Well, everyone seems to be posting a lot of generally critical stuff about the Bishops at the moment, and I’ve done a fair bit of it myself in the last couple of months; so I thought I might find something to muse about in a non-critical vein for a few moments . . . I know : Bishops !
As we all know, this is the ‘Year for Priests’; and the Holy Father has asked us to pray for and support our priests particularly during this year, and I imagine that most of us have been doing so, at least to some extent.
What I wanted to suggest to you was this : the Bishop doesn’t cease being a priest when he is consecrated; the mitre doesn’t stop him being a pastor, caring for souls – it just makes it a very great deal harder to do.
Do you remember Cardinal Heenan’s autobiography ? The second volume, about his time as a Bishop, was called ‘A Crown of Thorns’; and took its title from an episode when, as a priest, he visited Cardinal Hinsley, who had just received a new mitre and playfully put it on to Fr Heenan’s head . . . and then said to him ‘When you wear a mitre, you will find it a crown of thorns’.
Don’t, please, misunderstand me. I stand by everything I have said in my posts (and comments on other people’s blogs) about the apparent uncertainty and timidity of the Bishops at present : I just think that we must also pray for them, not because they are uncertain, or timid; but because, at the bottom of it all, they are priests – and most of them, I imagine, good priests – who suddenly find themselves being given a new job, for which in essence they’ve had little or no training, and which offers them a high-profile opportunity to make fools of themselves, without the sort of support network that they have been used to as priests.
We all joke about Fr Tim becoming a Bishop; or Fr Ray, or whoever . . . but I strongly suspect that, if the truth be told, they’d all hate the idea of putting on purple, and losing the close contact with their people - and their brother priests - which they have as priests.
So, whilst I shan’t stop speaking the truth in love when I feel that the Bishops are letting us down, or sending mixed messages to the world, I have also come to realize that if I have the right to do that, I only have it by the prayerful support I give to their ministry . . . ‘Rosary for the Bishop’ being just one way to do it.
I am making the sanctification and strengthening of all our Bishops one of my Intentions during the Quarant 'Ore this week; may I suggest that you may want to consider making one of your intentions as well, at least occasionally ?