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Vat. Ecum. Council II
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2. The Lord Jesus, "whom the Father has sent into the world" (Jn 10:36) has made his whole Mystical Body a sharer in the anointing of the Spirit with which he himself is anointed.1 In him all the faithful are made a holy and royal priesthood; they offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ, and they proclaim the perfections of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light.2 Therefore, there is no member who does not have a part in the mission of the whole Body; but each one ought to hallow Jesus in his heart,3 and in the spirit of prophecy bear witness to Jesus.4

The same Lord, however, has established ministers among his faithful to unite them together in one body in which, "not all the members have the same function" (Rom 12:4). These ministers in the society of the faithful are able by the sacred power of orders to offer sacrifice and to forgive sins,5 and they perform their priestly office publicly for men in the name of Christ. Therefore, having sent the apostles just as he himself been sent by the Father,6 Christ, through the apostles themselves, made their successors, the bishops,7 sharers in his consecration and mission. The office of their ministry has been handed down, in a lesser degree indeed, to the priests.8 Established in the order of the priesthood they can be co-workers of the episcopal order for the proper fulfillment of the apostolic mission entrusted to priests by Christ.9

The office of priests, since it is connected with the episcopal order, also, in its own degree, shares the authority by which Christ builds up, sanctifies and rules his Body. Wherefore the priesthood, while indeed it presupposes the sacraments of Christian initiation, is conferred by that special sacrament; through it priests, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ the Priest in such a way that they can act in the person of Christ the Head.10

In the measure in which they participate in the office of the apostles, God gives priests a special grace to be ministers of Christ among the people. They perform the sacred duty of preaching the Gospel, so that the offering of the people can be made acceptable and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.11 Through the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel, the People of God are called together and assembled. All belonging to this people, since they have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, can offer themselves as "a sacrifice, living, holy, pleasing to God" (Rom 12:1). Through the ministry of the priests, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect in union with the sacrifice of Christ. He is the only mediator who in the name of the whole Church is offered sacramentally in the Eucharist and in an unbloody manner until the Lord himself comes.12 The ministry of priests is directed to this goal and is perfected in it. Their ministry, which begins with the evangelical proclamation, derives its power and force from the sacrifice of Christ. Its aim is that "the entire commonwealth of the redeemed and the society of the saints be offered to God through the High Priest who offered himself also for us in his passion that we might be the body of so great a Head."13

The purpose, therefore, which priests pursue in their ministry and by their life is to procure the glory of God the Father in Christ. That glory consists in this-that men working freely and with a grateful spirit receive the work of God made perfect in Christ and then manifest it in their whole lives. Hence, priests, while engaging in prayer and adoration, or preaching the word, or offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice and administering the other sacraments, or performing other works of the ministry for men, devote all this energy to the increase of the glory of God and to man's progress in the divine life. All of this, since it comes from the Pasch of Christ, will be crowned by the glorious coming of the same Lord, when he hands over the Kingdom to God the Father.14

3. Priests, who are taken from among men and ordained for men in the things that belong to God in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins,15 nevertheless live on earth with other men as brothers. The Lord Jesus, the Son of God, a Man sent by the Father to men, dwelt among us and willed to become like his brethren in all things except sin.16 The holy apostles imitated him. Blessed Paul, the doctor of the Gentiles, "set apart for the Gospel of God" (Rom 1:1) declares that he became all things to all men that he might save all.17 Priests of the New Testament, by their vocation and ordination, are in a certain sense set apart in the bosom of the People of God. However, they are not to be separated from the People of God or from any person; but they are to be totally dedicated to the work for which the Lord has chosen them.18 They cannot be ministers of Christ unless they be witnesses and dispensers of a life other than earthly life. But they cannot be of service to men if they remain strangers to the life and conditions of men.19 Their ministry itself, by a special title, forbids that they be conformed to this world;20 yet at the same time it requires that they live in this world among men. They are to live as good shepherds that know their sheep, and they are to seek to lead those who are not of this sheepfold that they, too, may hear the voice of Christ, so that there might be one fold and one shepherd.21 To achieve this aim, certain virtues, which in human affairs are deservedly esteemed, contribute a great deal: such as goodness of heart, sincerity, strength and constancy of mind, zealous pursuit of justice, affability, and others. The Apostle Paul commends them saying: "Whatever things are true, whatever honorable, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever loving, whatever of good repute, if there be any virtue, if anything is worthy of praise, think upon these things" (Phil 4:8).22


. Cf. Mt 3:16; Lk 4:18; Acts 4:27, 10:38.


. Cf. 1 Pt 2:5,9.


. Cf. 1 Pt 3:15.


.Cf. Rev 19:10; Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964, n 35: AAS 57 (1965) p 40-41.


. Council of Trent, 23rd session, chapter 1, canon 1: Denzinger 957 and 961 (1764 and 1771).


. Cf. Jn 20:21; Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964, n 22: AAS 57 (1965) pp 21-28.


. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964, n 22: AAS 57 (1965) pp 33-36.


. Cf. ibid


. Cf. Roman Pontifical Ordination of a Priest, preface. These words are already found in the Verona Sacramentary (ed. L.C. Moehlberg, Rome 1956, p 122); also in Frankish Missal (ed. L.C. Moehlberg, Rome 1957, p 9) and in the Book of Sacramentaries of the Roman Church (ed. L.C. Moehlberg, Rome 1960, p 25) and Roman German Pontificals (ed. Vogel-Elze, Vatican City 1963, vol. I, p 34).


. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964, n 10: AAS 57 (1965) pp 14-15.


. Cf. Rom 15:16 (Greek).


. Cf. 1 Cor 11:26.


St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei 10, 6: PL 41, 284.


. Cf. 1 Cor 15:24.


. Cf. Heb 5:1.


. Cf. Heb 2:17; 4:15.


. Cf. 1 Cor 9:19-23 (Vg.).


. Cf. Acts 13:2.


. Paul VI, encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, Aug.6, 1964: AAS 56 (1964), pp 627 and 638.


. Cf. Rom 12:2.


. Cf. Jn 10:14-16.


. Cf. St. Polycarp, Epist. ad Philippenses, 6, 1 (ed. F.X. Funk, Apostolic Fathers, I, p 303).

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