As a follow up to the nearby post about Latin, and to what Fr. Hunwicke wrote about the oath that bishops have to take – in Latin – when they receive a mandate from the Holy See, here is that Oath in Latin, with my translation.
When you translate something, you crack open its bones and scoop its marrow.
This oath could provide a lot of material for ongoing meditation and prayer by bishops, of course, but also by priests and lay people for their bishops.
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 God sends to them, a bishop 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 as a bishop in whatever state will be his. 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.
For your edification and contemplation.
|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|
So, there’s the text.
It might be an interesting exercise to take each of these paragraphs and, over time, bring them to Holy Mass and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament precisely for the sake of your bishop.
Perhaps another exercise could be to contemplate that oath in juxtaposition to the vesting prayers a bishop puts on, his pontificalia, with all their symbolic meanings. For example, when putting on the miter, the bishop prays: “Place upon my head, O Lord, the miter and helmet of salvation; that I may go forth unhindered against the snares of the ancient foe, and of all my enemies.” (cf Eph 6:17)
Priests might look at the oath and their vesting prayers in the same way. Perhaps we can look at some other texts in the future.