Monday, 26 November 2012

Next Event


There will be Carol Singing on Sunday 9 Dec at 4pm in Washington, plus a visit from St Nicholas. If you are coming, please bring some food to share, a lantern or torch, some warm clothes, and your best singing voice! If you do not have the details please request them by emailing paul@hammond.me

Monday, 19 November 2012

In new hands!

Today we officially handed over the running of Holy Family Guild to a young couple with two young children. As grandparents now, it is time! It is also important that young Catholic families work together to share their faith and most importantly keep their children in the faith in this world, which is at odds with much that we hold as true, beautiful and good. We will continue to join in the group’s activities as long as we are able and above all pray for the growth and fidelity of Holy Family Guild in the years to come. We thank members for their supportive messages and for the generous spiritual bouquet presented to us. We treasure all our memories of family days going back more than twenty years and know our little group (and this blog!) is in good hands.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Holy Family Guild celebrates Halloween the Catholic Way

More than 50 people attended this years Holy Family Guild All Saints Bonfire and BBQ. I blogged about the thinking behind this last year. Briefly, we provide an alternative for Catholic families to the pagan and often gruesome takeover of All Hallows Eve and the symbolic burning of a Catholic at Guy Fawkes! Instead children and adults dress up as saints and, at our parade, share something about those saints with one another. This year we had a great selection which included Theodore the General, Blessed Karl of Austria, Emperor and King, St Juliana, twin martyrs, Gervaise and Protaise, all the Archangels!, old favourites, St George, St Joseph, St Paul, the children of Fatima and Our Lady, Queen of Heaven. Also included were two of the saints canonised in October this year; St Kateri Tekakwitha, the first American Indian saint (in fact two of those!) and St Anna Schaeffer, a German laywoman.
After the parade of saints we had benediction, a talk on the current threat to marriage, for adults, while young children heard the story of St Dominic Savio. This was followed by a candlelit procession to the grotto where families remembered the Holy Souls especially the deceased from their own families. Father Gary Dickson who had welcomed us to his parish in Durham led the prayers and blessed the bonfire before it was lit. Following this, families enjoyed fireworks, mulled wine, hamburgers and sausages. there was also pumpkin pie and chocolate.











Thanks go to everyone who came and shared the fun and the prayers and also to Father Dickson and his many parishoners who supported the event.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Two more special places

Still recounting our summer holiday break in Spain and then by car back to the UK via France, there are still two places which need a mention. Both are special to our family. The first, as we had stopped for 3 days in the Loire Valley, is Tours and its tomb of Saint Martin, after whom our youngest child is named. Martin of Tours lived between 316 and 397. The most famous story tells that while Martin was still a soldier in the Roman army and deployed in Gaul (modern day France), he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life. One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens he met a  beggar.  He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me."  The dream confirmed Martin in his piety, and he was baptized at the age of 18. He served in the military for another two years until in 336, Martin determined that his faith prohibited him from fighting, saying, "I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight." He was charged with cowardice and jailed, but in response to the charge, he volunteered to go unarmed to the front of the troops. His superiors planned to take him up on the offer, but before they could, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service


He became a Bishop of Tours whose shrine became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims  on the road to Santiago de Compostela. How could we not stop to pray at the present day basilica, rebuilt following the rediscovery of Martin's tomb in 1860 and consecrated in 1925?
The other place and the last on our summer journey, was Chartres near Paris in France. We had never been here before and yet all of our children have visted this place on numerous occasions. They have come here at the end of the annual Pentecost Pilgrimage from Notre Dame at Paris to Notre Dame at Chartres. It is a gruelling walk spread over 3 days with Mass in the Extraordinary Form each day culminating in a Solemn High Mass in the Cathedral itself. Although older people do take part it is peopled predominantly by the young from all over the world. My husband and I made a conscious decision that we would let our children make this pilgrimage without their parents, so making their faith their own. We are delighted that they have sought to return time after time and we believe it has played a big part in ensuring that they all still practice their faith. However now it was time for us to thank Our Lady of Chartres for guiding and spiritually mothering our children over those years. We were not disappoited! The interior of Chartres Cathedral and especially its wonderful stained glass is a glory to behold. We were blessed with the opportunity to attend Mass there on the Feast of the Assumption. We then had a personal guided tour from a friend of friends and were also able to venerate Our Lady's Veil, worn by her at the Birth of Christ.




