God Bless Bishop Strickland!

Bishop Joseph Strickland has demonstrated real courage in the public square and has also shown himself to be a man of deep piety and prayer.

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It is no secret that in the Church today it is not easy to come by a bishop who is not only orthodox but also forthright in his opinions and actions in the Church and society. We have become so accustomed to bishops who seem to tolerate error and sacrilege—even if they don’t privately support such things—that many of us have in some ways stopped expecting anything overtly positive from our bishops.

In most cases, we never even meet our bishops in person, which in some ways isn’t really their fault as they must oversee a diocese that expands across a large geographical area. For instance, it would take about three hours to drive from the south tip of my diocese of London, Ontario, to the northernmost part. It is worth noting that my area of Southwestern Ontario is not some remote area in northern Canada; it is a decently populated area with many midsize cities and big towns.

As a result, most of the interaction we have with our bishops, if any at all, will be at confirmation—that is unless he has assigned an auxiliary or a priest to do so—or when the bishop makes a public statement via a letter that is read at a parish for this reason or that. If we are lucky, we might see our bishop at a pro-life march or some fundraising event. The bishops never seem to be absent from the fundraising events…

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In addition, our bishops have been generally weak in the public square, which was most evident during the Covid hysteria, when the average local ordinary put more stock into what the Public Health unit said than he ever did in the Catechism of the Council of Trent.

Of course, there are some happy exceptions, but the scenario I describe is not uncommon in North America, and I am sure many can relate. If you do happen to have a bishop whom you can trust with Catholic orthodoxy, or to be courageous in the face of public pressure from the Marxist bureaucracy, count yourself as one of the lucky ones.

Perhaps the most well-known exception to this general principle of seemingly forgettable prelates in America is Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas. In recent years, the good bishop has made a bit of a name for himself, having become famous for the conservative and traditionally-minded Catholic who is unashamed of his faith and infamous for the lukewarm and James Martin-tolerating crowd. In recent years, the good bishop has made a bit of a name for himself, having become famous for the conservative and traditionally-minded Catholic who is unashamed of his faith and infamous for the lukewarm and James Martin-tolerating crowd.Tweet This

Not only has he demonstrated real courage in the public square—just take a quick look at his Twitter account—but he has also shown himself to be a man of deep piety and prayer.

In June of 2020, he celebrated his first Traditional Latin Mass—maskless, like a champ, I might add. He described the experience in an interview with the National Catholic Register:

I could hardly say the words of consecration because I became so filled with emotion, so deeply struck by those words. Thank God we only must whisper them in this rite, because I am not sure I would have been able to speak above that whisper, so struck I was at the profundity. It was the first time in my life that I had ever said those words in Latin, and I could hardly get them out. It’s indescribable, really.

It is hard not to get emotional reading about how emotional this magnanimous man of God was when he first uttered the words of his fathers in the Faith, hoc est enim corpus meum.

I imagine it wasn’t too hard for him to pronounce those sacred words, as he does speak very good Spanish, albeit with a delightful Texan accent. But, as the saying goes, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, so it must have taken a lot of work for a man in his 60s to not only learn the rubrics but learn the rubrics of a Pontifical High Mass, which are very elaborate.

That he expressed his profound interior conversion to a national Catholic paper is evidence that he is willing to humble himself in the public square. This sort of humility is only possible for a man who thinks of God more than he does man.

In May, he demonstrated great humility yet again when he got himself into a bit of “Twitter trouble” for some remarks about the SSPX. On May 13—the anniversary of the first Fatima apparition—he tweeted that the Society of Saint Pius X was schismatic, only to publicly retrace his statement a day later and express that he had been convinced by another great bishop—Athanasius Schneider—that the SSPX was, in fact, not schismatic. 

Put aside any opinion you may have about the Society for just a moment and think of the significance of this public “flip flop.” A diocesan bishop really gains nothing by being a friend of the SSPX, at least in terms of episcopal prestige among the college of bishops. So, his only reasoning for having publicly changed his mind would have to be that he cared for the truth above all else.

Again, whatever one may think about the SSPX, we cannot deny that acting thusly takes guts.

Today, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, Bishop Strickland will be leading a procession of faithful Catholics in Los Angeles in reparation for the disgusting blasphemy being promoted by the Los Angeles Dodgers. If you weren’t aware—highly unlikely—the Dodgers are honoring a group of drag queens who call themselves “Sisters” and who have performed many acts of anti-Catholic blasphemy and sacrilege in the name of “LGBTQ+” nonsense.

Strickland made the decision to do this, even with the Diocese of Los Angeles explaining that they would not support the event.

Again, this action from Tyler’s bishop will not gain him any “cool points” with many of his brother bishops, but he seemingly doesn’t care—nor should he!—as he only cares for Christ.

Aside from all this, I can share a story about Strickland that to me is as impressive as any.

I have a good friend who moved to Tyler, Texas, with his wife and beautiful, growing family. This friend is a very faithful man, as is his wife. He moved there from Canada on a bit of a lark, without a fancy job lined up and with more trust in Providence than anything.

One day, a couple of months after he and his family had settled, he sent some pictures to a group chat he and I are in with close friends. In the pictures, we saw a table set for lunch and Bishop Strickland posing for a photo with a smile from ear to ear. Another image showed the good bishop playing with one of the little girls, and I believe she was showing him her favorite dolly.

Bishop Strickland is not only a courageous man, a fiery prelate, and a humble servant of the Church; he is, perhaps most importantly, a loving spiritual father who visits his spiritual children to play dolls and sip on sweet tea and eat egg salad sandwiches in a fit of Christian merriment.

May God bless, and protect, this man. He is one of the greatest generals the Church Militant has, and we should all thank God and pray for him often.

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