As I looked at the Church calendar prior to my writing today, I thought, “Hmm…no feast day. Just an ordinary day.” As is my custom, I turned to the readings of the day for inspiration.
Last Friday, the first reading for daily mass came from the New Testament and began from St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy. Yesterday and today it continues. This letter to Timothy is chock full of good stuff, but today’s really caught my eye – mostly because it convicted me.
You see, today St. Paul writes about bishops and deacons and the code of conduct they should follow. That got me thinking…
I don’t know about you, but I don’t pray enough for our bishops, and even less for our deacons. I have been known to grouse about the bishops, but really that accomplishes nothing. Generally, I have a great admiration for our deacons, but that doesn’t always turn into prayer. What a shame on both counts!
Being in the archdiocese of Boston, we have witnessed and lived through our bishop letting us down in a big way. I’m sure many of you have experienced the same. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.
I was at Mass this weekend, and in an effort to dispel rumors, the pastor discussed the sale of land owned by the parish, assuring the parishioners that the proceeds would go to the parish and not to the archdiocese. Ouch! He heard the grumblings and knew they had to be addressed head on. People here are still pretty angry and many remain unsupportive of the bishop.
The catch is, however, that if we really believe what we believe as Catholics, and if we say we love Jesus, then we have to love the Church including the hierarchy. The two are inseparable. He is the head. We, lay and religious alike, are the body, the visible reality of the invisible. As we all know, the Church is under attack from both outside and inside, and if there’s anyone that needs our prayers, it’s the bishops.
Did you ever think that maybe the weaknesses and errors of the past were due to the fact that we took our bishops for granted and didn’t pray enough for them? That maybe if we had persevered in our call to pray for them, they would have persevered in protecting the Church and defending the Faith? That we share some culpability in the state of the Church? We’ll never know, but just think for a moment if all we needed to do was step up our prayer during those turbulent years and the tide would have changed. Can you imagine what the Church would be like today?
I once attended a lecture given by a woman who was a former Planned Parenthood director. She said that had the regular prayer vigils held outside the clinic continued for another week, they would have had to close their doors. One more week??? If they had only known!
And that’s just it. We don’t know.
So today, on this ordinary day and on each ordinary day, I ask you to pray for our bishops for the unction of the Holy Spirit to guide them in all truth and courage to return the Church to Jesus as her spotless bride.
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner! Anne
Beloved, this saying is trustworthy:
whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.
Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable,
married only once, temperate, self-controlled,
decent, hospitable, able to teach,
not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle,
not contentious, not a lover of money.
He must manage his own household well,
keeping his children under control with perfect dignity;
for if a man does not know how to manage his own household,
how can he take care of the Church of God?
He should not be a recent convert,
so that he may not become conceited
and thus incur the Devil’s punishment.
He must also have a good reputation among outsiders,
so that he may not fall into disgrace, the Devil’s trap.
Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful,
not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain,
holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
Moreover, they should be tested first;
then, if there is nothing against them,
let them serve as deacons.
Women, similarly, should be dignified, not slanderers,
but temperate and faithful in everything.
Deacons may be married only once
and must manage their children and their households well.
Thus those who serve well as deacons gain good standing
and much confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus. (1Tm 3:1-13)