Thursday, July 26, 2007

A year of our omnipresent bishop

Bishop Jerome E. Listecki has been shepherd of the Diocese of La Crosse for more than two years now. I have had the distinct honor of shadowing him for the latter half of that time. Yes, the end of the month will mark the first anniversary of my official status as a reporter for the Catholic Times. What I've seen of Bishop Listecki during that year shows me he's definitely a man for the people, a good communicator and a personable conversationalist. For your enjoyment, I thought I would post a photo review of sorts of our omnipresent bishop over the course of the past year.

August 19, 2006: My very first bishop event and very first published bishop photo. Bishop Listecki lays out his pastoral vision for the diocese to our DRE's and religious educators

September 9, 2006: Bishop Listecki at Stevens Point Pacelli High School's 50th anniversary. I am a 2000 graduate of that school.

October 5, 2006: For a city boy, Bishop Listecki hits off pretty well with the farmers. Here he is a our annual Rural Life Day Conference, last year held near Athens.

November 11, 2006: Pastoral Planning... Last November, Bishop Listecki presented for the first time to the diocese's deacons and pastoral ministers the proposed pastoral plan of a committee he established. The plan calls for the virtual merging of many of our rural parishes, while closing only one church building. That plan then spent the year being commented on by people from various deaneries, and now sits before the bishop for his approval.

January 29, 2007: Our bishop as a listener... Speaking on the Eucharist at St. Agnes in Weston, Bishop Listecki takes the time to listen to his flock. This Q&A really showed me the bishop can be a good listener.

February 11, 2007: A bishop's blessing. Bishop Listecki offers his blessing as he exits Sacred Heart Church in Polonia. He was there for the annual Brother James Miller Day.

April 5, 2007: Holy Oils. Bishop Listecki blesses the Sacred Chrism at our Holy Thursday morning Chrism Mass at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral in La Crosse.

June 9, 2007: Newly ordained transitional Deacon Keith Kitzhaber promises respect and obedience to Bishop Listecki and his successors at St. Mary's in Greenwood.

June 11, 2007: Two days later, Bishop Listecki speaks to Deacon James Weighner immediately before ordaining him to the priesthood at the cathedral.

July 14, 2007: Bishop Jerome Listecki congratulates a graduate of the Diocesan School of Biblical Studies.

July 21, 2007: And only last week, at the 150th anniversary of St. Mary's in Fountain City, Bishop Listecki does the most important thing he can for his flock -- celebrate the Eucharist.


Cassandra said...

I'm going to take issue with your statement "Bishop Listecki does the most important thing he can for his flock -- celebrate the Eucharist." I'm not going to dispute the efficacy of the Eucharist for the whole Church, but this is done primarily in his priestly role. Bishops are tasked at ordination with the Gospel. He must teach the Faith. If he doesn't attend to that, then there's no real reason for the Diocese of La Crosse to be more than a deanery of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Franz Klein said...


I acknowledge your point as a valuable one. Very true, without preaching, feeding the flock does very little.

All the same, I stand by my statement -- that the most important thing a pastor can do for his flock is feed them eucharistically.

Here in La Crosse I am leading young adults in reading St. Augustine's commentary on the Gospel of St. John. St. Augustine had some interesting things to say regarding Nicodemus.

Why was Nicodemus unable to understand the Good News? Because Nicodemus was not a believer. St. Augustine talks about how one must receive the gift of faith before the Sacred Scriptures make sense. There is a priority, therefore -- first comes sacramental nourishment, then comes understanding (thus the dictum "fides quaerens intellectum").

So too in our time do the sacraments take priority over preaching. Yes, preaching is important, but only when one is enlightened spiritually to understand what is being taught. This grace is first received in baptism, and then is nourished throughout our lives especially by the Eucharist. Thus is this sacrament called "the source and summit" of our faith, and thus is giving the Eucharist the most important thing any priest can do.

Cassandra said...

You're mis-applying a discussion on baptism to the role of bishops.

You conclude with "giving the Eucharist the most important thing any priest can do." I agree. But bishops are more than priests. By consecrating the Eucharist, priests fulfill their primary vocation.

When I said in regard to bishops that they must teach the Faith, I meant that in a broader sense than merely preaching. CCC #1555-1558 pull from LG 20,21: "Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling." Bishops have been given an especial new vocation as bishops. The most important thing they can do is to fulfill that vocation. It is not opposed to offering the Sacrifice, but it is distinct.

If the priestly function were higher, priestly ordination would come after the episcopal ordination.

St. Francis was called by Christ to "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin." Yet Francis was only ordained a deacon; he was not called to the priesthood in order to offer the Eucharist to repair the house. We must fulfill that to which we are called.

