Dear friends in Jesus Christ,
Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog – a snapshot in the life and ministry of the Bishop of Lancaster!
First though; I want to to thank everyone for the great support I received following last Sunday announcement (here and here) – this is deeply appreciated. Please keep the Diocese and the Institute in your prayers; that this initiative – under God – will bear much fruit.
This week’s Blog reflects upon last Saturday’s Diocesan Pilgrimage to our ancient shrine of Ladyewell near Preston. Thankfully, we had glorious weather for the occasion. I use the text of my Mass homily for the occasion:
‘The Lancaster Diocesan Pilgrimage to Ladyewell – 8th July 2017
(Is 49:8-10; John 4:14 ff)
In our first reading from the prophet Isaiah, the Lord promises that his people will never again thirst for ‘he will lead them to springs of water,’ while in the gospel the Lord Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman of the living water which he can offer.
Water is of course a symbol of life; neither we nor the world of nature around us can survive without water. Wells and springs have long been regarded as holy places where we humans encounter the sacred.
The Samaritan woman met the saviour of the world at that well in Samaria, and the very name of this pilgrimage shrine ‘Ladyewell’ shows how pilgrims down the centuries have venerated Our Lady here by the well in Fernyhalgh.
Wells are places of refreshment where travellers can cool down and quench their thirst, and eventually continue on our journey. Our Lord today intends us to understand water in a spiritual sense.
We are here on pilgrimage at Ladyewell today to meet the Lord and drink from that living water he wants to give us. We come to him as a diocesan family in prayer and worship to find rest and renewed energy on life’s journey. He waits to listen to us as we tell him our particularly story and our need of his divine grace and help.
We recall today how our journey of faith began in the consecrated waters of baptism, and in those waters we died and rose with Christ through the power of his Holy Spirit. A pilgrimage ought to renew in us the dignity we received in the baptismal waters, that of being a son or daughter of God the Father, who watches over and cares for us.
The well and its water remind us of the need to be faithful to our baptismal promises
We come on pilgrimage to this ancient shrine of Our Lady, confident that she will point us in the direction of her Son and keep us close to him.
As pilgrims we are treading a well-worn path here, one on which thousands have walked in faith before us in search of that living water which Mary’s Son alone can give us.
Let us pray for and support one another today as we honour Our Lady of Fernyhalgh, praying for ourselves, the universal Church, and for peace in our world.’
Until then, may God bless you all,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster