In the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, Saint John describes his visions of the end of the world. He speaks of the new and eternal Jerusalem (heaven) as a terrifically beautiful city to which access is gained through twelve gates bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. This is symbolic of all humankind. And those twelve gates rest upon twelve courses of foundation stones, which bear the names of the “twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Thus, we see the immense importance of Christ’s Apostles: they make it possible for us to enter heaven.
Just to make this beautiful principle clearer, think of your own spiritual life. You attend Mass and receive Our Divine Lord in Holy Communion. And the reason why you can do these things is that there are priests who can celebrate the Masses which you attend, and confect the sacrament of the Eucharist which you receive. And there are priests because sometime in the past, a bishop laid his hands on them and conferred upon them the power of the priesthood. And THEY were bishops because a previous bishop laid hands upon them . . . and so on, and so on, all the way back to the apostles. This precious gift of Christ we call “apostolic succession.” It means the unbroken chain of sacramental power going back from our time to that of Jesus and his apostles.
There are few virtues more important in the Church than the obedience and devotion of true Catholics for our Popes and bishops. This fact is proven by its sad opposite: the disloyalty, disobedience, and contempt that some Catholics show in these difficult times of ours for our popes and bishops and their governance of the Church or their particular dioceses. Listen to the way people speak of the pope or the local bishop. What they say tells you a lot about them and their spiritual orientation.
So today, let us be grateful for the Church and its hierarchy, who in turn produce the clergy, who give us the sacraments and preach the gospel to us. Our Lord died on the cross for our redemption, and rose from the dead for our salvation. He then founded the Church with its popes and bishops to administer that salvation to the world. It is up to us to esteem these gifts highly and use them profitably for our good and that of the entire church. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.