Priests and communion

Was talking to a protestant colleague the other day, and I was discussing my main reason for becoming Catholic- my belief that Christ was being literal when he claimed “this IS my body”, etc. He asked me a good question, but I don’t think I answered him to his satisfaction.

He asked if Catholics believed that all Christians were priests. I said that we all have a partial sharing of Christ’s priesthood.

He then asked why I, as a believing Catholic, can’t perform the transubstantiation of the host and wine into the body/blood of Jesus. I replied that only those present in the upper room at the Last Supper had been given that ability; and those to whom they ordained to replace them.

He asked my why? I don’t know.


ps sorry if this has been addressed a bunch, already. I tried to use the search function, but didn’t find exactly what I was looking for.

From the earliest Church that has been held; in the New Testament it is referred to by the words “laying on of hands”.

It took a while for things to sort themselves out, and too often it is our presumption, often simply lying below the surface of our thinking, that the sacraments pretty much looked like what we see and have today. It is perhaps not quite that simple.

Christ had a number of followers - remember that He sent out 70 to preach the Good News. Not just the Apostles, but a bunch more.

However, His focus was on the Apostles, and it is clear that He singled them out from all of the rest of His followers, both in teaching and in the power and authority He passed on to them.

After he was gone from them, and some time later, they started to pass on that authority and work that He had intrusted to them. From the beginning, the Apostles selected others to do what they did - that is, to oversee the spread of the Church. They also appointed others to assist them, and from that we get the presbyters (whom we now primarily call priests) and deacons.

And from that, the deacons were to assist, but did not say Mass or “lay on hands”, and it would appear that the presbyters said Mass, but did not “lay on hands”.

Further, if one goes back to the Old Testament, their worship services were conducted by a few chosen men, and while all offered sacrifice, the leaders of the religious services werre restricted to the few chosen to be their religious (liturgical, that is, worship) leaders. So the pattern was not completely unknown to the Apostles, and by the separation off of the Apostles from the disciples, Christ was making it clear that He was setting them aside from the others to do what He commanded.

It may be possible that others than the Apostles were at the Last Supper, but if you read the accounts, no one else shows in the writings. Likewise the scene where they are commanded to go forth, after the Resurrection.

Both in the Old and New Testaments, people other than those set aside for leading worship were able to offer sacrifice, but in both, there was a clear delineation that the priesthood had a function in worship and offering sacrifice that was of a higher order.

The matter is treated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, not all in one spot, and perhaps not in a way that you can use for your friend. However, it is how the Church has acted since its beginning. And that is where, with some (or many) of our Protestant brethren, we run into difficulties, because not all the Church teaches is specifically set out in Scripture; we also rely on Sacred Tradition.

Thanks! Let me be clear, that I have no problems with the Church on this teaching. I’m just looking for a succinct answer to my friends question.

I know he won’t by the “it says in the Catechism that…”

And he won’t by the “Old testament continuation” bit either (he’s Church of Christ).

And I know he won’t by the “Tradition” argument…at least not yet. I did get him to think some when we discussed that it was a group of CATHOLIC bishops who determined the different writings in the Bible, and that tradition was used in this.

Maybe I planted a seed.

Good luck and stay the course. Not all who hear what we have to say find a way to resolve whatever they have been taught before (and often believe with more strength than many Catholics show). On the other hand, a gentle reply…

All Christians share in the priesthood of Christ by virtue of baptism.

All Christians do not represent Christ in the Church in the same way.

Just as in the early Church successors to the Apostles and local church leaders were commissioned by the Apostles to perform and lead in certain roles in the Christian community. Not all Christians were Apostles then, and not all Christians succeeded the Apostles in specific roles. As Paul notes in I Cor and Romans, the Church is a body composed of many parts, each with their own ministries and roles.

I will allow this thread to remain in the L&S forum if there is no debating this issue. Anyone who wishes to challenge Church teaching, though please feel free to do so in the Apologetics forum. Thank you, everyone. :slight_smile:

Give him some Scripture:

For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:4-8)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. … For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” … Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Corinthians 12:4-30)

This is one of those things that is obvious to Catholics but not so to those who do not accept the value of Apostolic Tradition.

There are lots of doctrines contained in the Bible that are no explicit and sometimes you need to look for something specific to even begin to find hints of a doctrine in the Scripture.

I think that discussing this shall we say second level doctrine - even though it is very well attested to in the early Church is not going to be fruitful on the face of it.

I have often thought that a good question to ask is “Where in Scripture does God tell us that the Church can go wrong?”

God Bless

Br. Paul

Jesus established a heirarchy of gifts to keep order in the Church, and to keep people from wandering away from the group.

St. Peter was ordained by Christ to be Chief Shepherd of the Church (see John 21:15-19), which means that part of his job is to keep the “sheep” from wandering away from the “herd” and doing their own thing.

If every baptized person could say Mass without gathering with the parish on Sunday, and without a priest, what do you think would have happened to the Church within the first generation - especially with it being so risky to go to Mass, when the Romans were rounding people up and taking them to the arenas to be sacrificed? People would have stayed home to celebrate the Eucharist by themselves or in small groups, and pretty soon they would have lost contact with the Apostles, and the Christian movement would have dissolved into the customs and habits of the surrounding society - it would not have survived. So, in order to prevent them from scattering, Jesus gave us shepherds, and gave them rights and powers that the rest of us don’t have. We also have rights and powers that the clergy don’t have - it’s not just a one-way street - the reason for these varieties of gifts is in order to make us dependent on each other, and to keep “the flock” all pointed in the same direction, and sticking together.

If we didn’t need each other, we’d have no motive to obey the greatest commandment, to love one another. Jesus gives the priesthood different gifts than He gives lay people, so that we have an abundance of opportunities to love one another. :slight_smile:

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church on Holy Orders:

Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 6, SubSection 4

1573 The essential rite of the sacrament of Holy Orders for all three degrees consists in the bishop’s imposition of hands on the head of the ordinand and in the bishop’s specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry to which the candidate is being ordained. 60

Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 6, SubSection 5

1576 Since the sacrament of Holy Orders is the sacrament of the apostolic ministry, it is for the bishops as the successors of the apostles to hand on the “gift of the Spirit,” 63 the “apostolic line.” 64 Validly ordained bishops, i.e., those who are in the line of apostolic succession, validly confer the three degrees of the sacrament of Holy Orders. 65

Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 3, Article 6, SubSection 6

1578 No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God. 69 Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God’s call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.

hope that helps.

The answer is in 1 Cor 12

[28] And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors; after that miracles; then the graces of healing, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. [29] Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors? [30] Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

Also go back to the Old Testament and see that not anybody can become a priest.

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