30 June 2011

The New Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in the USA

A blessing came in the post recently. It was the occasional newsletter of Father James T. Moore, PhD, the founding pastor and pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church (Anglican Use) in Houston, Texas.  I asked Father Moore for permission to reprint his major article and collected prayers from the recent issue of The Vision, and Father Moore kindly agreed.  Immediately below you will see the handsome masthead of his newsletter with an image from the Houston statue of Our Lady of Walsingham as situated in her new niche above the Altar in the shrine.  One should be able to click on the masthead image to see a larger version of it.  I express my heartfelt thanks to Father Moore not only for this but for innumerable kindnesses to me which contributed to my entry into the Catholic Church.

New American Shrine
of Our Lady of Walsingham

By Father James Talmadge Moore, M.Div, Ph.D

This small pamphlet is sent out from time to time as an act of thanksgiving for several recent events: the issuance of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus in 2009, the establishment of the first Ordinariate under that constitution, and the May dedication of the new American Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston. These events are part of the historic Catholic Vision reaching beyond time into eternity.

The new Shrine was dedicated on May 28 by his Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, in the presence of a large gathering of clergy, laity, and religious on the grounds of Houston's Our Lady of Walsingham Church. Along with the present pastor, Father James Ramsey, and others, former pastors Father Bruce Noble and I were very blessed to be con-celebrants with Cardinal DiNardo of the dedicatory Mass. It was a moving occasion, truly a "great day". In the days since, my conviction increases that as part of the Catholic Vision, this new outdoor Shrine, along with the Holy House within a transcept of the church, stands to become a center of devotion not only for Texas but for the whole nation.
Even before the Shrine was dedicated, this view appeared in the blog, Anglican Patrimony, by Father Andrew Bartus, an Anglican priest in Los Angeles planning to enter the Catholic Church through the U.S. Ordinariate when it forms later this year. Upon seeing the virtually completed Shrine during a visit to Houston in mid-May, Father Bartus later wrote on his blog (May 20): I … was instantly struck with an idea: an annual National Pilgrimage to their new Shrine! Similar practices have been started with different degrees of success in the US before, but never have they had the unity that the forthcoming Ordinariate will have. Neither has there been a shrine quite like the one currently being finished in Houston.
...What better way to bring Anglican Ordinariate parishes, clergy, and people together on an annual basis like a National Pilgrimage to a Shrine here in our own country! Not to replace pilgrimages to Norfolk, of course, but it would be wonderful to have a shrine (which) more of our own people could reasonably travel to and one we can call our own! … I can foresee parish trips to Houston as being an amazingly beneficial time of spiritual edification, of worshipping God through our patrimony, and for edifying each other as connections and relationships are made and sustained throughout the US Ordinariate! Father Bartus is right on target. The new Shrine can be beneficial to many people from all walks of life. To a significant extent, this is so because there is a definite "Walsingham message."
Some have difficulty understanding the Catholic view of Mary. The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham is able to help with this. This year marks the 950 anniversary of the events of 1061, when Blessed Mary came to Walsingham, to the Lady Richeldis in Norfolk, England. There, she expressed her wish that a shrine should be built which would emphasize the Annunciation and her motherhood of Jesus in the life of the Holy Family, hence a "holy house" was to be built, about the size of a village house in Nazareth, centuries earlier. This same emphasis of the Annunciation and Jesus' family life with Mary and Joseph, his foster-father and guardian, remains today intrinsic to the purpose of this new American shrine.

Shrines are places of devotion and pilgrimage, but they also teach. To teach the mystery of the Annunciation is to proclaim the central truth about Jesus as the Incarnate God, and to clearly present what the gospel says about the identity and role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in this pivotal event in human history. The Annunciation presents Mary as a faithful daughter of Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. In the Old Testament, Abraham fulfills his role by responding to God in faith and trust. When Mary receives the message of the angel, she, like her ancestor, makes a response in faith and trust: "I am the handmaid of the Lord: let what he wills for me happen." On this response at that moment in human history, the salvation of the world depends. Mary gives her ascent to become the mother of Jesus, "Let it happen." With these words, Mary becomes the meeting point of heaven and earth, the mother of the New Covenant; the mother of salvation; the mother of God; and the mother of the church her Son will found. By her assent, God is made flesh and comes into the world for the salvation of mankind.

