Watch or read the Pastoral Letter from the Bishop dated 26th May 2024.

02/06/2024

The Most Holy Trinity

Pastoral Letter from the 26th May 2024

Read the full Pastoral Letter from Bishop Philip here, watch the video or read the summary and full versions below.

SUMMARY of THE PASTORAL LETTER

Celebrating the Holy Trinity

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

On this feast of the Most Holy Trinity, we celebrate the mystery of our one true God as three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This divine relationship is mirrored in all of creation, emphasizing our call to love and relationship.

Embrace Daily Prayer

I encourage you to commit to daily prayer, the first of our Six Holy Habits. Spend at least five minutes in prayer each day, ideally with the day's Gospel reading. Prayer is vital for our spiritual and psychological well-being, fostering a personal relationship with God.

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Through the sacraments, God resides within us, offering comfort and a deep sense of His presence. This truth encourages us to respect and love all people, recognizing the Holy Spirit's work in everyone.

Mission and Spiritual Renewal

Our mission plan, "You Will be My Witnesses," focuses on deepening faith, becoming more missionary, and serving the needy. True transformation begins with personal spiritual renewal, placing Jesus at the center of our lives.

Thank you for your attention. May the Blessed Mother, St. Edmund, and your favorite saints intercede for you.

In Corde Iesu,
+Philip
Bishop of Portsmouth

FULL VERSION
Celebrating the Most Holy Trinity

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

Today is the awesome feastday of the Most Holy Trinity, when we praise, thank, and adore the one true God in the Mystery of His Godhead, a Trinity of persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is our Creator; He is our Redeemer; He is our Sanctifier, because He is love; He is mercy; He is relationship. All that He has created, visible and invisible, is stamped with His Trinitarian image. The whole universe, from the macro to the micro, from distant galaxies down to the tiniest atom, is marked by relationship and interdependence. So too, you and me. We are made in the image of the Trinity. Like God, we are made for love. Love alone makes us happy; we live to love, and love to be loved.

Embrace Daily Prayer

I write this Pastoral Letter today to encourage you in the first of our Six Holy Habits: prayer, to spend five minutes or more each day in prayer, whenever and wherever you find best, ideally using the Gospel reading of the day. It’s interesting how we live in an era when yoga, mindfulness, and meditation are popular. This only demonstrates what Catholics have known for centuries: that for our psychological health and wellbeing, prayer is essential. Like hydration to the body, so is prayer to the soul. It is natural for humans to pray, yet we need to pray not just to achieve karma but to develop a personal relationship with God. Everyone can pray, Saint Francis de Sales wrote, “as long as they are capable of love. Only the devil is incapable of prayer,” he added, “because he is incapable of love.” Research shows that one reason many Catholics lapse or never practice their faith, is because they do not have - or do not even believe they can have - a real, life-changing friendship with God. Think of marriage or a friendship: how long would it last if we never spoke to each other, not even to ask ‘How are you?’ This is one reason we promote in the Diocese the Called and Gifted Programme. It helps people develop a closer friendship with God and a sense of being individually chosen by Jesus Christ to be His disciple.

The Adventure of Prayer

I have a question for you: When you pray to God, to which Person of the Blessed Trinity do you pray: the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit? Though God is One, we have a different relationship with each Person. It’s this that makes prayer an exciting adventure. True, distractions come along; we can feel dry; we might struggle to find the right words, which is why using the Gospels and a prayer book is helpful. But let us take solace in the Holy Spirit, who “helps us in our weakness,” expressing our pleas when we cannot seem to “pray properly.” Remember too there is only one prayer: the prayer of Jesus offered to the Father by the Holy Spirit. Think of an old radio set and how you had to tune it in, to get the station. This is why when we begin a time of prayer, we should ask the Holy Spirit to align us with Christ and to unite us with the Father. Another help is to visit the Blessed Sacrament, to keep a period of silent contemplation, to say the Rosary, to recite the Liturgy of the Hours, and to take part in the greatest prayer of all, the Mass. I also love speaking to God in my own words at various points during the day. So, let me ask you: When do you normally pray? How do you get on? Have you tried different types of prayer? What about group prayer?

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

At this period in the Cathedral, I am celebrating many Confirmation Masses and in the homily, I often speak to the young about a neglected doctrine of our Catholic Faith, the ‘indwelling of the Holy Spirit:’ that through Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist, if we are in a state of grace, God Himself lives within us. As St. Paul put it: “The Spirit of God has made His home in you.” This is what Jesus promised: “If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we shall come to him and make our home in him.” It was this beautiful teaching that inspired St. Elizabeth of the Trinity to pray every day “Lord, make me your heaven, your beloved dwelling, the place of your rest.”

Many people wrongly think of God as Up-There or a Light at the end of life’s long tunnel. No, God is within. He is living my life within me, sharing my experiences, sensing my feelings, my all. This truth can bring great consolation. I can speak with God anytime. Wherever I go, I am a living tabernacle of His presence. This is why I should have a profound respect for other Christians, clergy and faithful, and indeed, a love for all people, whatever their beliefs, for in them, in a way known only to Him, the Holy Spirit is at work.

Our Mission and Spiritual Renewal

“Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations,” says Jesus in today’s Gospel. “And know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.” Our mission plan, You Will Be My Witnesses, is about deepening faith, becoming more missionary, and prudently managing our resources. As I have said often, it is easy to change the structures, and structural change is part of the plan. But You Will Be My Witnesses is really about the hardest change of all: changing ourselves and making our parish and school communities more outward-facing, more missionary, and more focused on service of the needy. The basis of all this is spiritual renewal, deepening our prayer life, renewing our faith, and putting the Person of Jesus Christ at the centre. This is why we need to start with ourselves. We need to acknowledge that we could be holier. We need to repent and change our habits, rather than looking over our shoulders at others: “If only they would do that…” My prayer life, my spirituality, my friendship with God, within Christ’s Body the Church, is paramount. So let me ask you: Could you find more time for prayer? Do you need help in prayer? Will you spend some time each day in prayer, using the Gospel of the day?

Thank you for listening. May the Blessed Mother, St. Edmund, and your favourite saints obtain for you from the loving Heart of Jesus everything you desire.

In Corde Iesu,
+Philip
Bishop of Portsmouth