Ocean to Ocean Visitation of the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in defence of Life, Family & Marriage - Day 2 & 3
Day two in Walsingham - A small band of faithful pilgrims were up early to walk the Holy Mile in a Silent Procession to make reparation for all sins against life. We began from the Holy Souls Chapel at the Anglican Shrine and walked along the Pilgrim’s Way through the fields the Chapel of Our Lady of Reconciliation where we had Morning Prayer in front of the revered Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa. This was followed by a short break and the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary in Reparation for all sins of abuse against children and babies - sexual, physical, mental and emotional.
Edmund Adamus, Director of the Centre for Marriage & Family in Westminster Diocese then spoke movingly on - “One Man, One Woman” - demonstrating and opening up for us the beauty of the Creator’s plan for the complementarity of the sexes and the particular grace of of its expression in monogamous and faithful love through the marriage of man and woman open to full expression of love, fertility and pro creation.
Silent Preparation for Holy Mass followed with the opportunity for continued prayer and veneration before Our Lady’s Icon and availability of the Sacrament of Confession.
Large numbers from the Polish Mission in both Peterborough and Ipswich joined us for Mass and Fr. Cezary Kraczkowski preached movingly in both Polish and English upon the history, story and importance of the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa for the Polish people and Nation. Fr. Cezary’s words were deeply moving, and touched by a personal and intimate love of his Lady of Czestochowa, of whom he was speaking! The Mass was enhanced by the setting of the Missa dei Angelis amidst the dearly loved traditional hymns so loved by the faithful. The Polish people before the final blessing ...sang some of the traditional Marian anthems of Poland. This was followed by Fr. Williams, the Shrine Director and Celebrant leading the congregation in the solemn Act of Entrustment of the Protection of the Civilization of Life and Love into the hands of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. The singing of the ‘Lament for the Unborn’ by Graham Kendrick ... ‘ Who can Sound the Depths of Sorrow in the Father Heart of God’ left very few people without tears.
After a short lunch break the Polish Pilgrims led us in the Rosary and more traditional anthems and hymns in honour of Our Blessed Lady of Czestochowa. A jointly led Chaplet of Mercy followed prayed in both English and Polish.
Dr. Gerard O’Shea, Senior Lecturer at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage & Family in Melbourne, Australia spoke inspiringly on “The Role of Parents in forming the Moral Conscience of their Children”. Dr. O’Shea spoke in a tender and compassionate way of the great delicacy with which parents need to be aware of the different developmental sensitivities in the physical, moral, sexual and spiritual spheres of the development of their babies, children and teenagers. Parents and grandparents listened riveted at Dr. O’Shea’s passionate and moving address. Many have since purchased Dr. O’Shea’s new catechetical Resource for helping parents form their own children in a well integrated sexuality according to the mind of the Church.
The Russian Orthodox Community in Walsingham led by their priest Archpriest Philip then led us all in ‘The Paraclesis’ - the Traditional Orthodox Canon of Supplication to the Mother of God. this was well attended by local Catholics, Anglicans and Orthodox alike. The Chapel of Our Lady of Reconciliation became for 1.5 hours an oasis of of deep silence and contemplation as we were led in the beautiful plain chant singing of the Paraclesis. The tradition in the Orthodox tradition is that people stand during these long prayers of supplication and those present who could stand throughout did. The Paraclesis ended with Archpriest Philip again leading us in solemn individual veneration of the Icon which ended with each pilgrim being blessed by Archpriest Philip with holy oil.
At the end of this beautiful Orthodox Service of veneration we all felt we had experienced some of the contemplative beauty which perhaps awaits us when in God’s time when there is a reunion of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. We experienced a foretaste of the vision and prayer of Blessed Pope John Paul II ...that one day the Church will breath with her two lungs. We continue to pray for this grace of true unity in Christ’s Church.
