Who is a Priest?
Our Lord Jesus instituted the priesthood so that through all ages and at all places, all men may encounter him. As such, a priest offers to the people the same things Jesus offered during his earthly ministry — namely prayer, proclamation and service.
A Man of Prayer
“Do this in memory of me.” The priest alone is entrusted with offering most important prayer of the Church — Holy Mass. Even when he steps off the sanctuary, the faithful will call upon the priest to lead prayers at meetings and gatherings. They recognise that prayer is his vocation. Even when he withdraws into solitude, he is canonically bound to celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours. He also needs to keep up with other private devotions, such as Eucharistic Adoration. These prayer commitments help unite him more perfectly with Christ in thought, word, and deed; so that he may be perfected as an alter Christus (“another Christ”) to his flock.
A Man of Proclamation
Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor (Lk 4:18).” So too is a priest called to share this ministry of proclamation. In an age of scepticism and hostility towards religion, most Catholics can only rely on priests to teach them the truths about the faith. St John Paul II once noted, “The Church faces a particularly difficult task in her efforts to preach the word of God in all cultures in which the faithful are constantly challenged by consumerism and a pleasure-seeking mentality.” As such, priests who articulate the Truth with excitement and precision are a great blessing to the Church.
A Man of Service
After his cousin John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus “withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick (Mt 14:13-14).” After the example of Christ, a priest avails himself to the needs of the people — regardless of his circumstances. He welcomes the distraught parishioner into his office for spiritual direction. He bridges the rift between a couple in a failing marriage. He rises from his bed in the dead of night, if someone calls in from the hospital to request for Anointing of the Sick. And when there’s no one to fix things around the parish, the priest becomes the electrician, the janitor and the plumber. All this out of love for God and his people.