The Bishop is the Steward of God

St. Titus
St. Titus

When explaining the papacy to Protestant friends, I usually employ the term “steward” and use Denethor from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings as an example of what that means.

Denethor was the steward of the King. Denethor was not the King, did not sit on the King’s throne, but he served as the representative of the King, caring for the King’s people and realm. Now then, Denethor failed in his duties, being seduced by evil, but that fact did not revoke his stewardship, it simply made him a bad steward.

But it is not just the bishop of Rome who is the steward of God. All bishops are. St. Paul says to his disciple Titus, bishop of Crete:

For a bishop must be without crime, as the steward of God: not proud, not subject to anger, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre. (Titus 1:7)

(All translations say something very similar, though they may translate bishop as “overseer” or “elder.”)

The bishop is the steward of God. Yet this immediately makes one wonder, “who can legitimately be called a bishop?” T.D. Jakes calls himself a bishop. The Protestant church down the street from us calls their preacher a bishop. Countless other Protestant preachers do as well.

If Protestantism were true, anyone who claims they are teaching the true interpretation of the Bible can say they are a bishop. All they need is a small (or large) following and suddenly people call them “bishop.” Yet every Protestant preacher thinks and claims that he is teaching the truth from the Bible.

Every heretic through all time also thought they were teaching what was true. Heretics from of old would cite Bible passages allegedly supporting their (false) teachings. Most had followers, sometimes thousands and thousands of them, who were convinced that the heretical leaders were interpreting the Bible correctly.

If Protestantism were true, all we can do is pray and read the Bible and come up with what we think is true from it and then choose those Protestant churches that most closely conform with our interpretation of Scripture.

But because Catholicism is true, we can know who the bishops really are. They are the men, like St. Titus and St. Timothy, who stand in the unbroken line of the laying on of hands from the Apostles themselves. This is Apostolic Succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders.

God made sure that His Church was not be splintered into a thousand pieces. He made sure the Church would have rightful authority, not innumerable competing men claiming authority against all the others. He made sure that bishops could be truly called His stewards, and He gave all people a sure, easy way of knowing who the bishops were.

Presenting My Credentials

Bishop Vasquez of Austin
Bishop Vasquez of Austin

I wrote a post last week that spoke critically of some things that two priests in my diocese did. A friend sent me a private email and sincerely asked what the purpose of exposing those unfortunate actions was. He then suggested I inform my bishop.

I thought about it and deleted the contents of the post and was considering writing to my bishop, Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin. But I put myself in my bishop’s shoes (hat?) and imagined his response, “Hmm, some Catholic sending me an email full of complaints about two priests. Great, that’s really helpful. Deleted.”

So instead of doing that, I wrote a letter introducing myself to Bishop Vasquez and informing him that I was at his service as an apologist. I am operating in a public way via blogs/YouTube/twitter and in apostolates in the areas, so he should be aware of that. I included a copy of my book and a little bit about myself.

I don’t know whether I’ll receive a reply or not. I sort of doubt it. And in fact he may not even get it, but I would bet that Fr. Mike Sis, the Vicar General of our diocese (and a faithful priest), will at least read it. It was under his pastoral care that I was received into the Catholic Church in 2001 at St. Mary’s in College Station. And that is enough for me.

In the future, if a priest does something that is contrary to the rubrics or otherwise unfortunate, I can message Bishop Vasquez, and he will know who I am.

Catholic Superstars

We have entered a new time in the Church. One where Catholic Superstars are rising, and often they are lay people. I go to the same parish as Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary. She is a superstar, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense. I mean that the reality is that tens of thousands of people know who she is, read her blog, watch her reality show, etc.

So Bishop Vasquez has a superstar right in his backyard. I envision the near future when bishops will take stock of what “resources” they have in their dioceses, including what superstars they have, and they will marshal them to make the best use of them. Currently they often exist sort of hidden in the system, or outside the system in blogs and what-not.

I’m less of a superstar, more like a tiny star, or a white dwarf, or something. But I’m still operating in a public way in my bishop’s diocese, and I’ve written a book that has been fairly popular, so he should know who I am and that I am at his service.

Since this is something of a personal post topic, the news on my book is, the final editing should commence this spring or summer. Other books legitimately needed to be done first, which has been fine by me. God has His own good timing. I’ve been floored by the book’s continual popularity: it is now over 55 reviews on Amazon. God bless!