Mark and Paul send holiday greetings from the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham on Ash Wednesday:
I was very pleased that we had finally arranged our week away and despite our original intentions to head off towards the sun shine I was particularly pleased that we settled on a week away in Orford Suffolk as it is a place we both love. Once it was all arranged it dawned on me that I would be away for the beginning of Lent and would miss the Ash Wednesday service, I was disappointed however it wasn’t long before I realised that we could probably head up into Norfolk for the day to visit Our Lady’s shrine at Walsingham so it was that we left our little Orford cottage for the sunny 2 hour drive through the Suffolk and Norfolk countryside.
Arriving in Walsingham half an hour before the 11am Mass we found the place almost deserted but the stillness and accompanying sun shine made it feel more holy than I ever imagined it would.
Mass itself was beautiful, of course the Blessed Sacrament was at the heart of the occasion but the imposition of ashes was moving. I personally took inspiration from and was spiritually nourished by the tenor cantoring the Psalms. We sat near the back of church and at the end of Mass suddenly found ourselves face to face with the majority of the congregation who had turned on their heels towards our Blessed Lady’s statue for the Angelus, we quickly did the same!
It was a sombre but joyous occasion; the Priest began his homily with a joke which he said was for the broad minded;
A woman in confession asks the Priest for absolution for most grievous sin; “I’ve fallen on terribly hard times Father, I have no money for food or heating for my children and I’m afraid I’ve turned to the oldest profession”. Father does not judge, gives the woman the wisdom of his advice, absolves her of her sin and gives her her penance.
A few months later the Priest is walking down the road when a spanking new car pulls up, the window winds down and a woman shouts “Father”. Peering into the car the Priest sees the woman from the confessional a few months earlier. “My child” says he, “I thought you had no money?” “Oh Father it’s all thanks to you” says she; seeing his puzzled look she goes on “you see Father, at the end of confession you told me to go off and do the stations so I did just that and have never looked back”.
Paul & MarkAnd here is a collection of ‘views’ of the parish pilgrimage to Walsingham last year.