Christus Dominus 15: The Role of Sanctifying

Christus Dominus 15 deals with “the office of sanctifying.” (Other members of that trinity: teaching and governing) It tells you what you would expect it to: the traditional understanding of bishops as “enjoy(ing) the fullness of the sacrament of orders,” and that “presbyters and deacons are dependent upon them in the exercise of their authority.”

Regarding the liturgy, bishops do four things: dispense the mysteries, govern, promote, and guard. The purpose is “to have the faithful know and live the paschal mystery more deeply through the Eucharist and thus become a firmly-knit body in the unity of the charity of Christ.”

That bishops “dispense,” or perhaps celebrate, the sacraments: this has been a constant from before the council. Some dioceses I’ve lived in have opened up more of the episcopal liturgies to the people of the dicoese. More is better in this regard. The retrenchment movement has focused over much (but not wholly inappropriately) on the governance and the guardianship of liturgy. What has been lost in the spate of rubricism is the notion that a positive example, namely the notion of promotion, will go a good way to developing the overall quality of liturgy. More than that, bishops need to take the lead with clergy, especially pastors. We need better preachers. Content isn’t necessarily as much of a problem as delivery. I’d be suspicious of a bishop’s qualifications if he could teach seminarians or young priests the basics of excellent preaching.
CD 15 continues by emphasizing prayer in the life of the bishop, and encouraging prayer in others, including the laity. And more:

They should also be mindful of their obligation to give an example of holiness in charity, humility, and simplicity of life.

New mansions in Hartford? Six-figure renovations in Belleville? Even before the scandal, even in the 60’s, this was not quite what the Council had in mind.

Let them so hallow the churches entrusted to them that the feeling of the universal Church of Christ may shine forth fully in them.

“Churches” mean people, not buildings.

For that reason they should foster priestly and religious vocations as much as possible, and should take a special interest in missionary vocations.

Works for me.

What about you?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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