Our Lady of Chartres, Pray for us

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Our daughter's very long walk

I am acutely aware that the last time I posted about our daughter's Camino Pilgrimage she was 19kms away! she did arrive and has written this for HFG readers:-

Walking the way...

Its hard to imagine when embarking on a 950 kilometre pilgrimage what it will be like. Reflecting back on 38 days of walking, reflection, prayer and conversation it in some ways feels like it never happened and in other ways it changed me for good.

 

Each day brought with it it's physical, mental and spiritual challenges. Physically it is the relentless nature of the walking that finally takes it's toll. Each day the distance covered, 25k on average, doesn't seem so much  but over the 5 and a half weeks, feet, knees, backs, hips, arms, everything infact does start to grumble! The terrain and weather add to the unpredictable nature of the Camino with cold nights, hot days, storms, mountain ranges to cross and days on end of long flat roads which seem to never end!

 

Just simply dealing with the every day of the Way meant waking up at 5am to beat the heat, being able to think at least one meal in advance, packing up and sleeping in a new place each night which I soon realised meant having to offer up many of our usual daily concerns and simply trust to providence that all would be well. For us in our modern and convenient world this is a difficult lesson to learn.

 

The other pilgrims truly make the Camino what it is and that is why each person will have such a different experience. There is a real sense of community with people sharing the little they have. It was common to cook and eat with other pilgrims sharing tales of what had happened that day. The same faces start to pop up over and over again so friendships are formed and this is what really carried me through. There were days when I could be the person offering encouragement and a listening ear but there were many days when I was greatly in need of this from others.

 

The opportunity to grow in faith is incredible. I managed to get to Mass most days, confession in English was harder to find but opportunities did present themselves. Walking for hours lost in thought means there is ample time for prayer and self reflection which can be quite confronting to have so much time to think through life and the decisions that have been made along the way. Many people go through a myriad of emotions and are facing their past for the first time. It was not a surprise that all the priests and religious we saw were always surrounded by hoards of pilgrims wanting to talk to them and receive help, guidance and love.

 

Arriving into Santiago was wonderful, I had a few tears when I got to the square and when I got to the tomb of St James away from the chaos that was the cathedral above, I realised what an incredible priviledge it was to have walked this ancient Camino route that so many have walked before. Our 'hardships' were nothing compared to those early pilgrims who literally risked their lives to get to Santiago and having struggled so much myself I am in awe of what they managed to do.

 

The camino continues even once it is long finished. The lessons learned do stay with with me and our prayers are being answered. I would encourage anyone to do the camino. There is no one too old, too sick, too unfit. We met many retired people walking, some had walked from Rome, Holland and France. We met people walking with chronic illnesses and many people who were at a major crossroad in their life. If this is an experience you would like to have don't let anything get in your way, the rewards are very great! 

Travelling home through France


It could be said we stumbled upon Rocamadour in that while exploring the route home online, I chanced to find this place which seemed worthy of a visit. We were unaware that we would get Mass there and more than that discover a thriving Catholic community in the heart of France. This might sound strange to many as France abounds with churches and Roman catholicism was preserved as the official state religion unlike during the  Reformation in England. However it did have a Revolution and the effects of that can be seen and felt as one travels from town and village church to another. Yes, Mass can be found in some but they are often run down and sad looking. No monetary help from the state and falling populations and congregations has taken its toll. However we loved Rocamadour, set in a gorge above a tributary of the River Dordogne. It's sanctuary of the Blessed virgin Mary has attracted pilgrims from every country.
The town below the complex of monastic buildings and pilgrimage churches was traditionally dependent on the pilgrimage site and now on the tourist trade.


 The buildings of Rocamadour  rise in stages up the side of a cliff. It is spectacular! Flights of steps ascend from the lower town to the churches. The chief of them is the pilgrimage church of Notre Dame (rebuilt  from 1479) which contains a wooden Black Madonna reputed to have been carved by Saint Amadour himself. He is identified with the Zaccheus in the Gospel story. The small Benedictine community reserves to itself the use of the small twelfth-century church of Saint-Michael. it was pleasing to find daily adoration and Mass attended by pilgrim groups and individuals.  The subterranean church of St Amadour (1166) contains relics of the saint. On the summit of the cliff stands the château built in the Middle Ages to defend the sanctuaries.
We prayed for all the families and individual members of the Holy Family Guild here.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A Day trip to Zaragoza


