On Walsingham Way

by Gerry Lynch last modified 30 Jun, 2017 12:43 PM

Group from Diocese spiritually fed at pilgrimage to famous shrine to Our Lady in Norfolk

A group of pilgrims from the Diocese has spent four nights in a village known as ‘England’s Nazareth’.

The group from the Society of St Willfrid and St Hilda (SSSWH) made their annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham in Norfolk. The group included parishioners of St Paul’s, Weymouth; St Peter’s, Devizes; and St Martin’s, Salisbury. Walsingham is the major pilgrimage places devoted to Our Lady in the in the UK. It has Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox shrines.

A key message the pilgrims took back was to ‘feed the disposition’ – the disposition to love, as God in Christ loves.

The phrase came from an address by Fr Damian Feeney, priest missioner of the Diocese of Lichfield, towards the end of the pilgrimage.

In his three study sessions, Fr Damian drew pilgrims closer to the realisation that mission in the Church happens when Christian people, who have been fed on and by Christ with His Body and Blood, live their lives in whatever and wherever God places them. That, he said, is the secret of a mission-focused Church: to live the life of Christ, proclaiming the Good News that in Him is new life, and that new life is constantly given in the sacraments of the Church.

The first address to pilgrims was given by the Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, and took the form of an exposition of Ephesians 3:14-20. In that passage St. Paul writes, ‘I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith’.

Fr Richard Harper, Vicar of St Paul’s, Weymouth, helped lead the pilgrimage, and said, “At the centre of the Christian faith is the belief that God humbled himself to be born of a woman in a particular place, at a particular time, on a particular day in human history. We call this the Incarnation of Jesus - God with us.

“Walsingham is a Shrine of the Incarnation. The Shrine Church with its Holy House (a reminder of the house at Nazareth in which Jesus grew up) is a focus for devotion. Countless Christian pilgrims have prayed there in the intense atmosphere and the supportive silence.

“To get there we had travel and depart for a while from our daily routine in search of spiritual well-being, greater wholeness and renewed commitment. In this pilgrimage each of us was responding to a personal invitation from God (as Mary did when she said “yes” to God’s request to be the mother of his Son through the angel Gabriel). So we sought Mary’s help to respond to the summons to know God more fully and to make him known.

“Our pilgrimage included celebrations of the Eucharist, taking part in a Liturgy of Healing and Reconciliation led by the Shrine clergy, offering our intercessions and reasons for pilgrimage together, meeting and forming friendships with people from other parishes, Bible study, walking a candlelit procession round the Shrine gardens, chatting in the queue for meals or in the pub and interacting with Fr Damian’s presentations on the Joy of the Gospel not to mention chewing them over afterwards and planning follow up!”

Fr David Fisher, Rector of St Martin’s, Salisbury, reflected on some of the key messages pilgrims took home, saying, “Feed the disposition indeed; with the love of God in Christ given in the Church through his means of grace, the sacraments, and especially the Eucharist in which we meet Christ in His Body and Blood, His actuality, and feed on him in our hearts with thanksgiving.

“The pilgrims returned refreshed and confirmed in the Holy Spirit in the Good News of Christ, to continue to make eucharist in everything that they do.”

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