A Calling: The priesthood is a calling. Christ asks of some men the sacrifice of their lives in following Him as His more intimate companions. From all eternity, certain men are called to the priesthood. It is a call reflecting God’s ultimate plan for their life and because of this, it is a call that will bring them fulfillment. Thus, the priesthood is not simply one occupation among many. It is a way of life through which God invites a man to enter more deeply in relationship with Him.
A Sacrament: The priesthood is a Sacrament. Sacraments are physical means through which God’s grace is experienced in the world. The Sacrament of the Priesthood (known as Holy Orders) is the visible way through which Christ continues His mission in the world today.
A Life of Sacrifice: The priesthood is a life of sacrifice and a life of service because it is the life of Christ. Yet where there is love, sacrifice is possible.
The Need: We live in a moment in history when all are searching for meaning. What is the meaning of my life? Where am I to find the happiness that I desire? Our being cries out for meaning, for purpose, and, if we are honest with ourselves, for love.
God has not left us alone. He has heard our cries for love, for mercy, for justice, for beauty, for goodness, for truth. And He has loved us so much that He has become man and dwelt among us. He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as an answer to human longing.
Christ instituted the priesthood so that we would not be alone. It is the priest who makes present Christ Himself in the Eucharist through the daily offering of Holy Mass. It is the priest who leads men and women to God. The world needs priests, because ultimately the world needs Christ.
The Origins: The priest in your parish can trace his ordination to Jesus and the Apostles. From the beginning of the early Church, the Apostles ordained successors. It is from this unbroken chain of command that the priesthood comes.
Christ Himself chose the Apostles and gave them a share in His mission and authority:
- “As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” (Jn. 20:21 RSV)
- “He who hears you hears Me…” (Lk. 10:16 RSV)
- “[W]hatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 18:18 RSV)
- “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn. 20:23 RSV)
- “[Baptize] them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 28:19 RSV)
- Today, He has not forsaken His flock but He keeps it under His constant protection through His priests.