Saturday, December 02, 2006

Episcopal Meme

Fr Sean Finnegan has an entry on his blog inviting a number of priest bloggers to reflect on what they would do if they became bishops. I really don`t envy anyone the job of a Catholic bishop nowadays. His suggestions are:

1) Seminaries. To establish an initial 'spiritual' year in which students would pray a great deal and, study a) the doctrine of the Church (overview) b) 'Great Books'; á la USA, perhaps one of the greatest civilizing tools in the West and c) Latin. In subsequent years to make sure that all students got a thorough, orthodox, formation in which the bishop was closely involved with every student at every level.
2) Schools. To re-establish schools inspections for orthodox catechesis. To provide financial incentives for (practising!) Catholic teachers to teach in Catholic schools (perhaps by regular collections in the diocese).
3) To regularly, often, visit every parish in the diocese. To make friends with the clergy and make them a major concern; their spiritual, ascetic life as well as their well-being.
4) To minimize involvement in the Episcopal Conference and its ramifications; a huge and, really, unnecessary drain on time and energy.
5) To make the liturgy in the Cathedral a worthy model for the whole diocese.
6) To make the traditional liturgy available for all who want it, and simply not to make an issue of it.

I agree with all of this although I might take them in reverse order of priority. I think it a good thing that a bishop actually visits the parishes of his diocese and has a one-to-one with each priest about their well-being every five years or whenever the visitation occurs. I would also add that I am not too convinced that it is a good thing for the bishop to farm out confirmations to the Vicar General or episcopal vicars as it loses the sense of occasion that a visit from the bishop brings. I`m glad to say that for our confirmations next autumn we are having the bishop.
On further reflection I would add:

1) Make a study of those parts of the `Western` world where there is an upsurge in vocations to the diocesan priesthood. These mainly occur in places where there is a bishop who is noted for his orthodoxy and who believes that the priesthood is important. In the light of suggestion 6 above, it is worth noting that the Ecclesia Dei communities don`t seem to have a problem with vocations.
2) Invite into the diocese religious congregations that are on the up, such as the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the Community of St John, the Missionaries of Charity (we do already have them), the Fathers of Mercy etc. Also try to establish a Benedictine house with the classical Roman liturgy.
3) Put money into liturgical music. Our part of the world does not have the pool of professional singers such as can be drawn upon in the London area but I`m sure something could be done to improve standards and repertoire. It would be nice to see courses on plainchant for parishes.
4) Each parish to have instructors for Natural Family Planning.

That`s all I can think of for now.


Alnwickian said...

I note the word 'orthodox' keeps cropping up in this post. Is this not one of those 'irregular verbs' (a la "Yes Minster"): @I am orthodox; you are a dangerous liberal; he is a ranting fascist'.
Surely every bishop would say that every seminary (and indeed every Catholic school) provides an 'orthodox' formation for its students.
They would also say that 'orthodox' liturgy is Mass in the vernacular, facing the people, with eucharistic ministers and altar girls, hand shakes at the peace, responsory psalms, guitars and communion in the hand.

Fr Michael Brown said...

You may have a point but I never hear the word used by the people who promote these liturgical practices. It is more likely that they will describe themselves as `creative` than orthodox.