Sunday, November 13
An Inquiry On the Dignity of the Episcopacy
Recently, questions have been raised in the comment box about the relevance of bishops for the structure of the Church.
The Catholic vision has consistently seen the Episcopacy as one of God's great gifts to the Church. Through it, Christ is made present to us in the sacraments, most especially His abiding presence in the Eucharist. What is more, by it, the teachings of the Paraclete are discerned. And through it, we are constituted as a Church, as a community of people in a real communion of heart and mind.
Some Selections from the Writings of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, A.D. +115
Epistle to the Smrnaeans
VIII. Avoid divisions, as the beginning of evil. Follow, all of you, the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father; and follow the presbytery as the Apostles. Moreover reverence the deacons as the commandment of God. Let no man do aught pertaining to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that eucharist be considered valid  which is under the bishop or him to whom he commits it. Wheresoever the bishop appears, there let the people be, even as wheresoever Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize  or to hold a love-feast. But whatsoever he approves, that also is well-pleasing to God, that everything which you do may be secure and valid.
Epistle to the Magnesians
XIII. Submit yourselves to the bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ [was subject] to the Father [after the flesh], and the Apostles to Christ and the Father, that there may be union both of flesh and spirit.
Epistle to the Philadelphians
VII. For even if after the flesh some wished to lead me astray, yet the Spirit is not deceived since it is from God. For it knoweth whence it cometh and whither it goeth, and it convicts the things which are in secret. I cried aloud, when I was among you, I spake with a loud voice, with the voice of God, 'Give heed unto the bishop and the presbytery and deacons.'