Priesthood of the baptized

Friends in Christ, today’s first reading is from the 1st letter of St. Peter.
St. Peter says ‘let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.’ Here, when he says ‘priesthood,’ he is speaking not to ordained priests, but to all Christians. Referring to this very passage, the Catechism says that Christians, by virtue of their baptism, share in the Common priesthood of all believers. (CCC 1268) This is also called the Royal priesthood, or the Priesthood of the baptized.
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The ordained priest, shares in the priesthood of Christ the Head of the Church. All the baptized share in the priesthood in the Body of Christ. As St Peter says, we are a kingdom of priests; we are called a ‘priestly people.
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So what is a priest? Quite simply, it is a person who offers sacrifice to God. Jesus is the great High Priest – he offered the greatest sacrifice to God, himself. But if we are a priestly people, what do we offer? We offer really two things: all that we do, and all that we are.
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When we had difficulties, my mother used to say: ‘Offer it up.’ ‘Offer your trouble for the poor souls, offer that pain to God.’ This is our priestly dignity. This is what St. Peter means when he says that we are to offer ‘spiritual sacrifices.’
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We offer up the difficulties we have, the patience that we must have, to endure certain situations; we offer our prayers to God, which call down his mercy on those for whom we pray. In this we are intercessors for others. We offer our sorrows but also our joys. When something goes well, people will say: ‘Praise God!’ Yes, praise God! We offer up our joys and successes and praise, we offer our very selves. So this is our priestly dignity, as members of the Body of Christ.
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But none of our efforts, or our work, or anything, is a worthy offering to God unless they are united to the Perfect Sacrifice: Jesus Christ. And this is done at Mass. The Catechism, speaking of the Mass, says that the ordained priest at the altar, acting in the Person of Christ, unites the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ. (CCC 1566)
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At Mass, on that paten with the hosts, is not only bread which will become our Divine Lord, but quite literally we are on that paten as well with all of our acts of patience, sorrows, joys – our life. This is why the Church asks, that at least on Sunday, it is good if the faithful present the bread and wine: it is a sign of the presenting themselves too – as an offering.
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It is not only the Lord’s crucified body that we offer to God, it is his entire Mystical Body, the Church, which is offered up at each Mass. Because we are a kingdom of priests.

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