27 February, 2013

Response to one denying the Sacerdotal Priesthood

 (R. Whiteman) “In looking for the history of the Catholic priesthood, I came upon this article. I am trying to find the date where this system was officially set up to practice as it now does. I heard from a lecture years ago that it was in 508 AD and I am trying to verify if this date is accurate or not.”

(Cristoiglesia) Actually it was set up by Jesus before His death crucifixion and resurrection.

Let us look at the teaching of our Lord about His Church. Using construction vernacular He said that He was the King, High Priest, and Cornerstone of the Church. The beginning of a firm/solid/ foundation is always the cornerstone which holds together the elements of the construction.

He appointed St. Peter as the prime minister of the Church fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah that the Messiah would ordain an enduring office of prime minister and that that prime minister would be given the keys to the kingdom. This is exactly what He did when appointing St. Peter. The keys represented his office and the authority of that office which was to have the power of the king in ministering to the kingdom and the authority to teach and proclaim the will of the king. (Isa 22:20-25)

The disciples are called the 12 foundation stones (Rev 21:14) of the Church continuing illustrating the permanence of what God is building. It is not a foundation of sand that is temporary but is of an enduring nature to last until the Parousia and strong enough to withstand the tumultuous attacks of hell that would surely attempt to prevail against the Church using every method of attack from within and from without. Even the world would hate that which our Lord had built just as it hated Him. This enduring leadership is the foundation of a Church that can truly be called the "pillar and foundation of the truth" because that which Christ has ordained shall never pass away or be absorbed into the world but will for all time remain heavenly as the ark for humanity where all may be saved just as the ark of Noah was the type for the Church which must endure within the evil of the world to bring the faithful into the promised land of heaven.

St. Ignatius in the first century wrote that the Church is represented by the bishop saying in his letter to the Smyrnaeans, “where the bishop is there is the Church”. St. Ignatius was the third bishop of St. Peter’s bishopric of Antioch. He was ordained personally by St. Peter and was the disciple of St. Peter and St. John. No other person except St. Polycarp has such credentials as to be the disciple of two of our Lord’s disciples. We do not know the exact date that Jesus established the priesthood but certainly it was establishes before His death and resurrection and before the birth of the Catholic Church in 33AD.

(R. Whiteman) “In addressing your article:

“1 Peter 2:9 calls every believer a priest, which fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah in all who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.”

(Cristoiglesia) Isa 66:21- And I will also take some of them for priests and for Levites, says the LORD.

Actually this is not the fulfilling of prophecy as you claim but instead it eludes to the fact that we are all who believe in Christ redeemed through His blood shed on Calvary and as a result we all share in offering sacrifices through the humility of our hearts. We deny self, pray,

Verse 21 teaches that priests are no more just those who are of one family but that under the New Covenant it is Christ that chooses His priests and pastors.

(R. Whiteman) “Nothing from Scripture allows the setting up of an earthly system of priests after Jesus sacrificial death, but every man answers to Christ alone, as stated; "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17”

(Cristoiglesia) I have already shown you that your assumption is incorrect but that Jesus by His fulfillment of prophecy and by His own actions set up an enduring foundation of the Church with the priesthood maintained by apostolic succession. It was already in place at the time of His sacrifice. The priest acts always in persona Christi as the hands and voice of God.

(R. Whiteman) “In the gifts given to the church (1 Cor 12, Eph 4, etc) there are pastors/teachers, prophets, healers, interpretation of tongues, miracles, word of wisdom, etc, but nothing concerning priestly ministry or any hierarchical system.”

(Cristoiglesia) Again I have already provided the biblical evidence that Jesus indeed established a firm and solid foundation for His Church through apostolic succession that will endure for all times.

 All authority was given to the apostles from Christ and at least some of that special authority is recorded in Scripture and is certainly attested to by the ante Nicene fathers.

There is no doubt that the apostles knew that their ministry would survive their death as it was needed to be a permanent living presence until the Parousia.

(Mat 28:20 DRB) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

Knowing their responsibility in preserving the teaching of Christ they ordained successors giving them the gift of the Spirit with Episcopal consecration:

(Act 1:8 DRB) But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.

(Act 2:4 DRB) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost: and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.

(Joh 20:22 DRB) When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

(Joh 20:23 DRB) Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

(1Ti 4:14 DRB) Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood.

(2Ti 1:6 DRB) For which cause I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands.

(2Ti 1:7 DRB) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power and of love and of sobriety.

There is no doubt that “Apostolic Succession” is a historical fact. Scriptures, as well show clearly that Christ chose these apostles and commissioned them to establish and continue his work with his authority and they ordained successors. It is Apostolic Succession that is the link connecting the Church to Christ. It is the authority from Christ of the Episcopacy that brings so many knowledgeable people to return to the Catholic faith as I am a witness.

We see those who were ordained in apostolic succession fulfilling their ministry:

(Act 20:28 DRB) Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.

(1Th 1:1 DRB) Paul and Sylvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians: in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1Th 1:2 DRB) Grace be to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for you all: making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing,

(1Th 1:3 DRB) Being mindful of the work of your faith and labour and charity: and of the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father.

