Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog – this week a reflection for the Solemnity of All Saints!
Describing the Catholic Church, James Joyce once said, ‘Here comes everybody!’
Yes, when we look at the Church; that says it all.
Here comes Peter, the denier and Thomas the doubter, and the converted pagan Augustine. Here comes the soldier Ignatius, and the scholar Aquinas, and the tentmaker Paul. Here comes Catherine of Sienna and Therese of Lisieux. Here comes Poor Francis, preaching to the birds!
We are there too in fellowship with these great saints and are inspired by their heroic lives!
We are the once unborn – but given a chance to grow, to strive, flourish.
We are the young, the old, rich and poor, men and women, a communion of sinners and saints, all that and more. We are disciples of Jesus who have spanned the centuries – and the earth – in His Holy Church!
United in Word and Sacrament we are Bede and Cuthbert, Hilda too – monks and nuns who copied scripture onto parchment, and preserved and shared God’s Word.
We are Pope John Paul II, Oscar Romero and Mother Teresa of Calcutta; Father Martín Martínez Pascual, Chiara Luce Badano and José Luis Sánchez del Rio – well known or less well known, young and old, priests and religious and lay people alike.
We are Margaret Clitheroe and all our Martyrs. We are Mary Ward, Evelyn Waugh, and Oscar Wilde, Faber, Pugin and John Henry Newman. We are Chesterton, Merton and Hopkins.
We are missionaries who could barely speak the language, but went to the far-away lands so that they could – some years later – return the favour!
We are the ones who pioneered the founding of hospitals, often when there was no State to provide such things, the largest educational system across the globe, passing on what we know, love and believe in. We are part of the largest charitable organisation in the world – Mercy shared for a life-time – not simply a year!
We are the carer for a sick loved-one; the migrants welcomed from Poland; the nurses from Kerala on our shores and serve our NHS, and who left behind their own homes and families to make their home here.
Today, we are the soldier in conflict praying the rosary, and the pilgrim asking for a miracle in Lourdes and Ladyewell. We are the abandoned wife and mother who brings her kids to Mass each week; the young father, helped by the SVP, who has lost his job and seeks for a fair wage to support his family.
We are William and Bethany, about to be baptized this weekend. We are Amanda, Lydia and Anna, Justin and Matthew, about to be confirmed next week.
We are the forgotten old lady rosary in hand – who has lived her life of faith to a ripe old-age and now needs care, protection and dignity. We are saints – inspiring, rejoicing. We are sinners – caught in addiction and despair. We are everybody!
We are the Body of Christ. Bruised. Broken. But resurrected and given new life and hope. Changed forever….
We are people who live in the resurrection as we pass through moments of darkness. We are men and women and children who hold Christ’s light and seek to pass it on.
This All Saints Day, we pledge to keep that flame of faith burning. We remember all who came before us on the Way, and all who are joining the Pilgrim Church in these days – called to be saints.
Thousands more people to hold the candle, and to spread the light in our Universal Church on earth and in heaven; to proclaim not just the good news – but the greatest news in all human history: ‘He has been raised.’ Alleluia!
Until next week – may God bless you all!
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster