instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, March 26, 2009


The role of a priest in a religion is to mediate between the people and the divine. In particular, priests offer whatever sacrifices the religion prescribes be offered on behalf of the people.

In more particular, the Christian religion prescribes the offering of the Eucharist, which is (naturally (and supernaturally)) offered by a priest. (Of course, many Christians don't believe this, which is why they belong to Christian bodies that don't have priests.)

The first precept of the Catholic Church is, "You shall attend [audire, 'listen to'; more 'be attentive to' than 'be present at'] Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor."

As all good Catholics know, during Mass the priest acts "in persona Christi," in the person of Christ. And since Christ is both priest (the one offering the sacrifice) and victim (the one offered as sacrifice), so too the priest is to both priest (by offering Christ to the Father) and victim (by offering himself to the Father in participation with Christ's own sacrifice).

And the layfolk in the pews, auditing the priest's actions, are themselves priests of God by their baptism. In their full, conscious, and active participation in the Mass, they not only join in the [ordained] priest's offering of Christ to the Father, but in the [ordained] priest's offering of himself, which they do by offering themselves to the Father, in and with and through Christ.

If the priestly vocations crisis is in simplest terms one of too few laymen stepping forward to fulfill the role of the ordained priesthood, then there might also be a less visible lay vocations crisis with too few laymen (and laywomen) stepping forward to fulfill the role of the common priesthood.