And if Priest offer sacrifices, Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice, what’s the reason to have a priest now? Why not just pastor/bishop/deacon, etc.?
Here are some excerpts from the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” which answer these questions.
“The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ’s priesthood. Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers,” CCC 1545.
“Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers …” CCC 1549.
“The ministerial priesthood has the task not only of representing Christ – Head of the Church – before the assembly of the faithful, but also of acting in the name of the whole Church when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice,” CCC 1552.
“The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice. The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different. In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner,” CCC 1367.
“The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit …” CCC 1366.
Also please see the verse quoted in my signature line.
Why did God use prophets when he could speak directly (and sometimes did)?
Why did God use humans to write scripture when he could write directly (the Commandments)?
It’s all about inviting humanity to join with him in his work of salvation and in bringing grace into the world.
Why does God need parents to procreate, when He could just create anything/anyone Himself.
We are all often referred to as the priesthood of believers. And we proclaim that Jesus is the One and Only Highpriest.
But it is the ordained, ministerial priesthood which God intends to bring us to Him through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. We can not “do”, or “offer” that ourselves.
If there were no ministerial priests, there would be no Eucharist. No Eucharist, no Church. But thankfully we have God’s promise that the gates of hell won’t prevail.
Pray for priests.
I can think of two reasons why there is a need for a priest in the Christian religion now: 1. to re-present the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the benefit of every Christian; 2. to offer sacrifices in praise and thanksgiving to God on behalf of the Christian community.
Jesus Christ offered the perfect sacrifice for sin once for all but ordained priests are still needed now to re-present His sacrifice in every place by transubstantiating bread and wine into His body and blood so that Christians in every age may benefit from His sacrifice by personally eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:51-58). Jesus Christ is our Pascal Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) and, from the Old Testament, we know that, after it is sacrificed, a paschal lamb must also be eaten by those who wish to benefit from the sacrifice (Exodus 12:8).
In addition, though Jesus Christ offered the perfect sacrifice for sin once for all, there is still an ongoing need for the Church, through its priests, to offer sacrifices in praise and thanksgiving to God for all the good He has done for us, and the best possible sacrifice we can offer in praise and thanksgiving to God (in an unbloody manner) is bread and wine transubstantiated by a priest into the body and blood of our risen Lord Jesus Christ. The Psalmist says, “What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and … offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving …” (Psalm 116:12-13)
See 1 Corinthians 10:16-21, where the Christian Eucharistic sacrifice (“the bread which we break…the body of Christ” and “the cup of blessing which we bless…the blood of Christ”) offered to God on “the table of the Lord” and in “the cup of the Lord” and then eaten and drunk by those who wish to become partners with the Lord is contrasted by St. Paul with pagan sacrifices offered to idols (demons) on “the table of demons” and in “the cup of demons” and then eaten and drunk by those who wish to become partners with demons.
Exactly. God invites us to share in the granting of his greatest gift, the gift of life. The gift of life here on earth, and the gift of eternal life with him. He does not need our help in either case, but it pleases him to share with us all that is good.
Why do we need pastors, bishops, deacons, or elders if Jesus is the perfect pastor, bishop, deacon, or elder?
Why do we need the Church when Jesus is the perfect Body of Christ?
The problem with such reductionism is that there is no stopping point.
It was Christ who told Peter to feed his sheep. He knew what we really needed, long before the disobedient showed up claiming we needed no such thing.
In the last book of the Old Testament, God makes the following proclamation though His prophet Malachi:
For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.
That’s the Douay-Rheims, which is obviously a bit Catholic-flavored. But here’s the King James:
For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.
Now, the only truly pure offering, as we now know, is the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross. However, the prophecy states that the offering will be made throughout the world, in all the Gentile nations. So He must have provided a way for people in faraway places and later eras to participate in the offering of Christ’s own sacrifice.
In Catholic thinking, that way is the Mass, which is indeed performed throughout the world and at every moment of the day. To offer sacrifice requires a priest. But our priests do not offer sacrifices different from that of Calvary. Instead, as we say, a Catholic priest stands in persona Christi, in the person of Christ, making visible to us the offering that Christ eternally makes before the Father’s throne and permitting us to participate in the great event even though we live thousands of years after the historical Crucifixion.
Ok, but we non-Catholics often see Catholics as keeping GOd at a distance, like it was in the OT. We think of Jesus coming to unite us w/God, so all can have access to the Father, and no longer need a go between like w/a priest. Why can’t we make our own sacrifices to God w/out a priest? (any biblical writings to support this?) Are there any references to “priest” in the NT? I think of it as an OT only thing, but again, I’ve been non-Catholic Christian all my life. Thanks for your help.
also, don’t you kind of feel left out when you have a priest? Like you’re spectators rather than participants? That’s my feel when I go to Catholic church. Wasn’t that the reason the Bible was not in the hands of the believers for so long too? And the reason the mass was in Latin for so long? And that the priest faced the altar away from the people? All this seems to just make the crowd be at a distance rather than communion w/each other and God.
