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The Dogmatic Relationship between the Priests and the Laity
Eke-Dike Chigozie Ozoegede: 08037566542
Today, we are seeking the point of agreement or relationship at which the priest and the laity meet. But the priests and the laity cannot be conceived outside the Church; therefore, we must first define what the Church is before anything else.
What is the Church?
The Church is the sheepfold of Christ constituted of hierarchical structure through which Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit, continues the work of salvation to the Glory of the Father. When we talk of the Church, we strictly mean the Catholic Church.
When we assert of hierarchical structure in the Church, we mean that, though we are all one body in Christ and equal in nature, we are not equal in office, and that is what we call hierarchy. There is hierarchy of office even in heaven. There is hierarchy of office even in our families.
In every institution, there must be law and order, and there must be men chosen to enforce the law and order and this idea of men chosen from among equals is what constitutes hierarchy.
In the Bible we see Christ referred to as the Corner Stone. This means that, in the Church, Christ is the supreme head. This plainly tells us there is hierarchy in the Church with Christ at the Supreme point of the hierarchy in the spiritual dimension of the Church.
The reality of the hierarchical structure in the Church establishes the fact that, the Church is a body of harmony, because the laity has priestly hierarchy that coordinates them in the services of charity and truth.
The Pope who is the Vicar of Christ is the first hierarchy in the hierarchical structure of the Church. The bishops are the second hierarchy, followed by the priests who are the third. The Religious (brothers and nuns) are the fourth in this hierarchical structure. The fifth in the hierarchy is the laity. These Five levels represent the Five letters making the Name of our Christ; we are hidden in His Name.
In the Apostolic lineage, the Pope sends the bishops, the bishops send the priests and the priests send the laity.
Now, what we seek to understand today is the point of relationship between the priests and the laity and the limit of the laity.
The Point of Relationship between the Priests and the Laity:
Who is a Priest?
A priest is a ritual expert learned in a special knowledge of the technique of worship and accepted as a religious and spiritual leader.
Throughout the long and varied history of religion, the priesthood has been the official institution that has mediated and maintained a state of equilibrium between the sacred and the profane aspects of human society and that has exercised a stabilizing influence on social structures and on cultic organizations. The term priest has its cultural title in all the cultures ancient and modern, and, on common basis, constitutes a spiritual elder.
The primary role of the priest is that of the ritual expert, the one who has a special and sometimes secret knowledge of the techniques of worship, including incantations, prayers, sacrificial acts, songs, and other acts that are believed to maintain and service harmony between the divine or sacred and the profane realms.
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