Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saddened so many bishops have died in February

I have not missed the sad numerics of how many Catholic bishops have died in the past twenty days in February: Retired, 77. Retired, 90.

Cipriano Calderón Polo, 81, Spanish Bishop of Thagora (1989–2003).

Sefafín Vásquez Elizalde, 86, Mexican Bishop of Ciudad Guzmán. 86. Retired 83. 87.

Yes, it is true, these were for the most part retired men blessed in their length of life.

But it is a good time to remember that few people work harder than a priest, a bishop. They rarely have "time off," say nothing of a weekend, or a holiday. For all the slagging that the Catholic Church has gotten over the few and the terrible involved in abuse and cover-up, it would be a shame to not remember that many bishops still worked tirelessly to their deathbeds, and even if retired, often celebrated Mass and constantly prayed for everyone, Christian and not, believing and unbelieving. Two of the retired bishops who passed were American.

So in twenty days seven bishops have died.

It is a good time to pray for all who have vocations, pray for more to be called to vocations, and have some thankfulness for the good priests and bishops, especially the elderly, who served with very little in return of a material nature, or of respite from the day to day responsibilities for souls. I'm not even listing here the priests and men and women religious who have died this month, but the news there is sad too, especially as a Spanish priest in Cuba was murdered, and eight nuns died (and a ninth seriously injured) in a bus crash where brakes failed, in Indonesia. Prayers for all who give so much all their lives, even when it is cut short. But today I want to especially point out those who never really had a single "day off," the elderly bishops who have served their entire lives for God and for the flock.