Thoughts, Musings, & Ramblings of a Catholic Housewife


Priesthood of the Faithful

Hubby and I are teaching the RCIA class this coming Monday and our topic is The Priesthood of the Faithful.  I’m the genius who signed us up to teach this…so I get to do most of the research and prep, which is okay by me.  I’ve become even more of a night owl since having a baby.  She can nap and I can enjoy the beverage of my choice while delving into the the amazing teachings of our Church and the thoughts of men & women far smarter & holier than I.  I thought I’d share the transcript below.  I’m planning on borrowing heavily from it for Monday.  Enjoy!

The Priesthood of the Faithful

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

There is more than passing value in looking at the meaning and implications of the priesthood of the faithful. There is much confusion these days in some quarters about who and what is a priest; there is an overwhelming amount of what they call identity crisis in many priests. So many writers are saying that ordination makes no difference, that every Christian is equally a priest, and that priests (as they are properly called) are merely functionaries; long, learned disquisitions on this subject say priests are not really different from the faithful. Finally, most of the agitation about women’s ordination stems from confusion over who is a priest…”Oh, she can be a priestess!”

The Mass, being in the vernacular, now brings out more clearly than ever the intimate participation of the faithful in the Holy Sacrifice. The liturgy says throughout “we” and “our” and “us”, “your sacrifice and mine”. Somehow they share in the offering of the Mass. Somehow the faithful participate; they must, otherwise the language of the liturgy would be unintelligible. They participate in the priesthood. The question is, how? It is worth going into this subject because it is part of divine revelation.

We have the explanation in the first letter of Saint Peter, the first letter of the first Pope, in which he speaks on the priesthood of all Christians. My intention is first to quote what he says, and then explain briefly what the Church says he means, all the while make applications to our own personal and corporate spiritual life.

He (speaking of Christ) is the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house. As scripture says: “See how I lay in Zion a precious cornerstone that I have chosen” and “the man who rests his trust on it will not be disappointed”. That means that for you who are believers, it is precious; but for unbelievers, “the stone rejected by the builders has proved to be the keystone, a stone to stumble over, a rock to bring men down”. They stumble over it because they do not believe in the word; it was the fate in store for them.

But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart” to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were “not a people” at all and now you are the People of God; once you were “outside the mercy’ and now “you have been given mercy”.

I urge you, my dear people, while you are “visitors and pilgrims”, to keep yourselves free from the selfish passions that attack the soul. Always behave honorably among pagans so that they can see your good works for themselves and, when the day of reckoning comes, give thanks to God for the things which now make them denounce you as criminals.

As we prayerfully reflect on the inspired words of the first Vicar of Christ, we find they contain four great mysteries of Christian revelation that are like four pillars of the priesthood of the faithful. They are: vocation, community, faith, and responsibility.


The First Pillar of the Priesthood of the Faithful – Vocation

The first pillar is vocation. In the mysterious designs of Providence, not everyone has been actually called to Christianity. We are not now here referring to God’s absolute Will; but de facto, concretely and historically, less than one half the human race has even heard the name of Christ. As Saint Paul asks, how can anyone believe in Him unless they have heard of Him? Before us, there were those who had heard and we inherited their faith. In a word, our primary vocation, on which all other vocations rest, is our vocation to Christianity. Fundamentally, it was this that Christ, speaking to all of us, meant when He said, “Come follow me”.

We do not often enough think of being a Christian as not merely “a” vocation, but “the” vocation, of which all other vocations are only aspects and variety. God’s ways are not men’s ways. The fact is plain that not all have actually, existentially received this call. We have. In our own country there are millions who haven’t the vaguest notion of who Christ is!

Some years ago I happened to be traveling on a train on Christmas Day. I got into conversation with two little boys whose ages were about seven and ten. As we were talking, I found out they knew that the day was Christmas. “But,” I asked them, “what is Christmas?” Well, they told me something about Santa Claus and Christmas trees. So I further asked them, “Do you know today is Somebody’s birthday?” Both said it was not their birthday. “No, it is some great Person’s birthday-Jesus’ birthday.” They had no idea. And behind them, of course, was the ignorance of their parents.

We, unworthily, have been called. That is why Peter uses the word “chosen”. We have been called, selected; we have been preferred. Truly it cannot be because God foresaw such great heroic virtue in any of us. No Lord, depart from me a sinner! Never get the idea that having a vocation or being called is something which the one who is called merits. God calls whom He wills. But He does choose. Having been chosen, we then have an extraordinary dignity. All our consequences of being Christians follow from the fact that we have been called specially.


