A Vision of Faith to Behold

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!

The Carmelite sisters of the Preston Carmel marked the centenary of their foundation last Saturday with a concelebrated Mass at which I was the principal celebrant, joined by a number of the local clergy and other priests associated with the Carmel. The homily text can be found here.

The large number of people from Preston who attended the Mass was an indication of the high esteem in which the sisters are held.  The reception afterwards allowed everyone to meet and talk, and no doubt share their own particular memories of Preston Carmel.

The Carmelite and contemplative way of life has a long and venerable tradition in the history of the Church, and the saints from that tradition have become familiar names, such as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, and in our own time St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, perhaps better known as Edith Stein who died in Auschwitz in 1942.

The Carmelite Order draws its inspiration from Mount Carmel in the Holy Land, where the prophet Elijah encountered the Lord God in the “gentle breeze” or “still small voice.” The presence, therefore, of a Carmel in a diocese is a living reminder of the supreme importance of God, prayer and silence in our busy and rapidly changing world.

The daily rhythm of prayer and intercession of the Carmelite sisters is a great blessing and consolation, and achieves more before God than we can ever know.  We wish the sisters of the Preston Carmel every blessing as they embark on their second centenary!

One of the most significant moments in the earthly life of Our Blessed Lord was his Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor in the presence of Peter, James and John. Appearing alongside Christ were Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel and the prophet Elijah, the indomitable defender and upholder of Israel‘s faith.

That vision of the Transfiguration has now been strikingly and beautifully captured in a fresco which adorns the chapel of the Catholic Chaplaincy of Lancaster University.

On Sunday evening, during Mass, I had the pleasure of blessing this lovely work of art in the presence of a large attendance of students and generous friends who had supported this very commendable initiative of our Catholic priest-chaplain. My homily text is here.

A religious work of art has the power to speak to those who stand and contemplate it. I have no doubt that the scene of the Transfiguration depicted in the University chapel will speak powerfully to successive generations of university students as they come together to worship God.

The fresco offers much to ponder: we have the glorified and majestic Christ, flanked on each side by the powerful figures of Moses and Elijah, and the three transfixed disciples quite beside themselves in wonder and puzzlement at what they were witnessing and experiencing.

The artist has also included other smaller details which catch the eye and enhance the whole setting.

This handsomely executed fresco offers much to the viewer. The Transfiguration affords us a glimpse of Christ in glory. May it raise the mind and hearts of all who take time to view this truly appealing excellent work of art!

With every good wish and prayer for the week ahead.

As ever in Christ

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster