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Diocese of Arundel and Brighton Article

Pastoral Letter, 33rd Sunday of the Year

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As the Church’s Year draws to a close, the readings at Mass direct our thoughts and reflections to the ‘End Times’ and to the moment when each of us will face judgement.  While Judgement is indeed a daunting prospect, we must remember that, at every Mass, we pray “as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.”[1]

This Jubilee Year of Mercy, which now draws to a close as the Holy Doors in our Cathedral and the other churches across the Diocese are shut, has been a year-long reminder of Jesus’ call to us to be merciful – the very quality on which we shall be judged.  Our Mission as the Church is couched in terms of mercy; the mercy that calls others to Christ Himself.  It is in this context of Mission that we exercise the Spiritual Works of Mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear wrongs patiently, pray for the living and the dead.

These works of mercy reflect the very heart of the Gospel and the Mission in which we all share. At Baptism, we receive the vocation to be Christ's people, called to live our lives in the love that exists in The Blessed Trinity. Discipleship - and the demands that this makes upon us - is not optional. While rarely easy to live out, the life of the Christian is one of hope, faith and love. Lived out in the hardships of life, it is a life of joy - the joy that is found in sacrifice and service of others, flowing from the life and death of Christ, who gave himself up for us all.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are ways in which, as instruments of Christ Himself, we reach out to our brothers and sisters. When we truly live out this call to be merciful we are transformed as individuals and the Church becomes ever more perfectly the Body of Christ.

We might give thanks today for the relationship we have with our loving Father in our prayer and the way in which we can pray for the living and the dead.  It is also a time for us to rededicate ourselves to pray often during every day, that all we do be done in Christ. 

The exercise of these Spiritual Works demand deeper formation for us all, for we cannot accompany those who doubt or instruct those who do not know Christ unless we ourselves deepen our knowledge and love of Him, learning more of our Faith and the ways in which we can share it with others. 

 Courage, too, is needed.  It is not always easy to forgive or bear with wrongs. We must be open to the gift of courage if we are to make such steps.  We must abandon our pride and learn how to trust in God.  Unless we open our minds and hearts to the Mercy that we see in the Cross of Christ, we cannot be merciful to our brothers and sisters.

 St. Paul’s words to the Thessalonians, in today’s second reading, are for us also.  Like St. Paul, we must give constant example,[2] doing all things in Christ in lives of quiet perseverance.[3]

 Although the Jubilee Year draws to a close, the work of Mercy never ends.  The doors of our minds and hearts must be always open to the Mercy of the Father and the needs of our brothers and sisters.  As we look to the future, may our perseverance and example, our living out of the Works of Mercy grounded in prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist, be the marks and measure of our lives. 

 As individuals, parishes and as the whole family of the Diocese, let us re-commit ourselves to this great work to which the Lord has called us and may the blessings of this Jubilee Year continue to bear fruit in all that lies ahead. 

 With every Blessing,

 +Richard

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Bishop of Arundel & Brighton

 

[1] Roman Missal, Communion Rite, n.125.

[2] 2 Th.3:8-9.

[3] 2 Th. 3:12.