 
Since our youngest son was leaving Spain before us and flying from Zaragoza, a place we had never visited, we decided to be generous parents and ferry him by car for his 7 pm flight. In order to combine a visit we left Torreciudad early and made straight for the centre of the town with the help of our newly purchased Tom Tom (which had been less than helpful thus far!) No problems this time. The voice of 'Kate' took us directly to the large underground car park below the central square where the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar is located. Reputedly the first church in history dedicated to Mary and built by St James following her only apparition prior to her Assumption

According to ancient local tradition, soon after the crucifixion and resurrection ofJesus, Saint James was preaching the Gospel in Spain, but was disheartened because of the failure of his mission. Tradition holds that on 2 January 40 AD while he was deep in prayer by the banks of the Ebro, the Mother of God appeared to him and gave him a small wooden statue of herself and a column of jasper and instructed him to build a church in her honour:

“This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build.”

The present church in Baroque style was begun in 1681 by Charles II, King of Spain and completed in 1686.

We thought the main square was impressive and its modern and ancient architecture combined beautifully.

We also had time to visit the Aljaferia Palace, an 11th century Arab palace built as a place of recreation and defence. We also enjoyed lunch in a small restaurant poular with the locals (always a good sign!) before saying goodbye to our youngest son and heading back through a torrential rainstorm to 'our place in Spain'
We hope to visit Zaragoza again as we felt we had merely scratched its surface.

Our Lady of the Pillar. Pray for us 


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Renewing vows and celebrating marriage

I joined a young couple today as they marked their 10th Wedding Anniversary with a celebration. In church they renewed their vows, gave thanks for their growing family and prayed for the years ahead. Their two families came together to support them and share their memories of the past 10 years. Food, drinks and sunshine helped make the day special.
It is good to see solid  marriages celebrated in this way, especially in today's world where we see its true meaning undermined. That this couple included God in their marriage from day one and again in the renewal of their vows today, ensures that they do not journey alone. God will be with them in their joys and sorrows, pleasures and hardships until they reach their eternal goal.
It was also good to see two of our HFG families joining their celebration. Other families will have been at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland today for the annual Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form. It is a wonderful setting and the music and singing are always worthy of the occasion. It has been gloriously sunny and warm today which means that families will have lingered with their picnics. Both events seem fitting ways to also mark the Feast of Our Lady's Nativity.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Blessed Martyrs of Barbastro - Pray for us

Barbastro is the Spanish town nearest the Shrine at Torreciudad  and the birthplace of St Josemaria Escriva. In 1936 an Anarchist mob brutally disrupted life among the  Claretian Missionaries (an order founded by St Anthony Mary Claret) Between August 10th - 15th 51 priests and young seminarians were martyred here. The mob, which took them in small groups outside the town and executed them by firing squad, cried "We hate your profession, your black cassocks" and "Death to the priests and destruction to religion" They had tried to persuade these young men to renounce their Catholic faith yet not only did they stand firm in their resolve, they went to their deaths in so courageous a manner as to inspire us all in our faith.
Their remains are housed in the crypt of the church in Barbastro, each one identified by the name tag on their cassocks. A small museum tells the story of their last days on earth and most moving are their last messages written to family and friends on chocolate bar wrappers, handkerchiefs and even underneath the piano stool:-
"They are killing us out of hatred for religion. Domine, dimitte illis! (Father, forgive them!). In our house, we offered no resistance. In jail, our conduct was above reproach. Long live the Immaculate Heart of Mary! They are going to shoot us only for being religious. No ploreu per mi. Soc martir de Jesucrist (Don't cry for me, I am a martyr of Jesus Christ)." (Salvador Pigem, C.M.F.)
"Mama, don't cry. Jesus is asking me for my blood; I am going to shed it out of love for Him. I will be a martyr. I'm going to heaven. I will be waiting for you there." Salvador 8/12/36

Read more details here
 

When we come to Barbastro we visit the museum and venerate their remains in the crypt of the church.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Virgin of Torreciudad

The Virgin of Torreciudad is a Romanesque elm wood carving of Our Blessed Lady seated with the Christ child on her lap. She is a throne for the Word Incarnate, the seat of Wisdom. It is said to date prior to 1084 and was originally housed in the 11th century hermitage, the ruin of which is located near to todays shrine. The virgin's primitive features and medieval proportions are not pleasing to the eyes of many today yet the statue is central to the shrine. It was to this statue that the mother of Saint Josemaria Escriva brought him as a dangerously sick infant and he subsequently recovered.
Whilst on holiday in El Tozal a pilgrim replica statue travels from house to house so that families can feel close to the Virgin and have a focus for family prayer. We also brought a statue back to England which we hope to circulate among families who have been to Torreciudad.

