The CAPG's Blog

Tuesday June 02, 2020

The Priesthood

According to the provisions of the Old Law, the priesthood was the property of a caste. The office descended from father to son within the limits of certain family in a certain tribe. In the New Law the whole Christian community is declared to be " as chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people." Therefore now no race of men, no nation, no kindred, no condition of life, is debarred from the sanctuary. The sons of every family are eligible to serve at the altar. The one thing necessary is that the Lord have need of them. "No man," says St. Paul, "taketh the honor unto himself unless he is called of God, even as Aaron was." A divine vocation to the priesthood is required, and that vocation the still, small voice of the Spirit of God is ever whispering to the chose ones among your children. Oh happy are you, if your prayers, your counsel and your example teach them to answer, like the child of Anna in the silence of the tabernacle: "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."

But once the priest is called of God, he must be ready, like Abraham, to go forth from his father's house, and, if needs be, from his native land. For him there is no sweet dream of home; for him no hope of the love of wife or child. Henceforth his home is the house of God; henceforth his spouse is Holy Church, his children the flock of Christ. He is adopted into the order of Mechisedech, of whom it is written that he was "without father, without mother, without genealogy or length of days, but made like unto the Son of God."

It is this assimilation to the Son of God that cuts off the Catholic priest from his own people. He is no longer a mere man 'whose father we know, whose mother we know, whose brothers and sisters are amongst us." He is God's messenger. He is no longer the playmate of our boyhood, the companion of our youth. He is the ambassador of the Great King. He is not even the brilliant scholar, the wise administrator, the kindly friend or the sage counselor. Henceforth and forever he is the fellow-laborer of Jesus Christ. When you bring your children to him that he may pour upon them the waters of regeneration, it is Christ Himself that baptizes. When he lifts his hand in absolution in the tribunal of penance, the sentence is ratified in the high court of heaven by the Judge of all. When he offers the sacrifice of the Mass, the Victim is caught up by the Holy Angels of God and borne to the altar on high, in the sight of the Divine Majesty, and is made His own by the Eternal Priest Himself who stands ever living to make intercession for men.

To co-operate with Jesus Christ, nay, to bear the very Person of Jesus Christ in the salvation of the world, this is the proper work of the Catholic priest. And behold, what high mysteries we touch here! Of all the dark ways of God none is so unsearchable as His love for the world, His hunger for men's souls.

Source: Altar and Priest, Rev. PC Yorke, 1913