Dear Friends in Christ,
Faith in God and in Jesus Christ has something mysterious about it. Inherent in the word ‘faith’ is our inability to understand it fully. We put our trust in the God whom we cannot see, while nonetheless at the same time faith does have an assurance and a certainty which give us peace of mind.
Our Catholic faith teaches that faith is a gift from God, not one we can give ourselves. The call to believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit comes directly to us from the Holy Trinity.
More often than not that call is mediated to us through the life and example of others who do believe, whether they be parents, husband or wife, priests, teachers or simply friends. We can be influenced in so many different ways as we find our path to God.
Faith introduces us to a community, usually that of the local parish gathered around the altar for Sunday Mass with its priest and people. Faith also confers an important sense of belonging: we need the company and support of others who share the same beliefs and encourage us by the manner in which they live out their Catholic faith.
For those new to the Church, faith can be like coming home to a welcome and to a place where deep and perhaps long and inexplicable restless yearnings within us at last find solace.
Those who have come to faith in Christ and the Church later in their lives speak of having come on a journey, in some cases lasting many years. Each person’s story is unique, and as Bishop on the occasion of the Rite of Election in the Cathedral, I am invariably moved when people recount the different highways and byways they have travelled before reaching this point. One must remain silent and stand in awe at the mystery of God’s workings.
On the 21st February our annual diocesan Rite of Election will take place in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Lancaster at which those to be baptised or received into full communion with the Church will be officially welcomed by me, the Bishop. Those who attend this simple liturgical rite organised this year by our Office for the New Evangelisation are invariably touched by witnessing faith in action and the courage of the new converts preparing to take this important step.
I urge you to pray for all who will come forward at the Rite of Election next month. Do you personally know of anyone that you could encourage to embrace the challenge of the Catholic faith? In some cases it only requires a helping word and a prayer, and God will do the rest!
Do please pray for the missionary outreach of our Church, both at home and abroad, for Christ the Son of God has come to call us all home, into the warmth and love of the Church he has founded by his death and resurrection.
Until next week – let us pray for one another.
As ever in Christ our Lord,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster