Choose a topic from Part 2B:

185. The Episcopal State

1. When St. Paul says (I Tim. 3:1), "If a man desire theoffice of a bishop, he desireth a good work," he means what hesays, namely, that the desire is for a work, necessary andprecious, wholly indispensable. But St. Paul does not speak of themotive of the desire; he does not say that the desire is good, butthat the work is good. Now, it is hardly possible for a man todesire the bishop's office without desiring what belongs toit-power to rule, a right to reverence and honor, a sufficiency oftemporal goods. And, for the rest, to desire the bishop'soffice is likely to desire with presumption, possibly withambition, possibly even with covetousness. For the great office ofa bishop is a great burden as well, and it involves the state ofperfection. But to accept the bishop's office when called toit, is always lawful, often a duty. Vainly to desire the office ofbishop, or ambitiously to aspire to it, is wrong. Says the unknownauthor of a Homily on Matthew xxv: "It is good todesire a good work, but to desire primacy of honor isvanity.Primacy seeks the one who avoids it, and eludes him who seeksit."

2. But it is not right for one appointed to thebishop's office to refuse the appointment absolutely. There isinordinateness of will in the desire to have rule over others;there is also inordinateness of will in the refusal to acceptone's appointed task. St. Augustine says (Ep. xlviiiad Eudox.): "Do not prefer your ease to the needs ofthe Church."

3. The person chosen as bishop should have fitness for theoffice, and should be able to instruct, defend, and govern thefaithful peacefully. It is not necessary that he be the best personfor the office, but that he be a good person. For himself, a manappointed to the bishop's office need make no objection to hisappointment so long as he is aware of nothing in himself that wouldmake it unlawful for him to accept the post.

4. A bishop must remain in office as long as it ispossible for him to discharge its duties well for the spiritualbenefit of his subjects. When, for some good reason, he feels thathe can no longer sustain the burden, he may lawfully appeal to thepope for release from his duties. Hence, it is sometimes lawful fora bishop to resign his charge.

5. A bishop binds himself to fulfill the duties of hispastoral office for the eternal welfare of his subjects. Hence,when the spiritual good of these subjects requires his presenceamong them, he must remain at his post, despite trials andpersecutions. Yet if his subjects will suffer no essentialspiritual lack because of his absence for a time, he may depart,whether because of some advantage to the Church, or because ofdanger to his own person.

6. It is perfectly lawful for a bishop to have property ofhis own. To live without owning anything of one's own is amatter of counsel, not of precept. And no one is bound to a counselunless he has freely obligated himself to it by a vow.

7. As to the disposition of ecclesiastical goods, bishopsare required to be faithful stewards or trustees; they are to usesurplus goods for the benefit of the poor, for the decency ofdivine worship, for aid to needy clerics, and for the upbuilding ofthe Church in her necessary temporalities.

8. A religious who is raised to the episcopate is bound toretain such offices and duties of the religious state as arecompatible with the discharge of the bishop's duties, and arehelpful in that work. But he is no longer bound to such of hisformer observances as conflict with the demands of his newstate.

"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."
Blessed Henry Suso

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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"O Lord, my God, who will seek you with simple and pure love, and not find that you are all one can desire, for you show yourself first and go out to meet those who seek you? "
St John of the Cross, OCD - Doctor of the Church

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