This week has brought some events that have caused me to reflect on what it means to be ordained; specifically what it means to profess obedience to my Bishop and his successors. In a certain way, all Catholics are to be obedient to the Vicar of Christ and his Bishops but being ordained means that obedience is part of my being; ontologically I am called to obedience. This isn’t really an issue as things go along nicely, minor inconveniences and problems give me a chance to offer it up in obedience to my Bishop; in fact I can’t think of a time since my ordination where I had to ‘decide’ in favor of obedience – it hasn’t been necessary – I walked in Bishop Sartain’s and Bishop Siegel’s path and am very happy to do so. But Christ warns us of what it means to be His follower. He tells us to pick up our cross and carry it. We will all be tried at one point or another and called to live the cross. So, I frequently pray that I have the strength to walk my profession, my ontological demand of obedience.
Well, this past weekend the Bishop of Marquette Michigan released a letter to his deacons; and among many things he made the statement that deacons shouldn’t preach regularly at Mass. He went on to explain why, and I must say that he made his point very well, it is his diocese and he has the right. This got me to thinking about how I would react to his decision if I were one of his deacons. I hope that I would accept his decision as obedience and love calls me to do. He is my bishop and I am his deacon.
This was followed by the surprising announcement by Father Corapi, a famous speaker on the Catholic faith, that he was leaving the priesthood. His message discussed his dissatisfaction with his bishop on how the bishop was handling an allegation against him. I want to first say that I don’t know anything about his case aside from what has been released in the news, and by Fr. Corapi, and his order. It is a sad case, and ever since I heard about it I have praying for a resolution. However, I was struck by the contrast between Fr. Corapi’s actions in his case and how St. Padre Pio handled his ‘unfair’ treatment (For a period of 10 years, Padre Pio was not allowed to celebrate Mass in public while the Church tried to discern if his stigmata was from God or the devil.) Fr Corapi, seems to believe (rightly or wrongly) that he is being mistreated and therefore is turning his back on his Holy Orders; St Pio patiently, and obediently, lived his calling and his profession to Christ. Both have had to pick up their cross and decide what to do with it – Fr. Corapi is handing it to someone else (or so it seems) – St Pio carried his as Christ carried all of ours.
Again, I am not trying to judge the truth of the Fr. Corapi case; that isn’t my intention, the plank in eye is way too big – I pray that this all works out. I am reflecting on how I, as an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church would handle my own cross. I would like to think I would carry it like St Pio. I pray that when I am asked to – I do. I ask all of you to pray that I have the strength to carry my cross and not hand it someone else.