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The Holy Priesthood
Among all the various callings on earth the vocation to the priesthood is first in holiness and dignity. The priest is the mediator between God and men. He is the dispenser of the mysteries of God. The teacher of men. The preacher of the word of God. The confessor. The friend of the sick and the comforter of the dying. The offerer …. the representative of Christ.
“How great is the dignity of priests, to whom is given that which to the angels is not granted! For priests alone, rightly ordained in the Church, have the power of celebrating and consecrating the Body of Christ. A priest clad with the sacred vestments, is Christ’s vicegerent, that he may suppliantly and humbly pray to God for himself and for all the people. When a priest celebrateth, the honoreth God, he rejoiceth the angels, he edifieth the Church, he helpeth the living, he obtaineth rest for the departed and maketh himself partaker of all good things.” (The Following of Christ, BK4, Chap.5)
On the first Holy Thursday the Savior gave to His Apostles the power to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when He said: “Do this for a commemoration of Me.” On the evening of the first Easter Sunday He gave them the power to forgive sins. And during the time that remained before His ascension into heaven He bestowed upon them other powers: to teach, to baptize, to govern.
It is therefore the defined teaching of the Church that “There is in the Church of God a special priesthood with special powers, a Sacrament of Orders, which bestows upon the recipient the necessary graces of vocation and also power over the Sacrifice of the Church and her Sacraments as well as the office of teaching and governing the faithful.”
The Apostles exercised their priesthood. In the Acts of the Apostles we read (2:42) “And they were persevering in the doctrine of the Apostles, and in the communication of the Breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
By the imposition of hands and prayer the Apostles communicated the priestly powers to others and handed on what they had received. Thus the Apostle Matthias was chosen to take the place of Judas the traitor. By fasting, prayer, and the imposition of hands their office was conferred upon Paul and Barnabas. The Apostles themselves ordained new priests and installed them in the newly established parishes. Paul admonishes Timothy, upon whom he had conferred the priesthood: “Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood.” (I Tim. 4:14) “For which cause I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee, by the imposition of my hands.” (2 Tim. I:6) As the Apostles, so also their successors transmitted these powers to others and constantly endowed new priests, new apostles, with the powers given by Christ.
Of the first deacon, St. Stephen, Holy Writ tells us that all those who sat in the council, looking on him, saw his face as if it had been the face of an angel. As a bright light, has the great and unmerited grace of the priesthood shone down through the centuries. That it may continue so to shine in many devout and holy priests depends to a great extent also upon the prayers of the faithful for the priests.
Wherefore, in the words of St. Gregory:
“Faithful people, pray for your priests!”
Source: Priest’s Saturday Series, Pamphlet #2 Prayers and Devotions for Priest’s Day. The Salvatorian Fathers. 1935
Posted at 08:55AM Jul 31, 2018 by VP in Articles |