Christ and the Catholic Priesthood: Ecclesial Heirarchy and the Pattern of the Trinity


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Christ and the the Catholic Priesthood: Ecclesial Hierarchy and the Pattern of the Trinity
By Matthew Levering

Creation itself is a participation in the gifting God, and God's providence or government of all things involves creatures in this gifting.  Liturgy thus has its roots in the imitation of God's gifting, the imago dei, and the primal and fundamental "ministering" or "serving" (leitourgia) is God's work of creation and redemption.  Authority is rooted in God's transcendent simplicity: He is the omnipotent author of all things.  There is thus a "hierarchical" order recognizable from the beginning.  God shows, however, that this intrinsic "hierarchy" is a hierarchy of Trinitarian gift, of love. 

After sin, creatures turn away from this divine gift and seek to establish autonomy separate from God, thus wounding the imago dei.  Christ comes to re-establish the "hierarchical" order of liturgical gift.  Christ is both the gifting God and man, liturgically receiving this gift and offering it to God.  The unity of headship and liturgical gifting is fully expressed in Christ, enabling us to understand that true authority is true service (gifting), and that to submit to true authority (as Christ does as man) is none other than to receive the proffered gift. This book seeks then to establish the foundation for a theology of the hierarchical priesthood based on the hierarchical order of the Trinitarian gift of love.  

The book's five chapters approach the topic of hierarchy in the Church through Trinitarian and soteriological reflection, unified by dialogical engagement with the biblical, patristic, and metaphysical resources of St. Thomas Aquinas's theology.


  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Hierarchical Priesthood and Trinitarian Communion
  • Chapter Two: The Priesthood of Christ
  • Chapter Three: The Priesthood of the First Christians
  • Chapter Four: Priority or Primacy in the Church
  • Chapter Five: Sacramental Mediation
  • Conclusion

About the author: Matthew Levering is a Roman Catholic theologian and Associate Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University in Naples, FL. He earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina, an M.T.S. from Duke Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from Boston College. He is an expert on the theology of Thomas Aquinas.

Dimensions1.25 × 6 × 9 in
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