The Church teaches that lay Catholics share in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly offices of Christ. Can you provide a fuller understanding of these offices, and what limits or distinctions are in order?
Yes, as the Catechism affirms, The anointing with Sacred Chrism… signifies a gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one “anointed” by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest prophet and king (no. 1241)
The common priesthood of believers and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood, while being ordered to one another differ in essence. It is not simply a difference in degree, but a difference in kind.
Biblically, priests are those who offer sacrifice to God. Thus in the common priesthood of all the baptized, believers are to offer their own life as a sacrifice to God, serving God and caring for all God's people. The whole life of a believer should be a sacrifice pleasing to God, as we offer our time, talent, and treasure. All the faithful are also called to offer a sacrifice of praise by taking part in the sacred liturgy, and in prayer in vivid and conscious ways, exercising roles in the sacred liturgy that are proper to the laity.
Prophets are those who speak for God, who are God’s voice in the world. As prophets, believers must first hear and heed the Word of God and, having done so, proclaim the authentic Word of God to this world by what they say and do. Clearly the prophet must proclaim only that which befits sound doctrine, only that which the Lord has revealed to his Church, in the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition.
Kings are those who exercise authority. And thus the baptized believer must first of all take authority over his or her own life. Believers must rule over their unruly passions, over disordered drives of the soul and body, and so forth.
Having gained self‐mastery, Christians are also called to exercise lawful authority in this world. Of course this must begin in the family with parents. But the royalty of the baptized must extend beyond merely the family, into the whole world, as believers seek to extend the kingship of Christ throughout the whole social order.
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