The Priesthood of the Baptized

Today is the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, a bishop and doctor of the Church whose preaching was so inspired that he was called "Golden Word." He only lived about fifty years, but the 183 sermons of his that we have continue to speak to us over 1500 years after his death. In one of them, he reflects on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, 12: 1: “I urge you, therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” These words are at the heart of what we strive to do in the Apostleship of Prayer: to live a Eucharistic life, a life in which we offer ourselves one day at a time with Jesus who offers himself to the Father for the salvation of the world.  The following is from Homily 108 of St. Peter Chrysologus:

How marvelous is the priesthood of the Christian, for he is both the victim that is offered on his own behalf, and the priest who makes the offering.  He does not need to go beyond himself to seek what he is to immolate to God: with himself and in himself he brings the sacrifice he is to offer God for himself.  The victim remains and the priest remains, always one and the same.  Immolated, the victim still lives: the priest who immolates cannot kill.  Truly it is an amazing sacrifice in which a body is offered without being slain and blood is offered without being shed.

Paul says: “I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living and holy.”  The prophet said the same thing: “Sacrifices and offering you did not desire, but you have prepared a body for me.”  Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest.  Do not forfeit what divine authority confers on you.  Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity.  Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection.  Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you.  Keep burning continually the sweet smelling incense of prayer.  Take up the sword of the Spirit.  Let your heart be an altar.  Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice.  God desires not death, but faith; God thirsts not for blood, but for self-surrender; God is appeased not by slaughter, but by the offering of your free will.