Column: Laypeople called to live out their priesthood

by Bill Scholl

True or false? Women priests are already in the Catholic Church!

Yes, it is true. The Catholic Church already has women priests, and married priests, and teenaged priests, and even baby priests.

By our baptism, Christ makes us “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father” (Rv 1:6). As The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king” (no. 1546). This priesthood is called the “common priesthood of all the faithful.”

While the common priesthood is essentially different from the ordained priesthood which is exclusively reserved for men called by God to act in the person of Christ, we laity too often forget that we are also called to live out our priesthood just as much as the men in black. In fact, the ordained priesthood (priests) serves the common priesthood (all of us, lay Catholics) by giving us the sacramental grace to go out and transform the world.

Transform the world. That’s actually our job, not Father’s. Each of us is called to be a priest by offering up our works, our sacrifices, our prayers and even our sufferings to God. When we make these offerings in unity with the sacrifice of Christ, we actually sanctify the world and enable it to be redeemed. We’re the ones on the field, not Father.

The ordained priest is like our coach, spiritually preparing us for the game, which is building the kingdom, and leading us from the sidelines as we give witness to the Gospel in the world. Like a good coach, he also heals our wounds and sustains us through sacraments like reconciliation and the Eucharist, so we can go back out.

We play the game by playing our part as priest, prophet, and king. We are priest when we pray and offer up our works, our sufferings, our family life to God through Christ. We are prophet when we speak the mind of God by speaking out against injustice in the world according to the social teachings of the church. And we are king when we practice servant leadership through loving service to all in both our public and private lives in accordance with Christ’s teachings.

And all of us — no matter how old or young, no matter our marital status or gender — are called to each role throughout our lives. It is what it means to be faithful. It is what it means to play the game.

Some Catholics get caught up in issues like the ordination of women or whether married men should be priests, even though the head coach has said pretty clearly said it’s not going to happen. Perhaps we should worry more about our own place on the field by each focusing on the priesthood that God has trusted us with: “Let us persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:1-2).

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