Alter Christus – The Preciousness of the Priesthood

Priestly ordination
Ordination of a priest in the Abbey of Fontgombault (France). Photo courtesy of User:Smith2006

‘After having instituted the Holy Eucharist, He [Jesus Christ] became one with His Church, with His members’ (Dom Marmion in Union with God).

‘When you ask a child what the figure of the priest evokes from him, he will answer “Jesus” or “the Mass”. Some will say … that the children have gone straight to the core of the question. Indeed, the priest is continuing the great work begun by Jesus. He makes it possible for Christ, the Sovereign and Eternal Priest, to keep carrying out His mission as Sanctifier around the world and for all time.

He is, in fact, another Christ, alter Christus. He is an extension of Him.’ (Canon Tancrede Guillard, of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.)

Recently, I wrote a post about going to Mass and gazing up at a huge Crucifix behind the altar. There, I found myself imagining the Precious Blood pouring forth from Our Lord’s pierced side. And as I imagined the flow of His Precious Blood, I thought about the birth of Holy Church and wrote:

Thus, the opening of His Heart gave birth to Holy Church, the Body through which we would receive sanctifying grace, the means of our salvation.

Then, while I was sitting in that same Holy Mass I came to that same sacred moment, when the priest, having consecrated the Precious Blood, raised the Chalice. He held it, elevated it for a long time and the chalice was positioned right at the feet of the enormous Crucifix above the altar.

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It was then easy to imagine Our Lord’s Precious Blood flowing out of the wound to His Heart, pouring down into the raised Chalice below. And thus, I wrote:

Day in, day out, He feeds the members of His Body, with Divine nourishment – His very own Flesh and His very own Blood, poured out for our salvation.

Pondering all these words above (Dom Marmion’s, Canon Guillard’s and my own) I am thinking about those precious men, who feed us day in, day out, with His very own Flesh and His very own Blood.

These men, our Priests – Our Lord has consecrated them, in order to continue His Sacred and Holy work in the world, the work of salvation.

It was the twelve Apostles who were the first He chose and inaugurated to the priesthood on Holy Thursday night, when, as Dom Marmion states, having instituted the Holy Eucharist, Our Lord became one with His members, His Church. All Priests would therefore follow from the Twelve, in Apostolic Succession.

And as Our Lord had become one with them, He would continue His work of Salvation in the world, through them, by means of this Apostolic Succession.

And like Our Lord, they would be men and they would offer their lives for the good of humanity, for the salvation of the human soul. Like Him, they would be administers of His Eternal Sacrifice – His Body and Blood – as food for our souls, providing the necessary grace for our salvation.

Like Our Lord (since the definition at the Second Lateran Council, in 1139) they would be celibate.

And having sacrificed themselves to Him and received from Him, the eternal mark of consecration … like Him, they would become Priest and Victim, forever.

Thus it is crucial that we pray for our priests, particularly in this dangerous climate where true understanding and honouring of them has given way to misunderstanding, disrespect and irreverence.

Sadly today, it appears that many consecrated to the priesthood have even forgotten the profundity, the depths of grace and meaning attached to their priesthood.

As such, I want to share something with you. For years ago, I discovered an old prayer card on which was written a beautiful and powerful prayer for priests. This prayer is dedicated to the sanctification of priests and neatly depicts the true meaning of priestly ministry.

It is composed as a morning offering and I have prayed it diligently since I discovered it (adjoining it to my morning offering to the Sacred Heart). It is included here below. I encourage readers to pray it, imploring heaven’s aid for the rejuvenation of the Priesthood.

Thus, we may once more see the priest as alter Christus: “mak[ing] it possible for Christ, the Sovereign and Eternal Priest, to keep carrying out His mission as Sanctifier around the world and for all time.”

Divine Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hast entrusted the whole work of Thy redemption, the welfare and salvation of the world, to Priests as Thy representatives, I offer Thee, through the hands of Thy most Holy Mother, all the prayers, works, sacrifices, joys and sorrows of this day for the sanctification of Thy Priests. Give us truly holy Priests who seek nothing but Thy greater glory and the salvation of our souls, Bless their work for the young, the sick and the aged.

Do thou, O Mary, Mother of the High Priest, protect all Priests from dangers to their holy vocation. Obtain for me a true spirit of faith and humble obedience, so that I may ever behold the Priest as the representative of God and willingly follow him in the Way, the Truth and the Life of Christ. Amen.

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