Excerpt from Priestly Holiness by Archbishop Lefebvre
[The] eternal mission of our Lord Jesus Christ continues in His temporal mission, which is the end of all creation. The entire world around us, the marvels of nature, the stars and everything that exists, ourselves, the angels and the elect in Heaven: everything was created for the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ. Everything was created so that one day our Lord Jesus Christ might come into the world and sing there the glory of God in the name of all the universe.
That is the mission of our Lord: to sing the glory of His Father in His body and in His human soul, and so encompass in His divinity all that is great, all that is beautiful, all that is sublime here below.
At what point in His existence here on earth did our Lord express that glory, that infinite charity which He had for His Father? He told us Himself: He expressed them in His sublime hour on the cross. Our Lord rendered the greatest glory to His Father as He breathed out His last breath. He said, “It is consummated” (Jn. 19:30), and He added, “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit” (Lk. 23:46).
That was the greatest act of charity which could ever be possible. All of our acts of charity are nothing next to that of our Lord. God the Father found His glory in this Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and in His death. By His death, life returned to the world, the path to Heaven was opened, the path to salvation was opened to us all.
The reason our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders was that He might continue His Incarnation and His Redemption here among us.
The principal work which the Most Holy Trinity had in view from all eternity was to make us participate in the Incarnation and the Redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ by union with His blood, His soul and His divinity. The Sacrament of Holy Orders is so important in the Church because it allows our Lord to continue His Incarnation. Do you not see that the way our Lord Jesus Christ continues His Incarnation is precisely by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? We cannot say that our Lord is in the Holy Eucharist the way He is in His mortal flesh, as though we were saying that He is in some way made bread. The Eucharist is a change of substance, a transubstantiation. Our Lord is therefore most certainly in the Eucharist in His substance and it is precisely there that He continues His Incarnation. He continues it by His real presence.
What our Lord wants is to be incarnated in us, in a certain manner, so that He might transform us, poor sinful creatures that we are; so that He might redeem us, purify us by His blood, unite us to Himself, and so prepare us for eternal life. That is how our Lord prepares souls, pilgrims here below, for eternal life.
That is why the Sacrament of Holy Orders is so beautiful and so great. Nothing draws us close to God, nothing makes us understand God, like the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. That is why the priesthood is so important.
We are not the ones who created the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ; we are not the ones who created the Sacrament of Holy Orders. So we can only really know what the priesthood is by referring back to what our Lord Jesus Christ did and to what the Church has always taught. Everything flows from there. All of the virtues, the priestly character, all of the powers of the priest, flow from that definition. The priest is made first and foremost for the sacrifice and that is why, on the very day of their ordination, the new priests offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the bishop. He teaches them to murmur, in a way, for the first time, these mysterious and sublime words of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which the faithful need more than they need anything else.
That is the road on which priests are invited to advance. “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you”; I send you to continue My mission, and since I closed it with an act of infinite love on Calvary, there is the road you have to follow. You must ascend to the altar, offer the sacrifice, continue to offer this act of infinite love which I offered to My Father. That is what you are going to do.
What a grace! Are you worthy, are we worthy to be priests? Are we worthy to ascend to the altar? Certainly, if we consider ourselves, we cannot have any pretension to such a sublimity, such a glory, such a participation in Him who is the Priest for eternity, the High Priest. But by the grace of God, by the grace received on the day of priestly ordination, yes, the priest is worthy before God and before the angels to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; to make the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ descend on souls by absolution in order to take away their sins; to make the water of Baptism flow over the foreheads of children, that they might be baptized and resurrected in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those are the powers which the bishop gives to the priest on the day of his priestly ordination. In this way the mission of our Lord is continued throughout time.