Friday, February 6, 2009

Why do Catholics think priests can do things in persona Christi?

Ok, now I know Catholics are crazy, pagan, idolaters. Did you know this teaching of in persona Christi means that a priest, a sinful man, can do things just like Christ did? Catholics actually believe that when a priest is ordained they pretty much become a little Jesus that can go around doing what Jesus did!

No we don’t believe priests are a “little Jesus”, but we sure do believe they can act in his person. How else would the sacraments be possible? Mere humans can’t turn bread & wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ; but Jesus can. Mere humans can’t forgive sins; but Jesus can. Mere humans can’t baptize with the Holy Spirit; but Jesus can.

Here’s what the Catechism says about in persona Christi. It’s well worth the read since this is a huge part of the priesthood and the belief of Catholics. A lot of what we hold dear hinges on this teaching.

In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis.

It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi).
Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ. (1548 CCC)

Here’s the idea: Jesus Christ is the one high priest prefigured in the Old Testament XXX. As the high priest, Jesus is the authority behind all other, earthly priests. The priests of the Old Testament were figures of Christ. They performed bloody sacrifices (with animals) to atone for the people’s sins. They had to do this day after day after day because their sacrifices were a figure, a picture, or a symbol, of Christ’s perfect sacrifice.

Priests today act in the person of Christ, in persona Christi, so they participate in the very acts of Jesus. Ok, stay with me here. Priests today do not re-do what Christ did. We do not re-sacrifice him. During the Eucharist we participate in the sacrifice of Christ. We are witnessing the crucifixion of Christ, not a new one, the original, each time we go to Mass. The priest stands in the person of Christ, and Christ works the sacrament through the earthly priest.

Other sacraments work the same way. When a priest hears confession and says the words of absolution (and some amazing words they are) it is not the man speaking the words, it is the man speaking in the person of Christ who has just forgiven the sins. A priest may be a wonderful fellow, but he can’t forgive sins on his own; just like I can’t.

Think of a priest as Jesus’ stunt double; who stands in for Jesus when a sacrament is being bestowed. We see a man, we hear a man’s voice, but it is Jesus who works.


Anonymous said...

priests were not needed in early first and second century "masses".We are all priests after His order.Indeed, if you think you need a holy man to do your bidding ,then why was the temple curtain torn in two at His death ? You be holy,man.You have His "persona".That is old testament where he has it and I do not .We are ALL in Him and He in us

dave ruiz said...

channel, channel, institutionalize,institutionalize. What God started in the spirit ,we end up in the flesh.God does a spiritual thing , like at the Transfiguration. Remember, where Moses and Isaiah appear with Jesus and Peter etc on the mount ,and Peter is so excited he wants to build an altar and almost remain there,and is somewhat rebuked by Jesus. So, fantastic things can happen for the believer ,and you want to put it in a box and say how it should be. It is the "wind" you are capturing and putting in the box .The trouble is , put "wind in a box and you kill it ,it is still. The Spirit can not be still. We are to be still. Jesus wants to be in "persona" in EVERY believer, and not just to hide under a bushel.Rome has Deuteronomized the new testament, with all these suppositions and rules and dogmas and formulas ,tying down the truth , and the believer. No wonder so many Catholics come to life outside of "Rome" Deuteronomy is Old Testament. God teaching us directly is New Testament,as foretold in the Old. Alleluia