For nearly a thousand years the men and women of our country have been comforted and inspired by the message of the Mother of God given here at Walsingham. It is a simple message and the consequence of taking the message to heart transforms lives.
Mary invites us to “Share my Joy in the Annunciation” Pynson Ballad ; that moment in history when “The Word became flesh and lived among us” John 1:14. God walked among his people. As the first disciple, Mary was the witness to the great events of her Son’s life, from his conception to his death and resurrection. At the birth of the Church at Pentecost the Apostles “were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.” Acts 1:14. The Apostles were no longer afraid, for God would be their strength as they faced the future. God’s Mother, who first heard the words of Gabriel “do not be afraid Mary, for nothing is impossible for God” Luke 1:30 stood among them, a gift from their Lord from the Cross –“Son this is your Mother” John 19:26; – a living witness to her Son’s love and compassion for his people. The cause of Mary’s Joy were the events of her Son’s life, and she wishes to share this Joy with us.
As we take God’s Word to heart, Joy will be ever present, for it comes as a consequence of accepting a gift given and this gift never dries up. It is a form of companionship, an inner strength, that gives comfort. It is a presence that is gentle; and as we journey through life it is the reassurance that we are never alone. We rejoice, for we have accepted, and taken to heart that which will never leave us. It enables us to navigate the good and bad times of life with a sure direction and to discover that as we give to others, we find life’s true meaning.
On this day of the Annunciation the Anglican and Catholic communities of the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, wish, once again, to invite the people of our country to share Mary’s Joy and make it their own.
We do that against a background of unprecedented measures to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus. Today, fear and uncertainty about the future is affecting millions of lives around the world and within our own communities and families. We see in Mary one who was not shielded from life’s pain and difficulties. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her soul. This is why we can look to Mary with confidence and trust in times of sorrow and joy, because she has the wisdom of a Mother who knows what we are experiencing, who loves and protects her children, who will always lead us to know the infinite depths of the divine love of Jesus her Son.
Mary will guide us by her life, and protect us by her prayers, leading us to her Son and telling us to “Do whatever he tells you” John 2:5. In these difficult times, this Joy will be our strength for “According to our need , so shall be our strength” St John Henry Newman.
Our Lady of Walsingham Pray for us.
Fr Kevin Smith Monsignor John Armitage
Priest Administrator, Anglican Shrine Rector, Catholic Shrine