Today, we celebrate two of the men whom Saint Paul ordained to be fellow bishops of his: Saints Timothy and Titus. To both of them he wrote: two letters that we know of to Timothy and one to Titus. Both of them are part of the New Testament and therefore of divine revelation. We might give some thought to the Sacrament of Holy Orders while we are on the subject of bishops. When Our Divine Lord ordained his twelve apostles to be his first sacred ministers, he gave them the fullness of the Christian priesthood, which means the episcopacy, or the state of being a bishop. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that as the Church grew and more hands were needed, the apostles ordained some men to be deacons, especially to help in the collection of goods for the poor and needy and the distribution of them. Later, they needed help in celebrating Mass, preaching, and hearing confessions, so they ordained other men to be presbyters, or as we say now, priests. Thus the Sacrament of Holy Orders has three and only three degrees: deacon, priest, and bishop.
The Pope is the bishop of Rome. And the cardinal is simply a bishop who has been given the right to elect the new pope at the end of one pontificate. We Catholics should be very much aware that our Pope and our bishops play a tremendous role in the Church and in Christ’s shepherding of us. The Pope is our supreme shepherd upon earth; the bishop is the head of the Church in its local presence. In the Church’s organization, a group of dioceses in the same general area are gathered into what is called a metropolitan province. The province has an ARCHdiocese, and the bishop of that diocese is called an ARCHbishop. Within the past few years, the state of Texas became only the second state in our nation to have two archdioceses. The first was California, with its two metropolitan provinces of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now here in Texas, we have San Antonio and Galveston-Houston. I hope that you have noticed that every time you attend Mass, the celebrant of the Mass prays during the Eucharistic Prayer for our Pope and our local bishop. That is to indicate our communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the local bishop as well. In Rome, when the priest comes to that point in the Mass, he simply prays for “[Francis], our Pope.” It takes a little getting used to—this fact that the Pope IS the local bishop of Rome and therefore no other bishop is named in the Masses offered in that archdiocese. Let us pray today through the intercession of Saints Timothy and Titus, two of the earliest Catholic bishops, that our present-day bishops will be given all the divine help they need to exercise their ministry according to the holy will of God. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.