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Image by Josh Applegate


“No one takes this honour upon himself
but each one is called by God”

[Heb 5:4]


All priesthood in the Church is based on the one true priest of the New Covenant – Jesus Christ. It was Jesus as priest and victim who offered his life as a sacrifice on the cross. All those who are called ‘priests’ in the Church are not priests in their own right; they share in the unique priesthood of Christ. They are called to be “alter Christus” – another Christ.

The apostles were called by Jesus to follow him, and they left everything to be with him. This ‘being with Jesus’ is always the first part of any vocation, and this is true in a special way of the call to be a priest. Only once the apostles had grown close to Our Lord did he send them out to others. The priest has to be someone whose personal, intimate friendship with Christ is the very heart of all he is and does. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the centre of his life.


A priest’s life is rooted in the Eucharist: it is there above all that Jesus is present; yet people will meet the Good Shepherd not only in the priest’s great sacramental actions but in everything he does for them and in his simple presence among them.

This is why the priest is asked to give his whole life to God, to lay down his life out of love for the Lord and his flock. A priest is asked at his ordination to make three special promises: celibacy, obedience to his bishop and simplicity of lifestyle. In this way, he lives out the demands of the Gospel quite explicitly; he is unmistakeably a man of the Church of Christ. This is his path to holiness just as marriage is the normal path to holiness for most baptised Christians. The call to chastity is part of every Christian vocation, both within marriage and within the single state, where it is known as celibacy.

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