Christ the Eternal High Priest

Christ the Eternal High Priest


By Rev. Fr. Abe P. Arganiosa

One element that makes the Easter Sunday Liturgy unique is the singing of the Sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes which is a paean to the Risen Christ as the Triumphator over Satan. That ancient hymn has something more besides the Proclamation of the triumph of Good against Evil. It also reminds all the Baptized that as we share in the new life with Christ we must also share in His Passion as St. Paul says ‘But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him’ (Rom 6:8).  Thus, the members of the Church are called not only to be victors of life but also to be ‘victima’, that is, a lamb of sacrifice. If this is true for every Catholic much more so for every priest who is consecrated to follow the Lamb wherever He goes (cf. Rev 14:4).

What does it mean to be a Victim like Christ? It means total surrender of self to the will of the Father for the good of the Church. It means that priesthood must be viewed not as an exercise of power but as a self-offering of love as Pope Francis frequently reminds us. Although we share in the dignity of Christ as King, Prophet and Priest we are not the King but God, we must not proclaim our own personal teachings but those of His Church for we only have one Teacher, The Christ (cf. Mt 23:8-10). We offer our availability for the sanctification of His People because there is only one High Priest of the New Covenant and that is Jesus (cf. Heb 4:14-15). That is the reason why the first act of the Priest during his Ordination is to respond: “Here I am” which re-echoes in time the eternal sacrifice of Christ to the Father, ‘Here I am O Lord I come to do your will’ (cf. Heb 10:5-7) and crystallized on earth in the Fiat of the Virgin, ‘I am a servant of the Lord be it done unto me…’ (cf. Lk 1:38). The priest then must always be available for his flock which is The Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13,27; Eph 1:22-23). The reason why he is celibate and is living in the rectory is for him to be there always for the need of the faithful. An absentee priest is like a tree without fruit (Mt 3:10), a salt without taste (Mt 5:13) and a lamp without light in time of darkness (Mt 5:16).

In our relationship then the center is the Lord and after Him the flock. Just like the fishermen of Galilee who caught no fish despite their expertise in the Lake Tiberias the priest’s long formation can be futile if the Lord is not with him. Jesus must be the focal point of his every pastoral activity and decision making. The cry of St. John the Beloved to the First Pope that fateful night was also directed to all ordained ministers of the Church: Dominus est (Jn 21:7)! It is the Lord! The priest is neither the king nor the boss – but the Lord – and therefore he is called not to be self-centered but to behold the face of Jesus shining with the splendor of God: “I am the vine; you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing” [Jn 15:5 Douay-Rheims].  But what image of God: The Lion in the form of a Lamb. In the Lamb’s Supper Dr. Scott Hahn narrates his moving perspective as a new convert about the book of Revelation. He narrated that St. John wept for joy because the Lion of the Tribe of Judah was able to open the zeal of the Book of Life (cf. Rev 5:5) then when he looked at the Lion what he saw instead was a Lamb… not only a lamb but a Lamb ‘as if slain’ (cf. Rev 5:6). This is the Crucified Messiah now the Risen Lord. This is the living Icon of the Pantokrator (All-powerful) marked with wounds (cf. Rev 1:17-18). The priests then must not be afraid to suffer and be wounded because by doing so they can share the life of the Lamb and can give life to others as well: ‘It is in dying that we are born to eternal life’ (Prayer of St. Francis). By imitating the Lamb of God the Holy Eucharist shall come alive on the Altar of Sacrifice since the priests’ recitation of the Institution narrative is not a mere repetition of sounds but living words manifested in their being ‘persona Christi’: “This is my Body which is for you… This is the Chalice of my Blood for you.”

In addition, the Paschal Lamb teaches His priests the virtue of humility in the form of sacrifice. St. Paul beautifully expressed it in his Christological hymn wherein he professes the divinity of Jesus embodied in humility: “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:5-8 NAB). The rebellious pride of Lucifer (cf. Is 14:12-15) was reverted by the obedient humility of the Lamb so that as the First Rebel was brought down from Heaven (cf. Rev 12:7-8) the Lord Jesus was exulted to the highest and was the one who truly conquered all: “Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11 NAB).

Together with availability then the priests need humility in order not to fall the way our First Parents did. The priests’ Here I Am and Fiat shall be no different from the offering of Cain unless it is offered to God in humility (cf. Gen 4:4-5). Humility is the advantage of Abel as it was the secret weapon of the Virgin of Nazareth and Joseph the Just. It is no wonder that St. John Paul the Great opened his Post-Synodal Exhortation Letter on Formation of Priests (Pastores Dabo Vobis, #1) with these powerful words from the Father, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart” (Jer. 3:15) because the heart of God is that of a Shepherd, ‘Meek and Humble’: “Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:29 New Jerusalem Bible).

