My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
Welcome to the Bishop’s Blog!
As a priest working in a parish you can never forget the importance of parishioners needing homes and schools and work for the good of their families. That’s part of what made the issue of the Cumbrian coal mine so emotive; it would be such a boost for the local economy. The Diocese encompasses the stunning scenery of the Lake District, so precious to tens of thousands of visitors who find the area’s beauty does them such good. There is the constant need to consider the well-being of those who live and work there too. I have a concern that our parishes and presence within the Park are difficult to maintain.Last week I spoke with Bill and Peter who both live within the Park. They are doing what they can to provide housing for local people at a time when more properties are being taken as holiday-lets. The problem is real, but not new. I recalled a story I was told by an old priest many years ago about a family he knew struggling for accommodation in Wigton. After several quick moves they finally secured a permanent place. Fr.Wells was chatting with one of the children. He said to the child, ‘You must be so happy to finally have a home’. The child gave a lovely answer; ‘Father, we’ve always had a home; now we have a house to put it in!’.‘Make your home in me as I make mine in you.’ Our Lord chose His words with care, wanting to speak to the heart of those He was addressing, then as now. Home can often mean a particular place, probably where our childhood was spent or where we lived for many years or where the family grew and neighbours were known. But some moves are tough, not always of our making and not always to our liking. We can reflect on the millions displaced by war, violence, poverty. We can also think of those who have to ‘go into care’ because they can no longer manage. The words of Jesus speak to them too.Two other comments Jesus made come to mind in relation to this. Firstly, He said, ‘Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head’. He also said, ‘I go to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may be too’. House and home are to some extent distinct.As we draw closer to our celebration of His Ascension, we are taught to keep in mind that our time on earth is a journey, a pilgrimage to our ultimate home, to be with the Lord for ever. I remember the homily preached by the late Mgr Michael Tully for my father’s Requiem in 2003. He spoke about how the risen Jesus did not give us any detailed description of what heaven would be like, He simply said, ‘Peace be with you’. We don’t need to worry about the details because it will be right.Meanwhile, let us do all we can to practise hospitality to those in need so that we are more open to the ultimate hospitality we will know, please God, in heaven. Mary’s Rosary in this, her month, is a sure way to calm the troubled mind, and lift the burdens from heavy hearts.With my blessing, especially for those whose needs are greatest at this time,
Bishop of Lancaster