Mediator Dei 38-40

Mediator Dei on the Vatican web site. But let’s zero in on the liturgy as a manifestation of a society:

38. For a better and more accurate understanding of the sacred liturgy another of its characteristic features, no less important, needs to be considered.

39. The Church is a society, and as such requires an authority and hierarchy of her own. Though it is true that all the members of the Mystical Body partake of the same blessings and pursue the same objective, they do not all enjoy the same powers, nor are they all qualified to perform the same acts. The divine Redeemer has willed, as a matter of fact, that His Kingdom should be built and solidly supported, as it were, on a holy order, which resembles in some sort the heavenly hierarchy.

A society does not necessarily have be structured like a medieval aristocracy. Even in a democracy, there are divisions for powers, acts, and even a hierarchy. One of the modern indulgences is for a more open hermeneutic of complaint among the “peasants.” Even the “orthodox” Catholics get into it.

An orthodox description of the Catholic priesthood:

40. Only to the apostles, and thenceforth to those on whom their successors have imposed hands, is granted the power of the priesthood, in virtue of which they represent the person of Jesus Christ before their people, acting at the same time as representatives of their people before God. This priesthood is not transmitted by heredity or human descent. It does not emanate from the Christian community. It is not a delegation from the people. Prior to acting as representative of the community before the throne of God, the priest is the ambassador of the divine Redeemer. He is God’s vice-regent in the midst of his flock precisely because Jesus Christ is Head of that body of which Christians are the members. The power entrusted to him, therefore, bears no natural resemblance to anything human. It is entirely supernatural. It comes from God. “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you [John 20:21]. . . he that heareth you heareth me [Luke 10:16]. . . go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”[Mark 16:15-16]

It is true that the sacramental priesthood does not transmit by human procreation–unlike the Levites. I’m not sure where the following statement is based in actual sacramental experience:

It does not emanate from the Christian community. It is not a delegation from the people.

I’m not sure how the priesthood comes from anything but the call of baptism realized in a deep discernment for service. Also, the very definition of a priest is a person who prays and conducts rituals on behalf of the people. Perhaps “delegation” is a bit secular.

It’s interesting that the commission of Mark’s Gospel is repeated here as applicable to the priesthood, and not to the baptized. Otherwise, what do you think?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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