A humble priest shall be a powerful speaker because his few words shall penetrate the heart. We have the example of St. Padre Pio who never left us long discourses in Theology yet the images of him celebrating the Holy Mass with such simplicity and reverence are so moving. In the same manner a humble priest can relate with the children because he is constantly young at heart like St. Jerome Emiliani and St. John Bosco. He knew how to be with minors without losing the dignity of his old age and the nobility of his priesthood. A humble priest shall be a miracle worker to the sick because he knows his own wounds. Henry Nouwen beautifully expressed it as ‘The Wounded Healer’. Like Jesus who heals all illness he is doing so while Himself was wounded for our offenses: ‘…by his wounds we were healed’ (cf. Is 53:5; 1 Pt 2:24). A prideful person does not accept his own faults, is blind to his weaknesses and therefore is prone to delusion. Only a wounded healer can be effective to heal the wounds of the heart, to erase the hurts of the mind and to right the injuries to the soul. St. Jude Thaddeus is known as a saint of the impossible because he gloried in being ‘the forgotten saint’ despite being a blood cousin of the Lord and one of the original Twelve. He wrote the least among the writers of the New Testament yet what is lacking in his pen he abundantly expressed in lowliness. Finally, a humble priest shall truly attract people to be active in the faith because humility diffuses itself while pride repulses. The faithful of Ars narrated that during the early days of The Cure in his parish he spent long hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He was not there only to pray or to meditate but to cry and to beg while striking his breast: ‘Lord, convert my parish. Convert my parish. Only you can convert my parish. But if my people will not be converted it only means that I am not worthy of it’ (cf. The Cure d’Ars, St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859) by Francis; Graf, Ernest (trans.) Trochu (1977). We all know the fruit of those humble words.

Today our priests are confronted by irreverence to God and religion. Day in and day out our faith is being challenged and young people are being lured away from the Church. There is apathy to things that are of God in many, yet they are to teach the truth of Faith whether in season or out of season. St. Paul already warned St. Timothy of the dangers of spiritual sloth and as a solution he courageously admonished him “Ministerium Tuum Imple’ [Fulfill your ministry, cf. 2 Tim 4:1-5]. One Spiritual Master whose name is lost in my memory once said, ‘When people are not listening to the Gospel we must speak to the birds. If the birds are not listening then speak to the plants. If the plants refuse to give their ears then shout to the rocks. Then the people will listen.’ It sounds bizarre. It seems crazy yet St. Francis did exactly that. When people were considering him a fool he talked to the birds and to the flowers and to the sun and the moon then the people listened. The prophet Elijah did the same on Mt. Horeb when all the other priests of God turned to Baal and the crows responded by bringing him bread (cf. 1 Kings 19). St. Athanasius shouted to the rocks when almost the entire empire became Arian. In contemporary time, in the height of atheistic Communism in the East and the growing secularism in the West St. John XXIII wrote to all people of Good Will and they heard. In the same manner when the Church seems to be at her weakest due to the indifference of the young, St. John Paul the Great called out to the Youth of the World and shouted ‘Be Not Afraid’ and they listened by thousands, by hundreds of thousands… by millions. He was a lion roaring in winter yet the wolves were terrified and the faithful responded.

The challenges facing our priests today is no less great than those of the past. In every age the priest is always a sign of blessing for the faithful yet a sign of contradiction. That is the cross of priests because such is the Cross of the Lamb on whose footsteps they follow and whose words they carry. The priesthood is not for the cowards but for those who got the courage to fish from the Lake of Tiberias into the Sea of Mediterranean as Peter journeyed form Galilee to Rome. That is his Duc in Altum. Peter thought that the command of the Risen Lord to go into the deep is to return to Capernaum and fish only to the people of Israel around that small lake instead God prepared him for the Mare Nostrum which opened the door of faith from Rome to the various nations of the world. Thus our priest must continue being a father to the children despite the danger of being maliciously accused. Our priest must dialogue with women to see in them the presence of the Lord and welcome them to be actively involved in the Church. Our priest must visit our sick not only to anoint with sacred oil but also to gain from them spiritual strength for his weaknesses. Our priest must comfort the down-hearted because he believes in the power of the Divine Mercy which is greater than sin. Our priest must not refuse to be assigned in poor parish because poverty can also be an opportunity of encounter with God as the First Family experienced in Nazareth.

Relating with people as Rector, Curé, Chaplain and others is always full of challenges. Challenges are like waters, terrible when rushing like floods but can be controlled to produce energy and can be navigated to reach the distant isles. As ministers of the Lord the priests must never be afraid of these waters; they must learn to control and to navigate as Peter did to that small bark in Capernaum. Together with the ancient Mystic they should instead sing to the Lamb: ‘Deep waters cannot quench love nor floods sweep it away’ (Song 8:7 NAB) and tell the people: ‘Set me as a zeal on your heart, like a zeal on your arm’ (Song 8:6).

