Read The Cat 0881-0935June 14th, 2012 | Posted by in Podcast
The Bishops work to shepherd their flocks under the leadership of the Pontiff. In fact, the catechism mentions that the college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the roman pontiff – The collection of all the bishops, known as the college of bishops exercises power over the church as an ecumenical council which is only given authority when the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, recognizes or confirms their assembly.
The teaching office: If someone asked me what the first and primary task was of a bishop I might give a range of different answers – perhaps to shepherd his flock, or to care for the spiritual well being of his diocese. but paragraph 888 explains – “Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task ‘to preach the gospel of God to all men.’” It is from Jesus’ command in Mark 16 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation,” that the bishops were given the authority to spread and teach the Gospel and the faith. It’s in the spirit of this charge that we have the Magisterium which protects the teaching of the faith and ensures truth. Once we dip our toe into this water we very suddenly find ourselves swimming in the ocean of infallibility. Paragraph 890: “To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals.”
The sanctifying office: The bishop is the “steward of grace” for the supreme priesthood. Which means the Bishop and his co-workers (the priests) bring grace and sanctification to the flock through prayers, works, and offerings (namely the Eucharist). The sanctifying office is one that sets an example for the flock entrusted to them.
The governing office: While the bishop has the authority to govern the faithful of the diocese, that authority is ultimately controlled by the Church as a whole under the guidance of the Pope. Talking about governing a people may sound a little strong handed but the Cat is quick to note that this governing relationship between Bishop and flock is more akin to the relationship of Christ to the Father – a loving relationship that builds up, teaches, and affirms.
Now we get to the lay people. The normal people who populate the flock and the Body of Christ. “Lay believers are the front line of church life.” We “ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church.” We are called, by virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, to the right and duty to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all. Lay persons obviously play vital roles in Church life – one that was particularly beautifully described was how married persons partake in the office of sanctifying “by leading a conjugal life in the Christian spirit and by seeing to the Christian education of their children.” Also, lay persons can be admitted permanently to the ministries of lector and acolyte, and in special circumstances they may exercise the ministry of the word, preside over liturgical prayers, confer baptism, and distribute Holy Communion.
The remainder of the paragraphs discuss the different lives within the church. The Consecrated Life, Consecrated virgins, religious life, secular institutes and the eremitic life. All of these lifestyles contribute to the body of christ and each has its own role to play in building the kingdom.
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