Happy New Year!

Dear friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!

We are well into it by now. Do you recall all those people putting up their Christmas lights long before Christmas (and even Advent)? Well let’s hang on to our Christmas Faith long after the Feast. Let us personally hold the Light of Christmas well into the new year.Candlemas is not far away now. Make something of this beautiful Feast of Light and Hope. Get to Mass or visit the Blessed Sacrament and light a candle for your intentions.The world remembers the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust. Light is needed here, so that we can be humble in the face of such darkness. Our respect for our brothers and sisters in the Jewish Faith is important. Let our compassion and prayer be light for them.We also encourage ways of working and praying with our brethren in non-Catholic churches. There is undoubtedly much that holds us beck from full communion. Honesty is necessary to acknowledge this.Even so, there is much that brings us together. When I was growing up in Garstang there was something of an ‘us-and-them’ mentality about ecumenism. Now, thank the Lord, there is much to unite us in the face of aggressive secularism.Saving the planet is on the agenda ‘big-time’. In some ways the planet will look after itself, and Christ has already saved it anyway. But you know what I mean. I wonder, is it our convenient life-style, with unlimited options, instant communication and results that we are trying to save?Sensitivity to the well-being of creation is not new to Catholics, even if we have tended to ignore the Church’s teaching and certain acts of piety. CAFOD have promoted ‘live simply’ for years. For even longer, fasting and abstinence have been essential elements to Christian life.

There is renewed encouragement to adopt healthier, less wasteful habits now. Personal discipline is such hard work though! Why bother? The bottom line is, because Jesus did it. That’ll do me.

My blessings go to you and your families.

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster