The Oath: Every Bishops’ Aaron and Hur

Consider what is entrusted to a bishop.

Consider how he, like everyone else, struggles with the world, the flesh and the Devil.

Consider that, though fortified with the graces of the sacrament of orders and defended by the holy angels, a bishop is hated and pursued by the forces of hell with a persevering malice that we humans can only imagine with vague analogy.

Consider his judgment before the Just Judge when it is his time.

Consider his final reward, forever and ever, will be as a bishop in whatever state he will be his, heaven or hell.

Consider the weight of the burden that a diligent, faithful bishop feels, which the ever-harried Augustine of Hippo described as a sárcina, the massive backpack of the Roman solider.

Consider too the vineyard into which the bishop is sent to tend, with its obstinate vines, vagaries of “weather” and pressing foes.

Did you know that Bishops must make a special oath before they are consecrated?   

Surely this oath, seriously considered, reflected upon by a man about to be consecrated, is intended to strengthen him in his ministry.  When resolve flags, should he remember his oath, a bishop under siege might remember himself and stand up ready to do what must be done.

The oath is meant to uphold his tired arms, as Aaron and Hur did for Moses during the battle.

For your edification and contemplation.

FORMULA
Iurisiurandi fidelitatis ab Episcopis praestandi

FORMULA
Of the oath of fidelity to be performed by Bishops

Ego, ___, ad sedem ___ promotus, catholicae Ecclesiae atque romano Pontifici, eius supremo pastori, Christi vicario beati Petri apostoli in primatu successori et collegii Episcoporum capiti, semper fidelis ero. I, ___, promoted to the See of ___, will always be faithful to the Catholic Church and to the Roman Pontiff, her Supreme Pastor, Vicar of Christ, Successor in primacy of the blessed Apostle Peter and the Head of the College of Bishops.
Libero exercitio primatialis summi Pontificis potestatis in universa Ecclesia obsequar, Ipsiusque iura et auctoritatem mihi curae erit provehere ac defendere. Praerogativas quoque atque munera romani Pontificis Legatorum, quippe qui personam gerant supremi pastoris, agnoscam atque observabo. I will submit to the free exercise of the primatial power of the Supreme Pontiff in the Universal Church, and I will take pains to advance and defend his rights and authority. I will also acknowledge and respect the prerogatives and duties of the legates of the Roman Pontiff, for they act in the person of the Supreme Pastor.
Apostolica munera Episcopis commissa, nempe populum Dei docendi, sanctificandi et regendi, in hierarchica communione cum collegii episcopalis capite atque membris, summa diligentia exsequenda curabo. I will take with the greatest diligence that the apostolic duties committed to Bishops, namely of teaching, governing and sanctifying the people of God in hierarchical communion with the Head and the members of the College of Bishops, be carried out.
Universae Ecclesiae unitatem tuebor, ideoque studiose incumbam, ut depositum fidei inde ab Apostolis traditum purum et integrum servetur ac veritates tenendae et moribus applicandae, prouti ab Ecclesiae magisterio proponuntur, omnibus tradantur et illustrentur. Errantibus vero in fide paternum animum pandam atque omni ope adnitar, ut ad plenitudinem catholicae veritatis perveniant. I will protect the unity of the universal Church, and, therefore, I will zealously see to it that the deposit of faith handed down through time by the Apostles will be preserved pure and undiminished and that the truths to be held and the moral teachings to be applied will be handed on and explained just as they are proposed by the teaching authority of the Church.  I assuredly will extend a fatherly spirit to those who are straying in the faith and I will strive with every effort that they arrive at to the fullness of catholic truth.
Ad imaginem Christi, summi et aeterni sacerdotis, respiciens, pie sancteque agam ac ministerium mihi commissum ita adimplebo, ut, forma factus gregis ex animo, fideles in christiana perfectione adipiscenda confirmare valeam. Carefully looking to the image of Christ, the High and Eternal Priest, I will behave dutifully and religiously and will fulfill the ministry entrusted to me in such a way that, having from my soul been made an example for the flock, I may be able to strengthen the faithful in the pursuit of Christian perfection.
Disciplinam cunctae Ecclesiae communem fovebo et observantiam omnium legum ecclesiasticarum, earum imprimis quae in Codice Iuris Canonici continentur, sollerter insistam, semper advigilans, ne mali usus irrepant praecipue circa ministerium verbi et sacramentorum celebrationem. I will foster the common discipline of the whole Church and I will insist skillfully upon the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, first and foremost of those that are contained in the Code of Canon Law, always being vigilant lest any evil practices slither in, especially concerning the ministry of the Word and the celebration of sacraments.
Diligentem curam in temporalibus Ecclesiae bonis administrandis ponam, iis potissimum quae ad divini cultus exercitium, ad cleri aliorumque ministrorum honestam sustentationem, necnon ad sacri apostolatus et caritatis opera collata sunt. I will put diligent care into the administration of the temporal goods of the Church, most especially those goods that are designated for the exercise of sacred worship, for the worthy support of the clergy and of other ministers, and for works of the sacred apostolate and of charity.
In explendo mandato mihi commisso omnes Presbyteros et Diaconos, ordinis episcopalis providos cooperatores, necnon Religiosos et Religiosas unius eiusdemque operis participes, peculiari dilectione prosequar. Itemque de sacris vocationibus provehendis maximam curam habebo, ut spiritualibus necessitatibus in tota Ecclesia convenienter consulatur. To fulfill the mandate entrusted to me, I will with special affection attend to all of the Priests and Deacons, provided as coworkers of the episcopal order, as well as male and female religious, participants in one and the same work. Likewise, I will take the greatest care to promote sacred vocations, so that spiritual needs in the whole Church will be properly looked after.
Laicorum dignitatem propriamque ipsorum in Ecclesiae missione partem agnoscam et proveham. Opera vero missionalia ad gentium evangelizationem fovendam peculiari sollicitudine curabo. I will acknowledge and promote the dignity of lay people and their own mission in the Church. I will, by all means, take care with particular solicitude to foster missionary works for the evangelization of the nations.
Ad Concilia ceterasque legitimas actiones collegiales vocatus, nisi impediar, ipse adero vel opportune respondebo. Once called to Councils and other lawful collegial activities, I will personally attend or opportunely respond unless I am impeded.
Statutis temporibus vel occasione data Apostolicae Sedi rationem de pastorali meo officio reddam, eiusdemque mandata atque consilia simul obsequenter accipiam ac maximo studio perficiam. At the appointed times or at a fitting moment, I will give an account of my pastoral office to the Apostolic See, and I will compliantly give careful attention to its mandates and measures, and, with great effort, will carry them out with the greatest application.
Sic me Deus adiuvet et haec santa Dei evangelia, quae manibus meis tango. So help me God and these Holy Gospels of God, which I am touching with my hands.
(SUBSCRIPTIO ANTISTITIS) (SIGNATURE OF THE BISHOP)
Ego infrascriptus testor praefatum Anstistitem iusiurandum ut supra in manibus meis dedisse hac die I, the undersigned, testify that the aforementioned bishop above gave the oath (as written) above into my hands on this day