Monday, 27 August 2012

First Stop Torreciudad


 
 
The first time we saw the Shrine at Torreciudad in Spain, the visual impression was breathtaking. What a setting and how blue the water! Yet each time we visit, and this year was our 7th, the effect is the same – it never fails to impress.
Torreciudad is a shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Aragon in the north of Spain. Devotion to Our Lady of Torreciudad dates back to the eleventh century. The new Shrine, built under the guidance of the founder of Opus Dei, Saint Josemaria Escriva, was opened in 1975. He said that what he hoped for from the shrine were "spiritual fruits: graces that the Lord will wish to grant to all who come to honour his Blessed Mother at her shrine. These are the miracles I desire: conversions, and peace for many souls." With this in mind, he asked for confessional chapels to be built and for everything to be done to enable people to pray at the Shrine in peace.
http://www.torreciudad.org/static/20/about-torreciudad/#top2
We stay at a village near the shrine made up of a few streets of Spanish villas. The idea was conceived by a Spanish gentleman whose idea was to enable large Spanish Catholic families to have a relatively inexpensive holiday. Now an international fortnight means that all nationalities can experience this place. Here families can go to daily Mass at the shrine before exploring the region or simply enjoying the sunshine. It is very pleasurable being with like minded families and very reassuring for children of all ages.
So after a boat trip from Portsmouth to Bilbao and an overnight in the city of Pamplona we arrived at El Tozal and made ourselves at home for 16 days

Monday, 20 August 2012

Holidays and Holydays in foreign parts

I haven't posted in a while due to a wonderful holiday in Spain and France (more on that later!) First an update on the intrepid Compostela pilgrims.
Both girls completed 'The Way', going beyond Compostela to Finisterre and then Muxia. They met us at the start of our summer vacation in Pamplona (having bussed back!) Both looked remarkably well for the experience although there had been many hard days along the way. We continue to pray that many graces will ensue. I hope to relay some of their Camino Impressions (with permission!) in future posts.
We travelled onward together to our holiday home near the Opus Dei Shrine of Torreciudad and, after a couple of weeks, our group dispersed leaving my husband and I to meander home through various interesting places in France. In the next few posts I will introduce my readers to one or two of them. Meanwhile I hope you had, or are having, safe and happy holidays.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Respect begins at Home

I am in receipt of the leaflet, 'Respect begins at Home' from the Family Education Trust. As usual it is full of sound common sense. I have ordered a bundle of them to hand out where they can make a difference and I urge anyone who cares about families in the UK to do the same. From surveys conducted amongst UK adults it appears that 'parents not bringing their children up properly' and 'the breakdown of so many marriages' are cited as responsible for todays social malaise. The leaflet points out that the Prime Minister has also identified these as root problems. However his own government policies militate against stable family life and responsible parenting. It does this in four key areas of policy making; childcare, extended schools, discipline in the home and confidentiality. We are urged to play our part in impressing this upon the government, making parents more aware of how their responsibilities are being threatened and ordering our own homes so that children learn respect. Definately worth a read and worth, action.  

Monday, 18 June 2012

Time for silence

The intrepid pilgrims on the way of St James (see previous post) arrived in Pamplona after 3 days of uphill walking in the Pyrenees and a brutal storm. They are now on route towards Burgos. I know this through just two text messages. It is right that pilgrims ditch technology for the most part and all of us should find some silence in the course of a day. How else will we hear what God is speaking to us? Our world is full of noise and new technologies have increased this dramatically. Televisions, radios, the internet, computer games, CD players, MP 3's, lawnmowers, car engines and horns, sirens, smoke alarms, ice cream vans drown out the birdsong, the breeze, the rustle of leaves, the pitter patter of rainfall, the frog's croak, the bee's buzz and so on. Mobile phones bleep and ring everywhere, even in church during Mass. Have you stopped to listen to silence recently? For it is only in the silence or to the accompaniment of the gentle sounds of God's creation that we can communicate with Him. Take five minutes from your day to seek out silence. This might be easier for the camino pilgrims, on the other hand, they may have other distractions like pain and discomfort. Remember them in your silence.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Way of St James

My daughter and a friend make their way today from Lourdes to St Jean-Pied-du-Port in France. From there on Tuesday 12th June they will begin a pilgrimage of ancient origin along what is known as the way of St James.
The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. The most popular route, the Camino Francés stretches 780 km. (nearly 500 miles) from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago.

