OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM is England’s national Marian shrine. According to legend, Our Lady appeared in Walsingham to the Saxon noblewoman Richeldis de Faverches, in 1061. In three visions, Richeldis was taken by Mary to be shown the house in Nazareth where Gabriel had announced the news of the birth of Jesus. Mary then asked her to build an exact replica of that house in Walsingham. Throughout the centuries, Walsingham became one of the most popular shrines in Europe. Many pilgrims returned from their visit healed in body and spirit. Walsingham received visits from King Henry III, Edward II, Edward III, Henry IV, Edward IV, Henry VII and Henry VIII, who finally brought about its destruction in 1538. In 1897, the first official Catholic pilgrimage after the Reformation took place at the restored 14th century Slipper Chapel, which is now the centre of the Roman Catholic National Shrine. In the 1920s the Anglican shrine began growing in the remains of the original Priory and now has its own church, housing a copy of the original statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and a replica of the Holy House. There is also now a Russian Orthodox chapel in Walsingham. Walsingham came to be known as ‘England’s Nazareth’. During lockdown a small statue of Our Lady of Walsingham has been a focal point of our Marian devotion at St Patrick’s, and many have lit candles before this image of Our Lady. Mass will be celebrated at 12noon on Friday 24th, the feast day of Our Lady of Walsingham. Do come along and give thanks to Our Lady of Walsingham for blessings received.
FIRST HOLY COMMUNION Father Michael met this week with lead staff from St Patrick’s School regarding first Holy Communion. We had hoped to celebrate this on the Solemnity of Christ the King. This would however have necessitated a shortened course and we feel that we will not be able to prepare the children adequately in this time for both the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. As some of the FHC children have not yet had the opportunity to return to Mass, we are now proposing to wait until early January to begin a full course for all children looking to FHC. This also gives us the ideal opportunity to begin a new 18-week course, leading to FHC at Corpus Christi (Sunday 19th June). Please do not hesitate to contact Fr Michael or Mrs Courtney if you have any questions. Application forms for the 2022 FHC are available in Church. Please return asap to Fr Michael.
TIME TO START SCHOOL? If you have a child born between 1st September 2017 and 31st August 2018, then now is the time to apply for a place at a Catholic primary school in the Diocese, including St Patrick’s School. You must complete an application form (either online or on paper) that is available from the school admissions team of the Wiltshire Council, for admission during the 2022-23 school year. If your child has been baptised, you must also provide a copy of the baptism certificate to your preferred school. Please ensure you apply by the closing date of 15th January 2022.
SONG GROUP / CANTORS Psalm 150 proclaims ‘…let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord!’ Music can inspire people to change, to forgive, to live a joyful life, to love more and to pray better. It expresses things that we are unable to express in words alone. We are hoping to re gather singers to assist in singing the Sunday Masses as we move from recorded to live singing. If you would like to join, all you need is a love of singing and be able to give some time to practice. All ages and experiences are welcome. Do you play an instrumo our music and enhance our worship. Please have a word with Fr Michael if you are able to help and we will schedule an initial get together to determine the way forward.
ST PATRICK’S SCHOOL Our prayers and thoughts go out to staff and children as they begin a new school year, especially to those beginning school for the first time and to staff taking up new appointments within the school. We look forward to being able to begin our school masses again when we are safely able to do so.
FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY The Catholic Church celebrates the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary on its traditional fixed date of 8th September, nine months after 8th December celebration of her Immaculate Conception as the child of Saints Joachim and Anne. The circumstances of the Virgin Mary’s infancy and early life are not directly recorded in the Bible, but other documents and traditions describing the circumstances of her birth are cited by some of the earliest Christian writers from the first centuries of the Church. After Mary’s birth, according to the Protoevangelium of James, St Anne “made a sanctuary” in the infant girl’s room, and “allowed nothing common or unclean” on account of the special holiness of the child. The same writing records that when she was one year old, her father “made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel.” The protoevangelium goes on to describe how Mary’s parents, along with the temple priests, subsequently decided that she would be offered to God as a consecrated Virgin for the rest of her life and enter a chaste marriage with the carpenter Joseph. Saint Augustine described the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an event of cosmic and historic significance, and an appropriate prelude to the birth of Jesus Christ. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley,” he said. The fourth-century bishop, whose theology profoundly shaped the Western Church’s understanding of sin and human nature, affirmed that “through her birth, the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.”
