A PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE BISHOP OF LANCASTER
FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Appointed to be read aloud at all weekend Public Masses in the Diocese of Lancaster on the weekend of 31 December 2016/1 January 2017.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
One week ago today, Christmas Day, we celebrated the birth in Bethlehem of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We pondered and reflected then on the humble circumstances of this child’s birth in a manger, and how Almighty God surely does work in wonderful and unusual ways. Today, in our liturgy the spotlight falls on Mary, whom the Church honours with that most remarkable of titles, Mother of God. And with that title we are touching here on the very mystery of our redemption.
In the Hail Mary, we declare Mary to be blessed among women, for in her motherhood the child she bore was both God and man, her Son and God’s Son. As a mother, it would be Mary’s vocation to nurture and rear this child, and so play her part in presenting Him to the world as its Saviour. In common with all of us, Mary had her particular role to play in family life, and facing all the uncertainties of exile in Egypt, living under Roman domination, and finally watching as the circumstances of her Son’s public ministry unfolded, and which would end on His cross on Calvary.
The liturgy speaks of Mary as being ‘the highest honour of our race’, because of her incomparable dignity as the mother of God’s Son. The late Pope, now Saint John Paul II, was fond of calling Mary the ‘woman of faith’, because through her assent in faith to the angel Gabriel she made possible the Incarnation of God’s only Son, and ultimately our eternal salvation. Her own words were, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.’ These words are indicative of the profound faith of the young Virgin of Nazareth.
We begin a new calendar year today, moving into a future with all its hopes and uncertainties. Our Blessed Lady too had to face many new years in her own lifetime, but her faith would sustain her in good times and in bad. As we honour the Mother of God today, let her example of solid faith in the purposes of God inspire us. We remember too that, in Christ, we are her sons and daughters, and she is our mother. May the Mother of God pray for us now, and always, and especially at the hour of our death.
I wish you, dear brothers and sisters, a very happy New Year, and be assured of my prayers and a blessing.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster
N.B. The Bishop’s Blog will resume posting on 21 January 2017.