Catholic Faith Defender Will Be Ordained Priest

Catholic Faith Defender Will Be Ordained Priest

By: Bro. Wendell Talibong 

CFD be Ordained to Priesthood! We are happy to announce that a member of Catholic Faith Defender will be ordained priest on June 9 at the Cathedral of Tagbilaran City. During the first day when Brother Darwin Añober Gitgano now Reverend Darwin Gitgano entered in the seminary, I promised him that I will witness his ordination when he will be ordained priest. Now is the time to fulfill my promise. I am asking the members and officers of National CFD TO OFFER PRAYERS FOR REV. DARWIN GITGANO AND HIS COMPANIONS DEACONS. God bless.

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Call None “Father”? – A Reply to David Riggs

Call None “Father”? – A Reply to David Riggs

By Bro. G-one T. Paisones


St. John Vianney Patron of All Priest

Good day every one; recently, I’d just completed in reading one of the articles of David Riggs in-title “Catholic Teaching Examined (Examining Catholic Teaching In The Light Of the Scriptures)” in an eBook (PDF) format.  As David Riggs told us the reasons in his exit to the Catholic Church and converting to a protestant sect; we would try to cross examine his allege examination to the doctrines of the Catholic Church in which according to him are not Biblical (page 161).

One of the highlighted topics is the “Call None Father” which is based in the words of Jesus in the gospel of Saint Mathew; chapter 23; verses 9-10 “And call no one on earth your father; for one is your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters; for one only is your Master, the Christ.”  For (our) more readable reply and appropriate explanation of the passage and to the satisfaction of our dear readers; we are presenting here the full article of David Riggs.

Please take note, that the original article of David Rigs will be labeled in red font; while our immediate and Biblical reply is in blue font.

Taken from:

“Catholic Teaching Examined (Examining Catholic Teaching In The Light Of the Scriptures)”

By David Riggs

Page 6-7

The Catholic Church has a multitude of religious titles and addresses that are given to their officials. We list some of them here from page 129 of the book, My Catholic Faith.

! “A priest is addressed ‘Father.'”

! “He (the Pope, D.R.) is formally addressed as ‘Your Holiness.'”

! “A cardinal is addressed ‘Your Eminence.'”

! “Arch bishops and bishops are entitled ‘Most Reverend,’ and ‘Your Excellency’; the other prelates not bishops are entitled ‘Right’ or ‘Very Reverend Monsignor’ or ‘Father.'”

Reply: Yes that is correct; we Catholics are addressing our pastor as father because it is based on the words of the Holy Bible.  David  Riggs did not read the passage of the book of Judges, chapter 17, verse 10 which says: “ And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, and a suit of apparel, and your living.”

Saint Paul also told us in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 15: “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”  Indeed, Saint Paul calls himself “father” through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And please bear in your mind that Saint Paul is a priest; here is our evidence:

Rome 15:16 “to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”  Please take note also that the Greek word for the word “priestly” is “IEROUR GOUNTA” which denote in performing the sacred rites or priestly duties and functions.

The pope is addressed as Your Holiness because, the pope perform the important holy office of the church – as the Bishop of Rome and as the successor of Saint Peter (Mat. 16:18; John. 21:15-17; Luc. 22:32) (Act. 1:15-25).

Cardinal is addressed as Your Eminence which mean that the Cardinal as the helper or assistant of the Pope; he is eminence or important.  Eminence means important.

Bishops and bishops are entitled ‘Most Reverend,’ and ‘Your Excellency’ – Most Reverend or Reverend means just a greetings and sign of respect towards the ministers of God.  Your Excellency also denote to the high rank people in a society e.g. President, Prime Minister and others.

When Catholics address their priests and bishops as “Reverend” and “Father,” they are using titles which belong only to God. Protestants who likewise label their clergymen as “Reverend” are doing the same.

The term “Reverend” means basically “worthy of reverence; revered” and is used in the Bible to venerate the name of God. Psalm 111:9 says, “He has sent deliverance to his people; he has ratified his covenant forever; holy and awesome (also translated “reverend” D.R.) is his name.” God alone is to be reverenced, revered and worshiped. “The Lord thy God shalt thou worship and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10).

Reply: You are confusing David Riggs; as what you have said that revered mean to venerate; to our readers always remember that venerate are two of a kind.  The highest form of veneration in which due to God alone – and it is called ADORATION (Mat. 4:10); while the other kind of veneration is the respect and homage of all saints (Called Dulia) and other sacred things. Below is our scriptural evidence with regards to our assertion:

Act. 3:33 (Amplified Bible) “… the place where you are standing is holy ground and worthy of veneration(Emphasize mine)

Eph. 5:33 (Amplified Bible) “… venerates for husband” (Emphasize mine). In this verse, Saint Paul urges the wives of the Christian community to venerate (respect) their husbands.

