Rorate Caeli

Benedict XVI on the task of bishops in our own time

How can we not think, in this context, of the task of a Bishop in our own time? The humility of faith, of sharing the faith of the Church of every age, will constantly be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom of those who cling to what seems certain. Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day. Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs. Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous. And this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of thinking. The courage to stand firm in the truth is unavoidably demanded of those whom the Lord sends like sheep among wolves. “Those who fear the Lord will not be timid”, says the Book of Sirach (34:16). The fear of God frees us from the fear of men.  It liberates.

Here I am reminded of an episode at the very beginning of Christianity which Saint Luke recounts in the Acts of the Apostles. After the speech of Gamaliel, who advised against violence in dealing with the earliest community of believers in Jesus, the Sanhedrin summoned the Apostles and had them flogged. It then forbade them from preaching in the name of Jesus and set them free. Saint Luke continues: “As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonour for the name of Jesus. And every day… they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah” (Acts 5:40ff.).  The successors of the Apostles must also expect to be repeatedly beaten, by contemporary methods, if they continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that can be heard and understood. Then they can rejoice that they have been considered worthy of suffering for him. Like the Apostles, we naturally want to convince people and in this sense to obtain their approval. Naturally, we are not provocative; on the contrary we invite all to enter into the joy of that truth which shows us the way. The approval of the prevailing wisdom, however, is not the criterion to which we submit. Our criterion is the Lord himself. If we defend his cause, we will constantly gain others to the way of the Gospel. But, inevitably, we will also be beaten by those who live lives opposed to the Gospel, and then we can be grateful for having been judged worthy to share in the passion of Christ.


Benedict XVI
January 6, 2013

Photo source: Reuters.

26 comments:

Blib said...

So why the fannon today but not on New Years Day?

Mike said...


Thank you for posting this!

One could well spend an hour or more (much more) praying fruitfully over the Holy Father's homily of this great feast day.

I would humbly ask all Traditional Catholics: redouble your prayers for this Holy Bishop of Rome, the pastor of the universal Church. We have little idea of the pressures on him, of the forces he must contend with. Pray that his ministerial archangel fortify him, and that he reign ably for as long as the Lord wants him to.


GQ Rep said...

Let's be happy that at least Pope Benedict XVI has broguth the fanon back, and uses it sometimes, rather than never like prevoius popes.

I think the Holy Father's vestments, and the choice of vestments for the new Archbishops was magnificent...classically Roman, and not the cheap trash that looked like bedsheets that have been used for 40 years previously.

It would be nice if Pope Benedict XVI lives for half a dozen more years as Pope, and promotes the new Archbishop Georg Gaswein to the cardinalate.

Culex said...

There is a lot that one can learn about how to be a good Catholic from this lesson about how to be a good Catholic bishop.

Matt said...

I saw this event this morning. I don't want to rain on the parade but I was thinking what sort of issues the Holy Father may have unleashed by elevating these men. I'm not casting any dispersions on these new bishops, but the way things have been trending lately, we can only wonder.

Gratias said...

We have a teaching Pope to be grateful for. His every word is worth listening to. Benedict is truly Holy. Centanni.

Gänswein is a very nice man. I saw him get up from his chair to greet a Protestant intellectual that was lining up to meet the Pope ahead of me. When I told my friend how impressed I was by this gesture he said Gänswein had found out he came from a nearby village in Southern Germany and wanted to say hello. This during a very formal Papal solemn audience. He would make a good Cardinal. At least he takes good care of Papa Nostro.

Dex Banner said...

The traditional role of a bishop is to act as head of a diocese or eparchy. .... as successor of Peter, possesses this role: the Pope, uniquely among bishops

Inquisitor said...

Interesting. The pope is wearing the fanon for the second time in the past two weeks--this time with a Roman Chasuble. He is also wearing an episcopal dalmatic under his Chasuble.

The new archbishop also appears to be wearing an episcopal dalmatic under his Roman Chasuble. It appears the pope is gradually restoring many of the vestments that symbolically underscore the Church's doctrine concerning the dignity of the episcopacy and of Petrine supremacy.

Inquisitor said...

Sounds like the Holy Father hit the nail right on the head. Militant agnosticism is a grave threat to Holy Mother Church. Essentially,a agnosticism pretends to be neutral between atheism and religion, but it never can be. When agnosticism insists that religion not be allowed to be expressed in government at all, it is in reality a form of "soft" atheism that forces religion out of the public square in the name of "tolerance."

Once religion is forced out of the public arena into "private life" alone, that essentially means that there is no religion allowed in a public/government capacity, which makes atheism the de facto state religion.

V. Oremus pro pontifice nostro Benedicto.

R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.

Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum Benedictum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.

quotquot said...

I have been praying for the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Priests after every Mass I hear, especially my own priests. God is answering my prayers. We must pray very much for the Pope and all our leaders.

GQ Rep said...

"Matt said...
I saw this event this morning. I don't want to rain on the parade but I was thinking what sort of issues the Holy Father may have unleashed by elevating these men. I'm not casting any dispersions on these new bishops, but the way things have been trending lately, we can only wonder."

Hey Matt:

I was wondering, what's up with this comment? The only bishop I can point to that would fit your thesis is the nutjob American Joseph Tobin, radical liberal sacked from the Sacred Cngregation for Religious in the Vatican and made bishop of a backwater diocese in heartland USA. He won;t be heard form again. He tried to overturn the investigations of the LCWR by his overtly biased liberal comments, and got the boot for it! Good riddance.

