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Catholic Dictionary




The role Christ as ordained to offer sacrifice and prayer for humanity to his heavenly Father. His ordination or anointing to the office of high priest took place at the moment of the Incarnation, i.e., at the moment when the Word of God assumed human flesh in the womb of Mary. During his life on earth Christ exercised his priestly office by all the acts of his will, and then at the Last Supper and on Calvary he united all these mortal acts into one supreme sacrifice to the Father. Along with the sacrifice, Christ also prays as a priest, notably when he instituted the Eucharist and in the sacerdotal prayer recorded by St. John (17:1-26). Moreover, Christ's priesthood continues everlastingly in heaven, as revealed in the Letter to the Hebrews. Regarding the manner in which he exercises his eternal priesthood, revelation merely says: "He is always making intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34), which is a truly sacerdotal function because, as St. Paul affirms, it bears an intimate relation to the sacrifice of the Cross. In fact, Christ's continuing priesthood is the basis in faith for the existence and efficacy of the sacrifice of the Mass.