September 24, 2015 19 Comments
So, today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Walsingham. Seems strange, even to me, that a hard-headed old Protestant like me would care. Like many of you, I was raised that the veneration of Saints and such tended very close to idolatry. And it can, Martin Luther, himself, warned of it but, he also venerated Mary, the Theotokos, all his life.
In truth, many of us venerate soldiers, sports heroes, even politicians, in much the same way. In essence, it strikes me as little more than a desire to emulate an exemplary person. The Christian overlay provides an opportunity for us to ask them to intercede with God for us, is all.
But, being raised when and how I was, none of this penetrated my thick skull, and I know I was hardly alone. But if we are wise we learn, and we grow as we age. At least for me this is true.
I was introduced to Our Lady of Walsingham by my coauthor, Jess, not long after we met, she made the pilgrimage to Walsingham a few years ago, not long after we were brought together.
With my love of history, I was fascinated by the history and have written some about it, as has Jess. But that is not the point, today, while she was there, she lit a candle and prayed for me (yes, I know, not the kind of thing we Lutherans, or in truth most Anglicans) do. The thing is, I felt a peace go through me at almost the moment she lit it, and sundry other effects as well.
Today, Jess’ coauthor on her blog is commemorating Jess’ writing on Walsingham (in truth, so am I), with a repeat of her first post on her pilgrimage to Walsingham a few years ago, and links to the rest. We both think it a fine occasion to acquaint some of you newer friends with her writing, and it’s power. The story moved us then, and it moves us now. Jess has a knack for persuasive writing, in truth much of the basis of our friendship, and yes love, will be found in the series of posts, he links. It’s called Our Lady of Walsingham, so go there already, I’ll wait.
It fired our friendship, and it especially did so in three areas, our love of God, a shared passion for history, and my renewed love of poetry. How can one not be moved by Eliot’s
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.
For here, at Walsingham is one of the places they are made very true.
Jess also tells us about the sprinkling service, and how moved she was, and I’ll add how moved I was by her telling of it. And now I will also always remember that shortly before she received last rites last fall, before her miracle cure, she was again sprinkled with Walsingham water.
There may be other explanations, I suppose, but I haven’t stumbled across them, and it is from that moment that she became my dearest friend, a moment shared across the ocean and half a continent. There are more chapters to tell of this story, but not today, they will have to wait.
An interesting note is that the first Roman Catholic service at the shrine since the Reformation was performed by US Military personnel on 17 may 1945, just after VE day. They certainly had something to commemorate.
But in general, as Jess has always said, as you draw closer to Christ, His Mother has a very great appeal, and why wouldn’t She.
In truth, I think there is definitely simply Something about Mary, as the linked article will tell you.
Although not really linked in history, this was the period when we adopted some of Julian of Norwich’s words as related by Eliot as a catchphrase, for me, for Jess, and for our blogs, and our lives:
Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us – a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.
Today is the day that I will merely note and ask Our Lady of Walsingham to continue to watch over us, and those we love.
O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus, your divine son, dying on the cross, confided us to your maternal care. You are our mother, we desire ever to remain your devout children. let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ. make your name again glorious in the shrine once renowned throughout England by your visits, favours, and many miracles.
Pray, O holy mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.
O blessed Mary, mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us.