Today the Church honors Pope Saint Gregory the Great in her liturgy. He lived in the mid to late 500's and did many things to renew the Church, including a renewal of the liturgy and a promotion of "plainsong" or chant in the liturgy (Gregorian Chant). I was having a "senior moment" this week in that I thought that yesterday was the third of September and so I celebrated Saint Gregory yesterday (it was that Monday holiday thing).
There was a beautiful thought brought out in the collect prayer for this memorial. The prayer prays for those whom the Lord has given authority to govern in the Church, and asks for a "spirit of wisdom" that "the flourishing of a holy flock may become the eternal joy of the shepherds." If there ever was an appropriate and spirit filled definition of the role and purpose of a bishop or pastor, it is found in that phrase - the flourishing of a holy flock may become the eternal joy of the shepherd. I pray for that for myself, for those called to service in the Church, for Bishop Brandt and Pope Francis. I also pray that for the one selected to lead the Diocese of Greensburg into the future.
This brings to the fore something that is on the minds of many in this wonderful small diocese. In March, our fourth bishop, Lawrence E. Brandt, who has served us for ten years and has reached the retirement age of seventy-five, submitted his letter of resignation to the Holy Father. The way things work is that he remains as our bishop until a successor is named, at which time his resignation will be accepted. He will most likely be named administrator of the diocese until the new bishop is ordained or installed. Bishop Brandt has served us well, but it is time that we begin to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the selection process, and pray for a bishop that would find joy and delight in the "flourishing of a holy flock" entrusted to him.
Last week the Holy Father named Bishop Daniel E. Thomas as bishop of Toledo. He filled a vacancy in Toledo of ten months, the longest vacancy in the U.S. He looks like a great guy, and would have been welcomed here. We even got a mention from Rocco in Whispers as Greensburg being a possibility for Bishop Thomas, but our loss is Toledo's gain. There are three other vacancies and seven other ordinarys who are past the age of seventy-five, Bishop Brandt being one of them. So we wait in expectant hope and pray for the selection of Pope Francis of a holy pastor for us.