Saturday, November 3, 2012
I wanted to share a few reflections as I continue my journey to the episcopacy. Even as I begin I realize that it is more accurate to speak of our journey to the episcopacy. Don’t worry I’m not adopting the “papal we” as the Holy Father at times speaks of himself in the plural. My point is that it really is the journey of a community to my ordination on November 28, at Caldwell Auditorium in Tyler at 2:00 PM. I keep repeating the details of the date, time and place so that no one makes the effort to drive in and they’ve been given the wrong time!!!!!!
It is our journey because the events that are unfolding are truly remarkable for the Catholic Church of East Texas. I have often tried to express the feeling that comes over me but I never seem to be satisfied that I have conveyed the message very well. I laughed with my sisters this past week as we celebrated my birthday because I often referred to this “feeling” in my conversation with them. I suppose one way of saying it is that the goodness and support of so many constantly reminds me that it truly is not so much about me as it is about the power of the Grace of God. I feel like part of a vast crowd looking on to see the wonders that God creates in our lives.
Those wonders presently are taking concrete form in a virtual of army of people working to make sure all the details of the Solemn Vespers and Ordination Mass are arranged perfectly. I am humbled by this loving service of so many. I know it springs from their commitment to faith and I also know that there is a genuine excitement because this army is made up of people who “know the guy” being ordained. I can say from my perspective that I share the excitement because these same people have been part of my family of faith for many many years. It calls to mind the words of Our Lord, “I know mine and mine know me”, it is a powerful blessing to really know the flock that I am being ordained to serve.
As I continue to prepare I am aware that the Lord has truly been molding me for quite some time. I am humbled to realize that I have been blessed with opportunities that many bishops elect have not experienced. I have celebrated enough Confirmations that I already have a way of celebrating that I am comfortable with but of course I realize some adjustments will have to be made as I begin to celebrate them as a bishop rather than a delegate of the bishop.
One of the more profound experiences for me was the recent dedication of the newly remodeled church of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in Buffalo, Texas. By special delegation Bishop Corrada allowed me to preside over this dedication because he was not able to return to the diocese on that date. Normally the dedication of a church is reserved to a bishop but Bishop Corrada saw fit to delegate me as bishop elect. The moment of the liturgy that I found to be profoundly moving was the anointing of the altar. I had watched Bishop Corrada and other bishops celebrate this moment in the rite and it was always a very blessed ritual. I have to say that it was extremely moving to be the minister actually conducting this anointing. I was profoundly aware of the beauty of the Eucharistic altar as an image of Christ Himself and I very much felt his presence as I spread the sacred chrism across the top of the altar. I often speak of being humbled by various aspects of this journey but I must say that these words are not adequate for how it felt to anoint this altar as an image of Christ Himself.
All of this reminds me that saying to people “please pray for me” is not merely a way of responding to their kind greetings and congratulations. Indeed “please pray for me” should resonate through my ministry as bishop and profoundly remind me of my great responsibility to always follow with “as I pray for you”. Only in prayer can we begin to fathom even the tiniest elements of the wonder of Jesus Christ in His Church.