…when they meet in Baltimore next week. The bishops of the US.
We American Catholics received a little miracle at a bishops’ meeting in Baltimore once before. The Third Provincial Council of Baltimore gave us the Baltimore Catechism.
This year we need a bigger one.
A breakthrough. A triumph of Christian humility and prudence. A faith-restoring renunciation of all the defensive, self-pitying nonsense, of all the bureaucratic argle-bargle, of all the lawyering and pointless, counterproductive p.r.’ing.
A miracle: That they would say and do what Men of God under these circumstances would say and do. Not jockeying for position among themselves. Not thinking of what anyone else might think or say. No self-importance. No passive voice. No slogans. No gestures.
Just a humble reckoning with actual facts. Careful study. Fatherliness.
…Like I said: we have to pray for a major miracle here. So I have studied the best way to pray for these brothers. And my method is to pray for them by ecclesiastical province.
There are too many dioceses–and way too many individual bishops–to keep in your mind. But not too many provinces. (An ecclesiastical province is an Archbishopric with its associated bishoprics.)
I haven’t participated in a Mass in absolutely every US ecclesiastical province, in my little life. But I have memories of most of them: friends’ ordinations in the provinces of Indiana, New Jersey, GA-NC-SC, Illinois, Louisiana, Iowa; Masses on various trips in the provinces of east and west Texas, southern California (and northern CA-NV-UT), Pennsylvania, Missouri, AZ-NM, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, CO-WY; weddings in CT-RI, OK-AR, New York.
Let’s pray, dear reader. For another Baltimore miracle. For some kind of genuinely heartening new beginning. Let’s pray for our bishops. I humbly suggest praying for them by province. But you choose your own preferred way. Just pray.
Yes, it will take a miracle for the total institutional free-fall of summer-fall 2018 to end in Baltimore next week. A miracle unlike any we’ve seen in these parts, in a long, long time.
But some unforeseen, beautiful thing could conceivably happen. Something that said to your honest Catholic, kneeling in the pew and trying to hold on: Yes, we can start fresh. We can actually begin building again, building an institution worth trusting.
Yes, that would be a major miracle. But we believe in miracles. So let’s pray for one.