What is a priest?

"The priest is at the service of men: he is a minister of their salvation, of their happiness, of their authentic liberation", Benedict XVI.
More information, below

What and who is a priest?

"The presbyters, the priests, are in the Church and for the Church a sacramental representation of Jesus Christ, Head and Shepherd." St. John Paul II.

When a priest is formed and receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders, he is prepared to lend his body and spirit, that is, his whole being, to the Lord, making use of him "especially in those moments in which he performs the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ when, in the name of God, in sacramental Confession, he forgives sins.

The administration of these two Sacraments is so central to the priest's mission that everything else must revolve around it." St. Josemaría.
As for the mission of a priest, "precisely because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of men: he is a minister of their salvation, of their happiness, of their authentic liberation".
Benedict XVI - GA 24/06/09

Mission of a priest

"This priesthood is ministerial. 'This function, which the Lord entrusted to the shepherds of his people, is a true service' (CV II, LG, 24)."

This is the reason for the dignity of priests, which is not personal but ecclesial. The dignity of the mystery they perform, each time they convert the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord, is the reason of faith that gives meaning to all of Christianity.

In these priests, we admire the virtues proper to any Christian and any honest man: understanding, justice, a life of work (priestly work in this case), charity, education, gentleness in dealing with others.
We, the Christian faithful, expect the priestly character to be clearly emphasized: That the priest pray; that he administer the Sacraments; that he be ready to welcome all, be they of whatever kind; that he put love and devotion into the celebration of Holy Mass; that he sit in the confessional, that he console the sick and the afflicted; that he have counsel and charity for the needy; that he impart catechesis; that he preach the Word of God and not another kind of human science which, even if he knew perfectly well, would not be the science that saves and leads to eternal life.

"God is the only richness that, in the end, people wish to find in a priest". Benedict XVI, Address, 16-03-2009.
What is your identity?
St. Josemaría asks: "That of Christ. All Christians can and should be not alter Christus, but ipse Christus: other Christs, Christ himself! But in the priest this is given immediately, in a sacramental way".

St. Josemaría, Priest for eternity, April 13, 1973.
"Our identity has as its ultimate source the love of the Father (...) The life and ministry of the priest are a continuation of the life and action of Christ himself".

St. John Paul II, Message, 02-11-1990.

Why did Christ institute the priestly ministry?

The priestly ministry exists not for itself, but for "the formation of the Christian community, to the point of making it capable of radiating faith and love in civil society". (Blessed Alvaro del Portillo - Writings on the Priesthood).

Since his identity is sacramentally the identity of Christ, the priest's fidelity corresponds to the fidelity of Christ. Hence the need for the holiness of the priest, not only for the objective efficacy of the sacraments, but for the full future of the service which, with every ministry, he renders to the faithful.

"Although their difference is essential and not only in degree, [the baptismal or common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood] are ordained to each other."
"The ministerial priesthood was born in the Upper Room, together with the Eucharist, as my venerable John Paul II so often emphasized. 'Priestly existence must possess as a special title a Eucharistic form,' he wrote in his last Letter of Holy Thursday (n. 1). It is precisely this 'Eucharistic form' of the priest's life that makes his celibate state so happily suitable, which substantiates his dedication to belong to the Church with a spousal love, continually stimulating in him pastoral charity in the service of all souls."
Benedict XVI - 2-04-2005.


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