The episcopal vocation does not extinguish the priestly vocation, but the Bishop now has a distinctly different vocation. His mission is changed, and he will be judged on how well he fulfills this later, fuller, and now primary vocation.

Franz Klein said...

From Question 37 of the Supplement to St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae:

... the orders of the heavenly hierarchy are not distinguished by the aforesaid hierarchical actions, since each of them is applicable to every Order; and because, according to Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. v), perfecting belongs to the bishops alone, enlightening to the priests, and cleansing to all the ministers. ... Consequently we must answer differently by saying that the sacrament of Order is directed to the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the sacrament of sacraments, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iii). For just as temple, altar, vessels, and vestments need to be consecrated, so do the ministers who are ordained for the Eucharist; and this consecration is the sacrament of Order.

Cassandra said...

Franz ... Franz ... Franz. Back for more beating?

You've quoted from the writings of St. Thomas not written by St. Thomas. In Q 37, a 3, it says "On the contrary, The sacred Orders are an impediment to the contracting of marriage and annul the marriage that is already contracted." Yet we have married priests. Are you sure you want to appeal to the Supplement? Yes? Very well…

Ah… the joys of prooftexting. Are you sure you don't have a protestant background? A careful reading of the whole article (2) will show that it is not concerned with the office of Bishop. In fact the whole question is dealing with the lower Orders. Article 2 and 4 are really establishing the proper roles at the celebration of the Mass. Right in the midst of the Respondeo dicens that you quoted from is this little tidbit: "Moreover the episcopate and the office of psalmist are included, which are not Orders." In the context of the Question the episcopate is not considered part of the Orders. This is made more explicit in q 40, a5 (Whether the episcopate is an Order?):

On the contrary, One Order does not depend on a preceding order as regards the validity of the sacrament. But the episcopal power depends on the priestly power, since no one can receive the episcopal power unless he have previously the priestly power. Therefore the episcopate is not an Order.

Further, the greater Orders are not conferred except on Saturdays [The four Ember Saturdays]. But the episcopal power is bestowed on Sundays [Dist. lxxv, can. Ordinationes]. Therefore it is not an Order.

I answer that, Order may be understood in two ways. In one way as a sacrament, and thus, as already stated (37, 2,4), every Order is directed to the sacrament of the Eucharist. Wherefore since the bishop has not a higher power than the priest, in this respect the episcopate is not an Order. In another way Order may be considered as an office in relation to certain sacred actions: and thus since in hierarchical actions a bishop has in relation to the mystical body a higher power than the priest, the episcopate is an Order. It is in this sense that the authorities quoted speak."

The rub is that the text you quoted is not concerned with the office of bishop.

There seems to be some contradiction between q 40, a5, repl 2 and LG 21 regarding whether episcopal ordination impresses a character. This is the second contradiction to Church teaching; you might be careful about this section of the Summa.

Franz Klein said...

Thank you for the "beating," Cassandra.
First of all, I have no more problem quoting the Supplementum than I do in quoting the Summa itself. Even the Angelic Doctor hadn't arrived at the fullness of truth. (An example would be his views on the Immaculate Conception.)
Although I resent your comment regarding "prooftexting," I acknowledge that I could have read the article and those that surround it more closely. Quite true, the writer of the Supplementum does not consider the episcopacy to be an order, which is clearly contradicted by later Church teaching. Vatican II’s Christus Dominus, in addition to Lumen Gentium and the Catechism refer numerous times to the ordo episcoporum.
But though the writer may have been in error in that regard, I consider it a bad form of argumentation to say he is therefore wrong on all other accounts. If what he was saying was wrong (and it was, as later Church definition proved), then what he said regarding orders should be considered as it regards the order of bishops.
I stand by my statement, therefore, that the episcopate, like all other orders, is directed towards the Eucharist.
At the same time, however, you have caused me to start reviewing the documents of Vatican II to learn more about the episcopal office. This research has led me to concede your first point – hopefully in a manner satisfactory to you. Christus Dominus, for instance, states that the duty of teaching is “conspicuous among the principal duties of bishops” (12). Only then does the document discuss a bishop’s relationship to the Eucharist. The order of the munera, therefore, seems to be as you originally stated: teaching, and only then sanctifying and ruling. Thus I concede priority to teaching.
I will further cite Christus Dominus, though, in saying a bishop is “marked with the fullness of the sacrament of Orders,” and as such is ‘the steward of the grace of the supreme priesthood,’ especially in the Eucharist, which he offers or causes to be offered, and by which the Church continually lives and grows” (26). Just because he takes on the episcopal office does not mean a bishop ceases to be a priest, and thus the celebration of the Eucharist would indeed continue to be his most important (see “especially”) duty, even as a bishop.

Franz Klein said...

