Sunday, June 8, 2008

Trumpets of Jericho - the best approach to getting solid bishops

I recently learned about a local association of Catholics which originated here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, but reaches beyond. It is called Trumpets of Jericho. Before we get into what the association does, we need to explore something....

Through apostolic succession, God has given us bishops.

Priests and bishops, like the rest of us, are human and are not immune to the effects of Original Sin, which tempts us to follow things which are displeasing to God. It is by the grace of God, through the Sacraments, a rich prayer life, and the practice of virtue and sacrifice, that those things the world deems seemingly impossible becomes possible.

A child who is self-centered and disobedient will always be discontent if he can't have what he wants, when he wants it. A child who is taught the art of self-denial and to think of others rather than just himself grows up tolerant and content. It's the same with all of God's children - including adults. We are not inclined to practice self-denial and virtue so it must be taught and reinforced, not with force, but with calm, firm, persistence. A priest or bishop who comprehends this becomes a master at pruning thornbush from around sheep caught up in it. Humility will enable a lamb to see that the thorns have been carefully pruned away and make their escape. Pride will keep others in the thornbush no matter how much has been pruned from around them.

Not every priest and bishop you encounter has had the most solid of seminary training and education, which means it's more charitable to assume that when things go wrong, we don't assume it is malicious, but perhaps based more on ignorance or bad schooling. Others who have had good training, have chosen a path not aligned with the mind of the Church - a path padded with pride. False charity is exercised when bishops and priests do not preach the fullness of the faith for fear of hurting people's feelings. The preservation of self-esteem becomes more important for these shepherds than the salvation of souls for all of eternity.

The Catholic faith is not just about the Resurrection; it's also about the Cross. It is not just about God's mercy, but also about His Justice. It's not just about consolations He sends us, but about how we console God when we least feel like it, by praying and going to adoration or Mass rather than sleeping in, or shopping, playing sports or whatever else we deem more important at the moment. Ultimately, it is not just about how God loves us, but about how we love God back. This involves forming our conscience properly and following His Commandments, and by putting in time at prayer with consistency, especially in the absence of consolations.

It is justifiable to be angry about the actions of bishops who express thoughts which are contrary to Church teaching, or not aligned with the mind of the Church. It is understandable to be disappointed and upset when they do not address issues that need to be addressed.

Sometimes we take our anger or disappointment to the internet where there is no shortage of criticism against specific Catholic bishops. We must be careful that we do not cross the line into rash judgment (ccc 2477-78), which is objectively grave matter, or calumny and detraction, which are also grave matter (ccc 2479). Attacking someone's position on something is one thing, but attacking their person is another. A great role model is our Holy Father, Pope Benedict. No matter how "bad" someone is that he meets, he treats that person with the utmost of respect for their dignity. This is dialogue with love. It doesn't give in, but it's not "in your face" or condescending either.

It would be interesting to have statistical study results that would reveal much time we spend reading about bishops and discussing them online versus the time we spend praying for them - regardless of whether is it positive or negative news. What comes to mind is the now dormant blog, the Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz Prayer Club, which was originally entitled, the Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz Fan Club. The name was changed by the teen blog-owner after he wrote the Bishop and was encouraged to take on a new theme. A fan club is something that yields discussion and a prayer club promotes praying. The bishop knew it was more important that he get people's prayers rather than talk. The blog didn't go dormant on account of that, rather the young man needed time to work, study, etc.

While such a statistical study on a population is not practical, there is no reason we can't do an examination of conscience on an individual basis in this regard. If we spend more time discussing the matter with others than we do praying for our bishops, then we have to ask ourselves how much we truly believe in the grace of God and the power of prayer.

If you really want to do something to increase the number of holy, courageous bishops, and for the conversion of existing bishops, that they may stand up for the faith with the same vigor as their early Church predecessors, you'll want to check out the Trumpets of Jericho. They themselves ask for our prayers because they know better than anyone, that they need our prayers.

Trumpets of Jericho is not for talkers. It's not for people who want debate. It's not for people who want to commiserate with fellow Catholics about things bishops are doing, or not doing. Trumpets of Jericho is an association for "doers" - the kind who would rather pray than talk about today's problems. It takes an act of faith to put time in at an adoration chapel that would have been spent in dialogue. To get bishops that will teach us about the Cross and about sacrifice, will take sacrificial acts. You can offer weekly fasts for this purpose, along with other sacrifices that come to mind throughout the day.

While it originated for the purpose of reforming the Archdiocese of Detroit, you can join to pray for your own diocese. I can't think of any diocese that does not need prayer, including those known to be solid and orthodox. The strong can fall without our prayers.

Learn more about the association, Trumpets of Jericho, at their website. Don't just talk about bishops, pray for them.

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Only the free can choose obedience to Magisterial teachings. The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; rather, it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!.