Monday, August 13, 2012

A Glorious traditional walking pilgrimage... Walsingham. The John Paul II Walking Pilgrimage for the New Evangelisation....a  good crowd, mostly young but with some older people including Auntie, gathered at the ancient ruined abbey in Bury St Edmunds. Ruined by Henry VIII - but on this golden summer evening suddenly alive again as Mass was celebrated there, the sound of voices saying "I confess to Almighty God..." and  singing Kyrie Eleison, and Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus... and the sight of people kneeling on the soft green grass and lining up to recieve Holy Communion. We sang "For all the saints..."   and thought of St Edmund, boy-king and martyr...

The Mass was celebrated by a priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and this seemed especially appropriate as the Ordinariate opens up a new chapter in the long history of Christianity in our land.... the Abbey ruins carry a plaque, placed there in the 19th century,  noting that bishops gathered there to discuss and plan for  Magna Carta, the first part of which insists that "the English Church shall be free..."

 After Mass was over, we gathered in the church hall, and Sister Hyacinthe of the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph, organisers of the Pilgrimage, got us all introducing ourselves and sorting out arrangements for the days ahead.

The Sisters are splendid. There was a good supper waiting for us, and then we trooped into the church for Night Prayer. It's a lovely building - a real piece of Catholic history -  Georgian, with box pews, and we sang the Dominican form of Night Prayer, going turn-and-turn-about with the psalms. Then we settled down for the night in the church hall, which is actually the crypt of the church. Separation sections for men and women were created by sheets hung on a long line down the centre. It was a warm night and I opened the door into the large walled garden and wandered there for a while before tiptoeing back in and snuggling down...we had all brought mats and sleeping-bags and so on.

The next morning saw us gathered again in the church for Monring Prayer, and then setting off for the village of Brandon. Here we had Mass in the Catholic church, concelebrated by our two Ordinariate priests, and with some splendid singing. Then a hearty breakfast provided by volunteers from  the local parish, who also gave us a grand send-off, as we walked out out in a great column, with a banner of Our Lady of Walsingham...

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