The Second Pillar of the Priesthood of the Faithful – Community

The second pillar is community. We are called. That is a collective, not a distributive plural. No doubt each one is called as an individual, but we are called to join an already existing community. The first believers were Mary and Joseph. That is the nucleus of Christianity in whose midst was Jesus. He couldn’t have made the collectivity or community aspect of this vocation more plain. In fact, He made sure there was the making of a community even before He was conceived; it is why Mary and Joseph got together, to make sure there would be at least two to start this thing going.

We are called to something; that something is a community. That is why Saint Peter uses words that are symbolic of community. He speaks of Christians forming a spiritual house made up of many stones; that was in the days before they made houses of wood. It takes many stones to build a house. We are a chosen race having a common ancestry in Jesus Christ. That is what a race is, people who somehow have a common heredity. We are, he said, a consecrated nation, having all been born. And that is what “nation” really means: people somehow born together, politically speaking, within a geographic space; and spiritually speaking, all born of grace. We form one nation, a nation of grace. And we are a people set apart. We are not to be, because we are not, like those who are not called; and we’d be out of our Christian minds to suppose that there is any credit to us.

Our priesthood as Christians, therefore, is that of a community. We belong together; we are members of the Body of Christ. Christianity is not solitary-that is a contradiction in terms. There are no solitary Christians, which doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes feel lonely. We have solidarity; we are not solitary. Human nature is individual, is divided, is in pieces, grace creates community.


The Third Pillar of the Priesthood of the Faithful – Faith

The third pillar of our common priesthood is of course faith. This is what, building on the grace that God gives us, makes us a Christian community. We are first and mainly a community of believers. Let me make that stronger. We are a community only insofar as we are believers. Much of the confusion in so many peoples’ minds nowadays arises from the fact that there are those who no longer believe but still claim to belong to the community. No they don’t! You either believe and you belong or if you don’t believe, you don’t belong. And it is possible to have belonged and to cease to belong.

By our faith we believe, which means we grasp what we cannot see; we accept on the word of God. He sees. We take His word; we embrace what He tells us is true. But let us never think that because we do not see with reason when we believe, we do not see. Yes we do! We see by faith. One of the most comforting phrases in Latin is “lumen fidei”, the light of faith. We have it. We can see things that people who don’t have the faith just don’t see. When we kneel down before the Holy Eucharist, reason tells us it is bread; faith tells us it is Jesus. We love other people including those who don’t love us; reason sees an enemy, while faith sees a friend. This is seeing. A person dies. Reason sees the life principle of the body leaving the body and leaving a corpse; faith sees the human spirit leaving this world, thank God, for a better one. Faith sees.

The heart of the Christian priesthood is faith. Whether it is the priesthood of the faithful, which is why they are called faithful and why they are priestly, or whether it is the priesthood of those who are ordained, the heart of the Christian priesthood is faith.

One of the great joys of this common priesthood of the faithful is to be in the company of other people who also believe. We have all had enough experience in life to know what the opposite means. This is not make believe; it’s real. The moment we enter a home or a group or a religious community and are among people who believe like we do, we relax and feel that we belong, even though we may never have met before. It is as though we have known each other all our lives. And we have, because in Jesus Christ we have long ago met before we have met in body.


The Fourth Pillar of the Priesthood of the Faithful – Responsibility

The fourth pillar is responsibility. God does not call anyone in vain. He always calls for a purpose. Every vocation implies a mission. Simply put, to have been called to be a Christian is to be called to exercise the responsibilities of a Christian. What are they? They may all be summarized in the word which we all know synonymizes priesthood: sacrifice. To have been called to be a Christian is to be called to a life of sacrifice. Sacrifice means surrender. Since the priesthood we are talking about is the priesthood of Jesus Christ, who sacrificed not things outside of Himself but Himself, it must also somehow mean the surrender of ourselves.

Our faith could not be more sublime. It could also not be more demanding. This priesthood is not something merely to reflect on; it is something to put into practice. How?


The Sacrifice of Our Selfish Passions

Saint Peter says that we must sacrifice of our selfish passions, and he identified what kind of passions we are meant to sacrifice. We are told to sacrifice our passion to spite, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and criticism. Now we know we are not to be spiteful, when we have every reason to be; or deceitful, when it would be so helpful; or hypocritical, when no one would know; or envious, when somebody has something that we obviously like; or critical, when it is too clear for words that the person is wrong-not to do these things calls for immense sacrifice.