Anthony Ozimiz, the Communications Manager for S.P.U.C. - Society for the Protection of Unborn Children later spoke on “Defending Marriage is defending Unborn Children”. He spoke clearly on why it is necessary for us to support and defend Marriage as the foundation of the Family and Society, and as the very best security for bringing children into the world. It was an impassioned plea to do all we can to defend Marriage as the Institution which has served peoples of every nation, religion and culture since the beginning of time. Anthony Ozimiz clearly expounded the dangers and attacks on marriage in our time and demonstrated why S.P.U.C. sees its upholding as also a protection for the Unborn child. A plea which surely needs to be heard in every Catholic and Christian Church throughout the UK.
Our second day with Our Lady of Czestochowa ended with a Eucharistic Vigil of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 8pm to 11pm led by Fr. Sam Medley and Antonia. A time of silence, gentle song, adoration, prayer of reparation and intercession for all sins against Life, Family and Marriage. Specific Reparation was made for the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act. The Vigil ended with a Eucharistic Healing Service, Chaplet of Mercy and Benediction.
Day three in Walsingham - Feast of the Lateran Basilica began with a silent Procession of Reparation beginning from the Holy souls Chapel in the Anglican Shrine with the intention of reparation for all sins against Life. On arrival in the Chapel of Our Lady of Reconciliation we prayed Morning Prayer of the Church.
This was followed by our final talk by Fr. Sam Medley S.O.L.T - “O Lord, I Love you more than Myself - The Clash of Contraception and an Authentic Christian Culture.” For the first time ever most of us present heard a passionate and clear exposition of the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception and why it is the moral evil which is at the very root of the culture of death and the abortion industry. Fr. Sam spoke passionately of the prophetic document Human Vitae which has been so wantonly disregarded by catholics around the world and the high price they and the church has paid because of it. Fr. Sam spoke with great love and respect of beloved Pope Paul VI - great prophet of Life - and lamented - O if only we had listened!? Those present were glued to their seats - for we truly had a prophet present in our midst. And the TRUTH will set us free! Fr. Sam spoke with great eloquence, passion and at times we heard the sorrowful anger of God speak through him ... Oh what suffering, oh what tragedy and all because we as the faithful of the Church could not accept Humana Vitae. Yet we also heard through Fr. Sam the compassion, tenderness and mercy of God expressed. This moved me deeply for I felt the love and sensitivity of our Father God who knows only so well our moral failings and how wounded we all are when it comes to our emotional and sexual lives. I felt enfolded in Divine Mercy as Fr. Sam preached.
All present then prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet - people knelt around the sanctuary in a final embrace of prayer of Our Blessed Lord and his Holy Mother and then it was time to prepare for the fond farewell and pray Our Lady on her way to St. Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham.
The bearers came forward dressed in blue to carry the Icon to the life Mobile outside. I had the privilege of carrying the flower display which were were to send with Our Lady to Birmingham. The Organist played a fanfare of Marian Hymns and Organ voluntary to give Our Lady a great send off. The clergy and faithful followed her out to the Life Mobile and we fondly waved her off with gentle aves.
We then returned to pray the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in thanksgiving and intercession for a safe journey. Solemn Mass of the Feast of the Lateran Basilica followed where we deeply prayed for the intentions of Holy Church, for Life and for our beloved Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. Fr. Sam Medley preached a powerful and passionate sermon exhorting us all to stay faithful to the ROCK of Peter and to all the teachings of the Church. Again it was an impassioned plea that during this ‘Year of Faith’ that we Catholics should deepen our faith by ever deeper reading of the scriptures, catechism and the documents of Vatican II. In particular he said it was our duty as Catholics to know the moral and social teachings of the Church so that when called upon to speak up in defence of TRUTH that we would be prepared.
Our Mass ended with the powerful singing of the hymn - God Bless our Pope, the Great the Good.
And so ended the great triduum of prayer of Retreat and Cenacle with Our Lady of Czestochowa in defence of Life, Family and Marriage. Praise the Lord. Ave Maria.
Antonia Moffat - Organiser of the Retreat in Walsingham
around the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa November 7/8/9 2012