Ordained Priest – Savior or Sanctifier?

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Ordained Priest – Savior or Sanctifier?
Sister Joyce Candidi, OSHJ

Welcome back to my series of blogs titled, “Have you ever wondered?” In my last blog we explored God’s call to the lay state, either as a married couple or as a committed single person. We asserted that God has called you, His lay people to be the primary “driver” in accomplishing His mission, thus the Church’s mission – of transforming this world and revealing God’s kingdom of peace and justice for all – by doing one act of kindness at a time in your family, your neighborhood, parish community, workplace, political sphere, and across the globe.

So you might ask, “What about my parish priest? I thought it was his job to “save” the world.” The Church teaches us that God calls all the baptized to participate in Christ’s priesthood and to cooperate with Jesus in God’s redemptive plan. The primary role of the laity is to reveal God’s kingdom of love and justice by participating directly in the world’s affairs, deep in the heart of culture. This is a tall order and not for the faint hearted. But it is Jesus who actually works in us when we open ourselves to His power, wisdom, and strength by listening to and acting upon His Word in the Holy Scriptures and intimately encountering Him in the Sacraments: first by the initiation sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist (the “crown jewel’), then by the healing sacraments of Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick, and then, by virtue of our Baptism, by being called to serve God’s people most often through the sacraments of Matrimony or Holy Orders.

God calls some to Holy Orders in order to act in the person of Christ and to sanctify God’s people – us – in order to capacitate us to fulfill our mission in the world. God calls ordained priests primarily within the parish to minister to us by breaking open God’s Word. This helps us to hear and respond to God’s daily call to each of us. Also the priest administers the Church’s sacraments. These are intimate encounters with Jesus Christ who gives us life, nourishes us, forgives and heals us, and who exhorts and strengthens us to do the same for others.

But why do I still yearn for something more and what about the “next world”? God has answered this question by calling some whose very lifestyle proclaims, “Here we have no lasting city.” My next blog will talk about this prophetic vocation.