31 January 2014

Pray for Your Bishop

Do you pray for your bishop? If you do, do you pray for him to do what you think God would want him to do? Do you agree with what your bishop does? Do you think God agrees with what your bishop does? Do you know what God thinks?

Most Catholics second guess what their bishop does. Few don’t. I would like to number myself among those that don’t, but I am not so fortunate. Please pray that I accept the grace from Our Lady to always assume the best from my bishop, and be more concern with the one thing that I can be certain that God wants him to do: to be a saint.

Why did Pope Venerable Paul VI begin the process that resulted in many indults to allow what he himself said was an abuse, even in places where this abuse was not in practice? We don’t know. I don’t know. Perhaps when I’m pope I’ll understand (I will never understand). Given that he now has the word “Venerable” in front of his name, there must have been a very good reason.

The same could be said of why he took so long before issuing Humanae Vitae. Perhaps he wanted the majority to figure out that contraception is a denial of the consubstantiality of the Holy Trinity, and was very saddened that it was only the minority that reported this.

When a pastor, whether he be a parish priest, a bishop, or even a pope, allows an abuse, even temporarily denying those that refuse to commit that abuse what is legally their right or privilege, we (I) must not second guess him. We (I) must assume the best of intent. And, unless we truly and absolutely are sure of what his intent is, we (I) must never condemn him. The only exception is when he openly commits heresy. However, we (I) must wait until the pope or a synod officially condemns him of that before condemning him ourselves (myself).

It is true that some abuses do lead many into heresy, which must bear a heavy burden on the decisions that bishops must make. “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones.” And yet for us (for me), “Judge not, that you may not be judged.”

What is the torture of hell? It is not fire and brimstone. It is much worse. The torture in hell is the glory of heaven. It is the presence of God. God is so merciful that He has a place for those that choose in this life not to be with him. It would be hateful for God to force them to be with Him in all of His glory in heaven. Therefore, out of mercy, He has a place for them where He has removed Himself as much as possible. However, He cannot remove His creative Presence. Hence, it is His creative Presence that is the torture in hell.

That may not seem like much, but then, if we were to comprehend the Glory of God’s Presence in the Eucharist, we would die for joy. I have not yet seen someone die from receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist. Hence, I have not yet seen someone comprehend the Glory of God’s Presence in the Eucharist.

Take a look at Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. If union with God in prayer, which brings even greater ecstasy than the most loving union in earthly marriage, can bring such joy, imagine the torture of union with someOne you hate; far more tortuous than the most painful divorce.

Aside from the creative Presence of God in hell, there is also His sacramental Presence. It is far more painful for a baptized person in hell than for a person that had not been baptized. The same can be said for the Sacrament of Confirmation and even Eucharist. Imagine a person that was baptized, confirmed and received daily Eucharist, but without true love of God. It may be hard to imagine that such a person would exist, but it would be more loving for God to put that person in hell where only the creative Presence, baptismal Presence, confirmed Presence and Eucharistic Presence tortures him for all eternity than to put him in heaven where the Fullness of God’s Glory will be infinitely more tortuous.

Now, what if that person were a deacon? a priest? a bishop? Imagine a person with the fullness of God’s Presence in the Sacrament of Holy Orders in hell. A man that has acted in persona Christi. A man that is alter Christus. There is no greater torture than for a bishop in hell.

This is the weight that bears on the decisions of bishops. It is not something I would wish on anyone, and yet, I am thankful for those who have answered the call of their vocation.

Pray for your bishop. Pray that he becomes a saint. This is the only prayer that you (I) can be certain of being God’s will. We (I) cannot begin to comprehend the weight that bears on the shoulders of a (my) bishop. We (I) can only assume he is following God’s inspirations. The only thing that I should concern myself with is that I can make the words of St. Lawrence mine:
“Father, where are you going without your son? Whither are you going, O holy priest, without your deacon? You were never wont to offer sacrifice without me, your minister. Wherein have I displeased you? Have you found me wanting to my duty? Try me now, and see, whether you have made choice of an unfit minister for dispensing the blood of the Lord.”
And be filled with loving joy to hear:
“I do not leave you, my son; but a greater trial and a more glorious victory are reserved for you who are stout and in the vigour of youth. We are spared on account of our weakness and old age. You shall follow me in three days.”