Teach, Govern, Sanctify: A Bishop’s 3 Key Jobs
As of August 24, the Archdiocese of Boston is blessed to have two new auxiliary bishops: Bishop Mark O’Connell and CatholicTV’s own Bishop Robert Reed. As modern-day successors of Jesus’s Twelve Apostles, bishops have a big job. That job is always changing and evolving to meet the needs of the Church and the bishop’s specific diocese. In particular, auxiliary bishops are called to take on the duties assigned to them by the Ordinary. All bishops, however, have three key jobs: to teach, govern, and sanctify.
1. The Bishop Teaches
It is the responsibility of a bishop to teach the people of his diocese about the Word of God. This includes both Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition of the Church. Bishops are called to have a deep knowledge of the Gospel and to teach that knowledge to others in a way that is accessible.
One of the Church’s great bishops and teachers is St. Augustine. Following a dramatic conversion from a life of worldly pleasure, St. Augustine went on to become a bishop and teach others through his preaching and writing. Even today, he continues to teach believers and nonbelievers alike through his famous autobiographical work, Confessions.
St. Augustine, pray for our bishops, that they may know and speak the Word of God to the people and draw them closer to Christ.
2. The Bishop Governs
Each bishop is assigned a diocese, and it is his job to guide that diocese in an administrative capacity. The bishop’s authority comes from Christ Himself, from His initial instruction to the Apostles to spread the Gospel. Once appointed by the pope, a bishop works to unify the community of the Church.
St. Paul had a crucial role of governing in the early Church. After evangelizing and establishing the Church in new places around the world, St. Paul stayed in contact with these Christian communities, which we can see today from his letters. Even as he continued to spread the Gospel elsewhere, he looked after his many flocks with their particular needs.
St. Paul, pray for our bishops, that they may govern their dioceses with prudence and build up their local communities to the glory of God.
3. The Bishop Sanctifies
In receiving the fullness of priesthood, a bishop is called to sanctify his people. He does this not only through the liturgy and the sacraments, but also through his example of holiness. A bishop lives in imitation of Christ so that, by his prayerful example, the people of his diocese will be inspired to do the same.
We see this in recent memory in the ministry of St. Pope John Paul II, who worked toward the sanctity of his people first as bishop, and later as pope. In addition to his holy example, St. John Paul II showed his flock what it meant to suffer with love as he grew older and became ill before his death. All the while, he promoted peace and a culture of respect for life.
St. John Paul II, pray for our bishops, that they may follow the holy example of the Good Shepherd and, by doing so, bring their flock to do the same.
We pray for Bishop O’Connell and Bishop Reed as they begin this new ministry of teaching, governing, and sanctifying. To learn more about the Ordination, visit Ordination2016.com.