Priest and Victim
Fr. Jordi Rivero
this is a talk for priests, essentially it applies to all the
At ordination the bishop solemnly said to us: “Realize what you do, imitate that which you celebrate”.
That is the sacrifice of Jesus.
We are configured in Christ, one with Him, priest and victim.
All the baptized should offer themselves in Christ. The priest should be the model of that offering.
For many it has a negative sense
Victim is one who has suffered unjustly.
We were all victims of Satan's bondage.
God does not want injustice. We pray that there be no more victims of violence, abuse, injustice.
Jesus came to redeem us
Did so by offering himself to the Father as a victim
O.T. Priests offered a victim. Christ offered self.
victim: offered in sacrifice to God. The sacrifice implies that the victim is given up as an act of adoration or of expiation to the Divine Majesty.
Inmolation: The destruction of the victim
Oblation: the voluntary surrender of the victim.
Together they constitute the sacrifice.
Christ's Victimhood :: supreme act of love by which we are saved.
Jn. 15:13 “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”.
“Martyrdom is fullness, not because it finishes a human life but because it brings love to the fullest point.” JPII
We are victims when we are united to Christ's love.
Because of sin we are afraid of God.
Suffering happens when we have to deny the flesh.
Fear works in our flesh which seeks to retain its control, self satisfaction.
Christ died on the Cross thus overcoming fear of the Cross and restoring all to the Father.
We need to apply the power of the Cross to our own rebelliousness, put the flesh to death
Some say: Jesus became the victim so I dont have to be.
Wrong! That is like saying that Jesus came to love so that we dont have to love.
In bapt we died and were born in Christ.
Now we immitate Christ: Jn 15:12: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”
Where the Head goes, the body must follow.
Jn 12:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”
Col 1,24 “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”
Christ not lacking in efficaciousness
His suffering continues in St Paul and in each of us because we are His body.
We suffer with Him “for the sake of his body, the church”
Christ in heaven cannot suffer but He can “suffers with”
Ex opere operato: “By the work performed”. This is a principle of sacramental theology officially adopted at the Council of Trent. It teaches that the efficacy of a sacrament depends upon the valid performance of the sacrament itself and does not depend upon the personal holiness (or lack thereof) of the minister performing the sacrament.
This is true because Christ himself is truly present, doing what the priest could not do. The priest acts in persona Christi
But we would offend the Lord if we limit ourselves to perform the function prescribed for the sacrament without giving ourselves from the heart with Christ, as victims with the Victim. The sacrament would still be valid, but our lack of love would not allow the Lord to show himself through us as He would want.
The priest lives his vocation by sharing the dispositions of Christ, the Victim which he offers up in sacrifice. He must remember the solemn exhortation he received at his ordination: "Imitamini quod tractatis." (immitate that which you celebrate).
Benedict XVI: "Becoming the Eucharist: let this be our constant desire and commitment! So that the offer of the Body and Blood of the Lord we make upon the altar may be accompanied by the sacrifice of our own lives. Every day we draw from the Body and Blood of the Lord the free and pure love that makes us worthy ministers of Christ and witnesses to His joy. -Homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, June 11, 2009.
Benedict XVI: True for the priest is what Christ said of himself: "My teaching is not mine" (John 7:16); that is, Christ does not propose himself, but, as Son, is the voice, the word of the Father. The priest must also speak and act like this: "My doctrine is not mine, I do not propagate my ideas or what pleases me, but I am the mouth and heart of Christ …"
This fact does not mean, on the other hand, that he is neutral, almost like a spokesman who reads a text which, perhaps, he does not appropriate.
Also in this regard Christ's example is applicable, who said: I am not of myself and I do not live for myself, but I come from the Father and I live for the Father. That is why, in this profound identification, the doctrine of Christ is that of the Father and he himself is one with the Father. The priest must also say: I do not live from myself and for myself, but I live with Christ and from Christ and because of this all that Christ has said to us becomes my word, even if it is not mine. The life of the priest must be identified with Christ and, in this way, the word that is not his own becomes, however, a profoundly personal word.
