Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome back to the Bishop’s Blog for this week!This weekend – and again on Tuesday 11 November – many of us will mark in some significant way ‘Remembrance Sunday’ or ‘Armistice’ standing shoulder to shoulder with those – including many Catholics – who down the generations have laid down their lives – not least in the two great conflicts of the last century – giving their lives for this country, for freedom and so that we might enjoy the gifts of peace, tranquility and stability in society.
Our ceremonies are particularly poignant this year as we commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of World War One.
The aspiration that the First World War would be the “war to end all wars” was not, of course, fulfilled. In subsequent conflicts, wherever they have taken place across the globe, all have demanded further horror and loss of life.
Young men and women, at the behest of governments charged with making that most difficult of decisions to deploy the Armed Forces, have left family and friends and have made what is so often termed “the ultimate sacrifice”.
We remember, too, all those who gave their lives for their country in conflict, all who suffered and died through acts of war as well as those families and loved ones who were left behind to grieve and mourn. Many of our older Catholic churches in this Diocese have war memorials of their own.
In our numerous acts of remembrance we join with those people the length and the breadth of this land, in towns, cities and villages; high streets and shopping centres, in pubs and clubs – and, of course, as parish communities in our churches for Sunday Mass – who will gather, and pause, and remember, and offer – but with a tear – our thanks to Almighty God for those loved ones and strangers alike who for our ‘tomorrow’ gave their ‘today.’
Of course, it is in the person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Risen One and the Prince of Peace, that God’s ultimate purpose is revealed to us and that is a purpose that above all that we should live in peace as one; and that He loves each one of us equally, irrespective of race, creed, colour, nationality.
By our remembrance this weekend and on Tuesday, by our words and our actions, by the wearing of a poppy we tell the story; from the youngest cadet to the oldest veteran we say to the families of this nation, to the family of nations and as the Family of God, ‘We Will Remember Them’.
And as we remember all our war-dead and the sacrifice they made, we pray that the freedom and the peace that they fought and continue to fight for will not be in vain.
We pray, too, that all of us that live In this world often divided and torn by the ravages of sin and selfishness may be healed and may be yet again made whole; that we can tell again the story of how God wants us His people to know and live in His peace.
May none of us forget that the greatest act of Remembrance we can make for those who have given their lives in war and conflict is to strive for justice and truth – for we know that justice and truth drive out fear and are the foundations for lasting peace.
Until next week – may God bless and protect you all,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster