S. Jacobi Apostoli
Why write? After some considerable thought and prayer, I have finally come to consider it appropriate to throw my own opinions about things into the general me-lee that is the “blogosphere” on the internet. I have over the years explored the possibility and this is not my first blog… I already edit two others but both have an agenda into which my own opinions are not necessarily nor immediately equitable. One of the blogs is primarily for my pastoral ministry and the other is a news site that should be just informative. This blog however, I intend to be the expression of my own personal opinions and to some extent a “personal” journal, a diary of sorts, recording events in my life as well as my ministry.
I can’t promise to be terribly faithful to this endeavour… part of the reason why I haven’t “blogged” in this way before is that I find time difficult to commit to entirely original writing! There are a “million and one” calls on my time, but I hope to justify time spent on this as an extension to some extent of my personal ministry, even my spirituality; I often advocate the writing of a journal for those I direct spiritually or formatively. I think certainly that some of my clergy and faithful will be interested, if only out of curiosity to read about what I’ve been up to or indeed, what I really think about some things!
I recall a letter of the Fifth century bishop of Ptolemaïs, Synesius of Cyrene (circa 409AD) to his brother;
“Consider the situation. All my days are divided between study and recreation. In my hours of work, above all when I am occupied with divine matters, I withdraw into myself. In my leisure hours I give myself up to my friends. For you know that when I look up from my books, I like to enter into every sort of sport. I do not share in the political turn of mind, either by nature nor in my pursuits. But the bishop should be a man above human weaknesses. He should be a stranger to every sort of diversion, even as God Himself. A thousand eyes are keeping watch on him to see that he justifies his mission. He is of little or no use unless he is proved and circumspect in character and unyielding towards any pleasure. In carrying out his holy office he should withdraw into himself, but give himself up to all men. He is a teacher of the law, and must utter that which is approved by law. In addition to all this, he has many calls upon him as all the rest of the world put together, for the affairs of all he alone must attend to, or incur the reproaches of all. Now, unless he has a great and noble soul, how can he sustain the weight of so many cares without his intellect being submerged? How can he keep the divine part unquenched within him when such varied duties claim him on every side?”
I confess that now in the “second year of our episcopate” I feel well the sentiments expressed by my colleague fifteen centuries ago! Though the world has advanced in so many ways and everyday life is vastly different from that my erstwhile brother in the episcopate experienced, even so, human nature is the same and I completely empathise with his expressed doubts about self-worth for such an office as bishop. I hope by my writing here that on occasion perhaps sharing such feelings will engender greater confidence, so conversely does the spiritual life appear to work? I also hope it may help occasionally to clear up the suppressio veri as well as the suggestio falsi that sometimes one feels encumbered by; it’s enough trying to be aware of one’s own faults without others judging too! Ah, “mysterium iniquitatis”! I pray so and beg you of your charity for your prayers that it may be so, for each other. Most especially on this feast of St James the Greater who’s mother asked a high favour of the Lord, but who yet became the first of the holy Apostles to be honoured by sharing in that “cup of our salvation” (cf Mtt 20: 20-23).