In this Year for Priests, it’s fitting that we spend time thinking about the common priesthood. That is, the priesthood to which those of us who have not been ordained are called through our baptism. I don’t want to take anything away from the ministerial priesthood; there would be no Church without it. But I’d like to spin a few paragraphs comparing the two priesthoods, especially in relation to our attachments to created things.
What does the ordained priest do? He offers the gifts to the Father, consecrates them, and then through the Transubstantiation celebrates Communion in Christ. This is true not only of the Mass, but of all the priest does. It’s his vocation to praise God in the name of the Church through all that he comes into contact. He’s always offering, consecrating, and celebrating communion in and with Christ.
Think of how often priests are asked to bless things – sacramentals, houses, children, even cars. What is he doing? He’s offering that sacramental, that house, that child, that car, to the heavenly Father, then he’s consecrating it to Him, and finally, celebrating the communion we share as children of God.
Lay people don’t have the same faculties as a priest, to be sure. However, we can still offer, consecrate and celebrate communion in the way we view and use created things. How many times have you unexpectedly received a some of cash – perhaps a long forgotten debt repaid or a raffle won – and exclaimed, “Thank God!”
Well…did you? Really? Did you thank God for that cash? Did you offer it back to Him, allow Him to claim it as His own, and then pledge to participate in His Divine Plan for it – to celebrate the communion you have with Him as His child?
This is the role of both the ministerial and common priesthoods – to praise God for all of His marvelous creation, to offer it back to Him, to consecrate it to Him, and to celebrate the communion we share together as people of God.
Think about that windfall of cash again. A priestly person would realize that it was a gift of God and that it should be offered back to Him. Then the priestly person would consecrate it to God, pledging to use it for something that would further His holy will. Finally, the priestly person would celebrate communion. In other words, the priestly person would see himself as part of a bigger picture, an instrument in the hand of God and a member of His family. Therefore, all that he has, says, and does, contributes either to the welfare or detriment of the rest of God’s family.