Pastoral Letter for LAMP Sunday 7 November 2010

To be read in all churches and chapels of the Archdiocese of Liverpool on LAMP Sunday, 7 November 2010, the thirty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time.

My dear People,

That’s a weary story; it’s riddled with fear. ‘If I don’t have a son, with my name, what’s left of me? Nothing; no trace; lost for ever.’ And it’s weary and insulting to the wife; her only value is to produce a son, with the man’s name, not her own; she’s only for that: no more.

In the letter to the Hebrews, that gnawing doubt is seen as the sickness only the Lord Jesus can heal: for ‘by the grace of God, he tasted death for everyone... and freed those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.’

Every November we receive this blessing: to remember and pray for our dead: against that background, on Thursday at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month all of us who can will keep silence and remember: it was at that hour in 1918 when the guns fell silent at the end of what they called the Great War, the war to end all wars. Next Sunday, Remembrance Sunday, once more I’ll have the searching privilege to lay a wreath on behalf of you all at the Memorial on St George’s Plateau, Liverpool. Every year, especially because of Afghanistan, there are more to be held in grateful prayer, and each one with families who mourn.

And we remember our own dead with as deep a grief as anyone, perhaps even deeper, because love for them was poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. And mourning is a fruit of love. But we don’t grieve as those who have no hope. We are not held in slavery by the fear of death. At this time of the year we should be especially grateful to our sisters and brothers, the disciples of Our Lord in the Holy Land, whom many of you support by prayer, pilgrimage and giving. They are the living stones in Our Lord’s own land and keep us bound to that land where: ‘Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, where he was buried, and was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures and appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.’ Many times during the two weeks I spent in Rome in October with Bishops from across the Middle East gratitude was expressed to us all in our archdiocese for our support.

And the conviction that Christ was raised on the third day setting us free from the slavery of the fear of death is the heartbeat of LAMP, the Liverpool Archdiocesan Missionary Project. Joe Bibby in Pariah, Bolivia, Simon Cadwallader in Villa El Salvador, Lima, Peru, and Denis Parry, in Chimbote, Peru, seek only to be an answer to Saint Paul’s prayer we received a few minutes ago:

‘May the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who has given us his love, and through his grace, such inexhaustible comfort and such sure hope, comfort you in everything good that you do and say.’

And hear Joe, Simon and Denis saying to us with Saint Paul:

‘Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us; pray that the Lord’s message may spread quickly and be received with honour as it has among you…May the Lord turn your hearts towards the love of God and the fortitude of Christ.’

In these darkening days of November, be at peace knowing we are set free from the slavery caused by the fear of death. In the thick of so many financial worries for so many, please once more, using the Gift Aid envelopes if that is appropriate, be as generous as you can to the collection in support of LAMP.

For all those dear to us who have died and for all the dead whose faith is known to God alone, we pray:

‘Eternal rest give unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.’

Yours devotedly in Christ,

+ Patrick Kelly
Archbishop of Liverpool