Needless to say, what Peter specially had in mind is the kind of sacrifice on this level, which those who are Christians are called upon to practice to be members of a community. We are not spiteful unless other people are around; or deceitful unless there is somebody to deceive. Why be hypocritical if there’s nobody to impress; or envious, if we don’t see someone better or better off than ourselves; or critical, unless we are living so closely with someone else that we can watch every breath they breathe? The sacrifice of our selfish passions is our lifetime of sacrifices, and Peter tells us that this is the first and continuous exercise of our priesthood of believers.


The Sacrifice of Our Patience

Our priesthood is secondly, as Peter further tells us, the sacrifice of patience, patience in putting up with those who oppose us. In Peter’s time he had his pagans; in our times we have our pagans, and they are all around us. We are, therefore, to expect to be criticized, to be opposed, to be handicapped in so many ways by those who do not believe. This was in large measure Christ’s sacrifice. He was finally put to death by His own people who did not believe in Him and by the pagan Romans who, perhaps, could not have been expected to believe. What He endured in His way, as He told us, we are to expect to endure in our way. I don’t know where Christians got the idea that being a Christian in any day is anything but to arouse opposition. You can be the nicest person in the world. Jesus was the nicest person in the world. Look what they did to Him!

The unbelieving world will oppose us, and does oppose us just because of what we are: mothers with families; men practicing chastity; priests faithful to their commitment; religious behaving like religious. There are many that admire Sisters in religious garb; they thank God and thank Sisters for looking like Sisters. But not all. Sometimes, may God forgive them, our worst enemies and the greatest sacrifice of patience we are called upon to practice is from those who have been with us but who have left us.


The Sacrifice of Our Witness

Thirdly, Peter says that the priesthood of the faithful is to be a sacrifice of witness. TheApostle could not have been more extreme in describing who we are. He called us a royal priesthood. Conscious of our dignity, of our royalty, we are to behave accordingly by frankly, though humbly, witnessing through our practice of virtue so that the world might learn to know and love Christ from having seen us. A Christian is always on display, is always watched; a Christian is always to give witness to the great High Priest, who witnessed to His undying love for mankind by dying on the cross.

Saint Peter finally says that we exercise our priesthood of believers by our praising God, which he calls our spiritual sacrifice because it comes from within the spirit of man. You might wonder why Peter would call this praising God a sacrifice. When we talk about the sacrifice of the New Law, we mean necessarily the sacrifice of self. What does praising God mean? Very simply, it means not praising self. Concretely, we praise God in what we call our “acts of adoration”. To praise God is to adore God. The greatest temptation to which man is prone is to adore himself. If the word sounds strange, the reality is not strange at all. Adoration of God, otherwise known as praising God, means paying attention to God, acknowledging Him; it means admiring God.


The Sacrifice of Our Praising God

Praising God means paying attention to God, and we know what sacrifice that takes, because it means turning attention from self. Acknowledging God’s greatness, who He is, means sacrificing that recognition of ourselves which we so hunger for that nations have been plunged into war because of one man’s ambition to be acknowledged as great. Psychologists tell us the deepest hunger of the human spirit is to be acknowledged as something by someone else. People will die to have this hunger satisfied. Acknowledging God in adoration means we acknowledge God’s greatness by acknowledging our nothingness. That is what we were before He made us and that is what we would be except for His love, nothing! This is the hardest sacrifice of all, the sacrifices of the praise of God.

We finally praise God by our admiration of God, which means that we so often, even daily, have to turn away from the mirror of self-admiration. We know this is costly. Faith tells us that it is here that we practice our priesthood, not just once in a while, but all day and every day, participating in the priesthood of the Savior, sacrificing ourselves like Him. But in addition, since He is God as well as man, we must also sacrifice ourselves for Him.

Jesus, our great High Priest, help us to better understand what it means to share in your priesthood. Help us to live this kind of priestly life, a life of daily, total, self-sacrifice.



