My Dear Friends,
I do hope that this ‘lock-down’, though tiresome and more than a little boring, is not making us too miserable. Personally I do find that there is an up-side to this period of house arrest. My prayer life is becoming more regular and I am doing more reading. Indeed I stand a reasonable chance of finishing the ‘Gulag Archipelago’ before too long. Next challenge is ‘War and Peace’. (You notice that I have a liking for Russian literature.)
I do find that Sunday is difficult. For years and years, Sunday has meant going to church. Sunday worship has been an anchor in my life both as a priest, and also previously as a layman. It has had an essential role in my life of orientating me to God and to my fellow men and women. Of nourishing my soul and moving my mental state from the here and now to the transcendent and eternal. But now I, and no doubt you, are feeling somewhat cut off from the church. Certainly, I am saying mass every day – but privately, and you, hopefully, are making spiritual communion. But I do miss the stones of the church and the fellowship of others. What I would encourage you to do through this difficult time is to watch the ‘streaming videos’ from various churches. On Sunday I was watching Bishop Richard at Arundel Cathedral. I know that Horsham parish transmits Fr Aaron’s mass, and I am told that mass from Walsingham is also very good. Look them up on the web – it is a definite help.
On the subject of Walsingham, I came across this explanation of the symbols in the image which I hope you might find to be informative.
One of the big events of Sunday which sadly was not made as public as it deserved was the rededication of England as the ‘Dowry of Mary’.
There is a tradition that the title ‘Dowry of Mary’ goes back to Edward the Confessor (1042 – 1066). This may well be true, but there is no historical documentation to support it. There is no doubt, however, about the deep devotion to Our Lady that existed in medieval England and the dedication rests on this foundation.
The first documentary evidence for the title was found in a painting which used to hang in the English College in Rome, which showed Richard II (1377 – 1399) and his consort kneeling before Our Lady and offering England to her. He holds a parchment with a latin inscription:‘This is your dowry, O pious Virgin’. Perhaps the painting portrayed the King presenting England to Our Lady as her Dowry in Westminster Abbey in 1381.
At the same time (1399) Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to his suffragan bishops:
“The contemplation of the great mystery of the Incarnation has drawn all Christian nations to venerate her from whom came the first beginnings of our redemption. But we English, being the servants of her special inheritance and her own dowry, as we are commonly called, ought to surpass others in the fervour of our praises and devotions.”
So the title of England as ‘The Dowry of Mary’ was definitely in use by the end of the fourteenth century, but Archbishop Arundel’s letter seems to indicate that at the time of his writing it was already in common use, indicating an earlier origin.
Again, there is lots about this on the internet, so have some fun researching it, and then make it a part of your prayers:
BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy “Dowry” and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.