St Jean-Pied-du-Port stands at the base of the Roncevaux Pass across the Pyrenees. Pied de Port means ‘foot of the pass’ in Pyrenean French.
Whenever any of our children go on pilgrimage, they carry the intentions of the whole family with them. For our part we try to follow them in prayer and, because they are our children we are always thinking about them. (Our son is currently in Jerusalem too!)
On day one they collect their pilgrim passport and walk the 30k from St Jean-Pied-du-Pont to Roncesvalles. This is the most physically demanding of the whole way. If any reader can spare time to pray for them there is a Pilgrim Prayer below. Our family will pray this every day but they may need more help on day one!


A Pilgrim's Prayer to St. James
This is an ancient prayer that comes at the end of the Pilgrim Mass said along the Camino de Santiago:

 O God, who brought your servant Abraham out of the land of the Chaldeans, protecting him in his wanderings, who guided the Hebrew people across the desert, we ask that you watch over us, your servants, as we walk in the love of your name to Santiago de Compostela.

Be for us our companion on the walk,
Our guide at the crossroads,
Our breath in our weariness,
Our protection in danger,
Our albergue on the Camino,
Our shade in the heat,
Our light in the darkness,
Our consolation in our discouragements,
And our strength in our intentions.

So that with your guidance we may arrive safe and unhurt at the end of the journey and enriched with grace and virtue return safely to our homes filled with joy.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Apostle Santiago, pray for us. Santa Maria, pray for us.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

60 Diamond Years


It would be remiss to let this jubilee weekend pass by without wishing Her Majesty a happy celebration on behalf of the Holy Family Guild and  assuring her of our prayers, especially in her much troubled family life and thanking her for her long service to our country.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Walkers and armchair pilgrims are now reunited!

Walking pilgrims have now for the most part returned home, perhaps with the exception of those from more distant parts such as Australia and Pakistan. The euphoria of completing the physical and spiritual task over three days has had to subside as they return to their normal daily lives. They are now much the same as those of us who did not walk but made, if you like, "an armchair pilgrimage" We are all now faced with our next step. How do we turn the Chartres Pilgrimage into something good for the future? On that note I give you the words of M. l'abbé Berg, superior of the Fraternity of Saint Peter from the end of his Homily at Mass in Chartres Cathedral on Easter Monday (excuse my translation!)
The full text of the homily in French can be found at www.nd-chretiente.com

"Dear pilgrims, in the face of everything that threatens the family in our times, it would be easy to succumb to despair. But courage! "Christ has overcome the world" In the dark nights or in days of joy, we walk with Christ and we understand that with him "even the nights are necessary and good" because they are there to purify us.

Let us not be afraid. We will return after this pilgrimage to our usual activities. We have needed all our strength for three days. Now we must bring to fruition the graces received on the road to Chartres. It is for our families to be missionaries, to stand always with the Church Militant carrying within it the truth. Let us be the friends on which the Church can count in the face of these immense spiritual challenges that are before it. Live Christianity as a friend of all that is true, good and beautiful."








Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Awaiting Pilgrim's return and Consecration

My son should now be on the coach some 4 hours from London at the end of yet another 3 day Pilgrimage to Chartres. Some of you, like me, have made a spiritual pilgrimage at home fitting it around other committments to match each day of the very physically demanding route. Some of you may have found, and it is certain that at least some of the walking pilgrims did, that spiritual works are subject to concerted attacks from the devil. He will thwart you at every opportunity he can. That is one reason that Chartres Pilgrims  consecrate themselves to Our Blessed Lady, so that they are under her motherly care.
An earlier post introduced the prayer of Consecration that our guild uses at gatherings but I am putting it again here for those who may need it at this very time.

As the Father has chosen you, Mary,


to be His Immaculate child, the wife of Joseph


and the Mother of His beloved Son and of the whole Church


in full communion with the Holy Spirit


we choose you today


as Mother and Queen of our whole family,


and we consecrate to you our souls and our bodies,


all our activities and everything that belongs to us without reserve.





Show each of us your most maternal kindness,


Teach us to love Jesus and the Father, more and more,


and through them, to love one another in the Holy Spirit,


deepening our knowledge of each other in the light of Jesus,


respecting each other, and each day, choosing one another


in a simpler and more divine love.





