...liturgy, glorious music, a rousing roof-raising hymn "Hold High the Cross!", a grand crowd, a packed church, and the Norfolk countryside in September beauty - this was today's Pilgrimage of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Magnificent. The Ordinariate has grown and flourished, and today resounded with joy, reverence, goodwill, and unity - and a certain confidence.
We set off early - it meant a 5 am start for the Bogles - from Precious Blood Church at London Bridge, with a packed minibus and a very cheery atmosphere. At Walsingham, large numbers had gathered from across the country, and there was much agreeable greeting and exchanging of news and so on...and there was time to pray at the Slipper Chapel shrine (there is a box for petitions to Our Lady, and that gentle smell of soft wax candles, and fresh flowers), and to go to confession, and to visit the Shrine bookshop... and then we crowded into the big barn church for Mass.
I was pressed against the wall at the very back, and as the great procession of clergy made its way directly past us, along to the central aisle it was a rather impressive sight. But what lingers most in the memory - apart from the beauty of the Mass, with the Host and then Chalice raised against that great window with its engraved angels and glorious backdrop of trees and sky, and the great roar of voices making the responses- was the singing. What singing! The last hymn "Hold High the Cross!" was unforgettable.
In the afternoon, a Rosary Walk, led by the Cross, with the clergy in white surplices, along the Holy Mile. The rosehips were ripe on the bushes, and the sky wide and blue with those faint trails of late-summer cloud. At the Anglican shrine where there was a beautiful welcome, and prayer, and we were each blessed with water from the ancient well....the water having been drawn in great buckets which were placed around the wide lawns, and we lined up to recieve the blessing one by one.
Today we saw the Ordinariate as it was meant to be, as a bridge across the divide between Anglicans and Catholics, as a promise of an achieved and achievable unity. A beautiful day.