Saturday, 24 May 2014

Reflections on a Humble Bishop

What efforts men will go to, to proclaim their humility!

I have not been so impressed and excited by the words and example of a Bishop as I am about Bishop Athanasius Schneider for a long time. That said, there are not many Bishops who one can get excited about unless it is to be in a rather negative sense.

In England and Wales, everything is rather negative, Bishops seem so embarrassed of our Faith. I was expecting to work today, so I could not go up to London, but it rained so I was not called in. That's the world of catering for you but that means I was unable to get up to the one day LMS Conference with Bishop Athanasius today.

However, with the humble Bishop still gathering crowds, all is not lost, as he will be at the Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate on Monday. Guess who is considering hiring a car. There's a plenary indulgence waiting for the man who does, assuming I don't crash on the way.

Bishops take note: Clothes maketh not the man!

What is refreshing about Bishop Athanasius is his total lack of embarrassment about his status. He does not pretend to be something he is not. He is a Bishop. He behaves and acts and talks like a Bishop. He is a Successor to the Apostles. He behaves and acts and talks like a Successor to the Apostles. He is Apostolic! He allows, no he even encourages the Faithful to kiss the Episcopal ring because he knows that every Bishop is a Shepherd set over a flock who is a teacher and a link to Christ Himself. There is no faux-humility that other prelates like to spread around themselves like aftershave. He vests like a Successor to the Apostles. The Vestments, his manner and demeanour let you know that you are in the presence of a Successor to the Apostles and yet it takes no great effort on his part. It is as you would expect a Bishop. He does not have to go out of his way to show you how humble he is. And yes, he arrived on the coach arranged by the LMS, with those travelling on pilgrimage.


Nobody asked the Catholics Bishops of the world to dress down to let everyone know they were 'of the people'. Nobody asked the Bishops of the Church to stop preaching the Catholic truth. No Council mandated Bishops to be feeble, to renounce their status as Princes of the Church and to show people how ordinary and mediocre they are. No Council asked Bishops to refrain from teaching the Faith, to lose their zeal for the Salvation of souls. Nobody!

And yet here we are, in the year 2014 and English people feel inspired by a Bishop from a far away land, who speaks quietly, humbly and with appealing simplicity about the basic truths of the Catholic Faith. He is not doing or saying anything particularly radical or bending over backwards to please others. He is simply telling people what the Church teaches, with a particular emphasis on the importance of Eucharistic love and devotion to Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother and to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Kneeling is holy. Kneeling is humble.

The truth is beautiful, beauty is timeless and the truth will never change

In the year 2014, when the Church seems so complicated, chaotic and at emnity with itself that is simply one of the most refreshing and delightful things to see - a Bishop whose Lord has made him a Shepherd to his flock, a flock over whom he exercises great care and true pastoral concern, with caution, with prudence, with charity, with humility, but with love for souls! If this Bishop is becoming loved and cherished by Catholics so saddened by the state of the Church, it is not because he is trying to be something he is not. He is being what he has been called by the Lord to be - a Bishop!

In this facile, artificial age, people in the Church really do believe that you can tell how humble a Bishop is by whether he is wearing an old silver pectoral cross or a gold one. Yes, apparently you can tell what's going on in a man's heart by the quality of the precious metal that adorns his attire! I had never attended, far less assisted around the Altar, at a Traditional Latin Mass celebrated by a Bishop. It was and will remain one of the most splendid and grace-filled days of my life, since not only was a wonderful Bishop the celebrant, but it all took place at Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead, a Shrine to Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs!

Our Faith is so simple and so beautiful. To be present at such a beautiful and graceful occasion was to be in Heaven. Everything about the liturgy told me about the Beauty of God and of Heaven, of what the Catholic Church is - the Bride of Christ, the Ark of Truth and Salvation, the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven, the Spouse of Jesus Christ our King and God. He who would reject such beauty and majesty would be rejecting the Lord.

