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United Kingdom

Monday--Au Revoir Walsingham

Hello London!

semi-overcast 55 °F

Monday: I attended the early (0730) Mass, which was simple, and done according to the Roman Missal (3rd translation); an elderly priest was the celebrant. Then it was to do final packing and hit the road.

My pocket camera had broken. Foolishly, I had it in the same pocket as some other things, and I bent the lens cover. I had contemplated going to the site of Downton Abbey, but that was three hours west of London (and I was about 2 hours East of London); and their tickets were all booked through September anyway. So that will have to wait for another trip to Jolly Ol’.

I found a camera shop in Norwich, on my way to London, where they fixed the camera. Then it was to Julian’s Shrine (Dame Julian of Norwich, the 14th century anchoress and mystic), and a quick tour of the Cathedral. I was last here with Fr Tony Noble and his pilgrims in 2007. It was good to return to these familiar sites, if only briefly.

Then it back into the Golf, and the motorway to London. I checked back into the Union Jack Club, went to their convivial bar, had a dinner of a club sandwich, then went to pack.

Hmmmmm. I notice a pattern here: pack/unpack; pack/unpack.

I’m glad to be seeing all I’m seeing, but am glad I had a complete fortnight in one place at the beginning of these journeys.

Posted by stbrides 09:44 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Sunday in Walsingham

Mass at the Village Church, Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding, and a Last Visit/Farewell to the Virgin of the Holy House


Sunday: Mass at the Parish Church at 1100 for Pentecost Sunday; so in comparison to the other days of the week, it was a late start (NOT my usual Sunday morning!). It was a packed Church. The liturgy was what we would call Rite II from the English Book of Common Worship, and it was a mostly full Church.

In contrast to the liturgies of the Shrine, the Parish Church seemed simply High Church; certainly not spiky. But my priest colleagues tell me that this is perhaps how most Anglo-Catholic parishes would be like on a Sunday morning.

The Church itself is beautiful, light and airy. About 50 years ago, it caught alight and ruined; when it was rebuilt the stained glass was not replaced, but plain glass was put in; not as dark, Victorian gloomy as previously.

It all had a very comfortable Sunday Morning Mass feeling to it; though few people receive kneeling here in the UK. I had a chance meeting with Stephen Parkinson, retired director of Forward in Faith. We had first met when I was in London for the 150th anniversary of the SSC in 2005. Fr Warren Tanghe (known to us at S. Bride’s) had introduced me. We had a good chat, and commented on his love of Paris and gave me some pointers. In retirement, he and his wife have bought a house in the Village; which seems to me to be a splendid retirement.

After Mass several clergy and staff had drinks (sherry) in the Administrator’s Cottage in the College, and then it was off to the Refectory for a Sunday dinner of beef roast and Yorkshire pudding. This was so filling (and late, about 1.30PM) that I wasn’t hungry for supper.

In the mid afternoon came the last visit to the Holy House, beginning with devotions and a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament. It was bittersweet, and the closing hymn certainly summed my feelings: that, as much as one would like to stay forever at the Shrine, Jesus calls us to the strife and struggle of daily life. Our times of healing and refreshment are not an end in themselves: they are to strengthen us for better service to our Saviour.

It was time to pack; reluctantly. God had spoken to me here, but he was asking ME questions. Usually I’m the one asking the questions. It will take me time to come to some resolution on these.

Posted by stbrides 02:21 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Saturday in Walsingham--18 May 2013

Sandringham Estate & a new crowd of Pilgrims

overcast 49 °F

Saturday I went to the early Mass. Another load of Pilgrims were arriving. Having a car and having stayed in on Friday, I went for a drive to the Sandringham Estates; the Norfolk personal residence of Queen Elizabeth. It a beautiful house, of course, but the grounds are spectacular.


I visited first the Sandringham Church: S. Mary Magdalene. This is where the Queen and other royals attend Sunday Church, but where many local people in the area also attend. The Queen and family are generally here during the month of July, and of course, everyone in the family comes at Christmas and Easter, practically filling the Church.

This Church is best known for all the silver: the Altar is solid silver, just one ounce shy of being a ton, and a gift of Wanamaker, of Philadelphia department store fame. The processional cross is likewise sterling, commemorating the Great War, when 150 of the village lads went off to war and none returned.

