• Fr. John Nickolai

From the Desk of Fr. John Nickolai

A conjunction of several things occurs this week: one bishop leaves our diocese, another arrives, and in the Gospel today Peter is appointed head of the college of bishops. It reminds me of St. Gregory the Great, who wrote extensively in the 500s about qualities necessary in bishops. Every year on his feast, the Divine Office includes his homily on Ezekiel, excerpted below:

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Note that a man whom the Lord sends forth as a preacher is called a watchman. A watchman always stands on a height so that he can see from afar what is coming. Anyone appointed a watchman for the people must stand on a height for all his life to help them by his foresight.


“How hard it is for me to say this, for by these very words I denounce myself. I cannot preach with any competence, and yet insofar as I do succeed, still I myself do not live my life according to my own preaching.


“I do not deny my responsibility; I recognize that I am slothful and negligent, but perhaps the acknowledgment of my fault will win me pardon from my just judge . . . Since I assumed the burden of pastoral care, my mind can no longer be collected; it is concerned with so many matters . . .


“With my mind divided and torn to pieces by so many problems, how can I meditate or preach wholeheartedly without neglecting the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel?

“At times I let my tongue run, for if I am always severe in my judgments, the worldly will avoid me, and I can never attract them as I would . . .


“So who am I to be a watchman, for I do not stand on the mountain of action but lie down in the valley of weakness? Truly the all-powerful Creator and Redeemer of mankind can give me in spite of my weaknesses a higher life and effective speech; because I love him, I do not spare myself in speaking of him.”



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