We have nothing to offer but Jesus Christ

Nearly all the Bishops of the world believe, or so one would think, that they have something better than Jesus Christ to offer the World and the Church. Bishop Athanasius Schneider offered the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God at the Altar at Our Lady of Consolation and the Lamb took our breath and our sins away at one and the same time.

The Lord has raised him up to be a Prince, yea, a prince among his people! What good would it be to be a Prince if one refused to recognise that that is what he is called to be. He might not be a Renaissance Prince, but he is not embarassed to be what the Lord has made him! What a state the Catholic Church is in, when men refuse to believe that you can be a Prince and remain humble! As if there has never been, nor ever have we had, a humble King! Never did I consider, during this occasion, that the Catholic Church belonged to anyone but Our Lord Jesus Christ, its glorious Head nor did it cross my mind that this beautiful Mass was about the Bishop. That, readers, is humility, because for hundreds of years, this Mass has taught that every liturgical occasion is about Jesus Christ. Follow this Bishops advice. Don't try to be something you are not. Remain in the friendship and charity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Hold fast to His teachings. 

Love Him and love him most especially in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Give glory and honour and all praise to Him. O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine. All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine for in prelates such as these, though they be so few in number, we have much to be thankful for, O Risen Saviour!

If you're going, and assuming I arrive safely, see you in Ramsgate! The restoration of Holy Mother Church is alive and kicking! It will not be aborted as easily as those who seek its destruction would wish! It was rather eerie and beautiful when at the end of Benediction, the Regina Caeli was intoned by Bishop Athansius Schneider. His voice didn't sound completely dissimilar to that voice we knew and loved so well. I wasn't the only person to think so! I am sure that as Bishop Athanasius makes his tour of this country in earnest, with earnest love for Christ, that plenty of Franciscans of the Immaculate are hoping they may be given a permit to see hear what this Bishop has to say for themselves! Bishops take note - if you beat your children enough, they will eventually go looking for another dad!

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Even more refeshing than Nigel Farage and a pint of IPA!


Delacruz said...

Spot on Laurence! I was fortunate to attend Bishop Schneider's beautiful talk at Brompton Oratory the other evening. I find that when a priest or bishop is very united to His Lord who has called and ordained him, then the people feel the healing, empowering presence of Our Lord.
On the contrary, when a priest or bishop seems ro be inspired by worldly considerations or 'false' humility, the people are left unfed, disappointed, with a sense of disappointment.
When you are hungry and thet offer you a stone instead of the Bread of Life, well....... I guess we all by now know the feeling.

Pelerin said...

Would be happy to share expenses if you have room on Monday!

Православный физик said...

He is an excellent Bishop, definitely impressed by him. No faux humility there.

Anonymous said...

A bishop one can look up to, whose example can be followed, who constantly teaches, governs and sanctifies in accordance with the Deposit of Faith. As all bishops and priests ought to be. Dear Lord, protect and sustain Bishop Scneider.

Elizabeth said...

I pray for such a Bishop here in Chicago! Our Cardinal George is stepping down due to his age and his cancer. They have not yet chosen who will replace him. I pray fervently for a traditional, thoroughly orthodox Bishop to replace him.

Unknown said...

Beautiful post. May God continue to bless him, and keep him faithful and holy.

Chloe said...

I was at the LMS conference yesterday and agree with all of the above in spades! (Incidentally, I was sorry you weren't there Lawrence, was hoping to meet you). Here's a link to another wonderful humble bishop:

Could Bishop Schneider be the bishop St Dominc Savio saw in his vision of England?

Celia said...

Hope you get to Ramsgate!
I've just read 'Dominus Est', the bishop's very fine and orthodox reflections on the Eucharist. What impressed me most was the story of his mother and great aunt keeping the Faith alive and courageously helping priests during Soviet persecution, despite all the hardships they suffered. It's simple: good priests and bishops come from good Catholic families.

Alison Muir said...

He's only an auxillary bishop - so hardly one at all really. He's certainly never going to get promoted.

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