Life is a gift from God
Children are God’s gift to us …
We participate in the Priesthood of Christ …
Dear Members of the English-speaking Catholic Community,
At the end of each day, a priest reflects on the teachings of Jesus to his disciples, on obedience and service “… so with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, we are merely servants, we have done no more than our duty.” (Lk 17,9-10)
When we speak about the priesthood of Christ, all of you who are baptized in the Catholic Church, and the whole parish or mission share in this priesthood of Jesus Christ. Each one, according to his/her own vocation, exercises this holiness by participating in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet and king. This is expressed concretely when you participate at Holy Mass and through your works of mercy. It is through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation that you are consecrated to this holiness of Christ’s priesthood.
At the same time, there are others who are ordained to the sacrament of Holy Orders. These are the Bishops, the priests and the deacons. They form the hierarchical ministerial priesthood and also participate in the common priesthood of the faithful. It differs in as much as, it is through the ministerial priesthood, Christ unceasingly leads his Church to form one family of God. It is Christ himself, who is present to his Church as the true high priest and who is the redemptive sacrifice. Therefore, the hierarchical ministerial priesthood is always at the service of the common priesthood i.e. in the parish or mission. The Bishop appoints and transfers priests and deacons for specific ministries, who are ordained to help him efficiently accomplish the mission of Christ. This holds true for all consecrated members of religious congregations and institutes, priests, brothers and sisters. Each institute is founded with its own charism not to thrive in itself but to assist the Church in its common mission.
No one has the right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders and no one can claim this office to himself because it is God who calls men to this state of life. All those, who claim to have received this call, must humbly submit his desire to the authority of God represented in and through the hierarchical Church. In the Old Testament, priests were elected to act on behalf of the community, to proclaim the presence of God, and to restore communion with God by sacrifices and prayers for sins committed. This was still inadequate and remained powerless to bring about salvation and sanctification, until the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was accomplished through his passion, his death on the cross, his resurrection and his ascension (Heb 5,3; 7,27; 10,1-4). Jesus Christ is the only one mediator between God and humankind.
It is therefore only Christ, who is the high priest and mediator, who is the true priest, while all others who are ordained through the sacrament of Holy Orders are only his ministers and custodians of his Gospel.
To be served by a priest and a deacon in the parish or in the mission is a blessing from God. In the sacrament of Holy Orders, the Bishop receives an episcopal ordination, the priest sacerdotal ordination for the celebration of Holy Mass and the sacraments, and the deacon the diaconate ordination. The laying of hands by the Bishop, with the consecratory prayer, constitutes the visible sign of an ordination.
The Bishops in the Church are the successors of the apostles whom Christ appointed and sent to proclaim the Gospel to the end of the earth. This function of the bishop’s ministry is handed over in a subordinate degree to priests and deacons appointed in the order of priesthood. In their own order, priests and deacons assist the bishop to fulfil effectively the apostolic mission that had been entrusted to the apostles by Jesus Christ.
Bishops and priests are chosen from among men of faith, who are baptized, who remain celibate for the kingdom of heaven, give witness to this sacrament as an unmerited gift from God and radiantly proclaim the Reign of God. Therefore, priests offer the Eucharistic sacrifice daily at Holy Mass in mandate of Christ himself, for the atonement of sins in our world, for the sanctification of all, to plead for the salvation of all humankind and to proclaim Christ’s Gospel. The celebration of Holy Mass and the Sacraments of the Church remain an ongoing spiritual service to the faithful in the Parish and in a Mission.
Those who receive the sacrament of Holy Orders are men, who in obedience are ready to give of themselves through a lifelong commitment of service, employing all their energies and talents received freely by God, for the salvation and good of the community. Thus, they participate in the common mission of the Church, in spite of all human weaknesses. We need to be grateful to our priests and deacons. We need to pray for and to support them.
Since 07.10.2012, Kurat Moses Chukwuemeka Nnajiofor has been serving the Nigerians at the St. Rupert’s parish hall Mass Centre of our Mission. He is now transferred. On the 31.12.2016, he will leave us. We wish him good health to continue the spiritual work that he has been ordained for.
I wish you the peace of Jesus Christ and a holy Christmas.
Cletus Colaço SVD.
Leiter der Englischsprachigen Katholischen Gemeinde.