Copyright © 1998 Inter MirificaConference transcription from a retreat that Father Hardon gave to the Handmaids of the Precious BloodMother of Sorrows Recordings, Inc.
Handmaids of the Precious Blood
Cor Jesu Monastery
P.O. Box 90
Jemez Springs, NM 87025


The Blessed Trinity

Note from Rebecca: Below is the text of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) night on the Holy Trinity that Harold and I taught in December 2012.  The majority of what is below came from a few sources – most of which are cited.  The one source that is not cited is our RCIA resource book.  We are given several handouts about whatever subject we are teaching about and it is up to us how to use these resources.  Harold and I chose to do some research of our own and to basically use various parts from the resources we were given in combination with the other sources we’d found.  We took a little bit from each and put them together in a way that made sense to us (since we were teaching). 🙂

{Thanks for stopping by and reading!  Please, if you feel so called, leave a comment or two.  As this is my blog, I reserve the right to refuse to publish any comments that are rude, vulgar, or distasteful (regardless of if I agree with you or not).  Trolling & nasty don’t look good on anyone.}

In the name of the Father, God the creator of all. The Son, God the Redeemer & fount of mercy, and the Holy Spirit, God the Sanctifier, breath of love who sustains us & gives us new life.

We started with the sign of the cross – we begin so many things with this simple but profound prayer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We invoke the Blessed Trinity each time we pray. You have a handout about the sign of the cross. I highly encourage you to study it. What I want to briefly touch on here is that each time you make & pray the sign of the cross, you are invoking the Blessed Trinity – expressing a belief in that mystery. I also wanted to point out the way many people position their hand when making the sign of the cross. It reminds us of two great and important mysteries of our faith – three fingers together to remind us of the Blessed Trinity – three persons in one God and two fingers together to remind us of the dual nature – the hypostatic union of Christ. He was at once totally, 100% divine and totally 100% human.

The Blessed Trinity

The one God is three divine Persons, each having the fullness of the divine nature, who live in a perfect communion of love. This is the central mystery of our faith.

So what does that mean?

A mystery, if you recall, is something that is UNKNOWABLE without direct revelation from God. The Trinity is the central mystery of our faith and life because it reveals who God is in his inmost being. (CCC 234). This mystery is not illogical, contradictory, or unreasonable, nor is it opposed to a belief in the one God. In such cases as the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation (the “enfleshment” of the second person of the Trinity as Jesus Christ), we humans with finite minds try to understand a divine and, therefore infinite reality. Our minds are wonderful creations but are still limited. A blind person must take it on faith when we say that the light in the kitchen is on. Throughout life, we are obliged to, because of our limitations, to accept things on the testimony of reliable sources. *insert quotes on reliable sources here?* Reason alone could never conceive of the reality of three persons in one nature, nor for that matter, of one person, Jesus Christ, having two natures (divine and human). All our human capabilities, aided by God’s supernatural Revelation, do not enable us to grasp or comprehend the mysteries of the Infinite such as the Blessed Trinity. The whole of our supernatural knowledge, just because it is the very nature of SUPERnatural, is beyond us.

The existence of the Trinity is hinted at in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Gn 1:26 ” Then God said: “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness. “

It is boldly proclaimed in the New Testament. Three events in the life of Jesus show us the Trinity: his conception, his baptism, and his Transfiguration. When the angel came to Mary to invite her to be the Mother of God, Mary understandably asked how it was possible. Gabriel replied: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk 1:35) At Jesus’ baptism, the Heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended upon him accompanied by the voice of the Father saying : “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:17; see also Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22) During his public ministry, shortly before he began his final journey to Jerusalem, Jesus took the apostles Peter, James, and John to a high mountain where he was transfigured before them. His appearance was transformed, his clothes beame dazzling white, and with him appeared Moses and Elijah, symbolizing the Law and the Prophets – that is the entire Old Testament. In the course of this astounding event – which, for a moment, revealed Jesus’ own divine glory – a cloud, representing the Holy Spirit, overshadowed the three apostles, and a voice once again proclaimed: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35)

There are other places within the New Testament where the Godhead of the Son, the Holy Spirit, and even the relationship of the Father and the Spirit are revealed. Jesus says: “I and the Father are one.” (Jn 10:30). In Acts, Peter rebukes a fellow Christian: “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4) Finally, in John we hear Jesus say : “But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me.” (Jn 15:26)

One of the clearest scripture verses, that supports the doctrine of the Trinity, is Mt 28:19. In Jesus’ commission to his apostles, it is plainly revealed that the three Persons belong to a single Godhead. “batizing…in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus uses the singular “name”, not “names”, to show us that all three Persons are one God.

