All Catholics by their baptism belong to the common priesthood of the faithful. However, some men are called by Christ to an ordained priesthood.
Christ established the common priesthood of the baptized to share in the Spirit’s work of sanctifying the world. Christ established the ordained priesthood to share in the Spirit’s work of sanctifying the faithful.
Because of his sacred responsibility, the ordained priest has a special obligation to deepen his spiritual sensibilities, grow in his union with Christ and inspire people to know, love, and serve God.
PRIESTS ARE FOR REAL
Jesus Christ, the definitive and perfect priest, established the ordained (or ministerial) priesthood with which the Apostles were the first to be invested. Conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the gift and mystery of ordained priesthood is the means by which Christ continuously builds up and leads his Church.
The priesthood is not an occupation but rather a vocation. Priests are men chosen by God to lay down their lives as bridges between heaven and earth. No one has a right to become a priest. Indeed, the priesthood can never be claimed by a man, for a man is called to it by God. Like every grace, the Sacrament of Holy Orders can be received only as an unmerited gift. The man who believes he may have a call to priesthood must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility to determine whether the call is genuinely from Christ.
Priests act in the person of Christ (in persona Christi) as the head of the Church sanctifying, leading, and teaching God’s people. At the same time, priests also act in the name of the Church: offering the sacrifice of the Holy Mass and administering the other Sacraments for the salvation of God’s people and of the world itself.