Common Priesthood of the Faithful – Lecture 4

Common Priesthood of the Faithful

By: Mar Bawai Soro
Friday November 27, 2009 from 7:00 pm -9:00pm

Review of Church Sources


781 [God] has … willed to make men holy and save them, not as individuals without any bond or link between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him and serve him in holiness.

1591 The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the “common priesthood of the faithful.” Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community.

1592 The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful. The ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching, divine worship and pastoral governance.

1141 The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, “by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christian men they may offer spiritual sacrifices.” This “common priesthood” is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate.

1143 For the purpose of assisting the work of the common priesthood of the faithful, other particular ministries also exist, not consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders; their functions are determined by the bishops, in accord with liturgical traditions and pastoral needs. “Servers, readers, commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function.”

1305 This “character” perfects the common priesthood of the faithful, received in Baptism, and “the confirmed person receives the power to profess faith in Christ publicly and as it were officially (quasi ex officio).”

1535 Through these sacraments those already consecrated by Baptism and Confirmation for the common priesthood of all the faithful can receive particular consecrations. Those who receive the sacrament of Holy Orders are consecrated in Christ’s name “to feed the Church by the word and grace of God.” On their part, “Christian spouses are fortified and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and dignity of their state by a special sacrament.”

1547 The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” While being “ordered one to another,” they differ essentially. In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace –a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit–, the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.

LUMEN GENTIUM (Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church)

  1.    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.

  1. The supreme and eternal Priest, Christ Jesus, since he wills to continue his witness and service also through the laity, vivifies them in this Spirit and increasingly urges them on to every good and perfect work.

For besides intimately linking them to His life and His mission, He also gives them a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. For all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne-all these become “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. Together with the offering of the Lord’s body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God.

SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM (Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)

  1. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people” (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5) is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

Compare & Contrast

TopicCommon PriesthoodMinisterial Priesthood


ActionSacraments of Baptism & ConfirmationSacrament of Holy Orders

• Baptism & Confirmation imprint on the soul an indelible (until death) sacramental character

• By baptism, a person is united with Christ and incorporated in His Body.

• He is a partaker of Divine Life

• By Confirmation, he is made a Temples of the H.S.

• He shares in God’s Divine life and is called to sanctify himself & others through a witnessing life.


• Mediate grace through word & deed as members in Body of Christ.


• Ordination imprints on the soul an indelible (until death) sacramental character

• The ordained becomes a dedicated minister of Christ.


• Shares in the Priesthood of Christ, in a special way, for the spiritual benefit of the People of God, and to Particularly perform:

+ Acts of mercy

+ Divine Worship

+ Forgiveness of sins

+ Teaching Church Doctrine

+ Administer the Sacraments, in particular, the Qurbana

+ Pastoral Governance (Bishops)

Tasks & RanksTasks


+ Called to a life of sanctity & worship of God

+ Suffering & setbacks in life, as offering united with Jesus’ Sacrifice on the Cross


+ Witnessing to Christ at workplace & society

+ Teaching family the values of the Kingdom

+ Saint Francis “Preach always, sometimes with words”.


+ The offer of one’s self for the service of the Kingdom of God.

+ Like Jesus, serve not be served.


Bishop:  He has the fullness of the Sacrament; he is the chief teacher(Prophetic), sanctifier (Priestly) &shepherd (Royal) in his Diocese.

Priest:  He is united with his bishop in priestly dignity but depends on him in the exercise of his pastoral function; the priest is called to be his bishop’s prudent co-worker.

Deacon:  He receives the Sacramentbut not the ministerial priesthood.  He is conformed to Christ, who “came to serve and not to be served”.  He assists the bishop or priest in the celebration of Qurbana and other liturgical services, and dedicates himself to charitable activities.