The Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist
Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis)
The following reflection was recorded in 2008 as part of episode 9 (El Sacerdocio Y La Eucaristia) of the EWTN Spanish television series "La Sagrada Eucaristia."English translation by EWTN.
In the Last Supper, we have been born as priests. There isn’t the Eucharist without the priesthood. And, the priesthood doesn’t exist without the Eucharist. Only the priest who has received the Sacrament of Order can validly celebrate the Eucharist, because there is something mysterious. The Eucharist isn’t a reunion of friends who come to pray and eat bread and wine. The Eucharist is fundamentally priestly. Because the first Eucharist was celebrated in a priestly way by the unique High Priest in whose priesthood we ourselves participate. Jesus Christ. He was the priest and was the Victim of this Sacrifice.
The mystery of sanctification and love, work of the Holy Spirit by which the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, acts also in the person of the minister who celebrates when he is an ordained priest. The same Spirit that is transforming his Heart. Jesus has called us to the priesthood. And we continue calling many others to be His ministers. The most important (thing) is fidelity to Christ.
Once, when I was in the seminary, my grandmother told me to never forget that I was going to be a priest and the most important thing for a priest was to celebrate the Mass. And she reminded me about a mother who said to her son, who was a very holy priest. She told him, “celebrate each Mass as if it were the first and the last.” The Mass is unique. The priest owes his existence to the Eucharist. Look, what I tell you may appear exaggerated but it is the whole truth. If a man prepares himself for 8 years to be a priest: if he studies, prepares his heart, prays a lot, is ordained a priest and celebrates the Eucharist, his life is already complete. The life of this man plans itself in the celebration of the Eucharist.
With what greatness the priest has to prepare himself to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Such a beautiful thing, such a great thing. Something that fills us with joy. And what applies to the priest, applies in a way to each of the faithful who participates in the common priesthood of all the faithful. He can’t celebrate the Eucharist, but he can participate in the celebration. This is the greatest thing that can take place during the day. It is the most profound, the most priestly. For this reason we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ the priest, who offers His sacrifice to the Father.
But, back to the priest. If some of you who are listening to me are young people…Doesn’t this excite you? Don’t you feel that God is calling you to this great thing? To have in your hands the Body of Christ?
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