AFGHANISTAN The Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs has urged Catholics to pray for the people of Afghanistan, while pointing to the work of humanitarian organisations, and efforts to welcome refugees, as signs of hope. Bishop Declan said: “As Christians, we are called to be people of hope, even when a situation may appear hopeless. Today our hope can be placed in those who are working tirelessly for dialogue, justice, and peace in their country. Our hope can be placed in the humanitarian organisations that are continuing to offer their assistance, and the efforts to welcome and protect refugees fleeing their homes. Above all we place our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we pray in the knowledge that he will never abandon the people of Afghanistan.” After the Angelus on Wednesday Pope Francis called for dialogue in the country: “I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace so that the clamour of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue. Only thus can the battered population of that country – men, women, elderly and children – return to their own homes, and live in peace and security, in total mutual respect.
SPONSOR A ‘MEMORIAL’ HYMN BOOK We are looking forward to singing from our hymn books again soon. Our hymnals, however, have seen better days and are rather dirty and many of the spines are broken. Also, the present hymn books do not reflect the changes made to the translation of the Mass made in 2010. We are hoping to purchase the updated version of ‘Laudate’ our present hymn book. We are inviting parishioners to ‘sponsor’ a hymn book at the cost of £6.25 per copy. These may be given in memory of a departed loved one(s) and RIP memorial plates will be placed in each copy dedicated to that person. We then invite you each week to say a little prayer for the person in whose memory the hymn book you are using was given. Tom Miller will be coordinating the collection for us, and order sheets will be available in Church. We are hoping to purchase 100 copies and some music editions too.
SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Today, we celebrate the greatest Feast of Mary, her Assumption into heaven, when the Mother of God, “having completed her course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”. Although defined as an article of faith by Pope Pius XII just over half a century ago, the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven has been accepted from the earliest of Christian times. The Assumption signals the end of Mary’s earthly life and marks her return to heaven to be reunited with Jesus. While the bodies of both Jesus and Mary are now in heaven, there is a difference between the Assumption and the Resurrection. Whereas Jesus arose from the tomb and ascended into heaven by his own power, Mary’s body was taken up to heaven by the power of her Son. For this reason, we use different words to describe each event. One is the Ascension of Christ and the other, the Assumption of Mary. “It was fitting,” St John of Damascus (b.675) wrote in a sermon on the Assumption, “that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death,” and “that she, who had carried the creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.” Our Lady, assumed into heaven, pray that we may also share in the glory of Christ’s Resurrection.
FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF THE LORD Friday 6th August, Mass at 12noon. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain, apart from the other apostles and disciples.There, Jesus is transfigured (changed in form and appearance) and appears in dazzling white clothes. Elijah, the great prophet, and Moses, through whom the Israelites were given the law, appear with Jesus. A cloud appears, overshadowing them, and a voice states, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Jesus charges the three to not share with anyone what they had seen “except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” They keep their experience to themselves, pondering what Jesus meant by rising from the dead. How are we to understand the Transfiguration? The story of the Transfiguration is also proclaimed on the second Sunday of Lent—a key part of Jesus’ journey towards the Cross. The Catechism of the Catholic Church draws parallels between Jesus’ Baptism and the Transfiguration. Jesus is baptised at the start of his public ministry. His baptism proclaims the mystery of our first regeneration—we die and rise again with Christ. The “Transfiguration ‘is the sacrament of the second regeneration’: our own Resurrection (St Thomas Aquinas). From now on we share in the Lord’s Resurrection through the Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Body of Christ.
The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he ‘will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body (Phil 3:21)’” (CCC no. 556). During the Prayer after Communion, we pray that God might “transform us into the likeness of your [his] Son, / whose radiant splendour you willed to make manifest / in his glorious Transfiguration.” The Collect, tells us that the mystery of the Transfiguration “prefigures our full adoption to sonship.” The Transfiguration, initially revealed to Peter, James, and John, reveals to all of us a taste of what is yet to come.