During the last year I’ve had a question about the Scriptures that has stumped me. I’ve asked nearly everyone who I thought might have an answer and have in one way or another received the same answer. “I don’t know.” Well today I finally have an answer. But first a little background. Well maybe more than a little.
I do believe in women priests. Just probably not the kind you may be thinking. I’m talking about the common priesthood that counts all the baptized as members. According to the Catechism 1546:
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.”
We have to take this seriously and consider what it means. Primarily it means that being faithful in our relationship to God is not just showing up at Mass for an hour on Sunday and we’re good for the week. It’s not only about following all the precepts of the Church. It’s about a shared relationship with God that is ongoing every hour and every day. We need to consider what it means to live out our own common priesthood in the body of Christ.
A priest is one who offers sacrifices to God and intercedes on behalf of others to God. Our sacrifice is not the Eucharist. That is reserved to the ministerial priesthood of priests and bishops. Our sacrifice is ourselves. It’s everything we are. Our hopes, fears, loves, joys, sorrows, material possessions, and as St Paul reminds us in Romans even our bodies. This we offer to God through Our Lord at all times, especially during the Mass. And we also should intercede for each other by our prayers offered to the Father through our high priest his Son. Especially for those closest to us. As prophets we are called to proclaim the Gospel to all. For some as a warning, for others as a comfort, for most as a combination. Let us also not forget our roles as king. As Our Lord has shown us repeatedly in the Gospels this kingship is not one of command or even respect. It is one of service. Service to all of our brothers and sisters where we return in some small measure that love that Christ showed us to those whom he also loves.
I can’t, and wouldn’t presume, to dictate in what ways an individual should live out their common priesthood. We all have different abilities and are called in different ways. But if we remember this common priesthood that we have been baptized into and that we exist and continue to exist at every moment only by the will of God then surely we will find small ways moment to moment to live out this calling.
I’d have to be honest and admit that when Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio was announced as the new Holy Father I was a little disappointed that it was not one of the handful that I had been hoping would be elevated. Although all during the conclave the summation of my prayers had been for Our Lord to give us a good pope. I’ll trust that He did. And the more I learn of Pope Francis the more I have confidence that this will be the case. Although if he had taken the name Dominic that would have been better, in my opinion at least, but I’m biased being a Lay Dominican.
V. Let us pray for our Pontiff, Pope Francis.
R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and bless him upon earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies.
Our Father. Hail Mary.
Let us pray.
O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Humor is one way to deal with what we’ve been through the past week. It’s been an odd and sad time. There was the shock that Benedict XVI was going and now he has gone. The sadness we are feeling is of course for ourselves. For the Pope Emeritus we should in some way be joyful. He can now be alone with the Lord, which is what he had wanted after the passing of John Paul the Great and before he was called to the Chair of Peter. Soon enough we will have a new Holy Father and we’ll be caught up in the excitement of that. Until then we can reflect on the papacy of Benedict and take comfort in the fact that he is still there praying for us and still working in the vineyard of the Lord. And just a thought…. if the new pope will be the Holy Father does that mean that we can think of Benedict as our Holy Grandfather?
Father Longenecker has begun writing short stories about his alter ego Reverend Humphrey Blytherington! The first one is available on Amazon in Kindle format for $2.99, and details how he came to be the Vicar of Great Snoring. It’s great fun, and will whet your appetite for more. For instance…maybe….say, Mantilla Amontillado…or Caitlin O’Rourke…huh, Father? Huh, pretty please?
This is the first in a series of those small “t” traditions that you may find useful in connecting with our Catholic heritage and reminding ourselves that we are in the world, but not of the world. So for the first one let’s start with something simple and that incorporates one of the oldest traditions, the sign of the cross. Whenever you pass by a Church just make a quick sign of the cross out of respect for our Lord who is in the tabernacle. You’ll be surprised at how this one simple small act can break you out of the normality of the day and remind you of the true reality of this existence.
One project I’d like to try is to list next Sunday’s Gospel reading in three of the more common Catholic versions of Scriptures. Those are the New American Bible – Revised Edition (the most common), the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (a very well respected formal equivalence translation), and The New Jerusalem Bible (the best known among the dynamic translations). I think by comparing different translations we can come to a better understanding of the readings.
There were a couple of interesting articles recently about the book of Revelation. First Jimmy Akin gives his take on “Are the Seven Churches a Map of Church History?“ His take seems to be like mine. The answer to the question is “not so much”. Each of the churches reflect challenges faced by Christians everywhere and at all times in history. Next is an article by Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington where he explains and defends the minority view of Revelation in “Why the Modern View of the Book of Revelation may be Flawed“. In the minority view most of the action we are familiar with such as the “beast” and the “harlot” reference the early enemies of the Church and are not future based. I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced, but it is a strong argument. Either way the short summation of Revelation (also known as the Apocalypse) is to comfort the Church in times of trouble and persecution and remind us of Our Lord’s ultimate victory.