The Eucharist is an opportunity for each of us to encounter Christ as sacrament through the reenactment of the Paschal Mystery: life, death, resurrection, ascension. “The authentic sense of the Eucharist becomes itself the school of active love for neighbor. We know that this is the true and full order of love that the Lord has taught us. The Eucharist educates us to this love in a deeper way; it shows us, in fact, what values each person, our brother or sister, has in God’s eyes, if Christ offers Himself to each one, under the species of bread and wine. If our Eucharistic worship is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each person. The awareness of the dignity becomes the deepest motive of our relationship with our neighbor.”
The ordained priest, by the sacred orders he has received forms and guides the priestly people in becoming more and more the faith-love community of the Church at the service of the Kingdom. He does this in the person of Christ by proclaiming the Word of God and by presiding as celebrant of the community in the sacramental life of His Church.
The faithful, by virtue of their baptism and confirmation, are called to exercise their common priesthood by actively participating in the communal and personal celebration of the sacraments, and through communal and personal prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and acts of charity.
This is most beautifully exemplified in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. “The celebrant, as minister of this sacrifice, is the authentic priest – performing – in virtue of the specific power of sacred ordination – a true and sacrificial act that bring creation back to God. Although all those who participate in the Eucharist do not confect (offer) the sacrifice as he does, they offer with him, by virtue of the common priesthood, their own spiritual sacrifices represented by the bread and wine from the moment of their presentation at the altar.” (Mystery and Worship in the Holy Eucharist., Pope John Paul II, par 9)
In this way the sacrament of Holy Orders is rooted in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ sharing in his office and mission of prophet, priest, and king. The priest or deacon is empowered by the Holy Spirit specifically in the Sacrament of Holy Orders to challenge and encourage the people of God to give witness to the working of the Holy Spirit within the common priesthood. Hence, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is intimately connected with the living sacrament – His Church.
The Holy Father, through apostolic succession, shares most beautifully in the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ by forming and guiding the universal Church.
The bishops, as likened to the first apostles, share in this same priesthood by assuming the responsibility of guiding and forming the local churches.
The pastors, priests, and deacons, as likened to the first disciples, assume the responsibility of guiding and forming the community of believers in their local church.
Everyone is called for the service of others to build up the Body of Christ – His Church – by sharing in His priesthood. “For by becoming ‘children of God’ adopted daughters and sons, we also become in His likeness ‘a kingdom of priests’ and obtain a royal priesthood.” (Redemptor Hominis, Pope John Paul II, p. 80)