Beatitudes for Bishops are making the rounds in Catholic social media and some Catholic press outlets. These were composed by Naples Archbishop Domenico Battaglia, who delivered them last month in a homily at an episcopal ordination. The original text is here, in Italian. Pope Francis got wind of it, had it printed on a card and gave it to each of the Italian bishops at a recent meeting.
These are obviously applicable to parish priests too, though the ones I know generally live more along these lines than their bishops.
How applicable might these be to lay people in ministry? My wife reminded me yesterday that it was a year to the day from our entry into Minnesota, and settling into a new stop in the pilgrimage of life. It seemed good to reflect a bit not only on bishops I’ve known, but also on how these apply to a lay person, married, living in the world and serving the Church.
Blessed is the bishop who makes poverty and sharing his way of life, so that by his witness he is building up the kingdom of heaven.
For myself, this beatitude seems to be sullied when I complain about my own wages. In my good moments, I’ve made choices based on need and fit. In my worst moments, I’ve gotten sullen about missed opportunities for the young miss. Or the relatively luxe vacations I’ve seen priests enjoy.
The sharing seems to be the key point here. A person can be a financial martyr in their own mind, but without that point of offering what one has for the good of others, there’s no point. Luckily, I married well. My wife is far more generous than I, and that keeps my life in better balance.
As for bishops, I remember the witness of a handful of 1980s bishops who repurposed episcopal housing for others and lived in rectories, a nursing home, and humble circumstances. At least two successors ended up directing the purchase of houses, one pleading that entertaining donors and seminarians was an important value. In that light, what kingdom is being built up? And the question: doesn’t the chancery have a decent kitchen and lounge space?