What exactly is my role as a member of the priesthood of all believers?


I haven’t given much thought to this term before, but baptized as a priest, prophet, and king, what is my role as priest?


Good question! Here’s a short answer.

As a priest you are to pray and sacrifice for others. That is the role of a priest.

As a prophet you are to reveal the will of God, both in how you live and in how you witness to the truth of Christ active and living in your life.

As a king you are to help care for the People of God. The role of the king is to care for his people and, by incorporation into the Body of Christ, all people are yours to care for, especially the unwanted, the unloved, the untouchable.

Deacon Ed


Catechumens are also expected to pray and sacrifice for others. Do I have any additional rights or responsibilities specifically as a priest through baptism, or does one become a member of the priesthood of all believers prior to baptism, and it’s simply made official at the ceremony for that sacrament?


The 1988 instruction Paschale Solemnitatis highlights “the general intercessions [at the Easter Vigil], in which the neophytes for the first time as members of the faithful exercise their priesthood” (91). It is through baptism that we are made priests.

Here are some excerpts (good as starting points) from the Catechism on “priest”, “prophet”, and “king”:
783. Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them.

  1. On entering the People of God through faith and Baptism, one receives a share in this people’s unique, priestly vocation: “Christ the Lord, high priest taken from among men, has made this new people ‘a kingdom of priests to God, his Father.’ The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood.”

  2. “The holy People of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office,” above all in the supernatural sense of faith that belongs to the whole People, lay and clergy, when it “unfailingly adheres to this faith . . . once for all delivered to the saints,” and when it deepens its understanding and becomes Christ’s witness in the midst of this world.

  3. Finally, the People of God shares in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing all men to himself through his death and Resurrection. Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all, for he came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” For the Christian, “to reign is to serve him,” particularly when serving “the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder.” The People of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.


That settles one issue, but I notice the passage doesn’t really spell out what the people’s unique priestly vocation is.

[quote=Deacon Ed]As a priest you are to pray and sacrifice for others. That is the role of a priest.

Is our role as priests offering sacrifice in any way related to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (where obviously a ministerial priesthood presides), or is it oriented entirely to sacrifices external to the mass?


More from the Catechism: quoting a sermon of Pope St. Leo the Great: “The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ’s priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to God? And what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the spotless offerings of devotion on the altar of the heart?” (CCC 786)

I know it’s more reading, but CCC 901-913 describe in more detail the ways in which the laity fulfill their shares in the three offices of Christ’s ministry. The first of those articles, 901, reads:
"Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit maybe produced in them. For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit - indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born - all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives."
Our priestly ministry does come into play during the Mass: not only in the intercessory character of the Prayer of the Faithful, but in the offering through the priest of the Eucharist, as well as offering the bread and wine first, and then joining ourselves to the Eucharist as it is offered to the Father.

For more on this, see Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Mediator Dei, paragraphs 80-104. Some key passages:
87. Moreover, the rites and prayers of the eucharistic sacrifice signify and show no less clearly that the oblation of the Victim is made by the priests in company with the people. …

  1. … Now the faithful participate in the oblation, understood in this limited sense, after their own fashion and in a twofold manner, namely, because they not only offer the sacrifice by the hands of the priest, but also, to a certain extent, in union with him. It is by reason of this participation that the offering made by the people is also included in liturgical worship.

  2. Now it is clear that the faithful offer the sacrifice by the hands of the priest from the fact that the minister at the altar, in offering a sacrifice in the name of all His members, represents Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body. Hence the whole Church can rightly be said to offer up the victim through Christ. …

  3. In order that the oblation by which the faithful offer the divine Victim in this sacrifice to the heavenly Father may have its full effect, it is necessary that the people add something else, namely, the offering of themselves as a victim.

  4. Let the faithful, therefore, consider to what a high dignity they are raised by the sacrament of baptism. … Nor should Christians forget to offer themselves, their cares, their sorrows, their distress and their necessities in union with their divine Savior upon the cross.


Wow, that was a tour de force of pertinent info. Thanks for assembling all of that.:slight_smile:


You can too, thanks to my Catechism and Magisterial document search tools! (Although I’ll admit part of the trick is being familiar with the documents.)


One more question - we are of course familiar with the ministerial priesthood. Is there a more succinct term for the priesthood of all believers? Would it be called the lay priesthood?


The “ordained priesthood” (CCC 1120) is also called the “ministerial priesthood” (CCC 1545, 1552, 1553, 1592, 1596) and the “hierarchical priesthood” (CCC 1547).

The priesthood of all believers is known as the “royal priesthood” (CCC 782, 803, 1141, 1174, 1268), “baptismal priesthood” (CCC 1120, 1132, 1188, 1273, 1322, 1546, 1591, 1669), “common priesthood” (CCC 1141, 1143, 1268, 1305, 1535, 1547, 1592).

It should be noted that “common” does not mean “plebian” or “base”. Rather, in the Latin term Sacerdotium commune, the word commune means “common, joint, public; general, universal; shared by all”. Thus, it is “common” to all the baptized, “shared by all”, “universal” among believers. It is a communal priesthood.


You might not think this is the thread to post this,however,this is very much about serving the people of God…I know someone who is ill. They would like to go to a place run by religious. You know, like when you read about so many saint long ago that opened their doors to the sick and homeless. Well, there doesn’t seem to be any place like that nowadays.
Do you or anyone know of a place?


Wow. Thanks. Hat’s off to japhy, Perl Monk.


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