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So, there’s the text.

This forces the honest person to reflect deeply on our bishops. It might force the honest BISHOP to reflect deeply on his work.

It would be a good exercise to take each of these paragraphs and, over time, bring them to Holy Mass and pray before the Blessed Sacrament precisely for the sake of your bishop.

The other day my friend Kevin Phelan, who knew Bp. Morlino for some 40 years, told online a terrific story about Morlino on the night before he was to be consecrated bishop and this very oath.  HERE

 

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11 Responses to The Oath: Every Bishops’ Aaron and Hur

  1. Bellarmino Vianney says:

    One will discover that in today’s world, “oaths” – or any other words uttered or agreed to – are merely for show or merely a tool for a person to gain more money, power, or adulation.

    One will discover that even many pseudo-honest priests out there, ones that consider themselves “conservative” and/or “traditionalists”, will use things like “oaths” and other dutiful-appearing words in a duplicitous and/or veiled manner.

    When it comes down to it, most people merely use words as tools to get what they want. So, while the above “oath” has the appearance of making one dutiful and important, the reality is that most probably just utter or agree to the words for show. (There is large amount of evidence supporting that statement.)

    On the other hand, there are a few good men like Nathanael, who say what they mean and mean what they say; they adhere to their duties and persevere in the Truth, rather than veiling, manipulating, and acting duplicitously with words.

    Words have meaning. Mean what you say and say what you mean.

    Are there any bishops like Nathanael? Not too sure about that.

