Sunday, February 11, 2018

Triumphant Martyred Bishops and Militant Bishops

The Communion of Saints is one of the most beautiful doctrines of the Catholic Church: the Church is a community that spreads across time and space. One way of describing it is that there is the Church Militant on earth now, actively working and fighting to spread the Gospel; there is also the Church Suffering, the poor souls in Purgatory who are being prepared to enter Heaven; finally, there is the Church Triumphant, those happy souls in Heaven who pray and intercede for us. And that's the method of communication we have in this communion: prayer. We the living pray for the poor souls in Purgatory, asking God to speed their union with Him; the poor souls can pray for us, but they can't pray for themselves; we also pray, asking the saints in Heaven to intercede for us--and they can pray for the poor souls in Purgatory too. It's the network of prayer to and worship of the Holy Trinity, to the Father, through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we use certain forms of prayer to ask for intercession. One of our Wichita diocesan priests has composed and published--**for private use only**--a litany of Martyred Catholic Bishops to intercede for living Catholic bishops. He's titled it "Litany to the Bishop Martyrs for the Bishops of the Church Militant." You may find it on Father Thomas Hoisington's website, Reflections on the Sacred Liturgy, here. The prayer at the end of the Litany is:

O God our Providential Father, look upon the Bishops of your Church on earth in union with the Supreme Pontiff, and increase in them the virtue of fortitude. Through the intercession of those Holy Shepherds who have already spilt their blood in witness of the Gospel, grant, if your shepherds be struck or struck down, that the sheep may not scatter, but that they may be one, in faith and in the Truth, Who is Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

You might notice that two of the bishops were martyred in England: St. John Fisher and St. Thomas a Becket. St. Boniface was from England (his birth name was Winfred) but he was martyred in Germany.

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