The bishops are much on my mind. I had a meeting with two last week, and I'll be seeing more of them this week, too. The bishops will be at Union Station here in Toronto on Thursday morning in full regalia to draw attention to the Back to Church Sunday initiative. Bishop Yu asked me to serve as his "chaplain." Each bishop will have on of us nearby to handle any pastoral needs that may arise from the situations. No doubt we'll get some crazies... and probably some people with pressing pastoral needs, as well! Having us around the bishops will also help people realize this the real deal, and not just three or four nut jobs.
I was planning to be there anyway, as I was asked to get a little footage for You Tube.
I'll seeing a bishop again on Sunday--Bishop Blackwell is coming to Messiah to do the confirmations.
All this made me think of some of my favourity Monty Python bishop skits. Behold this classic:
The central conceit of this skit is telling; the bishop and his cronies attempting to rescue hapless priests from being killed in comical ways. Alas, the days when I thought yelling "help" out the window would bring the bishop's assistance came to a close when I was in seminary. Back then I belonged to a different diocese (not Toronto) and I desperately needed the bishop's help and sent him letters. He didn't respond, or, for that matter, pass the letter on the Canon to the Ordinary or do anything else about my need. When I saw him about a year later I told him in person how disappointed I was that he didn't respond to me. He apologized and meant it, but it wasn't the first or last time he let me down. I remember thinking, cruelly, that that he apologized like someone who does it a lot. At the time I became a little bitter about my relationship to the bishop and the diocese, to be honest.
Years later I would find out that during this period the Bishop's wife had been suffering from a degenerative neurological condition. No one knew just how overwhelmed he was until after he took early retirement to care for her. He kept it from almost everyone, and it became understandably difficult for him to pay attention to some seminarian in trouble. He was a really nice guy, don't get me wrong, and I loved him, but I learned pretty quick that neither the bishop nor his staff were going to do much to help me.