to give 'glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.) 

"But since in the sacrament of orders, as also in baptism and in confirmation, a sign is imprinted, which can neither be effaced nor taken away, justly does the holy Synod condemn the opinion of those who assert that the priests of the New Testament have only a temporary power, and that those at one time rightly ordained can again become laymen, if they do not exercise the ministry of the word of God. But if anyone should affirm that all Christians without distinction are priests of the New Testament, or that they are all endowed among themselves with an equal spiritual power, he seems to do nothing else than disarrange the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which is 'as an army set in array' [cf. Song. 6:3], just as if, contrary to the teaching of blessed Paul, all were apostles, all prophets, all evangelists, all pastors, all doctors [cf. 1 Cor. 12:29; Eph. 4:11]. Accordingly, the holy Synod declares that besides the other ecclesiastical grades, the bishops who have succeeded the Apostles, belong in a special way to this hierarchial order, and have been 'placed (as the same Apostle says) by the Holy Spirit to rule the Church of God' [Acts 20:29], and that they are superior to priests, and administer the sacrament of confirmation, ordain ministers of the Church, and can perform many other offices over which those of an inferior order have no power [can. 7]. The holy Synod teaches, furthermore, that in the ordination of bishops, priests, and of other orders, the consent, or call, or authority of the people, or of any secular power or magistrate is not so required for the validity of the ordination; but rather it decrees that those who are called and instituted only by the people, or by the civil power or magistrate and proceed to exercise these offices, and that those who by their own temerity take these offices upon themselves, are not ministers of the Church, but are to be regarded as 'thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door' [cf. John 10:1; can. 8]. These are the matters which in general it seemed well to the sacred Council to teach to the faithful of Christ regarding the sacrament of order. It has, however, resolved to condemn the contrary in definite and appropriate canons in the following manner, so that all, making use of the rule of faith, with the assistance of Christ, may be able to recognize more easily the Catholic truth in the midst of the darkness of so many errors, and may adhere to it." (Council of Trent)

"In a word, if you contemplate the depth of this mystery, that a man composed of mere flesh and blood should thus be able to draw near to that blessed and immortal nature, you will be able to form some idea of the sovereign power the grace of the Holy Spirit confers upon priests. It is by their hands that these wonders, and others of equal importance, are wrought for our glory and our salvation. Beings whose mortal condition and existence are bound up with the earth have been commissioned to conduct the affairs of heaven, have been invested with an authority that God has given neither to angels nor archangels. Never has He said to them: Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also he heaven (Mt. 18:18). Temporal princes too have power to bind, but they may bind bodies only, whereas the bonds spoken of here constrict the very soul and forge the links in heaven. Thus everything the priest does here below, God ratifies up above, and the Master confirms the judgment of the servant. What else has God bestowed on priests if not infinite authority in the very heavens? Whose sins you shall forgive, the are forgiven them, He tells them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained (Jn. 20:23). Could any power be greater than that? The Father has given all judgment to the Son (Jn 5:22); and I see the Son Himself transmit this privilege in its entirety to His priests. As if they were already raised to the ranks of the blessed, superior to mortal lot, and no longer enslaved by human passions, they have been invested with this tremendous authority. It would be transparent folly to treat with disdain so great a power, for without it we cannot obtain either salvation or the good things promised us. If, then, no man can enter into the Kingdom of God unless he be born again of water and the Spirit (Jn. 3:5), and if, again, he who does not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood (Jn. 6:53) is excluded from eternal life; if, I say, on consecrated hands - the hands of the priest - enable us to fulfill the conditions, well, then, without their help how can we escape the fire of hell or win the crown prepared for us? To priests has been entrusted the spiritual travail of bringing forth souls; yes, they have to give us birth to grace by baptism; through them we put on Christ Jesus, we are buried together with the Son of God, and we become members of our divine Head. Consequently we should revere priests above princes and kings, honor them even more than father and mother. Our parents begot us by blood and the will of the flesh, but priests make us children of God; blessed regeneration, true freedom, and adoption according to grace." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

Also See:

Duties & Responsibilities of Priests

Priests & The Sacraments

Alter Christus / In Persona Christi

Church Hierarchy

Bishops / Episcopate

The Priesthood is Not Derived From the Community

The Hierarchical Priesthood Vs. the 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful'

Holiness / Good Example [Pg.]

Knowledge / Learning

Proper Dress / Comportment [Pg.]

Celibacy / Chastity

Good / Bad Priests [Pg.]


Praise / Rewards / Benefits


Novelty & The Clergy

Preachers / Preaching

Fostering Vocations [Pg.]

Those Who Govern Souls Must Render an Account

Holy Orders (Sacraments Section Reflections)

Vatican View Section

Sacraments Section

Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition Section

Misc. Priests / Vocations Facts

Prayers for Priests / Vocations

Holy Orders (Topical Scripture)

Priests (Topical Scripture)

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Priesthood is Not Derived From the Community

"The proposition [of the Synod of Pistoia] which states 'that power has been given by God to the Church, that it might be communicated to the pastors who are its ministers for the salvation of souls'; if thus understood that the power of ecclesiastical ministry and of rule is derived from the community of the faithful to the pastors, [is condemned as] heretical." (Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, Condemned in the Constitution "Auctorem fidei," Pope Pius VI, Aug. 28, 1794 A.D.)

