Six hundred years before Jesus was born, the Jewish people were driven from their beloved temple in Jerusalem and sent away in exile to Babylon. It was a time of bitterness, pain and grief, described so powerfully in Psalm 137: ‘By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion’.
That is surely how most of us feel now that we have been separated for a while from our beloved Shrine at Walsingham. For all of us it is a place of such life and joy and healing that to be unable to make the pilgrimage seems unbearable. It is like an exile to us. And of course that pain comes against a back drop of fear and anxiety in our nation as ever more extreme measures are taken to keep us safe against the pandemic.
So please, in this time of grief, remember three things:
First, remember at Walsingham the praying never stops. The Mass is being offered privately and each night at 6pm a lone person will offer Shrine Prayers in the Holy House. That praying is for you. Walsingham is precious to us because it is a place where prayer is offered and answered and the praying will always continue. So why not, at 6pm each night, offer a Decade of the Rosary and make a pilgrimage to the Holy House in your heart? Or even better, watch the Shrine Prayers as it is live streamed on the Shrine website.
Second, remember that the truth to which Walsingham bears witness is unchanging. Because of Mary’s bold and daring obedience, God is with us in Jesus. And having come to be with us, he has no intention of leaving. No matter what may befall our nation or what you personally may have to endure, Jesus is with you. He who bore pain on the cross bears also the pain of all who will suffer from this virus. He who rose again in glory guarantees that hope and love will always triumph over fear and darkness. Nothing can ever undermine that truth.
And third, remember, this will not last. By being separated for a while from England’s Nazareth, we will come to love it even more. And one day we will return to Mary’s home and join in with her intercession, a band of pilgrims united by our unfailing hope in the Word made Flesh.
So keep praying! Pray for our nation, pray for our Shrine, pray for your loved ones and pray for that day when we can go to Walsingham once more.
With my love and prayers,
S. Mary’s Church & The Walsingham Chapel
S. Mary’s Church, in the heart of the village of Buxted was erected and endowed by Father A.D. Wagner. The church (Grade II listed) was consecrated in 1887. The small church, built in the traditional Sussex style, is of flint construction, in line with the Wagner churches of Brighton, and is the only church built by him in the Sussex countryside. S. Mary’s, designed to promote the Catholic faith, had, at one time, a community of religious (the Society of
S. Mary) attached to the parish.The Lady Chapel (or Walsingham Chapel) was built to the dimensions of the medieval Holy House at Walsingham in Norfolk. In turn these dimensions are as those of the Holy House at Nazareth. The ancient shrine of Walsingham was destroyed in the 16th Century, so the Walsingham Chapel at S. Mary’s became the first restored Holy House and precursor of the revival of devotion to our Lady of Walsingham in England. Father Hope Patten, once curate of S. Mary’s and then parish Priest at Walsingham was instrumental in rebuilding the current shrine. It is a recognised fact, that without S. Mary’s Buxted, there would probably be no shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham, either Anglican or Roman Catholic.
St. Mary’s Church, Buxted
Quote from the pamphlet ‘Nazareth in Sussex’, first printed in 1934:
“May Nazareth in Sussex, standing as a witness to the doctrine of the Incarnation in the Southern Counties, become known and loved, and draw many to visit this Shrine who, for one reason or another, are but seldom able to ‘take the Walsingham Way’”.
Sundays: 11.15 a.m. Parish Mass 2nd Wednesday of the month:
10.30 a.m. Walsingham Cell Mass 4th Wednesday of the month:
10.30 a.m. Walsingham Cell House Group The church is open daily for visitors.
Concerts are held throughout the year. For further information please view the parish website: www.bhdchurches.org.uk or the Buxted Messenger
Pilgrimage to “England’s Nazareth in Sussex”
If you or your parish would like to arrange a special pilgrimage to
S. Mary’s please contact:
Colin Woolgrove Tel: 01825 830076.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you wish to celebrate Mass and are unable to bring your own priest, please let us know in advance. The Parish of Buxted and Hadlow Down, of which S. Mary’s is part, comprises a variety of churchmanship. In consequence, there is no resolution in place under the House of Bishops’ Declaration. However, the Rector gives his assurance that only male priests will celebrate the Eucharist at S. Mary’s. There is an outside space for picnics, when the weather permits, and a church hall that can be used with adequate notice. We are happy to provide tea and coffee.
Our Lady of Walsingham, Our Lady of Nazareth in Sussex, Pray for us.
S. Mary’s underwent an extensive internal redecoration programme in 2016. However, in common with many other churches, there is always something else to do. Future projects include a new roof, repairs to the stained glass windows and a certain amount of re-ordering. All donations will be gratefully received.