Saturday, May 03, 2008

It's a Boy... ea

At Tuesday's installation of Bishop Earl Boyea in Lansing, the papal nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi -- no stranger to extemporaneous remarks -- broke from his prepared text just once.

Dropping his script on the ambo [video] to look toward the new head of the 220,000-member church in Michigan's capital, Sambi told Boyea that he was "becoming bishop of Lansing when the Pope just told us that [bishops] should be the instrument of a new springtime, of a new Pentecost, for the Catholic church in the United States."

Having reiterated Benedict's "marching orders" to the American bench, the pontiff's "messenger" returned to his written remarks.

In his homily, the heretofore Detroit auxiliary and onetime rector of the Josephinum spoke of his understanding of the office, using the pontificalia to highlight its aspects:
The bishops hand on, generation after generation, the teachings which were written and spoken by the Apostles. Their memory of the words of Jesus and their interpretations of the message of Jesus are what we hand on. Jesus did not write a book. He did not leave notes. Instead, he instituted the college of the Apostles and their successors, by the working of the Holy Spirit, to hand on what was essential for the life of the Church. The bishop then is an Apostolic teacher. To St. Catherine of Siena, whose feast we observe today, God says: “I have shown the ignorant where to find those who point out and teach this way that is truth. These are, I said, the apostles and evangelists, the martyrs and confessors and holy doctors who have been set like lamps in holy Church” (Dialogue 29). That is why the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, so emphatically stated: “The faithful need the word of their bishop, they need to have their faith confirmed and purified” (Pastores gregis, 29).

This teaching work has as its aim the very goal of the apostolic mission, to make all people disciples of Jesus Christ and to encounter the divine mystery, to meet Jesus himself. There is no greater kind of fatherhood toward which anyone can aspire, than to serve as bishop for a community seeking Christ, seeking holiness.

Secondly, having a bishop makes the Diocese of Lansing Apostolic because the bishop is the minister of our Apostolic unity. Is this not the message of our Gospel today where Jesus does not call one apostle alone but a band of twelve apostles, a college of apostles, a communion of apostles. The ring worn by the Bishop, and especially this ring, which was worn regularly by Bishop Povish, symbolizes this communion, a communion across the ages, across the globe, and across our ten counties. St. Ignatius of Antioch, during his journey to his martyrdom in Rome around 110 AD, wrote to the Church of the Trallians, that without deacons and presbyters and a bishop “no group can be called a Church” (3:1). It is the presence of the bishop which provides that visible connection with the one Church and thus enables the local community to be the Church. This sense of never being an isolated community is the heart of the message in the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops (58): “Ecclesial communion will lead the Bishop to work consistently for the common good of the diocese, mindful that this is subordinated to the good of the universal Church and that, in turn, the good of the diocese prevails over that of individual communities.” The bishop’s ring, however, is not a symbol of sterile unity. Rather, like that ring worn by all you married folk, symbolizing your oneness, the ring also symbolizes your life-giving love. This reminds us that all communion is based on love, and especially the love of Christ for his body, his bride, the Church, of which the bishop, spiritually married to the local church, is a sacramental sign. Love for you means that I will pray for you constantly and give my life so that we will remain one on the path to eternal life and that, as a Church, we will bear much fruit.

Thirdly, this cross, this pectoral cross worn by the bishop, and especially this particular one, worn by Bishops Zaleski, Povish, and Mengeling, means that Christ is at the heart of the bishop’s apostolic ministry. The Second Vatican Council, in Lumen gentium (26) calls the bishop the “steward of the grace of the high priesthood.” Christ is that high priest and by his cross he has reconciled us to the Father and poured out grace in abundance. Paul, in reminding us that we are built on the foundation of the apostles, never loses sight of who is the key: Christ is the capstone in whom we are all “being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2: 22). Jesus has given this Diocese of Lansing another bishop to ensure that this sacramental grace, pouring from his own pierced heart, will flow generously to all of us in need. Thus the bishop, embracing that cross, sees to it that this liturgical life, in communion with the whole Church, is faithfully celebrated and proclaimed so that the genuine nature of the Church is unambiguously expressed (Pastores gregis, 35). Most important of all, the bishop celebrates with you the Eucharistic Mysteries, the most compelling and most important act of all his pastoral ministry (Pastores gregis, 37).
In all likelihood, Tuesday's installation was the last presided over by Detroit's Cardinal Adam Maida as Michigan's metropolitan; the oldest active American bishop at 78, the long-delayed succession to the Motor City cardinal is expected to take place within short order, with the papal visit now behind us.

With the impending appointment on his plate, the Pope received Maida's predecessor, the retired governor of Vatican City Cardinal Edmund Szoka, in private audience before Szoka departed Rome for the Lansing rites.

On this Feast of the Run for the Roses, more on the docket later.

PHOTO: Rod Sanford/Lansing State Journal