The house is open for tours, but when the Queen wishes to visit, things are put back into place, and it is transformed from a tourist display to a family home once more.

In the evening, I participated in the Pilgrims’ Healing Liturgies; concelebrating Mass and hearing confessions. After, I chatted in the cottage with Fr Robert, an English SSC priest whom I knew from online chats, but had never met in person. Of course, we talked until way late, and solved all the problems of the Church.

Posted by stbrides 02:21 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Friday in Walsingham

Time in the Holy House; Village wandering; Institution of new Vicar @ the Village Church

rain 49 °F

Friday was a stay around the Shrine sort of day. Thursday’s weather of sun and almost warmth was replaced by overcast skies and chill, and by late afternoon it would be raining steadily. I spent significant time in the Holy House with the image of Mary, Mother of God, before me, and tried to listen to God’s voice.

Much of this time of renewal has been travel and sightseeing; not unlike any other tourist, I suppose. To be a pilgrim, as I am, doesn’t exclude some of the touristy aspects of travel; think of Canterbury Tales!

And, thankfully, there have been moments of God bursting in: High Mass at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin with a wonderful choir; Ascension Day Mass at S. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin where it was only us three priests at ‘Holy Communion’, but which was quiet and meditative; the sad wonder of wandering through S. Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare with it’s stark simplicity and apparent neglect (the Holy Virgin of Kildare seems more venerated almost everywhere else but Kildare; certainly at S. Bride’s).

But it was at Walsingham where all my pondering, questions, and seeking after God came to a head. As I said in a prior post, God can be encountered anywhere; He is God, after all. He is not limited to shrines or place. But I always find God at Walsingham; or, perhaps better, He finds me. In the beauty and grandeur of this holy place, I experience His presence in a way that strips away all my pretense and lays my soul bare, and I sense myself being healed even when I didn’t realise I was broken and in need of healing.

I didn’t spend all my time in the Shrine Church, of course. I wandered round the village, which as they say is ‘quaint’ and which seems as though one has walked through a time warp, and found oneself transported to the 13th century … except for the cars charging up the High Street.

Friday night was the Institution and Induction of Fr Andrew as the new Vicar of the Parish Church of S. Mary the Virgin. I walked through the village and found a good seat, and the Church was packed. This was a Village and civic event, as well as a religious one. No separation of Church and State here. The Bishop of Norwich was there to Institute, the Patrons of the Living (benefactors of the parish) rose to speak in favour, and so on. The Archdeacon did the Induction. It was a bit familiar, where water for baptism is presented, etc., but with very proper Anglican ceremonial.

The Parish Hall is located about a five minute walk, up on the High Street, and a party was given after the Institution. After a few minutes, it was absolutely jammed with people, and more people were crowding in (free drinks and food after all!), so I went outside into the rain, and walked home to S. Hugh’s cottage, where the heat was on once again on this cold and rainy May evening.

Posted by stbrides 06:47 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Thursday in Walsingham

The sun came out, and I took a drive in the country

sunny 58 °F

Today the weather warmed up considerably, and the sun came out. I started the day with Fr Stephen, a parish priest who was on the first floor of S. Hugh’s cottage, and who was bringing his parishioners on pilgrimage. It was in the Chapel of the Guild of All Souls.

After Mass and breakfast, I went for a drive in the country. I had heard there was an American Air Force Base next to RAF Lakenheath, about 45 miles away. Every time I would mention Walsingham to military colleagues, they would say, Oh, there’s an American air base right there. So I decided to drive there.

It was a beautiful drive in the country, mostly on two lane roads. This area of East Anglia is heavily agricultural, and it is the only area in the UK without a Motorway (superhighway/interstate). So it was a lovely drive indeed.

I arrived, drove around, and was a bit surprised at how small the base actually is. I found my way to the chapel and popped in. As it turns out, an Orthodox priest, Fr Stephen Close, was in the office, and graciously agreed to chat for a few moments. After, I went to the Base Club to ravage the salad bar for lunch.

I went over to the Base Exchange, as I do whenever I’m at a base, to pick up a soft drink and some batteries. As it turns out, military personnel not stationed there are not permitted to purchase anything in the Exchange. So I hit the road for home, again enjoying the warm and sunny day (the first since arrival here), with the window down and listening to BBC3 (classical music) as I wound my way home to S. Hugh’s Cottage at the Shrine.

Posted by stbrides 22:38 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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