That last sentence should include the word "priestly":
"Just because he takes on the episcopal office does not mean a bishop ceases to be a priest, and thus the celebration of the Eucharist would indeed continue to be his most important (see “especially”) [priestly] duty, even as a bishop.

Cassandra said...

Well, Franz, we're making progress. Another volley or two and I think you'll come around. What I think is slowing you down is your admirable desire to uphold the Eucharist as "the source and summit" but that as a result you are doing harm to the Office of the Bishop. The desire to protect the dignity of the Father is what led some of the Arians to deny the divinity of the Son. But there is no need to place them at odds. So let's get to it.

First, I'm only teasing you about the prooftexting. I don't think you intended it (and neither do most who prooftext), but factually it meets the criteria.

Second, I didn't say the Supplementum "is therefore wrong on all other accounts", but rather that one "might be careful about this section of the Summa" regarding Holy Orders. I, myself, would likewise act cautiously with Thomas' writings on the Immaculate Conception. If a writer is apparently in error on one aspect of a particular subject material, it is prudent to treat with caution his other comments on that subject material. However, in the greater light of Q 53, a 3 and a 4, I retract my statement about Q 37, a 3.

You made an error in logic, though, in saying "If what he was saying was wrong [about the scope of Orders], then what he said regarding orders should be considered as it regards the order of bishops." The author intended those comments in regard to the lower orders and their proper act in the Mass. One could more easily make the case that the author should be using a different word than orders, than to say that everything said must now be attributed to Bishops. Even more telling is that the author does not dispute that the term Orders can be used in regard to bishops. I specifically quoted the whole Respondeo dicens of q 40, a5 to show this. "In another way Order may be considered as an office in relation to certain sacred actions: and thus since in hierarchical actions a bishop has in relation to the mystical body a higher power than the priest, the episcopate is an Order. It is in this sense that the authorities quoted speak." Since the Church does not currently teach about the lower Orders (though it does not deny them) and now emphasizes the Offices of the bishop, I'd make the case that there is no contradiction in the understanding of Orders. That said, perhaps the following will satisfy you.

In your latest statement, you say that "the episcopate, like all other orders, is directed towards the Eucharist." This is not equivalent to your original statement that the "most important thing [a bishop] can [do] for his flock [is to] celebrate the Eucharist." God is the only true End. All things are properly directed to Him. It is appropriate to do this through the Eucharist which is God Himself. The offices of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling are not ends in themselves but are directed to God. I will certainly concede that. Thus, the question is really, "How is the Office of Bishop ordered to the Eucharist?"

In the Respondeo dicens of q 37, a2, immediately following your quotation it says: "Hence the distinction of Orders is derived from their relation to the Eucharist. For the power of Order is directed either to the consecration of the Eucharist itself, or to some ministry in connection with this sacrament of the Eucharist. If in the former way, then it is the Order of priests; hence when they are ordained, they receive the chalice with wine, and the paten with the bread, because they are receiving the power to consecrate the body and blood of Christ." Note that the writer distinguishes the principal act by what is given during ordination (ordering). When a bishop is consecrated, the Book of the Gospels is placed on his neck. Teaching then would be the principal act as relates the office of bishop to the Eucharist.

The people must be taught to "discern the body" and be sanctified by confession before receiving the Eucharist. Regulating the liturgy is also his duty (LG 26). The Bishop is responsible for ensuring the liturgy is properly celebrated and that there are properly trained priests to say it. You quoted LG 26 (incorrectly noting as CD) as saying the bishop is "'the steward of the grace of the supreme priesthood', especially in the Eucharist, which he offers or causes to be offered, and by which the Church continually lives and grows". Ironically I was going to use this text to make my point. As long as the bishop "causes to be offered" he is fulfilling his ruling office (pro populos masses notwithstanding). But I do not wish to try to make a dichotomy between the episcopate and the priesthood. Even as a bishop says the Mass and gives it a special character of unity (can't find my citation), he still acts as bishop. He still teaches and still regulates the Liturgy. This is precisely why the Masses of JPII were so scandalous. A bishop gives a particular authorization to what goes on at a Mass he celebrates. This is by virtue of his office of teaching and ruling which are still operative even as he exercises his priestly powers. The very power of a priest is dependent on their bishop (CCC 1564, LG 26), and so even as a bishop exercises his priestly power, it is by virtue of his episcopal offices.

In a sense this is the same argument as that over the precedence of the particular church versus the universal church. Ratzinger argued that the universal church must first exist. Others, seeking to emphasize independence, argued for the precedence of the particular churches from which the universal church comes. I likewise say that the episcopal acts of a bishop precede the priestly act of a bishop and without those episcopal acts no Eucharist can be licitly consecrated.