I have been familiar with the term alter christus being used to describe Catholic priests. The words mean "another Christ". It is a very Catholic term, as opposed to a catholic term, and in particular refers to the priests charism to, through the grace of God, change water and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, during the holy sacrifice of the Mass. I do not profess to fully comprehend it, nor to have an interest in debating it. It is a matter of faith for me, and for those who live the Catholic faith.
For a more detailed version of this posting, hop on over to Life in the Spirit.
From the Sancta Sanctis blog here, I have copied this beautiful view of our often beloved, often misunderstood, and often all too human Catholic Priests. It is worthy of reflection.
It can be easy to forget the quirky individual behind the Alter Christus. What Catholic hasn't, at one time or another, seen clerics as functionally identical pegs for filling the same hole reproduced all over the world? Yet as the Twelve Apostles themselves show us, Jesus seems to delight in selecting extremely unique pegs . . . for He never saw them as just pegs.I have known many priests over the years, covering the range that the writer of this very Catholic blog describes and more,since she was not trying to write a doctoral thesis, but a thought for meditation. Some I have not liked because of things they said or did, or didn't say or do.
Every priest you meet was once a little boy who might have dreamed about being something else--like an astronaut or a professional athlete or a soldier. Like many little boys, he might have driven some older (female) relative crazy just by being himself.
He might have been one of the "bad" ones, one of the unusually saintly ones, or one who was just average.
He might have kissed a girl, crashed a car, worked on a farm, taught himself the guitar, failed his first Latin test, and just smoked his last cigarette. He might have a 'blog. He might not even know what a 'blog is.
He might have discerned his vocation during his well-to-do family's trip to Rome or on the day a missionary priest gave him his first pair of shoes. His family and friends might be proud of him, confused by him, furious at him, or even taking bets about how long he will last. He might have many close friends from childhood or not a single friend left from seminary.
Finally, one day he, too, will die: perhaps it will be on the bloody field of martyrdom, or in the clean bed of a retirement home, or in a random highway accident. Then he will need your prayers more than ever.
Every priest you meet is just like you . . . and yet . . . not like you at all. By the imposition of a bishop's hands, he is something else forever.
(Read the rest of my Year of the Priest posts in Index: Sacerdotal Sunday.)
A particular priest who I have not really cared for over the years prays the consecration part of the Holy Mass with such reverence for Our Lord and Saviour that it is really hard to hold against him some imagined/ remembered flaw or fault or thing done or said, now so may years ago as to have morphed into a version that is not probably like the actual moment in time.
So, for all priests of today, yesterday and tomorrow I offer up the prayer I posted the other day.