In the first of our masses in the Shrine church Fr Ian told us of a Central American Catholic practice of a voice calling out the name of a saint, or recent martyr of the church, as in a litany of saints, and the people replying “Presente!”
The people’s response is ambivalent. It is a call to the saint to be present among them, ‘be present’, but it is also a recognition that heaven and earth are intermingled and the saint is present in worship. It is also a recognition that God can bring the past and the present together in a moment of time. Fr Ian concluded his talk by calling on Our Lady in our gathering, using the first name her parents may well have used: ‘Mariam of Nazareth’ Presente!
So on our pilgrimage we have been close to Mary and the saints and called to this holy place where pilgrims have come for centuries. We gathered today to say our farewells at the Holy House, before we boarded the coach.
We were a mixed group in many ways – in age, ranging from 4 to over 80, in origins and ethnicity- people from Jamaica, Uganda and England, we were people of differing christian outlooks, viewing Walsingham in different ways – as well as Anglicans, we had a URC minister, a baptist, a methodist … Our prayer, our worship, our eating together, our conversations and our fun have strengthened us as a community and enriched us spiritually. We left feeling blessed.
In the homeliness, mystery, joys and frustrations of Walsingham our pilgrimage and in our whole lives:
Saints and holy ones of God, Presente!
Mariam of Nazareth, Presente!