Yes, I know that obedient is not a popular word. But, I have found in large part, people have truly been obedient to me. I don't mean in some sort of fear mongering way. I mean that they've trusted me as their pastor and have followed. When I've encouraged them to frequent confession, attend adoration, give to the poor, increase the offertory, deepen their prayer life etc, they've followed. Sometimes, I'm sure that their personal interests may have wanted to go in another direction, but they chose obedience instead. And, this obedience has produced in our life something truly beautiful. We move together in communion of mind and heart. I have discovered in my people a great sense of communion.
Sometimes when I look around at my parishes, I am amazed at all that is taking place in this one small part of the Archdiocese. In my congregation on a given Sunday are people who are dying, lost loved ones, pregnant, going through a divorce, unemployed, have a child who is in trouble, or a spouse who is suffering from addiction. There are wealthy people and poor people. There are people who go to confession weekly and people who haven't gone in years. There are people who love the Church and people who are bitter towards the Church. There are a million pastoral problems, a million administrative issues, and a million things that we need to do better. But, they can't all be fixed or addressed at once. And for the most part, people are patient with that.
A bishop though is not in sight every day. It could be easy to forget him or to think of him as somebody remote from our experience. The Liturgy, however, includes his name every day during Mass in order to emphasize the importance of his place in our ecclesial communion. This mention of the bishop's name in the canon of the Mass ought to remind us that the bishop and his ministry is at the heart of the local Church. It is also a moment for us to deepen our communion with the bishop and to deepen our obedience towards his pastoral authority.
If you've managed to read this all the way to the end, then please make it a point to add your bishop to your prayers every day. I know as a parish priest, the assurance of prayers and the spirit of obedience makes my work so much more joyful and lighter. Let's also give those gifts to our bishop. Let's love him with our prayers and with our obedience.