In tradition many reasons are given why Mary can rightly be called a
priest. Here we enumerate just a number of them.
The Fathers of the Church point out that Mary was of priestly descent. According to legend she had lived in the temple from early childhood. Her being part of a priestly family is seen as important since Jesus himself, the eternal High Priest, derived his priesthood from her.
exercised many priestly functions, especially offering Jesus as a sacrifice
both at the Presentation in the Temple and on Calvary.
A further collection of thirty relevant quotations from theologians and spiritual writers will be found in Mary as a sacrificial priest.
Mary could not escape from Calvary because God had given her the mission to remain there as priest, victim and mediatrix. She had to stay on Calvary, next to the cross and in the heart of her Son. She stood up straight on Calvary and undertook her function as priest. She stood next to the cross and fulfilled the role of a victim. She stayed in the heart of Jesus and acquitted herself of the task of mediatrix: strong in her first task, faithful to her second, devoted in her third . . .Mary had to fulfill her first task, that of being a priest. St Antonio María Claret (1807 - 1870), Copiosa y vera collección de panegíricos, Rome 1860, vol. 3, pp. 390-391.
Mary is also considered as the person who, with Christ, gave us the Eucharist. The Fathers therefore called her the golden table with the loaves of proposition.
If the Saviour, as the Fathers of the Church assure us, is at each Mass the principal priest and the one who offers himself to the Father and who delivers himself up to people, the blessed Virgin shares in this function of the sovereign priesthood, accompanying the oblation and immolation which her Son makes of herself with her own agreement. For it is therefore that St Epiphanius among other praises, calls the Virgin a priest and an altar. Jean de Machaut (1599 - 1676), Le Thrésor, vol III, pp. 152-153.
Since the will of the Virgin has cooperated with
the will of the Son in the realisation of the Eucharist, we can with enough
certainty declare and absolutely affirm that she has given us and has offered
for us this heavenly bread. In fact, we recognise that the gift which is
entrusted to us under these species - - that is : the body and blood of Christ
the Lord -- is truly her gift and belongs to her. The divine Epiphanus touched
on this reason is his sermon De Laudibus Virginis.
What could we say or imagine that is more splendid ? He says that the Virgin is a priest in some way in the gift and in the offering of the celestial bread; which is true precisely for this reason that together with her Son she gave and offered [this eucharistic bread], thus realising at the same time both the sacrament and the sacrifice.
. . . . It was right that she who was present at the first act of giving, and of whom it was said that she had given and offered together with the Father and the Son, should also be present at the consummation and fulfilment of this donation, to such an extent that we can say that she has in the same way given and offered it (the Eucharist) with her Son.
. . The manner in which the incarnation was achieved in the breast of the Virgin pleased Christ so greatly ...that he invented a new way of repeating it and reiterating it...-... that is, the Eucharist. Ferdinand Chirino de Salazar (1575 - 1646), In Proverbiis, IX, no 148-149, vol. 1, 770D-771A.
Through her role as intercessor and mediator on behalf of the rest of mankind, Mary was seen to be instrumental in procuring for us forgiveness of sins, always independent on Jesus own redemptive role of course. Intercession and procuring forgiveness of sins were seen to be specifically priestly functions, as described in the letter to the Hebrews.
Do not be afraid that, in order to focus on the mother, I would be
imprudent enough to diminish the Son or minimise his glory. No, I am sure, and
faith teaches it to me, Jesus Christ is the only priest, the only bishop in
essence and excellence . . . He is also the only mediator.
Yet, there are other priests and other bishops who are subordinated to Jesus Christ and who in their own way offer God this sacred victim of our reconciliation. There is also another kind of mediators, mediators by intercession, because they pray and intercede for us. Mary is one of those, in preference to all others. C.L.Richard (1796), Sermon 63 sur lAssomption, Orateurs Sacrés, Paris, vol. 67, p. 702.
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