You see through the eyes of anti-Catholic tradition. If you use your own eyes, you’ll see Catholics praying to God (directly), and partaking of the Eucharist, the most profound, personal, and close encounter with the divine we can have.
And yet Protestants have been denied the Eucharistic experience because their forefathers were disobedient and rejected it.
We think of Jesus coming to unite us w/God, so all can have access to the Father, and no longer need a go between like w/a priest.
Priests are not go-betweens any more than Protestant pastors are. When Jesus told St Peter to “feed my sheep”, should St Peter have responded, “Feed 'em yourself”?
Why do Protestants go to their pastors for counseling? Shouldn’t praying to God be enough?
Why can’t we make our own sacrifices to God w/out a priest? (any biblical writings to support this?)
If you read the epistles and Acts you’ll see the different roles different people play within the Church Christ founded. Christ set The Twelve aside from the rest of his disciples.
When considering the Old Testament, you won’t find every Jew acting as priest.
I’m afraid you’ll need to provide Scriptural support for the notion that every man is his own priest.
As for the sacrifice of the Mass, priests and deacons are trained in the Order of the Mass in accordance with apostolic tradition. Every Catholic makes his own sacrifice, particularly during the Lenten season. I myself sacrifice year round by fasting on Fridays, with extended fasting on Fridays during Lent.
Are there any references to “priest” in the NT?
Yes. Christ’s ministry defines the priestly ministry. If you’re hung up on words, you’ll need to show us Pastor, Reverend, Elder, and prove that Scripture defines the office as it exists in your community today.
I think of it as an OT only thing, but again, I’ve been non-Catholic Christian all my life. Thanks for your help.
The Old Testament prefigures the New, which is why it is included within Scripture and is not to be discarded, as dispensationalists are wont to do. (Except for tithing—funny how that one survived!)
HA HA HA…you’re killing me, Tef!
No. Every Catholic participates in Mass, each according to his role. My role as part of the laity is to participate by receiving Jesus’ body into my being, by offering my own prayers, and by worshipping Jesus in His bodily presence (ie. in the presenc of the Eucharist). How could I feel “left out”?
I don’t understand the question. The Bible was always in the hands of believers. Printing presses made it easier to duplicate and therefore less expensive for each individual to buy, if that’s what you mean. But it has always been in the hands of believers.
The Mass was in Latin for so long because Latin was the universal tongue for so long. No matter where one went in the world, one could always walk into a Catholic Church and understand everything precisely because it was in Latin – one didn’t need to know the local language. The whole point of having Mass in Latin was to include everyone. When cultural change phased out Latin as a universally known language, the Church accomodated by saying Mass in the local tongue.
You mean during the consecration? The priest wasn’t facing “away from” the people so much as he was facing the “same direction” as the people, positioned to address God on their behalf. Now he stands facing the people but not positioned as their representative any more. Is that symbolism really better? Maybe, maybe not. During those few seconds, I’m really more concerned with Jesus Christ my Savior entering our presence under the form of bread and wine which I can receive into my innermost being. That’s my focus at that moment.
The priest takes part in the Mass WITH us. It is not about him, as many a Protestant service’s highlight is the pastor delivering the sermon.
Like you’re spectators rather than participants?
My old Pentecostal community had satellite locations which would watch the service on television. That is what being a spectator in church is like.
In the Mass, we are part of the eternal communion of saints and in the physical presence of God. We are spectators in no sense of the word; we are at the Last Supper.
That’s my feel when I go to Catholic church.
How often do you go?
Wasn’t that the reason the Bible was not in the hands of the believers for so long too?
This is a completely bogus anti-Catholic myth promulgated by Protestants unconcerned with truth.
Bibles were extremely expensive throughout most of Christian history. This didn’t change until a Catholic invented the printing press.
Not having your own Bible is not the same as not having access to Scripture. Unlike most Protestant services, the Scripture is read extensively at each Mass, which is why the 1st half of Mass is called the Liturgy of the Word. Every Mass, an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, an Epistle, and a Gospel reading are presented. Every three years the whole Bible has been presented in Mass.
Moreover, for most of history illiteracy was the norm. If you had a time machine you could press a Bible into the hands of every 10th century resident you ran into and it wouldn’t do most of them a bit of spiritual good since they couldn’t read it.
This is a major reason why the Protestant heretical notion of individual Bible interpretation didn’t show up until a millennium-and-a-half after the last Apostle died.
And the reason the mass was in Latin for so long?
Latin was the lingua franca of the West until very recently. It remained the lingua franca of educated people in the West until the past century.
