Circle of Prayer - What is Priesthood?
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  • The office of the priest. 
  • The indelible mark or character imprinted on the soul by thc reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
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). 

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 17:13).
  • 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. 
During the time of the New Testament, Christ is the high priest (Heb. 5:1-10). 
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. 7:27; 9:12,14,25-26). 
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 to God. 

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). 

Priesthood 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.

Moytura has several other sites with a 'Christian flavour'. Prayerful Thoughts & Thoughtful Prayers is a little collection of prayers and thought-provoking stories, and a few links to some other really nice websites. Reflections for Lent offers a daily meditation for the 40 days of lent and the week leading into Easter. As part of my Journey section of the website join me to learn a little of the Early Christian Church in Ireland by visiting Clonmacnoise, founded by St. Ciaran on the banks of the River Shannon in the 6th. Century. Read about Saint Brendan the Navigator who started a Monastic settlement in the tiny village of Clonfert in the 6th century, located on the Galway/Offaly/Tipperary border. Travel on my journeys to two of Canada's most famous Catholic Shrines - Saint Anne de Beaupré and Cap de la Madeleine, both on the shores of the Saint Lawrence river in Quebec. Finally I welcome you to come with me to see a little of Medugorje, a peaceful haven in a war-torn country - Bosnia-Herzogovina. Please also pay a visit to  Moytura's Irish Bookshop where you can find books on the history of Christianity in IrelandIrish Prayers and Celtic Christianity

Below are some of the other areas of Moytura's web site.

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