Mary, grant each of us the grace to accomplish each day


the will of the Father in the gift of ourselves,


so that our whole family


may bear witness in the midst of the world


to the love of Jesus


victorious over evil. Amen


Monday, 28 May 2012

Pilgrimage to Chartres, the easy way! Day Three


So how was day two for my pilgrim readers? I am confident that your efforts will further help and inspire the walking pilgrims whose journey it has to be said is physically more arduous than those pilgrimaging at home!

With the great feast of Pentecost having dawned pilgrims have the added help of the Holy Spirit just as at the first Pentecost.

And so to today!
Day Three, the final day!

‘THE MISSIONARY FAMILY’ under the Patronage of St Joan of Arc whose 600th Anniversary of her birth is celebrated this year

Joan of Arc or "The Maid of Orléans"(1412-1431) is a national heroine of France as well as a Roman Catholic Saint. A peasant girl born in what is now eastern France, who after divine guidance led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Year's War which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII She was captured by the Burgundians, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy," and burned at the stake as a heretic when she was only 19 years old.

Twenty-five years after the execution, an Inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.

 A biography can be read at


So let us begin with a prayer. I like this one (Joan is my confirmation saint)

PRAYER TO ST. JOAN OF ARC

Composed by Linda Fowler, July, 2000

Dear and Glorious St. Joan of Arc, friend and sister in Christ. I come before you this day to thank you for the graces you have obtained for me and my family and to ask your continued intercession with Our Lady to Jesus for us. Help me to fight the battles God sends me daily with the same courage and dedication you had. My battles may be smaller and different than the ones you were called to but I need the grace to surrender my will to God's daily.

As you wore a physical armour, help me to put on the spiritual armour that St. Paul called us to wear in order to stay in the state of grace always. Be with me at my last hour so that my entry into eternity will be with faith in the divine Mercy of God no matter what form of death He wills for me. Help me to keep my eyes focused on Jesus Crucified and Mary Immaculate. Grant me the signal grace I need at that hour and grant me the honour and privilege to stand next to you in the heavenly court with my family, St Joseph and all the saints and angels as we surround the thrones of Jesus and Mary through all eternity and worship the most Holy and Triune God. St. Joan, virgin and martyr, pray for me. Amen





 I have a problem getting to Mass today. I have resolved instead to go to Eucharistic adoration in a local church from 7-8am Many of the Chartres pilgrims will have been at Eucharistic adoration during the night. Brave souls weak from walking, postponing their sleep, to adore.

Remember the most tired pilgrims in your prayers today. Pray too for those who had to take the bus because of some difficulty. For those who do this after having walked the distance in previous years it is an act of humility. Pray ever harder through the day as the spires of Chartres come into view more clearly.

The magnificent medieval cathedral of Our Lady at Chartres, considered one of the finest examples of the French High Gothic style. Rejoice on their arrival, for it is yours too! There they will celebrate Solemn High Mass. Not all the pilgrims will be able to get inside the cathedral. Some will have to participate via large outdoor screens.
Please remember in your prayers those who, after all their efforts, will not be able to enter the cathedral.

Unite your prayers to theirs and, perhaps, as the pilgrims take their first shower and get a good night’s sleep we may continue praying that the graces they received will permeate our lives and the life of the whole Church.
God bless any pilgrims who have joined me these last three days. I’d love to hear any comments about your pilgrimages!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

With the Chartres Pilgrims on Day Two


So how did you do yesterday? I was unable to be at my usual Saturday Mass and so ended up at Mass at a local home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. Happily I was reminded that the home is dedicated to St Joseph and so it seemed the right place for the day. And confessions followed Mass. I managed my rosary, visited my ailing father and thought about the pilgrims almost constantly. My son texted at the end of day one to say he had 3 blisters (he never gets blisters!) Ah the power of prayer!

I was particularly amazed to discover that on the Notre Dame de Chretiente website the exact position of the pilgrims is pinpointed and updated every few minutes!


And so to.....

Day Two: Pentecost Sunday

UNDER THE PATRONAGE OF Blesseds Beltrame-Quatrocci

‘FAMILY, A WAY OF HOLINESS’

Firstly I had to research the saints for today and discovered the following:

Luigi, a lawyer and civil servant, died in 1951 at the age of 71; Maria, who dedicated herself to her family and to several charitable and social Catholic movements, died in 1965 at the age of 81.

