THE “DIGNITY” OF A BISHOP

From now on we will regularly be coming across Eugene speaking of the “dignity” of the episcopacy. It is important always to remember what he meant by this. Fr Alexandre Taché explains: “When he actually became a bishop, Eugene became more fully aware of the responsibilities that were to be his. In exchanges with his intimate friends, he constantly spoke of the greatness and dignity of the episcopacy. Called by the Vicar of Jesus Christ to share the responsibility entrusted to the Apostles, the bishop receives the Holy Spirit to become a pastor who teaches, sanctifies and guides his people. From this flows his greatness and formidable responsibility. This would be the sentiment that would profoundly and continuously enliven Bishop de Mazenod’s spirit his whole life through.” (Dictionary of Oblate Values https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/bishops/)

...and, now that I am elected and am so close to being invested with the plenitude of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, this profound feeling of veneration, this lofty idea that faith has established in my soul for this great dignity, would crush me and deprive me of all courage, all strength to carry on, if the Lord did not fill me with the sweetest hope and bring me to envisage this new coming of the Holy Spirit in myself as a time of renewal and mercy.
It seems to me that this divine Spirit whom I have so grieved since it was communicated to me by the imposition of hands, at the time of my priesthood, is going to put everything right in my soul, establish his dwelling with such power that it will be impossible henceforth to escape from his inspirations.

To Father Martin de Loirlieu, chaplain at the Church of St. Louis-des-Français, Rome, 4 October 1832, EO XV 165

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One Response to THE “DIGNITY” OF A BISHOP

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Again this morning we have been invited to enter into a light, invited to open our hearts even more widely than before. No one is ‘worthy’ of becoming a Bishop, however God places upon them both the dignity and the responsibility. There is an immense grace here.

    Words from Eugene’s first Lenten Homily in the Church of the Madeleine come to mind: “…know then your dignity.” Dignity as Christians, as beloved of God, as priests, as bishops. This is to all of us, for me – to know my dignity as a lay woman, a beloved of God, an Oblate Associate.
    I am reminded of the times when an Oblate that I know, that I have come to love and to be friends with shares that he is to become a bishop – my joy for him – that God is calling him to this new way of being; there will be a kind of ‘letting go’ on my part and always there will be an offer of more love and prayers especially in light of the humility which is also apparent- at least to me.

    Reading the article from the Dictionary of Oblate Values has given me a wider focus, and invitation to love even more deeply, an invitation to understand more generously than I have before now. This morning I am invited to look no only at Eugene becoming a bishop, or other priests becoming bishops, but also myself in taking new steps in whatever God calls and invites me walk in. It is not a matter of being ‘worthy’ enough but more a matter of giving thanks and praise for what I have received and recognizing that it is all grace and that is the only way I will be able to walk, to carry the burden with responsibility.

    Yesterday I was trying to explain to a priest who wants to learn more about Eugene de Mazenod and who does not have a lot of time right now to read volumes of books. I spoke to him of this place where I come each day and where I learn about Eugene and the gift of the Spirit, of the charism that is shared with us, and how I reflect on this and learn more about myself. I shared with him the grace that I receive in taking time to sit and learn and reflect. I promised to send him the link.

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