SIR,—The casual layman, reading the letters that have appeared in your columns concerning the priest hood of the laity, may get the idea that the layman shares in that spiritual power that is conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. It will not be long before some, not content with being liturgically minded, will also desire to be liturgically dressed, and will perhaps don a chasuble on the greater feasts, just to recall that they, too, are priests.
For the sake of clarity, may I quote the catechism of the Council of Trent.
" But as Sacred Scripture describes a twofold priesthood, one internal and the other external, it will be necessary to have a distinct Idea of each to enable pastors to explain the nature of the priesthood now under discussion. Regarding the internal priesthood, all the faithful are said to be priests once they have been washed in the saving waters of baptism. Especially is this name given to the just who have the spirit of God, and who, by the help of divine grace, have been made living members of the great High-priest, Jesus Christ; for, enlightened by faith which is inflamed by charity. they offer up spiritual sacrifices to God on the altar of their hearts. Among such sacrifices must be reckoned every good and virtuous action done for the glory of God." Here follow the Scriptural texts, Apoc. i, 5, 6,; I Pet. ii, 5; Rom, xii, 1; Ps. I, 19, upon which says the Catechism of the Council, " All this clearly regards the internal priesthood."
Now follows the difference which the liturgical layman should note.
"The external priesthood, on the contrary, does not pertain to the faithful at large, but only to certain men who have been ordained and consecrated to God by the lawful imposition of hands and by the solemn ceremonies of holy Church, and who are thereby devoted to a particular sacred ministry. This distinction of the priesthood can be seen even in the Old Law. David spoke of the internal priesthood we have just shown. • . . Now as the same die tinction (of a twofold) priesthood may be noted in the New Law, the faithful should be cautioned that what we are now about to say concerns that external priesthood which is conferred on certain special individuals. This alone belongs to the Sacrament of Holy Orders."
The danger of unbalanced liturgiolatry is that the enthusiastic layman will get the delusion that he shares in the external priesthood that is conferred only by the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and will really imagine himself a co-consecrator of the Holy Eucharist. In this power the layman has no share whatever. The characters given to the Christian soul by the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, respectively, cause the layman to enter fully into the internal priesthood mentioned by the Catechism of the Council of Trent. These characters do not make the layman participate in the external priesthood. There is, therefore, only an analogy between the priesthood of the layman and that of the priest; there is no univocity, to use r coined word.
Public Schools and the Parish
SIR,—May I make a brief comment on the letter signed by Sir John Reynolds, Bart., on the subject of Catholic Action ? It is clear, concise and very much to the point.
He says: " As yet the clergy have not had the material time to educate the laity to an understanding of the new demands made on the laity by the late Pope."
What, then, is the purpose and function of our Catholic secondary schools? Recently a parish priest made the following remarks: " I send my boys and girls to your school. By so doing, I share with you my prerogative as teacher of Christ's truths and shaper of Christian morals. " After that, I frankly admit I want them back. Their religious life must be lived in my parish. All their religious advantages and all their sacramental graces will come to them from my hands.
" Yes, I feel I am right in demanding them back!
" Are you sending them back to me? Or are you making them spiritual and social snobs, too good or too busy or too uninterested to have part in my parish life? Too selfish to furnish less fortunately trained young men and young women the leadership they should so willingly offer?
" If you do, I blame you, and 1 blame you severely. Don't wonder if with reluctance I see my boys and girls enter your schools."
And who can blame them, these parish priests who have the ultimate responsibility for the Catholicity 'of their people?
Let's face the facts: 1. Catholic schools were established as the auxiliary of the Catholic churches, the parish churches. They were never meant to supplant them.
2. Catholic schools must train the leaders.
3. But the first place in which leadership is to be exercised is in the parish. All other leadership comes after that.
4. Hence the primary leadership obligation of the schools is to send trained leaders into their parishes, not as a favour on the part of the students, not as a condescension on the part of the school, but as a duty and a privilege and something that must be done if Catholic schools ere to justify their existence.
We have endeavoured in our .Jesuit schools, to form specialised groups, through the Sodality of Our Lady, to train boys in Catholic leadership. We are now adapting our methods to suit modern conditions.
GEORGE BURNS, S.J. St. Francis Xavier's, Liverpool.