I would like to present an excerpt from a Vatican II document. This excerpt is #10 in “Lumen Gentium”, translated “A Light to the Nations (to the peoples of the world)”, which describes the nature of the church. The one characteristic of the church that has brought notority to this document is the definition of church as “The People of God”. This definition of church is referring to you and me, and not the leadership of the church or its buildings or the offices that comprise the church as an institution.
The council fathers chose to put flesh and bone into their definition of the church and to further identify this “people of God” as a royal priesthood. It is at this point that I would like to engage our audience. Do the Vatican II definitions still apply in 2011? Has our understanding of the royal priesthood expanded our thinking about the “priestly” role of the baptized ? Can these definitions be expanded more concretely especially in using our imaginations and hopes for the future of the church?
I again invite you to join me in this discussion. Your participation is critical. Hopefully you will also subscribe to this posting site which is dedicated to opening up a conversation on the people and the priesthood. I invite you again. DrNick
LUMEN GENTIUM (Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church)
10. Christ the Lord, High Priest taken from among men, made the new people “a kingdom and priests to God the Father”. The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, in order that through all those works which are those of the Christian man they may offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the power of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. Therefore all the Disciples of Christ, persevering in prayer and praising God, should present themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Everywhere on earth they must bear witness to Christ and give an answer to those who seek an account of that hope of eternal life, which is in them.
Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ. The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. But the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist. They likewise exercise that priesthood in receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity.