Lots of excitement around Edmonton these days. On Saturday it was announced that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has appointed Reverend Father Gregory Bittman Auxiliary Bishop of Edmonton. "Father Greg," as he has been known around these parts, has served the Archdiocese in a variety of capacities, currently as Chancellor and Judicial Vicar. He is widely admired for his personal integrity, devotion to duty, and zeal for the mission of the Church. The Archdiocese is richly blessed by this appointment, as is the Church in Canada.
There is a lesson in this for all of us. It was best summarized by another Bishop friend of mine who, reflecting upon his own nomination, said, "God surprises. We adjust." Long ago, through the prophet Jeremiah, God said "I know the plans I have for you." (Jeremiah 29:11). The act of faith means not only recognizing that God is in the driver's seat but also actually letting him drive. Where God leads may not exactly be what we had in mind for our lives. When the direction becomes clear, the temptation may very well be to grab the steering wheel, but the response of Christian faith is to adjust our plans to God's and conform our will to his. This need to die to self and live for God ought not surprise us. It is the very pattern imprinted on our lives at Baptism.
In a "me first" culture that absolutizes autonomy, a "God first" way of life is difficult to understand and follow. Yet only in this way is genuine happiness achieved. After all, the plans that God has for each of us are for "a future of hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).
Bishop-elect Greg, congratulations, and thanks for saying yes to the Lord. It is a reminder to all of us to put God's will first. Ad multos annos!!!