DAVID FAREY: Bishop of Chichester has followed Pope in declaring this a year of mercy

David Farey SUS-151105-131625001

David Farey SUS-151105-131625001

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Life can be a battle! January is a funny old month. We have all just had the thrill and bustle of Christmas and New Year celebrations and once the bubble of the January sales has burst and we are stocked up with new frocks and jumpers we then face the dark mornings and lowering temperatures.

The third Monday of January is regarded as the worst day of the year for depression and is nicknamed ‘Blue Monday’.

I am perhaps more blessed than many as I have a birthday at the end of the month to look forward to, even though this year is a big one. But I am definitely aware of the struggles that everyone faces, especially in the dreary days of January. It is perhaps the swing of the emotional pendulum from the highs of Christmas and time off and the general struggle of getting back to grips with the work that needs to be done.

I have a list on my desk of all the many tasks facing me over the next few months.

Lent isn’t that far away and things have to be put in place. Also as the year gets up a bit of momentum there are a number of people to see and contact, whose needs I become aware of. So the list gets longer. Every day people have to face new tragedies of bereavement and loss, of illness and things going wrong.

So many people are facing substantial illnesses and severe medical procedures, as well as simply coping with the usual coughs and colds of the season. So many people are facing daily battles with forces and situations that threaten to crush them. Society is not generally geared up to provide the support for those who are struggling in life. All too often it is a matter of the survival of the fittest.

As a priest I am mightily humbled by the people I have the privilege of meeting, talking with and praying with. I hope that in some way I have helped to bring a healing and wholeness to them as I seek to minister God’s love.

The Church has a special role in reaching out to people and helping them to find wholeness, which is one of the reasons our diocesan bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner has followed the Pope in declaring this a Year of Mercy.

Reaching out in a loving and non-judgemental way to people by offering a kind listening ear and an arm to lean upon is perhaps one of the most precious gifts the Church has to offer in our generation where there are so many hurting and injured people around. Long may we be able to do so!