Catholic Halos


What is Shepherding and How Do We Shepherd?

The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God. – Saint Mother Teresa, “A Simple Path”

A growing number of voices from various strata in the Church lament the decline of shepherding and resulting harm, including hopelessness. Saint Mother Teresa sums this poverty of shepherding up with poignant, painful clarity. This post will explore what it means to shepherd, and to fail to shepherd, using Saint Augustine's 'Sermon on Pastors' from a fortnight's series of second readings in the Office of Readings.


Reading the Catena Aurea with the day's Gospel recently, in the context of heresy, we encountered the wonderful word for weeds that grow and are sown among the wheat: tares (pronounced tears, like a tear in my shirt). Tares of the soul are those weedy thoughts that quickly got to seed, spreading their worldly temptations on the winds of our soulscape and sow themselves into our clay so we cannot distinguish them from our own thoughts.