Change & Continuity

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Dear followers of the Bishop’s Blog,

To say that we live in a rapidly changing world (and Church) is to state the obvious. An interesting exercise for those of us who are older would be to stop and reflect on all the changes that have taken place in our own lifetime, changes which have transformed the way we now live in the twenty-first century.  One outstanding example, and easily taken for granted, is the revolution in how smoothly we can communicate with others, through the far reaching social media and the possibility of world-wide contacts.

The pace and advances of the modern world can be unnerving, and people who are no longer young fear that they can be left behind. Change can be upsetting and confusing, and we find ourselves asking what is stable and enduring in all this flux?  What reliable guiding star is there to point out the way to us? We may be consoled by realising that the ancient Greek philosophers before the time of Christ, deeply conscious of change, posed similar questions. Their critical thinking influenced the Fathers of the Church, and their philosophical reflections have become part of our Christian intellectual heritage.

As representative of the Fathers, Saint Augustine of Hippo, (354-430), stressed that the infinite triune God alone was above change, and was not subject to the passing of time which affects us mortals so deeply. In God there is no yesterday, today or tomorrow, for   that only applies to his created order. Reflecting and drawing on the great religious tradition of Israel, Augustine and others taught that true happiness and genuine meaning for us human beings are alone to be found in the God who never changes. He has created each one of us, has a personal bond with us, and so only in him does the human heart find lasting peace, despite the whirl of changes which seem so often to engulf us.

The Church Fathers wrote eloquently on how the way to this God has been made possible for us by the Incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity. In Jesus Christ become man we find and have access to the treasures of the infinite God now and always on offer to us. As he himself says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The Church of two-thousand and eighteen, through her sacraments, liturgy and teaching, remains the bearer and custodian of these riches. She preserves what is unchanging in an ever-changing world, and makes her own the words of the letter to the Hebrews, “Jesus Christ: the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hbs. 13:8).

So in a world (and, at times, in a Church) of change and uncertainty, there is much that does not and cannot change, for almighty God has intervened decisively and definitively in our changing world by sending his beloved Son to us.  Nothing can alter or surpass that foundational truth of our faith; the externals at times may differ, but the core beliefs remain the same.

The Fathers also taught that we human beings can feel adrift on a sea of change on life’s journey, it is then that we must stay firmly on board the ship of the Church, formed from the saving wood of Christ’s cross, and we will arrive safely at the harbour which God has in store for us, and ultimately where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit await us.

Until next week – may God bless you all,

As ever in Christ,

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Apostolic Administrator
Diocese of Lancaster