THE PRIESTHOOD OF THE BAPTIZED
The basis of all Christian life is Baptism, which cleanses our sin and regenerates us as sons of God , makes us members of Christ and incorporates us in the Church.
By the regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, Baptism makes us share the priesthood of Christ in his priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions.
The baptized are called to offer themselves to God. Their prayers, works, apostolic initiatives, relaxation itself, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne, become sacrifices acceptable to the Father.
In his first epistle St. Peter writes:
“coming to the Lord as to a living stone – the baptized are -chosen as living stones to build up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (cfr 1Pt.2,4-5).
St. Paul, too, in his epistle to the Romans, affirms:
“I beseech you , brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rm. 12,1).
This offer culminates in the Eucharistic liturgy, when the faithful unite their own lives to the offering of bread and wine so that Christ can assume them in his oblation and offer them to the Father.
Participating in the prophetic function of Christ, the baptized accept the Gospel with faith, announce it by a living testimony as well as by the spoken word, paying attention to society and world problems.
They must spread the spirit of the Gospel everywhere: in family, professional and social life, in culture and politics.
The priesthood of the baptized is called “royal” because it is a participation in the function of Christ the King.
Christ is King because he offered himself in sacrifice for our sins, as it is written in the
Letter to the Hebrews, “He sits for ever on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12) and shares the sovereignty of the Father.
His royalty is not for a temporal kingdom, but for a spiritual lordship, which consists in leading men to the truth, freeing them from sin.
To live the royal function, the baptized must overcome the kingdom of sin within themselves, promote justice, serve Christ present in their brothers, especially in the poor and suffering, and lead men and all creation towards their ultimate end which is the glory of God.
THE READING OF THE ICON
Reading starts from the center.
Some catechumens are extended towards the baptismal font. Reborn to the source, they come out carrying the signs of their dignity: the crown, the halo, the priestly habit.
Arranged in a long line, led by the Virgin Mary, they go towards the Crucified Christ in priestly clothes. Here the Virgin receives from the Church the cup filled with the blood of the Lamb.
(Icon preserved in the Bibl. Stat. Of the city of Bamberg-Bavaria)