The teaching that the priest is called to give, the truth of the faith, must be internalized and lived in an intense personal spiritual journey, so that the priest really enters into a profound, interior communion with Christ himself. The priest believes, accepts and tries to live, first of all as his own, all that the Lord has taught and the Church has transmitted. -april 14, 2010
Victimhood :: Holy Spirit
We cannot love like Christ on our own.
St. Paul: Gal 2, 20 “He loved me and gave His life for me”
Paul's oblation is a response to Christ's love for him and the power of H.S.
That is why he also says “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God”
Old man crucified. New Man
Christ's sacrifice releases the H.S.
(Romans 8:16-17). “it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Oblation. To enter into dependency in God
The greatest temptation the priest faces is to avoid suffering and seeking to just be nice.
Persecution brings renewal.
If we are not victims with the Victim, willing to suffer for the Lord, then we are hired hands, not shepherds.
If we are not willing victims of love with Christ it show in our preaching.
We then preach to keep people happy and to be approved.
Cardinal Ratzinger, 1997 “The words of the Bible and of the Church fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs; in order to avoid conflicts, they let the poison spread. Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive.”
Result: Catholics reject Church teaching on moral issues Ex. Contraception, abortion, homosexuality.
When we measure with standards of the world the path of victimhood is perceived as “to much”, “exagerated”.
Is Christ's offering on the cross to much? Are the saints to much?
Benedict XVI, homily Nov 21, 2010 “We know from the Gospels that the Cross was the critical point of the faith of Simon Peter and of the other Apostles. It is clear and it could not be otherwise: they were men and thought "according to men"; they could not tolerate the idea of a crucified Messiah.”
The more we love the more desire we have to offer ourselves
Victimhood can by misdirected
If suffering becomes an end in itself.
If we are not responding to the Spirit and choose our own crosses.
If we are gloomy, go around seeking to be pitied.
As a priest I have been inspired by many heroes. Some in heaven, others still on earth.
Some years ago, a lady started coming to me for spiritual direction.
I began to read the Lord's messages to Conchita and they helped me to rediscover the Scriptures and Church teaching on the Cross and victimhood.
I asked the Lord for a sign. I already knew that we are called to be victims. But should I offer myself as a victim and should I encourage others to do so?
At the Steubenville priests retreat hundreds of priests were singing: “Come H.S., let the fire fall” Suddendly silence. Then a prophecy from the Lord: “You are asking for the fire of my Spirit, but I ask you, where is the victim?
I was convicted.
I saw the connection betwn. Victim and H.S.
Lk 12:49-50 “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!
The fire of the Spirit comes upon those who offer their lives as victims.
Pope Benedict's XVI on suffering:
"Christianity gives us joy, for love gives joy. But love is also always a process of losing oneself, hence, a process of coming out of oneself; in this regard, it is also a painful process.. Only in this way is it beautiful and helps us to mature and to attain true joy. Anyone who seeks to affirm or to promise a life that is only happy and easy is a liar, because this is not the truth about man; the result is that one then has to flee to false paradises. And in this way one does not attain joy but self-destruction. (Feb 17th, 2007)
The priest is a victim in Christ
We cannot fall asleep at Getsemany, we cannot forget the deep desire of His heart: that we remain with Him in love unto the cross.
If we have failed, he calls us to repentance.
He forgave the disciples for their refusal to be victim souls and gave them the H.S.
