I have been Catholic all my life. Been through Baptism, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation.
With the recent “Bishop of Bling” being in the news it has made me think of the Bishops in the Catholic Church. How they really need to start practicing what they preach, become better apostles, go out to the people, and some just need to get off their high horse. Now I am not saying all Bishops are like this. There have been many that have been kind and nice men. However, the fact that between me, my mother, her mother and her mother’s mother we have rarely met a bishop that was a teacher, a spiritual guide, A Shepard of the Lord. That is a huge problem!
Here are a few Examples of Good Bishops to look up to:
- Pope John Paul II
- Pope Francis
- Bishop Sheen (Fulton John Sheen) – May soon be in the process for canonization for sainthood.
Many Catholics might say, well they are human. They aren’t perfect, they sin too and they are not God. My response to that is simple, I know. I know they are human. I understand that they too face temptation and sin. However, they have chosen to follow the path of the Lord. They have to work hard everyday to follow his teachings and live the word as well as preach it. Therefore they need to start asking themselves WWJD? Seriously. Would Jesus spend so much money on a fancy house? Would Jesus stay at home and not go out to his flock? Would Jesus sit behind his desk all day? Remember The Bishop has more power than a priest, they are supposed to be a representative not only of the Catholic Church and God and to quote Spiderman,
If they are not living up to the responsibility, they are not living the word as well as preaching, they are failing the people and God. So, the Bishops need to take a lesson from Pope Francis and former Pope John Paul II. Seriously, if you want people to join, stop being hypocritical and start living the word!
WARNING- The next few paragraphs is my own personal experience and does not represent the Catholic Church as a whole. This is my experience and feelings only. I am also not an authority. I’m just a woman learning about her faith and expressing her feelings on certain matters.
Over the years I have been blessed and lucky to meet amazing priests, occasionally I would meet a priest that I believe needed to rethink their vocation. The Deacons I have met are either clearly devoted to the path they have chosen or they are doing it because it makes them look good and they are proud of it. Bishops on the other hand, I have been disappointed in them tremendously. Within the diocese I am a part of( I will not name names- for now) I have been disappointed by the Bishops lack of appearance within the diocese. I get the diocese catholic news so it’s not like I don’t try to stay aware. Here is the main reason why I have been disappointed by his performance and I will use an example to help explain it.
Imagine you make a new friend and his name is James. He seems pretty cool you hangout a couple times. After that, you really don’t meet up or chat. He doesn’t drop by to say hi. No, this is what he does instead. Once to twice a year you will get a phone call saying hey man, there is this really great cause that I work for needs more money, could you spare some change? And even though you are miffed that he hasn’t taken the time to stop by and say hi, you don’t want to come across as a jerk and there are people in need, so you say, “Yeah, I’ll help.” After this not only do you get the phone call 1-2 times a year, you are on the email list and their mailing list for this charity and every year you receive a phone call from this guy, even though you haven’t met up with him since.
Now let’s say that this individual is a Bishop. Granted because the diocese could have 40+ parishes, it would make it a little more difficult to visit every single one in a year, but it is still possible. I don’t know how often he visits the parish near to his house, but I know that visitation to the parishes in my area have been scare and he only lives about 2 hours away. It’s not like in the old days when Peter and Paul had to walk around in the desert on foot or take a boat that may not make it across the ocean. Forgive me for not being sympathetic. You have a car that is air conditioned, if they( peter and paul) can walk 5,000 miles & face constant persecution (aka being killed for spreading the word) , than there is no excuse for you not to drive 2 miles comfortably in your car just to visit some of the parishes.
I have only seen him once since 2009 in person that is. And well with what I saw, he looked as enthusiastic as this cat
and this was during RCIA welcome mass (or something like that, it has been almost 2 years)! To help encourage the potential new members on their journey on whether or not they will become catholic. If I was a potential new member this guy would not have helped convince me at all. (side-note: RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, it is for those 18 and older that want to become catholic, I was someone’s sponsor to help them on their catholic journey to help them decided whether of not they want to become catholic.) My thoughts on this guy-
Now I have heard him speak since, from a recording device that was being played over a sound system. He was asking for our parish to help him. What was it that he asked for? He was asking for money for catholic charities, catholic education, clergy formation ( instruction for new priests, deacons, etc.), and youth ministry. Most recently he had the priests read a letter he “wrote”. Part of me wonders that the priest would had been reading it had not been happy about the situation either. Now I will say this, all of these charities and organizations are important. They don’t fund themselves. However, if we look at my little comparison earlier where James only calls to ask for money. It’s rude and it’s like having an annoying relative that you hardly see beg for money. You feel bad for saying no, but part of you just wants to tell the guy off.
Now another reason why this angers me is because it is taking place in God’s house.
“They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there.”
Granted this was in relation to the fact that there were people there selling animals so the jewish people could sacrifice the animals to God and were taking advantage of the people. There were also a temple tax (money changers were in charge of that process) existed as well:
“He found in the temple are those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. “
The point is, instead of listening to the homily (sermon) we have to listen to a man that we rarely see ask us for money. Selling us on the idea of Catholic education and ministry, which is important don’t get me wrong, It’s when it’s being done and the fact that it happens often that angers me. I just want to see him do some real work. I want to see him work with the poor, the sick, the disabled. I want to see him communicate with out politicians and asking them to strive toward peace. I want to see him act, not just sit and talk. I want it to be genuine as well and not look as disinterested as the cat.
When a priest is chosen to be bishop he becomes Bishop elect and he will eventually undergo his rites of ordination, this is a ceremony where they have a mass, there is many people in attendance, there is a blessing, etc. When the Rites begins he is examined and asked a serious of questions.
I think it is high time something is added to that list of questions…
Matthew 19: 21
“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Matthew 4: 19-20
“He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”
By the way, by leaving their nets, they left their only source of income. Money for food and living.
So what is the point I am trying to make?
I believe that all Bishops (and priests too) should take the vow of poverty. In fact I think it is high time that they do. That’s right, many Catholics believe that priests and bishops have to take a vow of poverty. Not the case.
Sisters and Nuns take the vow of poverty and they get a lot of work done(I’m not saying there are priests and bishops that don’t. I am saying though despite taking this vow, sisters seem to be able to work just as well at their mission). Helping the poor, the sick, the disabled, teaching, working in hospitals, food kitchens, etc. All the grief and bad reputation they have gotten, I have never had a bad experience with a sister. In fact I admire them more than I do most priests.
Bishops don’t need to have big houses, expensive cars, iPads, iPhones, etc. And neither do the priests. It is unnecessary. I do understand the need for phone and computer to stay up to date with the ever changing world, but neither do they need the latest things. I understand they are people too, but I don’t see sisters and nuns at sporting events.
I still believe in God, I still believe in the Catholic faith, despite all the flaws I see with the people that serve. I hope that since Pope Francis took the vow of poverty, it will encourage other people within the church to do the same, or at the very least cut on their extravagant ways (Bishops & Cardinals I’m looking at you). maybe it will be required eventually by all that work within the whether it be priest, deacon, sister, or brother.
I hope eventually Bishops will start to live up to the role that they have been gifted with. It is a gift! Don’t squander it.