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

"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)


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


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
So we begin with a prayer



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!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Family Theme for Pilgrimage

This morning our youngest son left for London and onwards tomorrow on the road to Paris and then Chartres, a 70 mile walking pilgrimage which this year has the theme 'Family, cradle of Christendom'. All four of our children have walked the road. We have not. Until last year at least one of our children had been there for the past 18 years! My husband and I made a conscious decision from the first to let them make this pilgrimage independently of us, just as they must do in their faith journey. All of them are active Catholics and the Chartres Pilgrimage has to have played some part in that.
Each of the three days is under the patronage of a particular saint or saints, this year chosen to fit the family theme. We will be praying through their intercession and also praying Pope John Paul II's Prayer for Families each day knowing that it is only through prayer that we can hope to defeat those forces, growing ever stronger in today's culture, that seek to destroy the family. Our prayers and intentions are carried by our son and our prayers go with him and all the pilgrims.

Lord God, from you every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.

Father, you are Love and Life.

Through your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman, and through the Holy Spirit, fountain of divine charity, grant that every family on earth may become for each successive generation a true shrine of life and love.

Grant that your grace may guide the thoughts and actions of husbands and wives for the good of their families and of all the families in the world.

Grant that the young may find in the family solid support for their human dignity and for their growth in truth and love.

Grant that love, strengthened by the grace of the sacrament of
marriage, may prove mightier than all the weakness and trials through which our families sometimes pass.

Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out her worldwide mission in the family and through the family.

Through Christ our Lord, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life
for ever and ever.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Families honour Mary in the month of May

The month of May  is the "month which the piety of the faithful has especially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady," and it is the occasion for a "moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world [pay] to the Queen of Heaven. During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of the home, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God's mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance" (Paul VI: Encyclical on the Month of May, no. 1).

Mary, the Mother of God is known by many titles : Queen of Peace, Star of the Sea, Help of Christians, Mirror of Justice and Mediatrix of Graces to name but a few. In May we honour her also as our heavenly Mother. How do we honour her? In particular we pray for her intercession. What better way to Christ than through his mother? We pray the Rosary in particular. We might also make a pilgrimage to a shrine associated with her e.g Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, Knock,Czestochowa or, here in the UK, Walsingham, Ladyewell and more locally for our Guild, Jesu Mount or Jesmond. Most churches have a side altar dedicated as a Lady altar which you could also visit as a family.
Flowers that grow in our gardens and hedgerows can be wonderful reminders of the Virgin Mary and many legends have grown up around them. Look at for more detailed information
on this.
It is traditional to honour Mary with flowers by crowning statues of her and we are reminded of that lovely Marian hymn,
"Bring flowers of the rarest,
 Bring blossoms the fairest,
 From garden and woodland and hillside and dale
 Our full hearts are swelling, our glad voices telling
 the praise of the loveliest flower of the vale

 O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
 Queen of the angels and Queen of the May"

A few priests have retained the tradition of May Processions although not on the same scale as when I was a child some 40+ years ago. This year members of the Holy Family Guild joined in the May Procession at St Mary's Church, Barnard Castle where Father Wilfrid Elkin led families in the Rosary, a Litany, a procession with hymns and a crowning, before giving Benediction. Families were able to socialise thanks to father's kind invitation into his home. Sometimes it is even sunny in May and drinks can be served on the lawn!
All Catholic families should consecrate themselves to Our Lady's care and at all family gatherings of the guild we say a prayer of Consecration written by the Community of St John and I commend it here for my readers,

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