priesthood. Writing to the laity of his day, the first pope used imagery that can be applied equally well to today's laity: "You too are living stones, built as an edifice of spirit, into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pt 2:5). Peter's words reflect the words of the book of Exodus centuries earlier: "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation" (Ex 19:6).
In turn, our Maronite rite of Baptism echoes both biblical passages. At the beginning of the rite of Baptism, the priest addresses God:
Now call your servant (Name____) to holy baptism.
Make him/her worthy to enjoy your great gift,
as you renew in him/her your Holy Spirit ...
Right after receiving the mystery, or sacrament, of Baptism, as the concluding prayer is pronounced, we hear the following words:
enlighten the heart of your servant (N....)
who has just received baptism.
As you enabled him/her to become
a son/daughter of your grace,
in your merciful kindness keep him/her firmly
in the rank of your children.
Grant, O Lord, that after being purified
with the waters of your covenant,
he/she may be a member of
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
a redeemed people
a blessed community.