June Pilgrimage to Walsingham
On Friday 3 June, nine Companions and Friends travelled from Yorkshire, Lancashire, Aberdeenshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex and Washington DC to join Brother Philip and organiser Geoff for four days of spiritual renewal at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk.
In glorious sunshine we all gathered together at 4.15pm to renew
friendships before making our way to the Shrine Chapel where before the Altar of
the Annunciation we made our “First Visit”. This was followed by Mass and
Evening Prayer. It was wonderful to experience the quiet beauty of the Shrine
Church and to visit the Holy House with an opportunity to light a candle and
pray at the feet of our Blessed Lady Mary. Feeling full of spirituality we made
our way to the refectory for supper where we had a lovely meal and met up with
other friends. No matter when you go to Walsingham, there is always someone you
know there! After supper some went to join the Sisters at the Priory for
Compline, then it was soon time for the obligatory evangelising in the local
hostelry (The Bull). Well, someone has to do it!
Saturday dawned another glorious sunny day, with the opportunity for
7.30am Mass followed by breakfast. Then we met up in the Shrine Church at 10am
for Stations of the Cross, having been joined by Companions from East Anglia.
Praying the Stations of the Cross is always a poignant reminder of why we are
Christians and why we wear a cross on a chain around our neck; it is a daily
reminder that our Heavenly Father sent his only beloved
Son, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, down to earth to suffer and to die
for us, to wash away our sins and offer us an opportunity of eternal happiness.
The Stations at Walsingham are exceptional and, with the glorious grounds and
flowers, make you really feel that you are walking with our Lord Jesus on his
journey to the cross. When you arrive at the three tall wooden crosses on the
hill and fall to your knees to venerate the centre cross you feel the amazing
love and incomparable sacrifice made for us by our Lord Jesus Christ.
came to pay a debt that he did not owe, because I owed a debt that I could not
After lunch, the afternoon was free and as it was such a lovely sunny day
some went shopping and some walked with Brother Philip down to the Slipper
chapel where they were fortunate to enjoy Benediction in Latin in the Roman
Catholic Church. Concelebrated Mass was held at 6pm in the Shrine church; the
church was full and the atmosphere was peaceful and spiritual. After supper, as
dusk fell, we entered the church at 8.15pm to have our candles lit for the
Processions of Our Lady. The image of Our Lady was carried out on a dais
preceded by the Cross bearer and our own Companion Bill from Washington DC, the
thurifer and acolites. We all followed bearing
our torches, singing the Walsingham hymn, raising our torches for the “Ave
Maria”! Nowhere else but at Walsingham can you experience this little touch of
heaven as you walk the snaked path through the gardens. We returned to the
Shrine for the wonderful Ministries of Healing and Reconciliation before the
Blessed Sacrament. It was an evening of emotion and spiritual beauty and I think
I speak for everyone there that we all went to bed full of the Holy Spirit.
Sunday morning the tone was set for the day when, during breakfast, we
were all force fed by mobile phone Fr Nicolas’s sermon from Mirfield by a
Companion who wishes to be anonymous (sorry Kevin!). After breakfast we all met
in the Holy House for intercessions. We had the Holy House to ourselves so it
was wonderful to hear all our petitions brought forward by Brother Philip as we
prayed for our own concerns and for the sick known to us. Then we strolled up to
St Mary’s parish church for 11am Mass, taking the scenic route. We had a
lovely service in a packed church celebrated by the new Bishop of Richborough,
Fr Norman Banks, which gave us a hearty appetite for Sunday lunch, in the
refectory, of roast beef followed by apple pie!
After lunch we said goodbye to our friend from across the pond, Bill from
Washington, with fond hopes of a meeting next year. Time for a brief siesta
before the Sprinkling service at 2.30pm. This is possibly the MOST moving
service held at Walsingham; the Holy Water from the Holy Well is one of the main
reasons for the Shrine being there. I believe that the Holy Spirit is present as
pilgrims go in silence to drink the water and have the sign of the Cross placed
on their foreheads as a remembrance of Baptism. This was followed by the
procession of the Blessed Sacrament, a particular personal favourite. Who can
fail to be filled with spiritual love and joy as the Blessed Sacrament is
brought down inside the spectacular Monstrance with the Holy House at the base
and then to process behind the Priest holding the Monstrance under the amazing
gold brocade parasol? Truly this is an extraordinary spiritual experience
Walsingham pilgrims can enjoy.
On return to the Shrine we experienced Benediction. To sit in the church
and gaze in adoration at the body of our blessed Lord resting in the spectacular
Monstrance surrounded by candles on the High Altar always reminds me of my first
Benediction, which was at Walsingham. The experience moved me to tears and still
does. We left the church in a pensive mood, full of the Holy Spirit and
pondering on the spiritual beauty we had experienced. Supper was at 6.30pm,
after which some went to the Priory for Compline and we all met up for one last
evening together for more evangelising in The Bull!
Sadly, all good things come to an end and Monday morning came with
breakfast followed by our “Last Visit” to the Holy House at 9.30am. As we
said our fond farewells we agreed we had had a fulfilling four days filled with
spiritual companionship. We had prayed together, eaten together, laughed
together and forged good Christian friendships, with plans to meet again next
Many thanks to Brother Philip for putting up with us and to Geoff for
arranging everything so well. The CR pilgrimage next year is Friday 8 June to
Monday 11 June.
Sheila Scowcroft SCL