Thursday, February 24, 2011

Let's talk about Bishops

St Augustine of Hippo--Botticelli
My friend Mike Aquilina wrote a few weeks ago, "My friend Michael Ripple has begun blogging, look out--it's going to be provocative" 
Mike certainly knows me.  He also knows his church and the faith--take a trip to his website and check many of the works he has authored.

Now, on with being provocative.
Let's talk about bishops...

Years ago, my wife and I experienced a heartwrenching conversion while on a pilgrimage to Medugorje.  At the time I was an excommunicated Roman Catholic priest who was doing fine as an Episcopal priest (well at least I thought).
Weeks following our return home we were seated in the office of a Roman Catholic Bishop.
After listening to our story, he got up from his desk, walked around, embraced us both and said, "Welcome home."

I couldn't believe it.  No, really.   I was floored.  A bishop was pastoral!!??  He cared?  I mean we had turned our backs on the church.  Come on, he didn't need to even meet with us.

The rest is history.

Today I received a telephone call from that same bishop, simply expressing care and concern over my recent ministry changes and subsequently my family's life change.
He was being a shepherd--it's in his bishop DNA.
Yeh, the church needs more bishops like that.
Priests need more bishops like that.  Other bishops and priests could learn a thing or two from a bishop like that.
Unfortunately when men rise to a certain level of leadership in the church, like becoming pastors or bishops or even just being ordained--the sins of entitlement and clericalism can creep in and become rather insipid.
Not today.  Not in that phone call.  It was pure shepherd.

You weren't expecting that were you?

Say a prayer for your sheperds.