We’re continuing to consider the Mass in this series of articles. Last week I mentioned we needed a congregation. Once the assembly has gathered, are we ready to begin Mass? Well, yes, if at least one of the members of the congregation is a priest.
Christians can pray together without an ordained priest, and frequently in very inspiring ways. Surely many individual elements of worship, such as singing, and hospitality, and so forth, can be accomplished by others. In fact, some things have to be done by others: I’ve never seen a priest be both celebrant and organist at the same service! (Smile!)
But what makes the priest special and necessary for Mass is his consecration by the sacrament of Holy Orders. Through ordination, the Holy Spirit enables the priest to act “in the person of Christ the head.” The role of the priest is so important as to be absolutely necessary for Mass: only by the ministry of a validly ordained priest does the sacred action of Christ Jesus at Mass – the change of bread and wine into His Body and Blood – come about.
If you want to read about this in your Catechism of the Catholic Church, turn to nos. 1140-1144, 1348 and 1411.