Stephania, their first daughter, now deceased, became a Benedictine nun with the name Sr M. Cecilia. Both sons became priests; one is now 95 years old, the other, 91. Another daughter, Enrichetta, dedicated herself first to caring for her parents, then for her brother. a diocesan priest of Rome; she is now in her 80s.

The Beltrame children recall that their parents led a simple life, like that of many married couples, but always characterized by a sense of the supernatural. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said that they "made a true domestic church of their family, which was open to life, to prayer, to the social apostolate, to solidarity with the poor and to friendship".

More information can be read at http://savior.org/saints/corsini.htm
So we begin with a prayer

BLESSED LUIGI AND MARIA QUATTROCCHI

PATRONS OF MARRIED COUPLES PRAY FOR US

Blessed Luigi and Blessed Maria, inspired by your devotion and faith, we offer our gratitude to God for the precious gift of life and sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We praise our Lord for blessing us with your virtuous model of holiness and faith. Like Joseph and Mary, you patiently endured difficulties in your lives and lovingly placed your trust in God. Teach us all to follow the way of the Holy Family. May we learn to imitate your gracious surrender to God's divine providence for ourselves and our loved ones.

Through your intercession, we humbly ask that together you advocate for all married couples and those aspiring to married life. Please help  marriages withstand the toils of hardship, temptation, and unpleasantness. We also ask that God continue to bless us with the precious gift of life. May our Christian families on earth continue to grow and may we flourish in faith. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Today pilgrims, here and there, attend the Mass of Pentecost and perhaps some may be able to find a church for Benediction (less common sadly in the times in which we live). Nevertheless a rosary is required and some other devotional prayers and readings of one’s own choosing. Read about todays Blesseds. There is much in their family story to encourage and inspire us.

Think how tired the pilgrims will be today! I’m told the second day is the worst and longest from a physical point of view. But the pilgrims today will surely be uplifted by the Holy Spirit in their efforts. Remember those who need this most in your prayers today. 


Saturday, 26 May 2012

The Chartres Pilgrimage at home!


In my previous post I made it clear that I have never walked the 70 miles from Notre Dame in Paris to Notre Dame at Chartres although all my children have. This doesn’t mean that I have never made the Pilgrimage – far from it! I have on many occasions walked along with my children and, it seems fitting, since the theme this year is ‘Family, cradle of Christendom’, that my pilgrimage is outlined on this blog for anyone who wants to walk along with me. So indulge me and join me if you wish.

The Chartres pilgrimage lasts 3 days, each day is under the patronage of a particular saint. It includes Mass each day and various prayers and reflections. Sometimes these are made available online. During the walk pilgrims will make a confession. There is exposition and the opportunity to keep Our Blessed Lord company often during the night. It will also include fellowship and varying degrees of hardship. All of these can be adapted so let us begin our spiritual journey to Chartres today:-

DAY ONE ‘The Church, family model’ under the patronage of Saint Joseph

Let us begin with a Prayer to St Joseph,

St Joseph, guardian of the family of Nazareth, look upon our families. Help them to find that kind of work which will assure ‘nuclear families’ of a dignified life; help children to enjoy the full undivided affection of their parents; help newly weds to be in a position to begin their married life with serenity and commitment.

St Joseph help families to become the agents of a renewed evangelisation, one sustained and accompanied by the witness of charity.

As happened in the family of Nazareth, in your family, make our families privileged places for Christ.

St Joseph, glory of home life and model of workers, help us.

Under your protection, may the family and labour, here and everywhere, bear fruit to everlasting life.

Joseph, most faithful, to you we turn. Do not cease to intercede for us; do not cease interceding for the whole human family



Now today pray at Mass for all the pilgrims and leave a light shining in church for their intentions. Also go to confession and set aside time for some devotional reading. In particular include some act of charity in your day. Opportunities are numerous when on an arduous pilgrimage. Here at home one might have to be more imaginative. It is not difficult for me as my father is 95 years old and welcomes my visits. Denial of some home comfort might also put one in mind of the Chartres pilgrims today. Try to include some silence in your day. Get up during the night for a little while if your day is noisy. And the rosary of course - sing it just as they will be doing if you like.
Think about the pilgrims often during the day. Pray for the oldest, the youngest, the one who is struggling the most, the one with the biggest blister - you get the idea!
Ask God to bless them and help them.
Then go to bed and get up earlier than usual for day two!