The Priesthood of the Laity
Every Christian has received a true participation in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ; as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ he belongs, as St. Peter affirms, “to a chosen race, a Kingly Priesthood” (I Peter ii 9). St. Ambrose repeated it also to the Faithful of Milan: “All the children of the Church are Priests. In Baptism they receive the anointing which makes them sharers in the Priesthood. The victim that they offer unto God is wholly spiritual; it is THEMSELVES [my emphasis]. Therefore, devout souls, you may be glad. Though you have not received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, you are spiritually associated to the Priesthood. You are not really a Priest; nevertheless, because you are Christian, you have a priest-like soul. Our Lord has kept in reserve for you a part or share in His Divine Priesthood. But how are you to put this part into action?
It is clearly evident that you cannot say a real Mass, but you can say a spiritual, mystical Mass, bearing some analogy with that which is celebrated at the Holy Altar; one Mass alone, which commencing with your life, is carried on through all your life. This Mass of yours: the one that you can say, is in some sort of way a reproduction of the one said by the priest. Consequently, we should find the three essential acts that go to make up a real Mass: the Offertory, the Consecration, and the Communion.
The Priest, to say Mass, needs a Victim. In order to say your Mystical Mass you, too, will need a victim. But where are you to find one? [Ahhh…you needn’t look very far.] St. Augustine tells you: “Seek not outside yourself for the victim that you need; this victim you will find within you.” And St. Paul makes it known in greater fullness by the words: “I beseech you that you present your bodies a living Sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God” (Rom. xii 1).
You too, must be a host…without leaven. The leaven that I speak of stands for all that is not pure, all that is evil, all that is not according to the Christian spirit. And every trace of this bad leaven you must purge out of you. Turn your gaze inwards, and seek in your mind, in you will, in your heart, in your intention, for all that is too earthly, too worldly; all that is not absolutely worthy of a good and true Christian, and then pluck it out, destroy it; each day strive to become more supernatural, more pure, more holy, and then your victim, your own host, will hold some little likeness to the Sacred Host of the Priest.
Taking his host into his hands, the Priest offers it up to God. You, too, have to make an offering of your host; the host that is yourself. Take then your whole being, and holding nothing in reserve, [not even your past] offer yourself to God. Take your body with all its senses, your soul with all its powers, your mind with all its thoughts, your will with all its movements, your heart with all its affections; take your daily life, with your labors, your suffering, your struggles, your efforts, your prayers, your good works, and say to God: “Lord, all that is yours; I offer it all to you.”
Make this offering of yourself wholly, generously, joyously. Do not do as Cain, who offered to the Lord only that which was less good, but offer to God your very best, the best of your souls, the best of your heart, the best of your life. Neither must you act like Ananias and Saphira, who sought to keep back for themselves a portion of their goods, but offer God your holocaust, whole and entire; offer Him in very deed all that you are, all that you have, all that you do; make no reserve, keep nothing back, either for yourself or for others.
To be continued…