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By Brian Kelly
Theme: Toward an Integral Catholic Culture: Variations on a Theme of Father Feeney
Title: The Royal Priesthood of the Laity
Mr. Kelly first had to assure his audience that he was not going to espouse any heresy by introducing such a topic, which, in actual fact, has not been emphasized as strongly as it ought to be among Catholics loyal to the traditional Latin Mass. After giving a few personal anecdotes from the days of his youth in the 1950s, when there was still a residue of Catholic culture left in homes and parishes, the speaker moved right into the issue by showing how the royal priesthood of the laity was prefigured by the priestly kingdom of the Old Testament. As a nation God called the Jews from the time of Moses on to be a priestly kingdom; in the New Testament, however, Mr. Kelly explains that God reversed the role by inspiring Saint Peter to write in his Epistle to the whole Church: You are a kingly priesthood. Then, he explains how this royalty and priesthood are a participation of the members of the Mystical Body in the Priesthood of Christ the King. We are royal, the speaker pointed out, because we are members of His Body and our Head, Jesus Christ, is the King of the Universe.
The most important part of Mr. Kelly's talk was his examination of the participation of the faithful with the sacrificing priest at the altar in Holy Mass. He quickly ran through the prayers of the Mass to show how almost all of them are given in the plural: our sacrifice, our oblation which we offer, grant us we beseech Thee. What deputes the laity to offer what Saint Paul calls spiritual sacrifices is the character received in the sacrament of baptism, which makes us members of the Church. Our morning offering and the three prayers the angel of Portugal taught the Fatima children are good examples of our priestly commission. Of course, Mr. Kelly also explained the difference between the character of the sacrament of Holy Orders, which gives the ministering priest alone the power to consecrate and forgive sins, and the common priesthood with which we are marked at baptism.
Citing excerpts from Father Feeney's Bread of Life, Mr. Kelly inspired the audience to take seriously their noble calling as royal members of Christ the King. He concluded his talk with some explanations of the meaning of Catholic culture, ending it with a prayer from True Devotion for the coming of the triumphal age of Mary when holy souls will breathe Mary as the body breathes the air.
2009 SBC Conference
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