A Catholic priest is a man who has been called by God to live in persona Christi – in the person of Christ. In simple terms, that means that when a man is ordained a priest, he receives a permanent mark on his soul – similar to the mark we all receive at baptism – that changes him forever and makes it possible for him to perform certain actions that otherwise only Jesus could perform. A priest’s primary purpose is to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, and to feed God’s people with the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, which the Church has always understood to be the main way that Christ’s death on the Cross is made available to people. Only a validly ordained priest can give this great gift to the world.
What this means is truly amazing. Because of the gift of holy orders – the priesthood – a man’s very soul is changed and he is made like Jesus in a way that someone who is not ordained can never experience. Jesus is God. And, as God, He is able to share His power with those men he calls to the priesthood, allowing them to do for God’s people what Jesus Himself does: feed us with His Body and Blood, forgive our sins, and more.
St. John Vianney, the holy priest whom the Church now calls the patron saint of all priests, once said, “The priest will not understand the greatness of his office until he is in heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love.” The point he is making is that what happens when a man is ordained to the priesthood is that he becomes so much like Jesus, it’s hard for our minds and hearts to really understand it. And when a priest performs his ministry, he is doing it in the name and with the divine power of Jesus. What an awesome reality the priesthood is!
Everyone is called to grow closer to God, especially a priest. So, he must spend time in prayer. This is especially important because the Church has always taught that a priest is “a priest forever.” Once someone is ordained, he will always be a priest, even after he dies.
Today, the world needs good priests, just like it always has. Do you think God is calling you to live the wonderful life of a priest? If so, be sure you pray and ask Him to help you say “yes!”
If you are from the Reading area be sure to receive further information from the local chapter of the Serra Club.