Q: What saint do you strive to be like?
A: This is a very good question, for if we take time to explore the lives of the saints from the last 2,000 years, we will discover holy individuals whose personalities were not so different from our own. That being said, I would like to mention three saints who immediately come to mind and whose holy attributes I would like to completely embrace and encourage you to do the same.
Let us begin chronologically with St. Paul of Tarsus. We are very familiar with St. Paul through the Acts of the Apostles, as well as in his writings, which we find in the New Testament. St. Paul was a convert to Christianity, but retained his strident will and focused personality in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Some say St. Paul seemed, at times, to look for a fight, but I disagree. St. Paul set out to evangelize and at the same time would not back down from confrontation in order to share Jesus with others.
In keeping with the timeline, I would like to fast-forward to our modern era and one of the first saints of the modern era, St. Therese of Lisieux. While St. Therese, a Carmelite Sister, lived only 24 years, her life and writings resonate as one of the most powerful Christian teachings over these last 120 years. St. Therese lived during the time when the Industrial Revolution was in full operation. She died in 1894.
This young Doctor of the Church shows us that we can find God in the ordinariness of our life. Your life and mine is filled with the glory of God. Whether we bloom like a red rose rich in color or a small flower in the midst of a bed of flowers in a meadow, each of us has the same value in God’s eyes and to be “little” in the eyes of Jesus makes us great.
Finally, I finish with a saint I had an opportunity to introduce my mother and father to in 1992 and that is St. John Paul II, also known in many church circles as John Paul the Great. Perhaps we can explore the term “great” concerning some of the saints of our Church in another article.
When St. John Paul II became our Holy Father in 1978, his announcement was met with much criticism by people, for they asserted that he was too conservative for our time. In fact, in the over two and a half decades of St. John Paul II’s pontificate, his efforts through words and action, proved just the opposite. In God’s divine wisdom, St. John Paul altered a culture, not to mention the reconfiguration of nations on the globe, all the while reaching out to the youth with the inauguration of World Youth Day. The attempt by a potential assassination in 1981 did not deter St. John Paul from sharing Jesus with a world in great need to hear the Good News but instead, in my estimation, deepened the pope’s resolve to be the Vicar of Christ in a world hardened and damaged by Original Sin
Q: Does the Catholic Church agree with some biblical scholars that some of the books of the Bible were forged?
A: Here’s a one-word answer: No. If that does not seem sufficient, perhaps a two-word answer: Absolutely not. I am grateful for your question, though, because there is a prevailing thought in our culture that truth is relative and that in the end nothing is definitive or certain. That mindset poisons our approach to sacred Scripture, that is, the revealed word of God. The Bible is the voice of God, as he speaks through the various writers from the Book of Genesis through the Book of Revelation.
We must remember that the Bible is a living book; namely God speaks to us through the Bible, and there is no other text among humanity that is even remotely in the same league.This being said, there are those out there who wish only to look at the Bible as a history book or as an accumulation of writings from a bygone era. This approach completely misses the mark for the purpose of the Bible; namely, for it to become part of our own lives, a living text which provides you and me instruction on life in this world as well as eternally with God. In the Bible, God speaks to us in “real time.”
Q: How would a student today become a priest?
A: Well, as I mention to the youth I confirm or during the visits I make to the Catholic schools, you must first keep your mind and heart open to our Lord Jesus. If you allow yourself to be open to Jesus’ invitation, then if you are to be a priest, it will happen. This approach applies to all vocations in the Church. We are blessed with a host of consecrated women and men in our diocese who illustrate Jesus’ presence in this world through the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. Now, more than ever in our culture, these gifts resonate in a world that, at times, prides itself in the vain pursuit of individual satisfaction at the cost of virtue. We are also blessed with deacons who assist me in the various parishes proclaiming God’s word and sharing in the Sacrament of Baptism as well as officiating at weddings.
As for the irreplaceable gift of the sacramental priesthood, my dear brothers in this diocese must first consider the priesthood an invitation by Jesus and not some sort of sublime right. Referring back to the second saint I mentioned in the first question, we must allow our lives to be like St. Therese in that we do not allow personal goals or the distractions of the day to get in the way of God’s word. We need to recognize God’s presence in all that we do, including prayer. If we do that, we will have a clearer focus on the Christian vocation to which God is calling us. This begins with family. I can see from time to time that family members can actually be the greatest obstructionists to a man considering a vocation in the priesthood. The family must be a healthy nursery in the growth of the Christian vocation for the children, whether it is priesthood, consecrated life or marriage.
May this summertime be one of great blessing to you and your family and, hopefully, each one of us will be able to discover the presence of God in even the simplest things upon which we come this season.
To “Ask the Bishop,” write Joseph M. Taylor, Diocese of Steubenville, Office of Christian Formation and Schools, catechetical consultant and youth ministry coordinator, P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952; email, firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone, (740) 282-3631.