Corner contains the following links:
Life of a Catholic
The Profession of Faith
The Paschal Mystery
Life in Christ
Pope John Paul II
A Priest is one chosen from
among men to represent men in their dealings with God. During the time
of the Patriarchs, God had not as yet designated any certain men as priests.
Sacrifices were offered by the heads of the families - by Noah (Gen. 8
:20), by Abraham (Gen. 22:13), by Jacob (Gen. 31 :54); or by tribal chiefs
- by Melchisedech (Gen. 14:18), by Jethro (Ex. 18 :12).
The office of the priest.
The indelible mark or character
imprinted on the soul by thc reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
During the time of the Mosaic
Law, God established a hierarchy of three ranks:
The Levites, who were male members
of the tribe of Levi who were not descendants of Aaron. Some assisted the
officiating priests; some were in charge of the music during the ceremonies;
some were doorkeepers and superintendents. They were permitted to enter
only the inner court of the Temple. Hence, they were not priests.
The Priests, who were the male
descendants of Aaron, were arranged into 24 groups (1 Paral. 24:1-19),
each of which served in turn for a week in the Temple, the duties being
assigned by lot. Among their duties were: to offer daily sacrifice
at the altar of holocausts (Ex. 29 :38; Heb. 7 :27 ; 10 :11) ; to burn
incense morning and evening at the golden altar in the Holy Place of the
Temple (Ex. 30 :7 ; Luke 1 :9); to care for the Ioaves of proposition (Lev.
24:5-9; Matt. 12: 4); to certify the cures of lepers (Lev. 13:2-17; Luke
During the time of the New Testament,
Christ is the high priest (Heb. 5:1-10).
The High Priest was the supreme
head in religious matters. Aaron was the first high priest. Succession
to this office was the right of the first-born. The dignity lasted for
life. In the days of Christ, however, the high priest was chosen and dismissed
at the will of the Herods and the Roman Procurators. The high priest alone
could offer the great sacrifice of expiation (Ex. 30:10; Lev. 16; Heb.
9 :7), and he alone could enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple. He was
installed either by anointing or by investiture in the robes of the office.
The Jewish priesthood ceased in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem.
He exercised His priesthood
in the institution of the Eucharist (Matt. 26:26-29; Luke 22:15-20; 1 Cor.
11 :23-25; cf. Heb. 9:22), and by His sacrificial death on the cross (Heb.
By His words "Do this in
remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor: 11:24- 25), He ordained His Apostles
priests, that is, He empowered them to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Every priest is ordained
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins (Heb. 5:1).
The Apostles, in turn, ordained
men as priests to carry out Christ's injunction, "Do this in remembrance
of me," and to perpetuate the application of the merits of Christ's passion
and death to all men (Acts 14:22; Tit. 1 :5).
A priest, then, is a minister
of Christ (1 Cor. 4:1) representing Christ to the people and the people
The faithful share the priesthood
of Christ and are priests in a wide sense, but not in the strict sense
of hierarchical priesthood. We are a priestly peoplc (1 Pet. 2 :5; Apoc.1:6).
of the Laity.
The right of those who have
been united to Christ by Baptism to participate with Him, through the ministry
of ordained priests, in His offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass to the
heavenly Father. This participation is deepened and strengthened by the
Sacrament of Confirmation. This priesthood differs not only in degree but
also in kind from the priesthood received in Holy Orders. It does not give
the laity, for instance, the power to offer the Mass independently of the
ordained priest, who alone has the power to consecrate.