VNO 3: For The Bishop

Another “top four” VNO Mass is “For The Bishop.” The rubric at the top of the page reads as follows, very similar to VNO #2:

This Mass is said on the anniversary of the Ordination of the Bishop wherever special celebrations are held, provided they do not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, on a Solemnity, on Ash Wednesday, or on a weekday of Holy Week.

I wonder if we see almost nothing of this because liturgical directives that permit most VNO Masses come from the bishop, and it might seem self-serving for a bishop to endorse his own anniversary. My sense is that a significant anniversary could be observed, especially in the cathedral, perhaps the 10th, 15th, or 20th.

To me, the most interesting text is the entrance antiphon:

I will look after my sheep, says the Lord,
and I will appoint a shepherd to pasture them,
and I, the Lord, will be their God.
(Ezekiel 34:11-23, 24)

These are a few verses paraphrased somewhat from the prophet’s oracle of the shepherds that begins with verse 1 of that chapter. Prior to verse 11, the message is not a happy one for Israel’s leaders. Still the optimal shepherd is described in verses 12 through 16a, which I think would be a good text to match to this antiphon:

As a shepherd examines his flock
while he himself is among his scattered sheep,
so will I examine my sheep.
I will deliver them from every place
where they were scattered on the day of dark clouds.

I will lead them out from among the peoples
and gather them from the lands;
I will bring them back to their own country
and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel,
in the ravines and every inhabited place in the land.

In good pastures I will pasture them;
on the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land.
There they will lie down on good grazing ground;
in rich pastures they will be pastured on the mountains of Israel.

I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest.
The lost I will search out,
the strays I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
and the sick I will heal.

Verses 25 through 31 would also be fine choices.

The shepherd imagery is present throughout the first four prayers of this Mass. The Communion antiphon is taken from Matthew 20:28:

The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Others may have different thoughts, but I would approve the yoking of this text to one of the New Testament canticles, especially Philippians 2:5-11. It moves us from the sheep and shepherd images of the Old Testament to the imitation of Christ.

Those assembling the Roman Missal thought as well of the anniversary of a bishop as they did for a poe. What do you make of that? Other comments?

Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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