There are three Persons in God and only one nature. Simply, nature answers the question “What?” while person answers the question “Who?” According to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen “A person in the Trinity does not mean the same as a person in this world. A person in the Trinity means a relation or a relationship.” Bishop Sheen used this example to illustrate “Remember your chemistry. What is the chemical symbol for water? H2O. That is its nature. It has only ONE nature BUT is it possible to have various relationships within that one nature? Most certainly. It can be liquid, ice, or steam. Is the liquid a differnt nature from H2O? No. The ice? No. The steam? No. Somehow, the three are in one. Just as in the Sun, there is substance, light, and heat – yet only one Sun.” The actual distinctions among the three divine persons is in their relation to one another. Each of the divine persons is God, whole and entire. Although the divine persons are inseparable in what they are and do, it is possible and common to identify “works” that are proper to each. Generally, The Father, the first person of the Blessed Trinity, is refferred to as the Creator. He is an uncreated Being who created all things from nothing; he is the first cause. He is a loving Father who continually cares for his people, drawing them to himself in mercy. In his plan born of love, God created us to share his life forever. Sin, however, cut us off from God and from our destiny. Nevertheless, in his great mercy, the Father did not put an end to us or abandon us.

The Son, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is also called the Redeemer. In his perfect knowledge of himseld, the Father begot his one Word, the Son. The Son is not created by the Father, but begotten; he is the uncreated image of the Father. The Son is completely divine and coequal with the Father, and nothing was made without him. He became Jesus Christ, taking on a complete human nature while remaining comepletely divine. “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman.” (Gal 4:4) The Father sent forth the Son to reveal his plan, to show us how to live, and to pay the price for our sins. His sacrifice of his Passion and Death are the fullest sign of the total self-giving nature of God’s love.

The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, can also be called the Sanctifier. In their perfect love for each other, the Father and the Son spirated the Holy Spirit. Spiration, according to, means

1) a obs: the action of breathing as a creative or life-giving function of the Deity

b (1): the act by or manner in which the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father

or from the Father & the Son  (2): the relationship subsisting by virtue of this procession

2) obs: the action of breathing as a physical function of man and animals

The Holy Spirit is not created by the Father and the Son, but proceeds from them as an uncreated divine Person – we can think of this as a divine “sigh of love”. The Holy Spirit is completely divine and coequal with the Father and the Son. He is the Spirit of God that moved over the waters at creation; he brings about a new creation in each soul through the grace of the sacraments of the Church. Once Christ, the Son, had paid the price for our sins, the Holy Spirit came to activate the new and eternal life won for us by Christ’s redemptive self-giving. “When the time for Pentacost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly, there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then, appeared to them tounges as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tougnes, as the spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:1-4) The Holy Spirit empowers and guides the Church to fulfill her mission to preach to Good News of salvation to the whole world and to make God’s life available to all men and women, without exception.

Pope Benedict 16th first encyclical was “Deus Caritas Est”. That means “God is Love.” So many people get so enthusiastic about that statement. “God is love.” It is unique to the Christian faith. A Muslim or a Jew would simply say “God loves.” That’s true – he loves the world. But love is more than something He does. “God IS love” – love is his being – it’s who he is! What we sometimes miss is that, by saying “God is love.”, we are expressing the Blessed Trinity. To say that “God is love”, we are saying that there is play within the one God of a lover, the beloved, and the love that they share. We say in the creed “We believe in ONE GOD” but that one God has revealed himself to be a play of lover, beloved, and loved. (Fr. Robert Barron)

The Blessed Trinity is a mystery. Every mystery of faith flows from and is connected to the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. We were created for love; we live to respond to and then grow in that love; we die to self so that we may be resurrected to enter that love forever at the end of our earthly life. We will never, in this life, be capable of fully understanding and comprehending this. It is just not possible. We experience in these matters an insufficiency, as sense of sad resignation. We feel inadequate, left out – and this is right. We have, therefore, Heaven to look forward to and work toward. Our faith, as Christ himself so often emphasized, is of central importance to our lives. It gives us the strongest, most certain assurance that the world of the supernatural is not an empty dream. Our faith convinces us that the Trinity of God the Father who made us out of love, God the Son who came among us to save us out of love, and God the Holy Spirit who infuses us with love and who sustains us in the Church will be revealed to us at the very hour Jesus opens his arms to welcome us into Heaven with the words: “Come, O blessed of my Father; inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Mt 25:34). This Kingdom is God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of the Blessed Trinity – our true home. (CCC 102, 232-260).

Glory be to the Father, Who by His almighty power and love created me, making me in the image and likeness of God.  Glory be to the Son, Who by His Precious Blood delivered me from hell, and opened for me the gates of heaven. Glory be to the Holy Spirit, Who has sanctified me in the Sacrament of Baptism, and continues to sanctify me by the graces I receive daily from His bounty.  Glory be to the Three adorable Persons of the Holy Trinity, now and forever.  Amen.