Priesthood: Not Just a Function, But a Calling
By Bishop David J. Malloy
Last week, this column reflected on a foundation of our Catholic faith — the fact that we are part of a Church that is wider than ourselves and our own particular circumstances. 
It was noted that the universality of faith logically requires of us an acceptance of truth and an act of humility as we seek God’s will, not our own.
As a specific example, the column discussed the nature of the priesthood that came from Jesus Himself. In particular, Jesus instituted the sacred priesthood by calling men to that service and sacrifice. 
The Church has ever since understood this not to be some form of enculturation, or even less, discrimination. It is an element of revelation and part of the gift of the priesthood itself.
Our modern society is very sensitive to issues of inclusion and therefore also exclusion. That can be a great good, of course. We need think only of the sin of racial discrimination that has plagued the human race throughout its history.
However, that sensitivity has to be balanced by the wisdom and grace to think through issues deeply. For example, deep reflection shows that some elements of life which materially involve exclusion are not sinful but in fact are truly good. 
Take for example, a husband and a wife who promise fidelity to each other. That means, in terms of emotional and physical intimacy, they promise their full gift of self to each other and therefore, yes, excluding all others. 
This is a great good, often a real sacrifice, and it reflects creation itself as a man and a woman become one flesh throughout their lives.
The will of Jesus for the reservation of ordination to the priesthood to men was demonstrated on Holy Thursday night when He gathered His Twelve Apostles for the Last Supper. 
During that evening, the Gospels record that Christ entrusted the Eucharist, that is, His very self, to them. And this came after three years of formation, training and calling to their hearts as they lived with Him. 
The whole context of Holy Thursday night was the culmination of a plan carried out by Jesus as an intimate part of His saving ministry. It was a moment of solemn revelation by Our Lord, not simply a thrown together gathering and meal with random invitations.
Over the centuries theologians have proposed various reasons for Christ’s decision in this matter. Most prominent is that the configuration to Christ of His priests includes the maleness that the Son of God took upon Himself when He became incarnate and lived among us.
At times, of course, objections are raised that women could function as well or better than men as priests. On that basis, it is argued, the priesthood should be opened to women in our enlightened age.
That argument has a fundamental flaw, however, which is that the priesthood is not simply reducible to a function. If it were, women of faith would do admirably. 
But the priesthood is, ultimately, a calling from Jesus. Jesus called men on Holy Thursday night. For whatever reason Jesus so chose, in His solemn wisdom He did so.
I am grateful for all our priests. Even more, I am grateful for all the priests that I have known and who have given me the sacraments and the faith throughout my life. 
And most especially, I am grateful to Christ who has, through the centuries, called men to serve me, the rest of the faithful and the whole Church in His name and in His person