This was originally posted here on December 15, 2002 and it was lost from the archives during one of Blogger's transformations. Fortunately I had emailed it to somebody, so I can post it again......
Sunday, December 15, 2002
( 11:29 AM ) Karen Marie Knapp
Our duties and responsibilities toward our bishops
We are very aware of what our bishops are supposed to do for us, and in these latter days we have a gloomy chorus to keep us from ever seeing beyond every failure and error on our bishops' parts. Yet, how many of us are even aware of our responsibilities and our duties toward them? Let alone actually do anything?
When the newly-named bishop arrives, and the chancellor, the college of consultors, the papal nuncio, et alia sit him down in the big chair with the crozier in his hand, he takes on responsibilities and duties toward us --- and we take on reciprocal responsibilities and duties toward him.
Our bishop is to nurture and care for us.
We are to nurture and care for our bishop.
Our bishop is to teach us and to give us guidance in the way of the Lord.
We are to pay attention to the bishop's teachings and to be amenable to being guided.
Our bishop is to treat us with honor and care and respect, even when he has to correct us or rebuke us.
We are to treat the bishop with honor and care and respect, even when we have to respectfully disagree with him or even correct him.
Our bishop prays for us. We pray for our bishop.
I could continue, but I think the picture's pretty well-drawn already.
I believe that our problems in these days stem in some part, maybe large part, from our own past failures at fulfilling our parts in our relationships with our bishops.
We failed to pray for him, and picked at him instead. We expected to be deferred to, rather than to be taught; so we wouldn't pay attention to any teaching that we didn't like or that made us feel uncomfortable. When we disagreed with one or another prudential judgment of our bishop, we tantrummed and made public shameful scenes, even when what was decided was well within the applicable norms and reasonable common-sense. When we were supposed to be gathered around our bishop as one holy people we insisted on dividing into factions and fighting internecine warfare in and over the Lord's Church.
And our bishops, though holy and diligent and devoted, are only men. Their armor of faith is only so strong, and when it develops cracks, the fears wiggle in like so many of those wormy parasitical sci-fi aliens, and dumb things get done out of the fears. Some start deferring and stop teaching. Some get reclusive, or autocratic. Some start making really poor prudential decisions, out of a misplaced perceived need to protect us from bad news or difficult times.
We must nurture our bishops, so that their armor of faith stays strong, and so that the fears have no way of entering in. It is our duty to nurture him as much as it is his duty to nurture us. I've already told this to my new bishop (I did get that appropriate chance).
So, pray for the bishop. Attend to his teaching. Treat him with honor and care and respect. Refrain from public tantrums and all other aspects of faction-fighting. And bear up the bishop as the bishop bears us up, so we all attain to the heavenly vision on that coming Day.