Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

“Today I would like to reflect briefly with you on the importance of acceptance, on the part of the bishop, of the charisms that the Spirit arouses for the edification of the Church. Episcopal consecration has conferred on you the plenitude of the sacrament of holy orders that, in the ecclesial community, is placed at the service of the common priesthood of the faithful, of their spiritual growth and their sanctity. The ministerial priesthood, as you know, has the objective and mission to make the faithful live out the priesthood in which they participate, through baptism and in their way, in the one priesthood of Christ, as the conciliar constitution "Lumen Gentium" states: "Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ" (No. 10).

Because of this, bishops have the task of watching and working to ensure that the baptized increase in grace, in accordance with the charisms the Holy Spirit causes to arise in their hearts and communities. Vatican II recalled that the Holy Spirit, while unifying in the communion and ministry of the Church, provides and directs her with different hierarchical and charismatic gifts and embellishes her with their fruits (cf. ibid., 4). The recent World Youth Day in Madrid showed, once again, the fecundity of the charisms of the Church, concretely today, and the ecclesial unity of all the faithful gathered around the Pope and the bishops. This is a vitality that reinforces the work of evangelization and the presence of Christ in the world. We are able to see -- and we can almost touch -- that the Holy Spirit is still present in the Church today, and that He creates charisms and unity.

The fundamental gift you are called to cherish in the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care is that of divine filiation; in other words, the fact that everyone participates in Trinitarian communion. Baptism, which makes men and women "children in the Son" and members of the Church, is the root and source of all other charismatic gifts. Through your ministry of sanctification, you educate the faithful to participate with increasing intensity in the priestly, prophetic and regal office of Christ, helping them to build the Church, actively and responsibly, according to the gifts they have received from God. In fact, always bear in mind the fact that the gifts of the Spirit -- be they extraordinary or simple and humble -- are always given freely for the edification of all. The bishop, as a visible sign of the unity of his particular Church, has the duty of unifying and harmonizing charismatic diversity, favoring reciprocity between the hierarchical and the baptismal priesthood.

Accept, therefore, the charisms with gratitude for the sanctification of the Church and the vitality of the apostolate! And this acceptance and gratitude to the Holy Spirit, who also works among us today, are inseparable from the discernment that is proper to the mission of the bishop. Vatican Council II said as much when it gave pastoral ministry the task of judging the genuineness of charisms and their proper use, not extinguishing the Spirit but testing and retaining what is good (cf. Ibid., No. 12). This seems important to me: On one hand, not to extinguish but, but on the other, to distinguish, order and keep in mind through examining. Therefore, it must always be clear that no charism can dispense from deferring and submitting to the pastors of the Church (cf. apostolic exhortation "Christifidelis Laici," No. 24). By accepting, judging and ordering the different gifts and charisms, the bishop carries out a great and valuable service to the priesthood of the faithful and to the vitality of the Church, which will shine as the Lord's Bride, clothed in the sanctity of her children.

This articulated and delicate ministry requires the bishop to nourish his own spiritual life with care. Only in this way does the gift of discernment grow. As the apostolic exhortation "Pastores Gregis" affirms, the bishop becomes "father" given that he is fully a "son" of the Church (No. 10). Moreover, in virtue of the plenitude of the sacrament of Holy Orders, he is teacher, sanctifier and pastor who acts in the name and in the person of Christ. These two inseparable aspects call him to grow as son and as pastor as he follows Christ, in order that his personal sanctity may be an expression of the objective sanctity he received through episcopal consecration.

Hence, I exhort you, dear brothers, to remain always in the presence of the Good Shepherd and to assimilate increasingly his sentiments and his human and priestly virtues, through personal prayer, which must accompany your difficult apostolic days. In intimacy with the Lord you will find consolation and support for your committed ministry. Do not be afraid to entrust to the heart of Jesus Christ all your concerns, certain that he looks after you, as he already admonished the Apostle Peter (cf. 1 Peter 5:6). May your prayer always be nourished by meditation on the Word of God, by personal study and just rest, so that you will be able to listen and accept with serenity "what the Spirit says to the Churches" (Revelation 2:11) and lead all to the unity of faith and love.

The sanctity of your lives and your pastoral charity will be an example and support to your priests, your main and irreplaceable collaborators. It will be your urgency to make them grow in co-responsibility as wise guides of the faithful, who are also called to build the community with their gifts, charisms and the witness of their lives, so that the choral communion of the Church may bear witness to Jesus Christ, that the world may believe. And this closeness with priests, yet today, with all their problems, is of very great importance.
--Pope Benedict XVI
Address to Annual Seminar for New Bishops
Castel Gandolfo
15 September 2011

Worthwhile as the above is, it's likewise a "soundcheck" of sorts to prep for the Main Event -- the all-important ad limina visit of the US bishops to Rome (the home-bench's first of B16's six-year reign), which begins in 50 days' time.

For more on the 10th edition of the Vatican's "New Bishop School," meanwhile, one of this year's attendees -- auxiliary Bishop Chris Coyne of Indianapolis -- recapped his experience of the weeklong program on his blog.

He probably could've written a lot more... if only they had wifi.