The Cardinal left in place as Prefect of that department is of the same stripe. I would not be surprised if he goes elsewhere also...in a year or so!

I am not Spartacus said...

As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonour for the name of Jesus. And every day… they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah”

This'll prolly seem like a tendentious tsunami intended to drown-out the obvious truth of these remarks but that is not what is intended.

I would just like Our Holy Father to do what he says and be courageous and to teach and proclaim Jesus as Messiah when he visits Synagogues.

We all remember the example set by our first Pope who preached the truth to the Jews and told them they had to convert; why is the situation any different for any subsequent Pope?

We all also know that Our Holy Father has written (in his trilogy) that the Jews do not have to be converted by the Catholic Church and so I would like to know in what fashion that is in continuity with the first Pope .

Our Holy Father and his predecessor have visited synagogues and not preached Jesus and conversion but they would to have had to have done so if they were to follow the excellent advice of this sermon, right?

wretchedwithhope said...

'criterion of the Lord Himself'...well this 'criterion' ...from one diocese to another, from one parish to another can be proclaimed from one parish to another, contrary. post-jpii what is the 'criterion' let alone the 'Lord'?'

One Lord is so real, important, sacred that a consecrated priest is required according to centuries old understanding, to, not only invoke said Lord, but feed the beloved of said Lord in a unique sacred manner...

the other ecumenical lord is one spiritual bigwig among many - indeed Mani would find most post-con-cath-pov's of jc very fitting when compared with all the other teachers of light honoured at mass.

my advice - if you ever seek conversion, read nothing, attend no Mass, see no tradition, hear no tradition, and certainly before your rcia priest, speak no tradition, if you won't to...sorry - I've lost my thread.

ytc said...

Blib, probably because Mass on New Years isn't as important or solemn as Mass on the Epiphany, especially with episcopal consecrations.

Inquisitor, this is now the third time Pope Benedict has worn the fanon. Furthermore, he wears the dalmatic for all his public Masses, regardless of the day/celebration. It has also been the custom for several years now for those to be consecrated by the Pope to wear dalmatics.

IM said...

Very good words! It probably says something about how he experiences his own task.. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro, indeed!

Ora et Labora said...

I am not Spartacus I agree with you!!!

Reactor said...

BXVI: "Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day."

"Even"?

Jonvilas said...

Actually, this was one of the most powerful homilies of present pope. The one, that should be not only listened to but also wholeheartedly accepted and fulfilled not just by all catholic bishops, but also by the faithful at large. Thus, it is rather strange that 'tradfolk' are rather nasty here. I agree, some remarks (as those about visits to synagogs) are to the point to certain extent. However, they miss the key message of the poe, which truly proclaims the Faith of One True Church. I would suggest to read the entire homily, not just this extract. Your malicious remarks, actually, helps little to nothing. Alas.

Barbara said...

"Your malicious remarks, actually, helps little to nothing. Alas."

Where are the malicious remarks in these comments Jonvilas? I don't see them...

Rusey said...

One serious mitre there on B16, +Fellay would approve

Jonvilas said...

Dear Barbara, the tone of many of the 'critical' remarks is at least close to malicious. This is what I meant. Instead of listening to the essence of the message of the pope we begin to look for something 'not-good', still 'far from ok', etc. This is really what is not helpful. For ourselves, first of all.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Jonvilas. What was written was neither malicious nor nasty.

Do we really desire a Papacy that operates like the Scribes and Pharisees did?

Well, that is the situation you castigate trads for not accepting.

All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.

I hasten to add that when it comes to holiness, I am but a flint strike compared to the sun who is Our Holy Father and when it comes to intellect and knowledge I am but the dew on a bramble compared to the ocean that is Our Holy Father but it does nobody any good to turn a blind eye to these salvific issues.

It simply will not do for Our Holy Father to demand of others what he will not do his own self.

Jean-Francois said...

I am not Spartacus said, Do we really desire a Papacy that operates like the Scribes and Pharisees did?
I hasten to add that when it comes to holiness, I am but a flint strike compared to the sun who is Our Holy Father


In the case of your second point, then might I suggest a little more time spent in prayer rather than spending it criticizing and calling the Holy Father a hypocrite. Whereas you see an obligation upon our Holy Father to preach to the Jews exactly as the first Popes did, perhaps the present Pope believes a different approach may be more more prudential. After all as the Pope he was given the keys to loosen and hold fast.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Jean-Francois. I pray for the Pope and my Bishop every single day. I do not criticise the Pope every single day; so, I am already doing what you advise.

Our Holy Father is the first of 266 Popes to say that the Catholic Church ought not seek to convert the Jews and in claiming that he has loosed us from the continuity of the past.

If you think that Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus is a defensible doctrine of Catholic Tradition then why are you so sanguine that Our Holy Father has taken the decision not to seek the conversion of Jews?

X-lib said...

Its tough for me to get too excited over this sermon when I think how Pope Benedict recently appointed someone like Bishop Muller to head the CDF. Also, as long as the Catholic Church continues to neglect the most hated but most foundational and fundamentally sound doctrine of "no salvation outside the Church", all other words, despite their good intentions, become virtually meaningless.

LeonG said...

I do not see many bishops in the modern conciliar church lining up to defend The Faith. Most of them appear to be following liberal thinking and currying favour with secular ideologies.