Greek was the lingua franca of the East.
And that the priest faced the altar away from the people?
The priest did no such thing. The Church always faced the East, the rising sun. Since the Mass is not about the priest, he faced the tabernacle on the Eastern wall like everyone else did, the whole congregation facing God.
All this seems to just make the crowd be at a distance rather than communion w/each other and God.
The Mass is not about us. It is not for our entertainment. We are at the Last Supper.
Reading your posts, which I’m afraid are nothing but the same old anti-Catholic stuff refuted thousands of times around here, you don’t seem to have given much thought to this at all. You don’t seem to have attended Mass; most of what you say is easily refuted with a Missal.
I recommend attending, following along with a Missal, and seeing for yourself rather than relying upon the bigotry of others to guide you.
Every time we get into a dispensationalist/Old Testament is damning conversation around here it gets deathly quiet when the tithe is brought up, no doubt because many a Protestant community is utterly dependent upon this Old Testament practice, in no small part to pay the pastor, which, if the OP logic were applied to Protestant practice, is a completely unnecessary expense. Just buy everyone a Bible and let them be their own pastors, right?
Theological consistency is not their strong suit.
Um, Tef, if I’m remembering the OP correctly from other threads, he/she is in the process of coming into the Church or at least considering it.
You’ve done an excellent job of correcting misunderstandings here, but you may not want to go “on the offensive” like that lest we drive the OP away instead of welcoming him/her home.
I have no idea whether the OP is looking into the Church or not; the posts don’t reflect the respectful inquiry of someone seriously considering the claims of the Catholic Church as I read them. Your mileage may vary.
The welcome light is always on for the prodigal sons to return; my own preference is that they do so by viewing the place they are at with the same clarity and skepticism they would apply to the place to which they will return. Thus, if one is hung up on the priestly office of the Catholic Church, one ought to recognize the priestly vestiges of the derivative office of pastor, modeled as it was upon the priesthood. If one insists upon Scriptural specificity regarding Church offices, one must necessarily require that of one’s own community before applying this standard to others. Standards ought to be objective, as Truth is objective.
That said, as St Jude noted, some are to be saved with fire, and some with compassion. I yield to your judgment that the latter is far preferable in this case, and, having sliced off the latest Hydra head of anti-Catholic mythology, withdraw from the discussion.
Continue with the thought to see where it is heading.
Why have churches, ministers, pastors and congregations if Jesus does it all and all we need is the bible? Why don’t we all just sit at home reading our bible and praying and try to be a good person and wait till we die and go to heaven?
Take it a step further.
If Christ does it all and the only thing we must do is say “I believe” then why did God take 2000 years to give us a bible (let’s take your KJV) with 783,137 words that takes about 70 hours to read from cover to cover? Why did God not give us a bible with a single sentence and a single page that reads “Believe unto the Lord and thou shall be saved?”.
If Jesus does it all for us why do we need do any work at all and even bother with the labor of reading the bible or listening to anything anyone else has to say? All it takes is belief that one is saved right?
The reason we need a priest is because God has revealed through roughly 2,000 years of revelation and history that nothing we can offer Him pleases Him like offering up His own Son. God wants true worship. He does not want an unacceptable sacrifice like Cain gave him (ref. Cain and Abel). God wants a true sacrifice. No “come to Jesus” pep-rally or motivational speaker or “pastor” who knows how to tickle the sensual emotions of the assembly with loud shouting and no well practised gospel music singer can please God like the sacrifice of the mass. In the Catholic mass a priest offers to God the only thing that He accepts as worthy and pleasing to Himself; and that is Himself.
Why do we need a priest? Because that is what God wants and has revealed to us from antiquity.
Here is one for you. Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Why did God have to make it so hard on Himself or even suffer to create us if He knew we were all going to be such terrible sinners?
Suppose we agree to “discount” the use of the word for priest… presbyter in acts, which is separate from deacon and bishop.
Suppose we agree to acknowledge the universal priesthood of believers.
Suppose that we agree that Jesus is the only High Priest.
I then suggest that there is the reality of the “ministerial priesthood”, distinguised from the High Priest, and distinguised from the universal priesthood.
Is that explicit in the NT… no, but so what. Scripture is not the only authority.
Is that implicit in the NT… yes.
Jude refers to those (laity) who try to usurp a priestly authority that is not theirs. It reminds the readers of what happened in the OT to those laity who wanted/tried to be ministerial priests. They were slaughtered for their evil ways.
I think we can assume that the NT Christians were very aware and very united to the ministerial priesthood (Apostles and those whom they appointed - laying on of hands etc).
The Church, and more explicitly the Authority of the Church, need only explain a situation when the question arises.
How wonderful to have three valid and divine witnesses to the Truth… the Church He founded, the Scriptures He inspired, and the Magisterium He protects.