What is the link between Mary the Mother of God, the Ministerial (also known as the “Ordained” or the “Hierarchical”) Priesthood and the Common Priesthood of the Baptized (sometimes referred to as the “Priesthood of the Laity”)?
Since Mary miraculously brought forth the Son of God made flesh from her chaste womb, she is the Mother of Jesus Christ—the one and only Mediator between the Eternal Father and sinful mankind. Jesus is the Great High Priest Who, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “by love made Himself the least and the servant of all” (#1551).
A Catholic priest is a baptized man who has validly received the second degree (presbyterate) of the Sacrament of Holy Orders from a duly consecrated Catholic bishop, thereby becoming the sacred image of Christ the High Priest for the purpose of ordained ministry as a co-worker of the Bishops. The Catholic priest is linked to Christ: by Baptism, through which he is a member of the Common Priesthood of the Baptized; by Holy Orders, through which he participates in the Ministerial Priesthood. The Catholic priest is a “double brother” to Jesus.
The Mother of Christ is also the Mother of Catholic priests. She lovingly looks upon these men as her own beloved sons much as she considers her beloved
Those who are ordained to the Ministerial Priesthood—whether priests or bishops—discharge “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” (#1547).
The Ministerial Priesthood, which differs essentially from the Common Priesthood of the Baptized, “is at the service of the common priesthood”; indeed, it “is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians” (#1547). Through bishops and priests, “the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers” (#1549).
When one receives the Sacrament of Baptism, several things occur: a.) the remission of all sins, both Original and Actual (if any); b.) the incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ—the Church—as “‘a new creature,’ an adopted son of God, who has become a ‘partaker of the divine nature,’ member of Christ and co-heir with Him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit” (#1265); c.) the infusion into the soul of Sanctifying Grace and the three Supernatural Virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity); d.) the welcoming of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Fear of the Lord), the four Cardinal Virtues (Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance) and the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self-control, Chastity); e.) the possession of the bond of unity among all Christians; f.) the imprinting on the immortal soul with that “indelible spiritual mark (character)” that signifies “his belonging to Christ” (#1272).
The incorporation into the Church [b.)] means that all those validly baptized “have become ‘living stones’ to be ‘built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.’ By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in His prophetic and royal mission” (#1268). The Church asserts: “Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers” (#1268). This Common Priesthood of the Baptized, which is also a sharing in the one Priesthood of Christ, is displayed “by the unfolding of baptismal grace—a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit” (#1546).
The imprinting on the immortal soul [f.)] with the indelible spiritual character identifies the recipients with Christ the Great High Priest. “The baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy Liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity” (#1273).
“The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are ‘consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood” (#1546).
The Mother of Jesus is the Mother of ordained Catholic priests because they are in the Ministerial Priesthood that derives from Christ. The Mother of Jesus is the Mother of the baptized since they possess the Common Priesthood of the Baptized that also comes from Christ. Clearly, Jesus is the key!
Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mother of Catholic priests and Mother of all the baptized, pray for us!