Posted by: fvbcdm | September 25, 2013

Feast of Saint Finbar (25 September 2013)

This Friday we read in the Liturgy of the Hours a passage from Saint Augustine in which he is commenting on Our Lord’s words “I am the good Shepherd.” The great saint goes on to point out that just as a good shepherd leads his sheep in the ways of goodness, so good sheep give rise to good shepherds. That may strike us as somewhat surprising, since we tend to think in one direction: the good originates with a good shepherd and flows to the sheep, not vice versa. But let us think of the ways that a good sheep, or flock of sheep, can have a salutary effect upon their shepherd. We are speaking of human beings now, not animals.

We pray constantly for our shepherds. In every Mass offered throughout the world, we pray for our Pope and the local Bishop. We can be sure that it is a consolation and an encouragement to the Holy Father to know that in hundreds of thousands of Masses each day, God is being implored to help him perform the heavy task that has been laid upon him. The same is true of the bishops of the world who must lead their diocesan flocks in the ways of Christ.

Because I love to travel and have led many trips and pilgrimages both on land and sea, one of the things I’ve had to do is to find out the name of the local Bishop so that I could mention that name in the Mass or Masses that I offered in that place. And often, we would celebrate Mass immediately after arriving in this or that city or town, or even aboard ship between ports. In that case, I have prayed for Paul or John Paul or Benedict our Pope, and then simply had to say “and for the Bishop of this place” since I didn’t know his name, and in some cases, didn’t even know which diocese or archdiocese we were in. The point, though, is that we were the sheep of our Universal Shepherd the Pope and the local shepherd, the Bishop, and we prayed for those two men in our eucharistic sacrifice. When in Rome, where the Pope himself is the local Bishop as well, since the Pope by definition is the Bishop of Rome, the celebrant at Mass simply prays for “Benedict our Pope.”

In addition to those prayers for our spiritual leaders, the leaders themselves, who we assume to be good, conscientious men, are aware of the goodness, the virtue, the efforts of so many of their people to live the Christ-life as Our Divine Lord wants them to, and that awareness prompts the leaders to be worthy of those followers. How often has it happened to me and to every other priest or bishop who has heard confessions and has marveled at the sanctity of those who come for the sacrament of Penance.  I have often reflected that I should be confessing to him or her, rather than the other way around. I’m sure that we could ask any parish priest, any diocesan bishop, any male or female superior in a community of religious—nuns, sisters, brothers, monks, friars, seminarians—the question: “do you have any saints among your ‘sheep’?” And the answer would be YES! And the presence of those holy men, women, and children is a constant incentive for the shepherd to serve them as he should.

So, my dear friends, let us pray daily for our religious leaders: pastors, bishops, and the supreme pontiff and do all that we can to be exemplary sheep, exemplary members of the Church of Our Lord so that we can both receive and give good example and encouragement from and to our shepherds in the one Good Shepherd. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This is a CDM composed by Father Brown in the past.


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