Walsingham – my home of rest, refreshment and peace.
I made my first journey to Walsingham having been inspired by the words of Pope Francis to go on a pilgrimage. I do not remember his exact words that encouraged me, but I suppose it was enough so much that I now make a commitment to go on a pilgrimage at least once a year.
Adoremus is a weekend pilgrimage which brings together young adults (primarily of Anglo-Catholic tradition) in deepening our faith, enriching our Christian journey and spiritual lives through various teachings. We had nearly 70 young adults in attendance this year and this is the largest number of pilgrims we have ever seen, with it being the first time for many. It is a great joy of mine to see it flourish and to also have pilgrims of mixed Christian backgrounds in attendance. No one year of Adoremus is ever the same – from the theme of the teachings, to the people you encounter and ultimately what you bring to the pilgrimage and receive out of it.
In advance of the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea in 2025, the theme carefully chosen for this year was ‘I believe’. The teachings over the weekend was thus a journey through the Nicene Creed.
The Nicene Creed was formed to condemn the heresy of Arianism which had claimed that Jesus (the second “person” of the Trinity) was lesser to God the Father, and that He was a created being. This was dispelled by the bishops at the Council of Nicaea (325), which affirmed that the Lord Jesus Christ is eternally “consubstantial (homoousios – of one or of the same substance) with the Father”. He is “true God from true God”, “begotten, not made” and Sacred Scripture declares this truth – The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3).
There came another heresy of an Arian view on the nature of the Holy Spirit as being a creature and of a separate substance to God the Father. The bishops of the church convened in the Council of Constantinople (381) to refute this claim and established that the Holy Spirit is a divine “person” of the Trinity, fully God; “the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son”. (2 Cor 3:17; Jon 16:7-11; Titus 3:4-6). From this council came the Creed we have today and it truly reflects the Trinitarian nature of our God. One God who exists eternally and equally in three distinct Persona – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery of the faith we profess. It is unfathomable in many ways – it is His nature to be unfathomable!
To begin the pilgrimage, we make a first visit to the Holy House in the shrine church starting off at the Altar of the Annunciation. Here we listen to the story of the annunciation from Luke’s gospel and in listening to this, one is simply drawn to reflect on the Blessed Virgin’s courageous ‘Yes’ to God, to become the mother of Jesus “…Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” We bring our intentions, petitions in lighting candles, and ask for the help of Our Lady to join us in our prayers to be drawn into greater obedience to God on this life’s pilgrim journey, following her example.
During the course of the weekend, we have the opportunity to receive the gifts of the Sacraments of the Church. Our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar is adored through the night with a gaze of hope and of our nothingness. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered and also healing ministries through the laying on of hands, anointing with holy oil, sprinkling at the well. In these moments, there is pure sense of wonder of God…“Open the door for Me to enter into your heart in adoration; Come, you who are thirsty, take the water of life which I give freely; Receive the healing and grace I give!” It is as though He is calling each and every one of us at every turn in the shrine church to be drawn closer to Him – which He truly is…He wills for our good…He is Love itself.
The afternoon on the Saturday is generally free. Should you wish to stay on the grounds of the shrine for a quite reflection independently, you are welcome to. There is also a visit to the Roman Catholic shrine (the Slipper chapel) – the rosary is prayed on the journey as pilgrims walk and pray on the path that many have trod, pondering the mysteries of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary. Some pilgrims walk the penitential Holy Mile back to the Anglican shrine barefoot, joyfully. Other pilgrims make an afternoon trip to neighbouring towns of Walsingham to sightsee/to the seaside or you can choose to do nothing – there is joy in that too. Ultimately, no one is ‘left behind’.
The timings for Adoremus is such that the Sunday of the weekend always coincides with the Feast of Christ the King. We join the local Parish church for Mass in celebrating the glorious feast of our Lord in our numbers. I always feel a resounding joy and envisage the choirs of Heaven joining us in singing praises and adoration to our Lord during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament – it is truly a sight to behold! My heart is set aflame in great confidence as our pilgrimage draws to a close, to go and proclaim the truth of the gospel.
We make a final visit to the Holy House bidding Our Lady “farewell” with hymns of prayer and of hope – there are always a few tears here and there. Our prayer candles continue to burn in the shrine church and we ask Our Lady to pray for us, as we return to our daily lives to be transformed through the graces of what we have received on the pilgrimage and to grow in the likeness of our Lord.
The Nicene Creed
These are words which will be very familiar to many of us as we recite them at Mass in the profession of our faith. But, we must not overlook the essence of the words – they are also deeply rooted in Sacred Scripture.
__I believe in one God, (Deut 6:4; Mark 12:29; Col 1:16)
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, (Jn 1:14; 3:18; Heb 1:3)
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man. (Mt 1:18-25; Lk 1:35)
By the free will of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, she bore the Word made flesh.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end. (Heb 9:28)
The Ascension – the fulfilment of the salvation story. We can have confidence that where He has gone, we too can follow.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, (Jn 14:26; 2 Cor 3:6)
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
The Holy Spirit is a “person” of the Trinity we can encounter through these characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit. “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Gal 5:22-23)
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. (Rom 12:5; Eph 5:25-27)
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen. (Acts 2:38; Jude 1:21; Jn 5:29)
We believe in the oneness of the Church, which is Christ’s body and Christ cannot be divided. The Church is Holy not in her own right, but only through the salvific grace of God. It is founded on the faith and the teaching of the apostles. The Church is throughout time – the Church Militant, Church Expectant and Church Triumphant!
May you ponder on the words of the Creed at each and every Mass with great devotion of believe not just a mere recitation. __
I believe there are many more young adults who will find the Adoremus pilgrimage worthwhile but may not have heard of it. It is my encouragement to my fellow pilgrims who have been, to share it far and wide. There is good community of friendship that is formed out of the pilgrimage and I would imagine young people in parishes (particularly Anglo-Catholic) who may find themselves as the sole “youth” in their congregation would benefit from being part of this wonderful community. I, for one, came to know about Adoremus through my previous parish priest, Fr. Philip Corbett, to whom I am always grateful. So Dear Clergy, in supporting and nurturing the young adults of your parishes, please make them aware of Adoremus – wherever they are in their faith journey, they are welcomed here in Walsingham.
And to our fantastic leaders/organisers who work tirelessly to run this pilgrimage, thank you!
Fellow pilgrims, through the merits and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are called into God’s family and have become His sons and daughters. As His children, He delights in us! Draw near to Him, with the only appropriate response: ‘I believe’ and strive to do His will for the expectant glory that is to come.
All glory and praise be to our One True God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Parishioner of St Stephen’s Church, Lewisham.
Advocate of the Catholic faith in the life of the Church of England.
To view the photo gallery from 2023 please click here