Statement of Bishop Edward M. Rice on His Ordination

The following statement was given by Bishop Edward M. Rice at the end of his Ordination Mass, on January 13, 2011:

Your Eminence, Cardinal Burke, Your Excellency, Archbishop Carlson, Abbot Thomas, and my brother bishops, priests and deacons. I greet also our ecumenical guests of the Protestant Churches, the Orthodox Churches and our non-Christian friends; Special greetings to our consecrated religious, my family and the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

"Being a bishop has something of the Cross about it, which is why the Church places the Cross on the bishop's chest. On the Cross, we have to die to ourselves; without this there cannot be the fullness of the priesthood. To take up one's cross is not easy, even if it is made of gold and studded with jewels...the bishop has the duty to serve not only through his words and through the liturgy, but also through offering up his sufferings."

This is a quote from Pope John Paul II, "Rise Let Us Be On Our Way," a collection of his thoughts on the role of the bishop in the Church. It was sent to me as a gift and I read it while on retreat last week.

When i read that quote I paused, and then I panicked. It was not what I wanted to read; dying to self, suffering, taking up the Cross.

And yet, at the same time, a conviction came over me – God is faithful, He will not abandon me – He has poured out the fullness of His Spirit upon me, so DO NOT BE AFRAID.

The Ring I now wear signifies that I am wedded to the Church.

The Gospel elevated over my head signifies my commitment to preaching and teaching the Good News.

The Crosier bespeaks my commitment to the flock, the miter, my pursuit of holiness.

Scripture tells us that the Shepherd carries the lost sheep on his shoulders.
The Shepherd leads the flock to green pastures.
The Shepherd gathers and protects the sheep from danger.
The Shepherd is willing to "lay down his life for the sheep."

As I look out at all of you, I realize that is the type of bishop you deserve. And so, with God's grace, the strength of the Holy Spirit, and with your prayers, that is the type of Bishop I will strive to be. 


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