Linked with the Annunciation is that event Christians call the Visitation, when according to the Gospel of St. Luke, Mary, following the Annunciation, visits her cousin, Elizabeth, the wife of the Jewish priest, Zechariah, and herself the expectant mother of a child later to be known as "John the Baptist." On this occasion, like a prophet herself, Elizabeth proclaims Mary’s identity as the mother of God. Luke tells us that at Mary’s approach, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and cries out, "Blessed are you Mary among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? When I first heard your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And, blessed is she who heard the word spoken to her from the Lord and believed it would be fulfilled."

Through Mary’s faith and trust in God, the Incarnation becomes fact. And she, as the gateway of the Incarnation’s entrance into history, becomes the first Christian, and mother of all Christians.

Mary’s words to Richeldis in 1061, also contain the request that pilgrims to her shrine be especially reminded of the joy she experienced as the mother of the Holy Family, hence her direction that a small house be constructed. Now, 950 years later, this emphasis is especially crucial. In an age when Satan’s minions are intent on destroying the very concept of family life, the Houston Walsingham Shrine can provide a vision of that loving family where Mary is faithful mother in spite of difficulties, either realized already or, as she was told at the Presentation, are yet to come, a family led by Joseph, who also responded to God in faith by becoming the husband, the protector of Mary and the father-figure and guardian of Jesus. Showing himself to be truly a son of Abraham, when the child’s life is threatened, Joseph takes his family, leaves not only his village, but his very homeland itself for the sake of Jesus’ safety.

Walsingham provides a vision of a family built on love, faith and trust, that which our needs cry out for in this age, an era which seems to declare the very gift of human life itself detrimental to the environment.

Mary’s Walsingham vision will draw our families together and make us stronger even as her prayers move us ever closer to Jesus.
Father James Talmadge Moore

Prayers from the Patrimony
”A precious gift… a treasure to be shared.”
H.H. Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Constitution:
Anglicanorum coetibus, Nov. 4, 2009 anno Domini

A Prayer for Protection Against the Heathen
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, in whose hand is the dominion of all kings and the governance of all kingdoms, look down in mercy and deliver all Christian peoples: that the nations of the heathen, which put their trust in the might of their violence, may be confounded by the strength of thy right hand. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Anglican Missal, 1943; 1961.

A Prayer to the Holy Ghost for the Emerging Ordinariate
O GOD, Holy Ghost, Sanctifier of the faithful, visit, we pray thee, all members of this Ordinariate with thy love and favour; enlighten our minds more and more with the light of the everlasting Gospel; graft in our hearts a love of the truth; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and of thy great mercy keep us in the same, O blessed Spirit, whom, with the Father and the Son together, we worship and glorify as one God, world without end. Amen. 
Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer, 1928

Prayer to Our Lord for a Parish Priest
O HOLY Jesus, who hast purchased to thyself an universal Church, and hast promised to be with the Ministers of Apostolic Succession to the end of the world; Be graciously pleased to bless the ministry and service of him who is now appointed to offer the sacrifices of prayer and praise to thee in this house, which is called by thy Name. May the words of his mouth, and the meditation of his heart, be alway acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen. 
The Book of Common Prayer, 1928

Prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary
O HOLY Mary, help thou the suffering, strengthen the faint-hearted, comfort the sorrowful; pray for the people, plead for the clergy, entreat for all women dedicated to God. 
The Anglican Breviary, 1955

Petition for our Souls
WE sinners do beseech thee to hear us, O Lord God; … That it may please thee to grant that, by the intercession of Blessed Mary ever virgin; Saint John Fisher; Blessed John Henry Newman; and of all thy Saints, we may finally attain to thy heavenly kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord. 
The Book of Divine Worship, 2003

Invocation of St Michael the Archangel
O THOU Prince most glorious, Michael the Archangel, remember us; here and everywhere entreat the Son of God for us. 
The Anglican Breviary, 1955

Father James Talmadge Moore, M.Div., Ph.D
Post Office Box 242
Iola, Texas 77861
+Laus Deo!