"Only to the apostles, and thenceforth to those on whom their successors have imposed hands, is granted the power of the priesthood, in virtue of which they represent the person of Jesus Christ before their people, acting at the same time as representative of their people before God. This priesthood is not transmitted by heredity or human descent. It does not emanate from the Christian community. It is not a delegation from the people." (Pope Pius XII)

Also See: Church Hierarchy | The Laity & The Clergy | The Hierarchical Priesthood Vs. the 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful' | Priests / Priesthood | Fostering Vocations [Pg.] | The Calling to Religious Life | Candidates | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests | Duties & Responsibilities of the Faithful Towards Priests | Proper Role & Behavior of Women | Top Reasons Why Women Can't Be Priests | Holy Orders (Sacraments Section Reflections) | Sacraments Section | Holy Orders (Topical Scripture) | Priests (Topical Scripture) | Catholic Basics | Misc. Priests / Vocations Facts | Why Priestly Celibacy? | Are You Called to Religious Life?

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Hierarchical Priesthood Vs. the 'Common Priesthood of the Faithful'

Note: The 'Priesthood of the Faithful' referred to in Holy Scripture (e.g. 1 Pt 2, Rv. 1, 5, 20) does not mean that all Jesus' followers share in the ministerial priesthood. As in the Old Testament, [e.g. where God spoke to Moses: "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites" (Ex. 19:6)] different classes of the priesthood exist, including a 'general priesthood' of followers who can offer prayers, thanksgiving, and other 'spiritual sacrifices' to God. This 'universal priesthood' should not be confused with the ministerial priesthood.

"It certainly cannot be denied, nor can their be any doubt that the faithful have a certain 'priesthood'; and this priesthood should not be esteemed lightly or minimized... But whatever the true and complete meaning of this estimable title and reality may be, it must be firmly held that this common 'priesthood' [such as all Jews enjoyed in the Old Testament] of the faithful, profound and mysterious as it is, differs not merely in degree, but in essence, from the priesthood properly and truly so called. The latter resides in the power of taking the place of the High Priest Christ and enacting the sacrifice of Christ himself." (Pope Pius XII, "Magnificiate Dominum")

"It is, therefore, desirable, Venerable Brethren, that all the faithful should be aware that to participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice is their chief duty and supreme dignity, and that not in an inert and negligent fashion, giving way to distractions and day-dreaming, but with such earnestness and concentration that they may be united as closely as possible with the High Priest, according to the Apostle, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.' And together with Him and through Him let them make their oblation, and in union with Him let them offer up themselves... The fact, however, that the faithful participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice does not mean that they also are endowed with priestly power. It is very necessary that you make this quite clear to your flocks. For there are today, Venerable Brethren, those who, approximating to errors long since condemned teach that in the New Testament by the word 'priesthood' is meant only that priesthood which applies to all who have been baptized; and hold that the command by which Christ gave power to His apostles at the Last Supper to do what He Himself had done, applies directly to the entire Christian Church, and that thence, and thence only, arises the hierarchical priesthood. Hence they assert that the people are possessed of a true priestly power, while the priest only acts in virtue of an office committed to him by the community. Wherefore, they look on the Eucharistic Sacrifice as a 'concelebration', in the literal meaning of that term, and consider it more fitting that priests should 'concelebrate' with the people present than that they should offer the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice privately when the people are absent. It is superfluous to explain how captious errors of this sort completely contradict the truths which we have just stated above, when treating of the place of the priest in the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. But we deem it necessary to recall that the priest acts for the people only because he represents Jesus Christ, who is Head of all His members and offers Himself in their stead. Hence, he goes to the altar as the minister of Christ, inferior to Christ but superior to the people. The people, on the other hand, since they in no sense represent the divine Redeemer and are not mediator between themselves and God, can in no way possess the sacerdotal power. All this has the certitude of faith. However, it must also be said that the faithful do offer the divine Victim [Christ], though in a different sense... In this most important subject it is necessary, in order to avoid giving rise to a dangerous error, that we define the exact meaning of the word 'offer.' The unbloody immolation at the words of consecration, when Christ is made present upon the altar in the state of a victim, is performed by the priest and by him alone, as the representative of Christ and not as the representative of the faithful." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

Also See: Church Hierarchy / The Laity [Pg.] | Priests / Priesthood | Duties & Responsibilities of Priests | Priests & The Sacraments | The Priesthood is Not Derived From the Community | Holy Orders (Sacraments Section Reflections) | Sacraments Section | Holy Orders (Topical Scripture) | Priests (Topical Scripture) | Catholic Basics | Misc. Priests / Vocations Facts | Why Priestly Celibacy? | Top Reasons Why Women Can't Be Priests

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