  2. RKR says:

    Thank you, Father, this is very helpful (and timely). Our bishop was present at the Solemn High Mass I attended last night at our cathedral, presiding (I think that’s the correct term) but not celebrating. I never encountered him ‘in real life’ before so it was quite interesting to me. Praying for him (and not just ‘for all bishops’ in a general way) seems all the more relevant now.

  3. pray4truth says:

    Thank you for posting this! May I repost this to the USCCB on their website and other social media (that is, where I haven’t already been blocked)?! The USBBC website’s “privacy policy” is filled with as much red tape as one would expect. Thank you, may Our Lady protect you and may God bless you abundantly :-) You remain in our daily prayers and we appreciate you more than words can say!

    [I don’t see why you can’t make this known far and wide. After all, it concerns what our bishops are supposed to be about. Who could possibly object to it being known by as many people as possible?]

  4. chantgirl says:

    A priest once instructed me to remember to pray for him when he dies, and not assume he is in Heaven right away. Since Bishop Morlino died on the feast of St. John of the Cross in the old calendar, I will ask this saint to intercede for the bishop’s soul, for the diocese, and for his replacement.

    St. Juan de la Cruz, who burned with the intensity of a seraph for God, and who was imprisoned by his confreres, please intercede for this shepherd’s soul, and the care of the souls he leaves behind!

  5. Fallibilissimo says:

    For the promises to be so solemn and the attacks from Satan so pernicious, the reward for being a faithful Bishop must be truly wonderful. How intimately close to Our Lord they must be in enjoying life, both here and “there”, despite any cross.
    Makes me think of what Jesus told His apostles: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be filled”. I don’t think it’s exclusive to Apostles or Bishops, but surely for them it must be special in some manner.
    For any disciple, it’s quite something to think that the God of the Universe, the Almighty, the Mystery of mysteries desires our joy to be filled. I forget that too often. This recent discussion on the great duty of Bishops, and the account they will have to show, certainly does make me pensive about my own soul as well.

  6. ususantiquor says:

    Father,
    I was impressed by the story of the night before Bishop Morlino’s consecration, especially when he referred to the oath: “he turned serious again as he explained that the oath basically obliges him, at the risk of losing his soul, to teach the Catholic faith, the true Catholic faith, and only the Catholic faith.” I was disappointed not to see these words, or anything like them, in the oath you reproduced here. It ought to be there. Was it changed, or did I miss something?

    [You miss, perhaps the fundamental idea behind taking an oath!]

  7. ex seaxe says:

    The Council of Trent imposed some duties on the Pope! :
    Finally, the same holy council, moved by so many very grave afflictions of the Church, cannot but call to mind that nothing is more necessary to the Church of God than that the holy Roman pontiff apply that solicitude which by the duty of his office he owes the universal Church in a very special way by associating with himself as cardinals the most select persons only, and appoint to each church most eminently upright and competent shepherds [bishops], and this the more so, because our Lord Jesus Christ will require at his hand the blood of the sheep of Christ that perish through the evil government of shepherds who are negligent and forgetful of their office.”
    Decree Concerning Reform, Session XXIV, chapter I

    Of course the negligent shepherds are also answerable.

  8. Longinus says:

    “I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish: and the reason is that it is an affair that requires a great mind… Do you not see what a number of qualifications the Bishop must have? to be apt to teach, patient, holding fast the faithful word in doctrine. What trouble and pains does this require! And then, others do wrong, and he bears all the blame. To pass over every thing else: if one soul depart unbaptized, does not this subvert all his own prospect of salvation? The loss of one soul carries with it a penalty which no language can represent. For if the salvation of that soul was of such value, that the Son of God became man, and suffered so much, think how sore a punishment must the losing of it bring! And if in this present life he who is cause of another’s destruction is worthy of death, much more in the next world. Do not tell me, that the presbyter is in fault, or the deacon. The guilt of all these comes perforce upon the head of those who ordained them.
    St. John Chrysostom’s third homily on Acts.

  9. ususantiquor says:

    I get it. Thank you.

  10. Pingback: An important moment for the US Church in the USA, in light of The Present Crisis. | Fr. Z's Blog

  11. Paul Jackson says:

    Does a Pope or did previous Popes take any additional oath to this one? (I understand that in theory, a Pope need not be ordained at all before selection.)
    If not now, but in the past, why the change?
    What is or was the wording of that oath?