Guide On The Christian Priesthood (With Active Table of Contents)

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The Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated in such a way as to favor meditation, and so any kind of haste such as hinders recollection is clearly to be avoided. In the course of it, brief periods of silence are also appropriate, accommodated to the assembled congregation; by means of these, under the action of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God may be grasped by the heart and a response through prayer may be prepared.

It may be appropriate to observe such periods of silence, for example, before the Liturgy of the Word itself begins, after the First and Second Reading, and lastly at the conclusion of the Homily. Nor is it lawful to replace the readings and Responsorial Psalm, which contain the Word of God, with other, non-biblical texts.

In the celebration of the Mass with the people, the readings are always read from the ambo. The function of proclaiming the readings is by tradition not presidential but ministerial. Therefore the readings are to be read by a reader, but the Gospel by the Deacon or, in his absence, by another Priest. If, however, a Deacon or another Priest is not present, the Priest Celebrant himself should read the Gospel, and moreover, if no other suitable reader is present, the Priest Celebrant should also proclaim the other readings as well.

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After each reading, whoever reads it pronounces the acclamation, and by means of the reply the assembled people give honor to the Word of God that they have received in faith and with gratitude. The reading of the Gospel constitutes the high point of the Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy itself teaches the great reverence that is to be shown to this reading by setting it off from the other readings with special marks of honor, by the fact of which minister is appointed to proclaim it and by the blessing or prayer with which he prepares himself; and also by the fact that through their acclamations the faithful acknowledge and confess that Christ is present and is speaking to them and stand as they listen to the reading; and by the mere fact of the marks of reverence that are given to the Book of the Gospels.

After the First Reading follows the Responsorial Psalm, which is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and which has great liturgical and pastoral importance, since it fosters meditation on the Word of God. The Responsorial Psalm should correspond to each reading and should usually be taken from the Lectionary. Hence the psalmist, or cantor of the Psalm, sings the Psalm verses at the ambo or another suitable place, while the whole congregation sits and listens, normally taking part by means of the response, except when the Psalm is sung straight through, that is, without a response.

However, in order that the people may be able to sing the Psalm response more easily, texts of some responses and Psalms have been chosen for the different times of the year or for the different categories of Saints. These may be used instead of the text corresponding to the reading whenever the Psalm is sung. If the Psalm cannot be sung, then it should be recited in a way that is particularly suited to fostering meditation on the Word of God.

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In the Dioceses of the United States of America, instead of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary, there may be sung either the Responsorial Gradual from the Graduale Romanum, or the Responsorial Psalm or the Alleluia Psalm from the Graduale Simplex, as described in these books, or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, including Psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.

Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the Responsorial Psalm.

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After the reading that immediately precedes the Gospel, the Alleluia or another chant laid down by the rubrics is sung, as the liturgical time requires. An acclamation of this kind constitutes a rite or act in itself, by which the gathering of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and profess their faith by means of the chant. It is sung by everybody, standing, and is led by the choir or a cantor, being repeated as the case requires. The verse, on the other hand, is sung either by the choir or by a cantor.

The verses are taken from the Lectionary or the Graduale. It is also possible to sing another Psalm or Tract, as found in the Graduale. The Homily is part of the Liturgy and is highly recommended, [62] for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners.

The Homily should ordinarily be given by the Priest Celebrant himself or be entrusted by him to a concelebrating Priest, or from time to time and, if appropriate, to the Deacon, but never to a lay person. On Sundays and Holydays of Obligation there is to be a Homily at every Mass that is celebrated with the people attending, and it may not be omitted without a grave reason. On other days it is recommended, especially on the weekdays of Advent, Lent, and Easter Time, as well as on other festive days and occasions when the people come to church in greater numbers.

It is appropriate for a brief period of silence to be observed after the Homily. The purpose of the Creed or Profession of Faith is that the whole gathered people may respond to the Word of God proclaimed in the readings taken from Sacred Scripture and explained in the Homily and that they may also honor and confess the great mysteries of the faith by pronouncing the rule of faith in a formula approved for liturgical use and before the celebration of these mysteries in the Eucharist begins. The Creed is to be sung or said by the Priest together with the people on Sundays and Solemnities.

It may be said also at particular celebrations of a more solemn character. If it is sung, it is intoned by the Priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir. It is then sung either by everybody together or by the people alternating with the choir.

If it is not sung, it is to be recited by everybody together or by two choirs responding one to the other. In the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, the people respond in some sense to the Word of God which they have received in faith and, exercising the office of their baptismal Priesthood, offer prayers to God for the salvation of all.

It is desirable that there usually be such a form of prayer in Masses celebrated with the people, so that petitions may be offered for holy Church, for those who govern with authority over us, for those weighed down by various needs, for all humanity, and for the salvation of the whole world. Nevertheless, in any particular celebration, such as a Confirmation, a Marriage, or at a Funeral, the series of intentions may be concerned more closely with the particular occasion. It is for the Priest Celebrant to regulate this prayer from the chair.

He himself begins it with a brief introduction, by which he calls upon the faithful to pray, and likewise he concludes it with an oration. The intentions announced should be sober, be composed with a wise liberty and in few words, and they should be expressive of the prayer of the entire community.

They are announced from the ambo or from another suitable place, by the Deacon or by a cantor, a reader, or one of the lay faithful. The people, for their part, stand and give expression to their prayer either by an invocation said in common after each intention or by praying in silence.