Exo. 39:29;31 (Douay Rheims) “plate of sacred veneration of the purest gold…” “So all the work of the tabernacle and of the root of the testimony was finished.” In this passage, we can read that the tabernacles; where there are two statues of angels called cherubim are venerated.  Therefore, the Catholic teaching in venerating the sacred statues is truly Biblical and based on factual in accordance to the word of God.

The title reverend means venerating; and when we Catholic said that to our ministers; we are not guilty to the so called blasphemy because we just simply do this just an act of respect.

Men ought not seek the glory which belongs only to Deity. They should not accept it, nor endeavor to give it. Men commit a grave error when they take the titles and designations which belong to Almighty God and place them on mere men.

Reply: David Riggs; then makes up his fallacious conclusions – the fallacy of generalization.  As we had tackled above, we show the evidence in using the word “veneration;” veneration have two kinds; one is the highest veneration in which due to the GOD alone; while the other is the veneration or a simple respect of an individual, a saint, a sacred things and others.

Jesus said, “And call no one on earth your father; for one is your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters; for one only is your Master, the Christ” (Matt. 23:9-10). Thus, we are forbidden by our Lord to call men “father” in a religious sense. We plead with our Catholic friends not to openly defy this command given by our Lord. Catholic priests try to dodge the force of Jesus’ command by telling us that if we interpreted our Lord’s words literally, we could not call our parent “father.” (See Questions Box, p. 310). However, in the context of Matt. 23, Jesus is condemning the religious leaders of His time who did all their works to be seen of men (vs. 5), loved marks of distinction (vs. 6), and craved the flattering titles given by men (vs. 7). The writer of Hebrews by inspiration used the term “father” for our earthly parent. He said, “Furthermore, we had fathers of our flesh to correct us…” (Heb. 12:9). In view of these things, when Jesus said “call no one on earth your father,” what could he have meant but that we are not to call men “father” in a religious sense?

Reply: Christ refers his words to the Pharisees and not to the Catholic Church (Mat.23:1-5).  The whole chapter of Matthew 23 does not cited Catholic Church.  Christ also refers to the people who claiming themselves as god (2 Thes. 2:4 “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, * claiming that he is a god”).  David Riggs limit his knowledge in the Bible of the usage of the word “father”; because as we can see in the outline (below) there are many instances that the word “father” is used to signify the beginning or originator of a references object, people or topic:

2 King 2:12 “And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces.”  In this passage, Prophet Elijah was called father by Elisha.

Philemon 10 (NAB) “I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment” In this text, Saint Paul once again was called father.

Gen. 4:20-21 “Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.”  In these verses, we find that an originator was called father.

1 King 9:4  “And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my ordinance”  – Ancestors also called father.

1 Tim. 1:1-2 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith” Saint Paul, highlighted again that he is a father of Timothy in faith.

A young Christian girl had opportunity to introduce the local preacher to her non-Christian friends. She said, “This is my brother Mr._______.” She demonstrated both the knowledge and obedience which the Lord requires. She gave no religious title and used the term “brother” in its proper sense. The term refers to the common bond of all Christians and is not a title that is to be given only to preachers.

All preachers and teachers of God’s word should boldly refuse to be called by titles belonging to God. They should not be desirous of vain glory (Gal. 5:26), but should walk humbly before God (Micah 6:8).

Reply: In the scripture; Abraham is called spiritual father (Rom. 4:16); this does not mean that Saint Paul is contradicting Christ.  As we have explained in the above; Christ refers his words to the Pharisees and not to the Catholic Church (Mat.23:1-5).  The whole chapter of Matthew 23 does not cited Catholic Church.  Christ also refers to the people who claiming themselves as god (2 Thes. 2:4).  The whole chapter 23 of the gospel of Saint Matthew is not intended to the Catholic Priest; it is intended to the Pharisees.

Also, believers in Christ should be careful not to address preachers as “Father” or “Reverend” or with any other flattering title. Job 32:21-22 says, “I would not be partial to anyone, nor give flattering titles to any. For I know nought of flattery; if I did, my Maker would soon take me away.”

Reply: Catholic teaching is based on the whole truth; while David Riggs based his judgment on a half baked biblical reasoning.  Catholic does not used flattering and tricking words to delude the folks mine; Catholic teaching is based on the word of God either by words or by mouth (2 Thes. 2:12).  David Riggs does not allow you to call your minister “father” because his minister and, even himself, were not true fathers of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:16).