The Bishop’s Blog: World Youth Day 2019

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This week’s Bishop’s Blog reaches out with a message for the World Youth Day!

My dear young people of the Diocese of Lancaster,I send you my greetings as you gather to celebrate World Youth Day 2019. You are part of something embracing the whole world, and are united in a special way with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, meeting in Panama with so many who were able to make the journey.
Perhaps some of you will still have strong memories from the last World Youth Day in Poland which you were fortunate to be part of. How quickly the time goes! How quickly we move on in our lives!My appeal to you is that you find a way to give Jesus a home in the heart of your life, because He is our Life! He is not trying to sell us anything or to take advantage of anyone. He has your best interest at heart, nothing less.As young people who know Jesus you have a very valuable role to include Him in your social media networking. Let Him be there, part of your social life. Help Him to have a voice to speak to others and an ear to listen to them. Help Him to reach out in love and respect to young people whose lives are in a bad place just now. Through the way you include Him in your messaging and use of the internet, let Him be there, bringing His Grace and Love and Life to so many waiting to know Him.I also ask you to pray for families, your own and those of the people you relate to. Families are not always the easiest place to be, and can be very difficult for some. Still, for the majority they are places of safety and stability for us as we grow up. As you get older make a decision to keep in touch with home. Do what you can to add to its value, helping to make it work, looking after it, just simple things really, that really make a difference. None of us like being taken for granted. Let’s try to make our homes places where we learn to appreciate one another, even our brothers and sisters!I hope that each of you can sense the gift of life within you and every person. I hope you feel an enthusiasm for the wonder of creation, and how fragile it is. I pray that you have faith to believe how much the Lord has done for you because of His love. I ask you to choose to make good happen, for yourself and others, taking your lead from the life of Jesus and from others who have chosen to follow Him. As your (still) new Bishop, I look forward to getting to know you better. I am so glad you are there! I look forward to making time for you, listening to you, walking with you, learning with you, praying with you.

May God bless you all.

As ever in Christ,

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

 

The Bishop’s Blog: The Cause of Christian Unity

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!

The New Year is well into its stride by now, full of promise but also packed with the uncertainties we must learn to live with. Some cope better than others with these things. My hope is that we can help one another along the way, and we can be helped to see where we can turn for such help. Our lives are dotted with good people, willing to give their time and share their experience and nudge that balance in favour of hope in spite of all that tries to pull us down.The week of prayer for Christian Unity is a hardy annual in our calendar. This year my own experience has already been enhanced by my being part of a gathering of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Leicester. Some might have called it a ‘talking shop’ but that wouldn’t be fair. It served to deepen our enthusiasm for and commitment to the desire of Jesus for us to be united disciples, working together for the spread of His Gospel.Good doesn’t just happen; it makes demands on us. We must leave the comfort and cosiness of what we are familiar with, our well-known ways of working and living. We must be seen to associate with each other, turning prayer into action, helping blossom become fruit. This is the will of Christ. He prayed for it, and lived for it.Early last week I had time to meet with Jill Duff, the Anglican suffragan bishop of Lancaster. At the end of next week I will attend an ecumenical concert at St.Joseph’s, Lancaster. Perhaps these don’t look like much in themselves, but I hope they will play their part in building an environment within which we can get to know each other better and overcome some of the awkwardness that still dogs our relationships. We are more than our history.Not long ago we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. It is worth reflecting on how we get on in our families, what binds us together, what helps and what hurts. As disciples of Jesus we are related, we have brothers and sisters with whom we can be somewhat estranged. That need not remain the way it is. Each day of the year ahead is an invitation and an opportunity to quietly set about repairing the Holy Family of the Church and the churches. Not everything needed will be achieved, but that shouldn’t stop us from moving things in a better direction, even if it is only a small step.Many people admit to struggling with prayer. One approach that may help is if we simply place ourselves in the presence of Our Lord as He prays. Use Gospel images to help you see Him and hear Him say His prayers. You may find yourself drawn into that prayer. May the blossom of His prayer become fruit in the actions of our lives. May the Holy Family of Christ thrive!With my prayers for you and your families over the week ahead,
+ Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

The Bishop’s Blog: With Lancaster Polish Community and St. Patrick’s School, Heysham

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
Officially Christmastide ends this Sunday with the Baptism of the Lord. I understand that some of you keep on up to the Feast of the Presentation, 2nd Feb. Why stop there? The gift of Christ’s Nativity is for the whole year and need not be ‘put away’ with the decorations. Even so, it is good to move on through the seasons. It keeps our faith and devotions fresh.  Last week I accepted an invitation to join the Lancaster Polish community for a Nativity play (performed by the Carlisle Polish Community) and Carols. To conclude I was invited to bless a beautiful icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochova hanging above the sanctuary. May Our Blessed Lady watch lovingly over her Polish communities throughout this year.
Later in the week I visited St.Patrick’s Primary School, Heysham, my first time ever to set foot in it. I was given a whistle-stop tour of the classes before we celebrated Mass. These children are outstanding singers, the best I have come across in all my years visiting Primary Schools. Following the Mass the whole school left the building for a quiet corner of the school grounds where a purpose built chapel awaited its first blessing. This place will become a sanctuary for staff and children, set apart from the busy-ness of the school day as a place to pray and reflect on God’s love for His children. Once it has heating I’m sure it will become a very popular part of the school life. Well done St.Patrick’s.
There was no mad rush to contact me after last week’s suggestion about blessing mobile phones. Having said that, perhaps the most significant call came from BBC Radio Cumbria who would like me to speak briefly about the idea on their Sunday morning slot. Thank-you BBC!
My prayers are with you and your families for the week ahead,
+ Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

 

 

 

The Bishop’s Blog: Blessing of Mobiles and PCs

Dear friends in Christ,

Welcome back to this the first post of the Bishop’s Blog in 2019!Happy New Year to any faithful souls who have been waiting patiently in case this Blog revived. Take it as a prophetic sign of a very distant spring.
It has been an eventful and interesting hiatus. More recently we have become caught up in celebrations marking Christmas. Perhaps some of the photos will capture something of the rich variety I experienced. Thank-you to so many who sent greetings, invitations and gifts – especially prayer – to nourish me. Anyone who knows me will know of my poor relationship with modern technology. The chances of it improving are slim. At this point I have to acknowledge the dedication and saintly patience of those who have the misfortune to work alongside me as secretaries, assistants etc. They have a thankless task.Such marvellous means of communication are at our disposal if only we can master them. Get the relationship wrong and they become mill-stones. Perhaps we can all recognise that such things as mobile phones, i-pads, laptops etc can be a mixed blessing for all of us. We depend on them so completely. So much of our life is contained in them. If they fail we are seriously affected. If we let them they can dominate us to an unhealthy degree.I’d like to float a simple idea that we might organise an occasional simple service to bless our mobiles and PCs. It is just an idea at this stage. I get the sense that some of these items need more exorcising than simply blessing! A good dollop of Holy Water on them may be just what they need! But perhaps they need more than that if they are to be put at our service and the service of the Gospel.If we could dedicate them to the work of Our Lord, in the hope that they will keep us safe and do good to others perhaps something essential in our lives would be improved. Just a thought. Does anyone know if this is already done anywhere? Would it be something helpful to people? I look forward to your responses.With every good wishes and prayer for the week ahead,

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster