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Chapter 10. The Church: Reflecting the Light of Christ • 117

popes, patriarchs, bishops, priests, deacons, the laity, religious men and

women—each group with its special mission and responsibility.

Jesus Christ is the head of this people whose law is love of God and

neighbor. Its mission is to be the salt of the earth and the light of the

world and a seed of the possibility of unity, hope, salvation, and holiness

for humanity. Its destiny is the Kingdom of God, already partially expe-

rienced on earth and fully known in heaven. All God’s people, through

their Baptism, participate in Christ’s offices of priest, prophet, and king.


All of the baptized share in Christ’s priesthood. This participation is

called the “common priesthood of all the faithful.”Their works, prayers,

activities of family and married life, apostolic endeavors, relaxation,

and even the sufferings and setbacks of life can become spiritual offer-

ings pleasing to God when united to the sacrifice of Christ. Such acts of

God’s people become forms of divine worship that by his design sanctify

the world.

Based on the common priesthood of all the faithful and ordered to

its service is the ordained, ministerial priesthood. This priesthood is con-

ferred by the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

The ministerial priesthood differs in essence from the common

priesthood of the faithful because it confers a sacred power for

the service of the faithful. (CCC, no. 1592)

In a later chapter, we will reflect on the unique role of those in Holy

Orders and on the special service they provide the whole Body of Christ.


God’s people also share in Christ’s role as prophet. This means both

teaching and witnessing God’s Word in the world. A real prophet, by

teaching and good example, leads others to faith. St. Francis of Assisi

once said, “Preach always. Sometimes use words.” Priests, laity, and reli-

gious can all collaborate in the Church’s missionary and evangelization