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Saint John Chrysostom wrote in the fourth century, “Priests who dwell upon earth and make their abode therein have been commissioned nonetheless to dispense things which are in heaven, and have received an authority such as God has not given either to angels or archangels. For it has not been said to them: All that you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven (Matthew 18:18). Those who rule upon earth, indeed, have authority to bind, but bodies only, whereas the binding done by priests takes hold of the soul itself and reaches to heaven. What priests execute below, God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the judgment of His servants.”

Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, says, “The priestly vocation is a mystery. It is the mystery of a wondrous exchange (“admirabile commercium”) between God and man. A man offers his humanity to Christ, so that Christ may use him as an instrument of salvation, making him, as it were, another Christ. Unless we grasp the mystery of this “exchange”, we will not understand how it can be that a young man, hearing the words “Follow me!”, can give up everything for Christ, in the certainty that, if he follows this path, he will find complete personal fulfillment. In our world is there any greater fulfillment of our humanity than to be able to re-present every day in the Person of Christ, (“in persona Christi”), the redemptive sacrifice, the same sacrifice which Christ offered on the cross?

Saint Catherine of Siena in her Book of Dialogues said that God the Father mystically said to her about Catholic priests, “They are My anointed ones and I call them My Christs, because I have given them the office of administering to Me in you, and have placed them like fragrant flowers in the Mystical Body of holy Church. The angel himself has no such dignity as I have given to those men I have chosen for My ministers and whom I have appointed as earthly angels in this life.”

The Council of Trent teaches, “Sacrifice and priesthood are, by the ordinance of God, in such wise conjoined as that both have always existed in every dispensation. Whereas, therefore, in the New Testament, the Catholic Church has received from the institution of Christ the holy, visible sacrifice of the Eucharist, it must needs be also professed in faith that there is in that Church a new, visible, and external priesthood into which the priesthood of the Old Testament has been translated (Hebrews 7:12).

Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore wrote, “To the carnal eye a priest looks like other men, but to the eye of faith he is exalted above the angels because he exercises powers not given even to the angels.” Blessed Peter of Blois said, “A priest has the primacy of Abel, the patriarchate of Abraham, the government of Noah, the order of Melchisedech, the dignity of Aaron, the authority of Moses, the perfection of Samuel, the power of Peter, and the unction of Christ.”