(Dont know author)
close to us holy Mass brings the sublime mystery of Christ's
immolation. The thought may occur to us at times: "Had I been
present on Calvary, when Christ died on the Cross for me, how my
heart would have gone out to the Divine Victim, how I would have
united myself to His immolation!" But we are on Calvary
every day when we stand at the altar: under our very eyes, nay
through our consecrated hands, the same Divine Victim offers up the
same Sacrifice of His death on the Cross, albeit in a different
will ever fathom the depth of this mystery of love? When Christ was
dying on the Cross, His divine vision embraced all men of all
times, His Sacred Heart throbbed with love for each one of them. And
for them He would have liked (according to the expression of St
Bonaventure) to remain on the Cross, immolating Himself, till the end
of times. As this could not be, He instituted this admirable
Sacrifice of the Mass, in which His death on the Cross would be
perpetuated "a solis ortu usque ad occasum, in omni loco",
and all men could be present at the Sacrifice of Calvary and
participate in its merits. "Fulget crucis mysterium."
so it comes to pass that, morning after morning, I, even I, am the
instrument which Christ uses to bring to men the infinite merits of
His immolation on Calvary. Though I do not behold Christ hanging on
the Cross, yet I know that my Mass is "the perfect memorial of
Christ's Passion" (St Thomas). Even externally I see His death
represented by the separate consecration of His Sacred Body and
Precious Blood. And I am reminded of His Passion by the prayers of
the Canon, by the liturgical gestures and the very vestments of the
priest. Alas! even while I celebrate, there may be actual renewals of
Christ's Passion by the outrages, the unworthiness or the
indifference which Christ meets with in the Sacrament of His love at
that very moment, in the world at large, perhaps round my very altar,
perhaps (which God forbid) at this altar through my own faults.
Christ foresaw it all when He instituted the sacrifice of the Mass,
but He would not be deterred by it from becoming our Victim of Love
on the altars. "0 mira circa nos tuae pietatis dignatio!"
Is my daily oblation of holy Mass a daily communion with Christ's
immolation on Calvary?
often as I do these things", am I doing them in conscious and
loving remembrance of the crucified Saviour?
I behold with the eyes of the soul what lies under the "hostiam
sanctam, hostiam puram, hostiam immaculatam" which I offer unto
the infinite Majesty of God?
I am but little affected by these sublime realities, is it not
because I do not associate vividly enough my Mass with the Sacrifice
I think of this: in my preparation, whilst putting on the sacred
vestments, when proceeding to the altar?
the altar itself do I keep myself, in mind and even in body, united
to Christ crucified?
I teach my Christians to assist at holy Mass as if they were
witnessing Christ's immolation on Calvary?
mother of Blessed Henry Suso told him at the close of her life that
for thirty years she had never assisted at Mass without shedding
tears at the thought of Christ's holy Passion. "Unde et memores
tam beatae passionis."
obvious consequence of these views of faith about holy Mass is that
the offering priest must, like Christ, be a victim of love. Should he
not share the dispositions of the High Priest whose minister he is?
When Christ, for the love of him, offers Himself in immolation
through his hands, would it not be intolerable if he did not join his
own loving immolation to that of Christ? ... Moreover, that
union of his self oblation with the one of Christ is called for
by the very nature of the Mass: it is not the sacrifice of Christ
alone but of all those who offer it with Him, and, chief among these,
of the priest who celebrates the divine Mysteries.
every Consecration, the fervent priest deepens that union in
immolation by lifting himself up with Christ Victim as a
co-victim in sacrifice and self-surrender. And at each holy
Communion, he seeks to share more deeply the self-sacrificing
love which animates the Heart of Jesus beating now near his own
fruits of sanctification would not come thus to the priest, for
himself and for his flock? He would go forth from the altar "Christo
confixus cruci" : resolved "to conform his life to his
ministry and to mortify his members from all vices and lusts",
ready to bear generously all the trials and difficulties of the day's
work, even desirous of and rejoicing in sufferings "to fill up
those things that are wanting to the sufferings of Christ, for His
body, which is the Church"...
Does my daily Mass thus set the seal of sacrifice upon my daily life?
I aiming at it and longing for it?
I live my Mass, by abiding in those dispositions of self oblation
throughout the day?
me pray frequently for that grace: "Cor Jesu, caritatis victima,
fac me tibi Hostiam viventem, sanctam, Deo placentem."