At the Last Supper Christ instituted the Paschal Sacrifice and banquet, by which the Sacrifice of the Cross is continuously made present in the Church whenever the Priest, representing Christ the Lord, carries out what the Lord himself did and handed over to his disciples to be done in his memory.

For Christ took the bread and the chalice, gave thanks, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat and drink: this is my Body; this is the chalice of my Blood. Do this in memory of me. Hence, the Church has arranged the entire celebration of the Liturgy of the Eucharist in parts corresponding to precisely these words and actions of Christ, namely:.

The offerings are then brought forward. It is a praiseworthy practice for the bread and wine to be presented by the faithful. They are then accepted at an appropriate place by the Priest or the Deacon to be carried to the altar. Even though the faithful no longer bring from their own possessions the bread and wine intended for the liturgy as was once the case, nevertheless the rite of carrying up the offerings still keeps its spiritual efficacy and significance. Even money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church, brought by the faithful or collected in the church, are acceptable; given their purpose, they are to be put in a suitable place away from the Eucharistic table.

The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory Chant cf. The norms on the manner of singing are the same as for the Entrance Chant cf. Singing may always accompany the rite at the Offertory, even when there is no procession with the gifts.

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Next, the Priest, because of his sacred ministry, and the people, by reason of their baptismal dignity, may be incensed by the Deacon or by another minister. Then the Priest washes his hands at the side of the altar, a rite in which the desire for interior purification finds expression. Once the offerings have been placed on the altar and the accompanying rites completed, by means of the invitation to pray with the Priest and by means of the Prayer over the Offerings, the Preparation of the Gifts is concluded and preparation made for the Eucharistic Prayer.

At Mass, a single Prayer over the Offerings is said, and it ends with the shorter conclusion, that is: Through Christ our Lord.

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If, however, the Son is mentioned at the end of this prayer, the conclusion is: Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Now the center and high point of the entire celebration begins, namely, the Eucharistic Prayer itself, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification.

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The Priest calls upon the people to lift up their hearts towards the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving; he associates the people with himself in the Prayer that he addresses in the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, the meaning of this Prayer is that the whole congregation of the faithful joins with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of Sacrifice. The Letter to the Hebrews harks back to the priesthood of the Old Testament in order to lead us to an understanding of the mystery of Christ the Priest: "Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him You are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek" Christ, the Son of one being with the Father, has been made priest of the New Covenant according to the order of Melchizedek: therefore he too was called to the priesthood.

It is the Father who "calls his own Son, whom he has begotten by an act of eternal love, "to come into the world" cf. Heb and to become man. He wills that his only-begotten Son, by taking flesh, should become "a priest for ever": the one priest of the new eternal Covenant Thus the mystery of the priesthood has its beginning in the Trinity and is, at the same time, a consequence of the Incarnation The priesthood of the New Covenant, to which we are called in the Church, is thus a share in the unique priesthood of Christ". Since the ordained priesthood "depends entirely on Christ and His unique priesthood", then the exercise of the authority it bestows must "be measured against the model of Christ, who by love made himself the servant of all".

Haas said:. By virtue of God's grace and the indelible character the priest now acts, as St Paul puts it, in persona Christi 2 Cor Christ's life and ministry are now his life and ministry. As he surrenders his life to Christ's the Lord's promise is fulfilled in him: "It will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" Mt The priest does not stand between God and man, but rather mediates Christ immediately to the faithful.

The sacramental powers that he has are Christ's, not his. That is why Saint Thomas refers to them as instrumental rather than personal powers. When the priest administers the sacraments, Christ works in and through him. Being a sacramental representation of Christ, the ordained priest "participates ontologically in the priesthood of Christ; he is truly consecrated, a 'man of the sacred,' designated like Christ to the worship that ascends to the Father and to the evangelising mission by which he spreads and distributes sacred realities - the truth, the grace of God - to his brothers and sisters.

This is the priest's true identity; this is the essential requirement of the priestly ministry in today's world too".

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The priest is a living and transparent image of Christ the priest". As "ministers of sacred things", priests are "first and foremost ministers of the sacrifice of the Mass". This is the cup of my blood Then the community is truly built up and developed Today, it is necessary to rediscover the central importance of this celebration in the Christian life and, thus, in the apostolate". A crisis of priestly identity will arise whenever confusion is spread about the priesthood of Christ himself.

For example, Fr Brian Byron's publicly expressed view that the priesthood of Christ is metaphorical rather than literal may lend itself to the spreading of such confusion. Fr Byron says:. At first sight it may seem obvious that Jesus was literally a priest, for it is clearly stated in the Letter to the Hebrews that Jesus is a priest, indeed, a high priest ; ; He is given the title of high priest by God Furthermore, the assertion of Jesus' priesthood is repeated many times by the fathers of the church, by St Thomas Aquinas Nonetheless, the description of Jesus as a priest by the author of Hebrews is metaphorical, not literal, and as all other assertions are based on Hebrews, they too must be understood metaphorically.

In noting that it is the author of Hebrews alone who in the New Testament explicitly designates Jesus as priest, Fr Byron says: "In doing this the author was brilliantly original. He had a poetic mind. He was using allegory, or extended typology, which fits the category of metaphor.

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This is not to deny divine inspiration". The literal acceptance of Jesus' priesthood has forced theologians to an explanation of ordained ministers as being priests by participation in the unique priesthood of Christ whereas the correct understanding, in my opinion, is that they, literal priests, are thereby sacraments of Christ interpreted precisely as 'priest'.