An Open Letter to My Bishop

Your excellency,

Yesterday I witnessed the baptism of my newest godson in a parish in our diocese. What joy to stand with my wife and our godson’s parents and respond on his behalf the desire to be baptized and affirm the Creed. I lit his baptismal candle from the Christ Candle situated next to the baptismal font and I thought about the future our Lord has for this precious boy who bears the name of two of our stellar saints.

I know his parents would be thrilled if this little boy would discern a call to the religious life, especially to the priesthood. They will do everything possible to train up him up accordingly. As godparents, we are committed to pray, encourage, and model fidelity to Christ and his Church.

I have one son, eight grandsons, two godsons, and four other boys who have adopted me as “papa”. If any of them discerned a call to the priesthood I would be ecstatic! I don’t say this lightly—it is not an easy vocation to undertake, and all the more so when a priest is committed to follow in the steps of Christ himself, and adhere to the example of some of the amazing priests in our tradition and history—men like St. John Vianney, St. Padre Pio, St. Damien of Molokai, and Father Thomas Byles who died hearing confessions as the Titanic was sinking.

I have been blessed to have wonderful priests in my life to celebrate the Mass, to hear my confession, to confirm me, to convalidate my marriage, to bless my home and to offer spiritual direction. It is evident through their lives that they are committed to Jesus Christ and his Church, and to my growth in sanctification and final salvation. I would be honored to have any of these young boys follow in their steps and minister in the same way to their own generation.

Thank you, Your Excellency for your part in making possible the parish that I am part of and the priests who minister the Liturgy of the Word and Sacrament to us on a weekly, even daily basis.

But, Your Excellency, I do have a request to make of you—something that I hold in the very depths of my heart, that causes me to cry out before God when I am alone before him. You know the burden that these children would take up if they discern a call to the priesthood. And so I ask you for them, and for all the sons of Catholic mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, godfathers and godmothers, that you be completely committed by the authority entrusted to you in the sacred office you hold, as successor to the apostles, to be vigilant for the spiritual well being and protection of these sons of the Church.

Leave no stone unturned  to protect our sons from predators who would try to derail them in their spiritual devotion to Jesus through attacks on their chastity. Predators have no place in our seminaries, and we hold you and the office of vocations directly responsible to weed out these destructive influences. (Also it would be helpful if you would make a statement to that effect to our diocese!)

Also, our sons love the Church in all of her liturgical and historic glories. Please make sure that these sons of the Church are not viewed with suspicion because they long to learn the beauty of the historical liturgies and practices, or because they are faithful to the doctrine and teachings of the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Your Excellency, I leave you with deep respect and high regard for your holy office and close with the words of St. Jude at end of his epistle:

But you, beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they told you, “In the last time there will be scoffers who will live according to their own godless desires.” These are the ones who cause divisions; they live on the natural plane, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant, in the presence of his glory, to the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen (1:17–25 NABRE).

You are in my prayers daily.

Respectfully yours in Christ,

Gary Wiley

An Open Letter to My Bishop

Welcome Damian More!

Our second godson was born on July 7, 2018. His parents gave him the name Damian More. That’s a lot to live up to when you consider the saints whose names he bears. Today we have the privilege of standing with his parents and older brother as he is baptized and by virtue of the sacrament is born into the God’s family, the Church.

Paragraph 1213 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word'”.

Little Damian More won’t have any real understanding of all that will take place in his life by grace through the faith of his parents today, but knowing his parents very well, they are committed to lead him day by day into a knowledge of his Savior Jesus Christ and how he will become a sharer in the mission of Christ’s Church.

That brings me to his two onomastic saints: Peter Damian and Thomas More.

Peter Damian lived in the 11th century. He was a Benedictine monk and a cardinal of the Church in the time of Pope Leo IX. In 1828 he was named a Doctor of the Church. In his time he was mostly known as a reformer of the Church. In 1050 he wrote a very direct treatise on the vices of the clergy, which included fornication, homosexuality and abuse of minors, as well as the attempts by church officials to cover up these abuses. This was nearly 1,000 years ago!

Thomas More lived in the 16th century and is no doubt better known due to his close relationship with King Henry VIII of England. Sir Thomas More was a close friend of the king, served as his secretary and personal advisor and in 1529 was named Lord Chancellor. More served the king well, but his first allegiance was to Christ, his Church, and the Vicar of Christ, the Bishop of Rome, Pope Clement VII. When the pope would not grant the king an annulment from his wife Catherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, Henry broke from the Church and declared himself head of the Church of England and was granted a divorce. Thomas More could not support the king and resigned his position. He could not justify the king’s action against the Church and the dissolution of his marriage. More paid for his conviction regarding the Sacrament of Marriage with his life. His last words before being beheaded were: “I die the good King’s servant, but God’s first.”

My dear godson Damian More, only God knows what you will be called upon to give witness to, to proclaim and to defend. May the power of the Holy Spirit flood you and empower you, and may the intercession of Peter Damian and Thomas More enable you to stand true in this your century of service to God. You have my prayers always!

Welcome Damian More!