Friday, February 26, 2010

Christ the Priest

I'm delighted (as Archbishop Hart - now reigning over the Glorious See of Melbourne - would say) to read on the NLM that Cardinal Cañizares (the "little Ratzinger" - so called, no offence intended, because of his dwarfish stature) has petitioned His Holiness the Pope to extend the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest, to the entire world.

This I heartily endorse (if I'd ever assumed the purple - of course, purely for the benefit of the plebs sancta Dei; though, by a strange irony, precisely for their benefit God has preserved me from such a temptation! - I'd have asked for this myself), since the doctrine of the Priesthood of Christ is a vital one, one that in our own Pelagian, antisupernatural, and functionalist age is terribly neglected.

After all, saying nothing for the moment of the ministerial priesthood, it is only by virtue of our being a "royal priesthood" by being baptized into Christ our Lord, the One and Only Priest, that we can offer up prayer and petition and intercession and sacrifice and oblation to God: without being living members of the One Mediator, we would be cut off from this sacred commerce, whereby "prayer goeth up, pity cometh down" – though of course in His mercy, the Deity neglects not even the cry of heathens and sinners, yet as Christians we super-confidently approach the Throne of Mercy, because priests of God and of His Christ, endued with the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that by solemnizing this particular title of Our Redeemer, we pay especial honour to Him Who so blesses and saves us by the ministry of His priests, who - all unworthy - act in His Person, being Christ's Hands blessing, healing, absolving, baptizing, and feeding us with His Body and Blood.  This day would serve to remind priests of their most high calling, yet in such a way as to give all the glory to the Lord, as is right and just.

What a fitting conclusion to the Year of the Priest will it be, Deo volente, if, as 75 years ago Pius XI granted the Votive Mass of Christ the Priest, and Paul VI granted a feast with Mass and Office thereof to Spain, so now Benedict XVI - ever as a father in God giving unmerited gifts to his spiritual children - will extend this solemn celebration of Christ our Priest to the whole wide earth: to the glory of God the Father, Whose Priest His Incarnate Son is.

Here is (in Latin) the modern rite Office of Christ the Eternal High Priest; and over at Vultus Christi there is a useful comparison of the old and new Masses of Christ the Priest.

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