The Christian priest pre-eminently exercises his priesthood at the Christian altar, offering the Christian sacrifice. But it is surely clear that the Christian priest cannot satisfy the obligations which his share in the Eternal Priesthood lays upon him by the sole act of celebrating, occasionally or frequently, the Christian Mysteries. At the altar or away from it, he is still a priest; and this priesthood must express itself in a life which is throughout an ordered ministry to God. In other words the life of the priest must be liturgical. His mass must be the summary for him, as for the great High Priest, of a life of self-oblation. In the mysteries he offers himself in Christ. His whole life must be a showing of Christ, impersonated in him, to God. He must always be saying Mass.
A ready parallel meets us here in the apostolic injunction to ‘pray without ceasing’ [1Thess. 5.17]. This is rightly explained to mean more than that Christians are to be often at their prayers. It means that the whole life of the Christian should be in a sense prayer, a coming to God, an energizing towards him.
And the parallel suggests an important conclusion as to the relation of the formal liturgy to the liturgical life, parallel to the relation between formal prayer and the life which is itself a continual prayer. For the life of prayer, as experience abundantly proves, involves of necessity a due and constant attention to formal prayer. Similarly the liturgical life, the life which is throughout a ministry to God, an oblation by the priest of himself in Christ and of Christ in him, depends very much on his formal celebration of the holy mysteries. And the converse is true. We shall never pray as we ought in our formal prayers unless our whole life breathes the spirit of prayer. The priest will never say mass as he ought unless his whole life is imbued with the spirit of the mass, the spirit of oblation.