A Priest is to God, for Men
Being a priest is sharing the life of Jesus Christ, and continuing his mission of salvation in the world by the celebration of sacraments, teaching, and caring for the children of God. During his whole life, he must act as his master and Lord, who made Himself servant, and guide it as Christ’s life: by love, service, and sacrifice.
By his ordination, the priest is consecrated, and thus made conform to Christ and called to make Him present to the world. In the celebration of sacraments, the priest acts In persona Christi Capitis (in the person of Christ the Head), which means that by him, it is truly Christ who acts. But more generally, it is his whole life that must be in the image of Christ’s, which he will represent for the persons he is sent to. In particular, he must be a witness of Christ’s pastoral charity.
The priest is the minister of God for the salvation of men: his entire life is for glory of the Lord and the salvation of his brothers. More than anything, he desires very specially, by his life, to praise, serve, and revere God our Lord, and do good to the souls by “giving them God”.
Some responsibilities of the parish ministry of the priest are:
- Baptism: to communicate the divine life and the entry into salvation.
- Celebration of daily mass, sacrament of the salvation of the world, and preaching the Gospel.
- Confession: to forgive in the name of the Lord. Ministry of Mercy.
- Praying the divine Office in the name of the whole Church. Praying personally for his parishioners and their intentions.
- Blessing of marriages, and preparation to this sacrament.
- Listening and guiding souls. Counsel. Practising compassion and spiritual direction.
- Helping the poor.
- Teaching the catechism,preparing the youth to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist or Confirmation.
- Visiting the sick in hospitals, administering the last sacrament.
- Announcing the victory of life, celebrating burials, consoling the persons living in mourning.
There are several other priestly ministries: teaching (in schools or seminaries), youth ministry and chaplain, hospital, prison, and volunteering chaplain, missionary, retreat predication,… Being a priest is not firstly being tied to a function, but the configuration of the whole life to Christ-Priest, in all works and services.
In order to live this ministry in a profound union with Christ, the priest must, day after day, build his intimate relationship with Him, in particular through personal prayer, the celebration of mass, and the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation.
The Permanent Deacon
By the sacrament of Holy Orders, from divine institution, several parishioners are ordained deacons by the indelible seal, which marks them in their soul, and so become consecrated and delegated for the service of the Church (diaconia). The deacon practices a triple diaconia: for the Word of God, for the liturgy, and for charity.
“deacons, upon whom hands are imposed “not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service.” For strengthened by sacramental grace, in communion with the bishop and his group of priests they serve in the diaconate of the liturgy, of the word, and of charity to the people of God. It is the duty of the deacon, according as it shall have been assigned to him by competent authority, to administer baptism solemnly, to be custodian and dispenser of the Eucharist, to assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, to bring Viaticum to the dying, to read the Sacred Scripture to the faithful, to instruct and exhort the people, to preside over the worship and prayer of the faithful, to administer sacramentals, to officiate at funeral and burial services. Dedicated to duties of charity and of administration, let deacons be mindful of the admonition of Blessed Polycarp: “Be merciful, diligent, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who became the servant of all.”
Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, n°29.