In my work as a Catholic lay evangelist, I often run into people who criticize the “restrictive” nature of the Catholic priesthood. We often focus so much on the fact that women and married men (with some exceptions) aren’t eligible for this vocation, that we miss a key point…We are ALL called to participate in the priesthood of the faithful. By virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, we are not only priests, but prophets and kings!
Don’t believe me? Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has to say about the topic:
Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.” The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood.” (CCC 1546)
The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the “common priesthood of the faithful.” Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community. (CCC 1591)
Pretty neat, huh? Although lay Catholics are not members of the ministerial priesthood (reserved for the clergy), we are all called to be not only priests, but prophets and kings as well. While this should make us feel really good, we have to remember that we are allowed to participate in these roles only through the merits of Jesus Christ.
So now that we’re all priests, prophets and kinds what does it mean? Is there something that we’re supposed to do? In reality, it’s relatively simple. Let’s take a brief look at our three-fold role:
Priest - Unite ourselves with the Lord as He offers the perfect sacrifice to the Father. All of our works, all of our suffering, everything we do should be brought to Mass, united with the Lord’s sacrifice and given to the Father.
Prophet - We must proclaim the word of God to everyone. We do this not just with words, but also by our actions.
King - If we follow the commandments of the Lord as taught by His Church, we will one day live with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven.
There you have it…Not only can you be a priest, but also a prophet and king!
Feel better now?