(1Th 1:4 DRB) Knowing, brethren, beloved of God, your election:

(1Th 1:5 DRB) For our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also: and in the Holy Ghost and in much fulness, as you know what manner of men we have been among you for your sakes.

(1Th 1:6 DRB) And you became followers of us and of the Lord: receiving the word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

(1Th 1:7 DRB) So that you were made a pattern to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.

1Th 1:8 DRB) For from you was spread abroad the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and in Achaia but also in every place: your faith which is towards God, is gone forth, so that we need not to speak any thing.

(1Th 1:9 DRB) For they themselves relate of us, what manner of entering in we had unto you: and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.

(1Th 1:10 DRB) And to wait for his Son from heaven (whom he raised up from the dead), Jesus, who hath delivered us from the wrath to come.

(2Ti 1:6 DRB) For which cause I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands.

(Tit 1:5 DRB) For this cause I left thee in Crete: that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee:

(Tit 1:6 DRB) If any be without crime, the husband of one wife. having faithful children, not accused of riot or unruly.

(Tit 1:7 DRB) For a bishop must be without crime, as the steward of God: not proud, not subject to anger, nor given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre:

(Tit 1:8 DRB) But given to hospitality, gentle, sober, just, holy, continent:

(Tit 1:9 DRB) Embracing that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers.

(1Ti 4:14 DRB) Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood.

(2Ti 1:6 DRB) For which cause I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands.

St. Paul goes on to instruct St. Timothy as to who is a qualified candidate for ordination:

(1Ti 3:1 DRB) A faithful saying: If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth good work.

(1Ti 3:2 DRB) It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher,

(1Ti 3:3 DRB) Not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not covetous, but

(1Ti 3:4 DRB) One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity.

(1Ti 3:5 DRB) But if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

(1Ti 3:6 DRB) Not a neophyte: lest, being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgment of the devil.

(1Ti 3:7 DRB) Moreover, he must have a good testimony of them who are without: lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

(1Ti 5:22 DRB) Impose not hands lightly upon any man, neither be partaker of other men's sins. Keep thyself chaste.

We also find in the Scriptures that those in Apostolic Succession had particular and varied duties:

(1Co 12:27 DRB) Now you are the body of Christ and members of member.

(1Co 12:28 DRB) And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors: after that miracles: then the graces of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches.

(1Co 12:29 DRB) Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors?

(Eph 4:11 DRB) And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors:

(Eph 4:12 DRB) For the perfecting of the saints, for the word of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

We are further reminded of the foundation of the Church:

(Eph 2:19 DRB) Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners: but you are fellow citizens with the saints and the domestics of God,

(Eph 2:20 DRB) Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone:

This is only some of the Scriptures speaking of apostolic succession and the duties, need and authority of the office.

(R. Whiteman) “Confession and repentance are to Christ only, who alone can forgive(Acts 4:12). The churches have a duty in regards to the need to discipline in matters that affect the church body, but not the authority to absolve individuals of sin. Only Jesus has that power and authority. Nowhere in scripture do we see examples of the Apostles or even the old testament priests forgiving the sins of anyone. Sins were confessed upon the lamb which was then slain. The priest only officiated as required to transfer the blood (guilt) into the holy place, which removed them from the sinner and placed them on Christ who would die for all sin. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter does not forgive anyone, but points them to Jesus as the only means of being saved from sin. Jesus taught all believers to pray to "our Father in heaven" for forgiveness.(Matt 6:12)

The promise to all who believe is that they will be presented "faultless in the presence of His Glory with exceeding joy." (Jude 24) Only Christ can cleanse the repenting soul of sin and present them faultless. No man is given this authority. Jesus invites all to “come unto me...”, not to another man, who is also erring. Only our Creator/Redeemer can save us, and we are invited to come to Him personally and directly, by faith. The work of pastors/teachers is to lead people to this understanding and faith. If I have wronged you, I should come and ask your forgiveness and then pray for forgiveness and accept the promised forgiveness and cleansing from Christ. (I John 1:9) No human is given the place of standing between the soul and his Savior. We come to God through Him, and not through another.”

(Cristoiglesia) Christ instituted the sacraments purposefully. The sacrament called reconciliation or penance is what we call our actions when we go to confession. Going to confession and confessing to a priest is the normative way of reconciling oneself back into God's family when we have committed a mortal sin. It is the biblical way corresponding to Jesus' teaching as recorded by the apostle John in John 20: 22-23. What we learn from John is the authority given to the priests is not only to forgive sins but also to retain sins. Jesus commanded the authority to be used. It is the duty given by Jesus for the priest to measure the contrition of the penitent and act accordingly.

However, one must repent and pray sincerely to God as an act of contrition before one enters the confessional. The priest represents Jesus by acting in persona Christi and for the entire family of God represented by the Church militant who is harmed by the sin of another. No sin is private but all sin affects others. Jesus described this relationship as a vine with Him as the vine and we as the branches (John 15:5). If one member of the branch is sick then all

the branches are affected and suffer as a result. Because of our familial relationship with each other Jesus created a means of confession so that all those affected in His family are represented by the priest as is God. The acts of sin and forgiveness are not private matters. God bless!

In Christ

Fr. Joseph

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