The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Heaven

My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,

Welcome back to weekly Bishop’s Blog!All the Feasts and Solemnities of the Church’s calendar celebrate truths of Faith. At the heart of each is a particular gift of the Lord, given as a reminder that we are not forgotten. This solemnity of Mary being taken to heaven brings us joy, inviting us to journey with her, in Faith, to the place Jesus said He was going to prepare for us.Beyond the reach of all harm, where joys will not be short-lived, is certainly attractive when we are faced with all sorts going wrong, from international disasters, through examination qualification nightmares, to my own difficulties. In some years we need more encouragement than in others.Less than a fortnight ago we heard of the explosion in Beirut. This weekend, much closer to home, I heard of the sudden death of Damian Bates, Head of RE at Our Lady’s Catholic College, Lancaster. He leaves a wife and four children, and his own parents as well as so many colleagues and friends, stunned by the news. He was a man who lived his Catholic Faith. Some would ask why does this happen.Faith is not a ‘lucky charm’, acting to protect us from the harsher side of this life. It often seems to be the opposite. So why bother?Some years ago, a parishioner and friend fell from a crag in the Lake District and was found dead by the Mountain Search and Rescue Team at the base of a crag. Blaming God is a bit like me blaming the mountains, and turning my back on them, never to walk them again because of what they’ve done to my friend. It’s not enough to say accidents happen; someone must be blamed.Our Lord didn’t come to blame us, He came to put things right by opening the way to eternal life. Here I live constantly in the shadow of catastrophe and death, but that shadow is shortening because Christ is risen. Our Blessed Lady’s final completion of her journey is more than just her own. When I say goodbye to a loved one something of myself goes with them and some little part of them seems to stay with me. In the mess of my emotions the Truth of Faith come as Consoling Truth and Guiding Truth, and Reassuring Truth.May the Assumption of Mary into heaven, to share the life of the Blessed Trinity, find a place in you and draw you further along the way she has gone.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.With my blessings,


Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster.