Tuesday, 30 August 2016

LMS Ely to Walsingham Pilgrimage 2016

3 Days. 60 miles. At least 60 decades of the Rosary. Countless litanies. Scores of hymns and marching songs. Many friendships. Innumerable graces. Deo gratias!

If you haven't done this pilgrimage, do consider it. It was my first time, and I'm pleased to say that I managed to walk the whole thing. It is physically difficult, but nothing that a reasonably fit adult can't manage. 

In a way it needs to be gruelling in order to reach that place of inner peace that allows for fruitful prayer. For me it was a profoundly spiritually healthy experience and one which I've been waiting many years to do... I had to wait until my children were either old enough to complete the walk themselves (around 11-12 seems to be realistic) or were old enough to be left for 5 days with somebody else while I was on pilgrimage  (which is what we did with the littlies - 7 & 9 - this year). The older two children joined us. 

Walking a pilgrimage as a family (or partial family)  is probably quite different than walking alone: I was moved by how stoic my children were in the face of  demanding physical hardship, how prayerful they were, how cheerful and helpful they were to others. Walking in prayer for long hard miles with my husband nourished our marriage in way that I didn't expect. 

Walking alone or with old or new friends offered countless possibilities for insights and inspirations. Having confession heard by an excellent priest whilst walking through a forest was a novel (but very positive) experience. 60 miles is a long way. It feels much further on foot than it does, say, in a car or even on a bike. 

The last mile on the Saturday was probably the hardest: the sky clouded over, the wind became fierce and heavy rain lashed down. Still, we managed to enter Great Massingham singing Jubilate Deo. Loudly, happily; a glorious burst of praise. 

May God help us all to keep singing in the face of adversity until next year's pilgrimage. 

I hope I see some of you there. 

We arrived for the first night: fresh and ready to walk...

There was a sense of excitement the evening before we left Ely...

Ely Cathedral: the start of our pilgrimmage. Morning of Day 1 (Friday)

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral. This photo and the next three -- A history lesson: the work of the iconoclasts. One has to wonder how convinced the 16th C proto-Isis "reformers" were about what they were doing to leave walls that speak more eloquently of their folly than any historian could do.

 Reformation vandalism.

Reformation vandalism.

Reformation vandalism.

Leaving Ely. Mile one of sixty.

"Faith of our fathers, Mary's prayers
Shall win our country back to thee;
And through the truth that comes from God
England shall then indeed be free."

"Blest Isle! With machless, with machless beauty crown'd,
And many hearts to guard the fair."

The first and very welcome rest stop. Little did we know we were about to head into 90 minutes of walking through knee-high nettles!

"Lorsque la nuit paisible
Nous invite au sommeil,
Près de nous, invisible,
Restez jusqu'au réveil"

This was one of the stranger signs we saw along the way.

"Oxburgh Hall: built by the Bedingfeld family in the 15th C an they have lived here ever since. Today mos of hte house belongs to the National Trust , but the Bedingfeld's still live there and they still own the chapel. We are very grateful to Sir Henry and Lady (Mary) Bedingfeld for welcoming us to Oxburgh Hall and allwing us to use the chapel for Mass." (From the LMS Pilgrim's Handbook 2016) 

A brief rest stop along the road.

Castle Acre priory: founded 1089, stolen by Henry VIII & given to the Duke of Norfolk in 1539; the monks were turned out and the priory was left in ruins. More fruits of the "Reformation". 

"Faith of our fathers, living still
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!"

Soaking wet! A torrential deluge hit us the last mile of our longest walking day. The 24th mile was the hardest. However thanks to Lucy Shaw and Clare Auty and their able team, a wonderful meal and moral support awaited the cold, wet pilgrims.

Father, in heaven employ thy prayer,
lest we, whom happier times befriend,
forgetful of our birthright there,
On this dull world our love should spend."

"Yet a thin stream of pilgrims still walked the old way,
And hearts longed to see this night turned into day."

In addition to the the hardships, great fun was had by all, new friendships forged and old ones cemented.

Along the pilgrims' way

Getting closer... how glad we were to see this sign!

Almost there. Lovely husband multitasking while carrying the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The Pilgrim's mile between the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham and the ruins of Walsingham Abbey. 
Traditionally this is walked barefoot.

The ruins of the Walsingham Abbey. The former site of the Holy House is marked by a wooden plaque in the grass.

"But at last came a King who had greed in his eyes,
And he lusted for treasure with fraud and with lies.

The order went forth; and with horror 'twas learned,
That the Shrine was destroyed and the Image was burned"

40 English Martyrs: picture in the Pilgrims' Guest House, Walsingham village.

Monday morning Mass, Votive Mass of Our Lady with commemoration of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist; Basilica of Our Lady of Walsigham (aka the Slipper Chapel). Celebrant is Fr Michael Rowe; My eldest son (14) is MC.

"Still pilgrim feet are treading, along the holy way,
Hostess of England's Nazareth, receive us home today"

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The only thing better than a favouite mantilla...

...is a favourite mantilla blessed by a favourite Cardinal!

++Burke with an exhausted crozier-bearer, Ramsgate  March 2014

I was delighted to meet Cardinal Raymond Burke earlier this year when he celebrated High Pontifical Mass at St Augustine's Shrine Church in Ramsgate. It was a glorious Mass (Fr Finigan's excellent description is well worth reading, and Mulier Fortis has some wonderful photographs of the evening) and we enjoyed meeting the very warm and affable ++Burke after the Mass at a reception. Many people asked him to bless items for them, and he obliged. I had a favourite Rosary with me, but alas! it had already been blessed by the admirable +Davies (of whom, as regular readers will know, we are great fans) and so I thought that I had nothing to be blessed. What a shame. Afterwards I discovered that a friend had had her mantilla blessed and that another had his missal blessed (and inscribed!) by ++Burke. Oh alas and alack! If I had only thought...

Well all was not lost. We were thrilled to have Cardinal Burke back again in England for this year's traditional Confirmations and to celebrate the LMS' annual requiem Mass at Westminster Cathedral. Cardinal Burkes schedule was unrelenting and we didn't have an opportunity to meet him again properly this time, but my dear friend Queen of Puddings kindly arranged to have him bless my favourite mantilla (the heavy-duty all-weather survival one) and I received it back - blessed!

Thrilled just isn't the word.

10 Ideas for Advent

A little late from the starting blocks with this, but still worth sharing: Father Tim Finigan has some excellent suggestions on his parish website of  ways to observe the season of Advent in order to prepare for the birth of Our Lord. I was particularly taken by the simple suggestion of praying a Hail Mary before opening a window on the Advent calendar: a tiny pause for thought and reflection.

Image from The Pod Company

Friday, 16 October 2015

The most cheerful thing to come out of Synod 2015 so far...

...possibly the only uplifting thing at all is this marvellous take of Gillbert & Sullivan's classic with an eye turned towards Teutonic heresy: I am the very model of a modern German Cardinal. We've been singing along  in chorus while I've been making dinner this evening.

"I know the Church’s history, from Schillebeeckx to G D Boff
I like to wear bad vestments and I’m apt to take my cassock off
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of the traditionalists
I make outrageous statements and proceed to slander journalists
I’m very prone to avarice, and harbouring of catamites
And mawkish modern liturgies with troupes of female acolytes..."

It's worth listening to the whole thing ... full lyrics here.

Wouldn't it be spendid if somebody made an English version? Just saying.

Prayer for the family: Synod 2015

A friend, currently in Rome, asked me to share this prayer. Please pray: pray, pray, pray like you've never prayed before. The stakes are high and the smoke of Satan lingers ....

But above all remember Our Lord's promise: the gates of Hell will not prevail.

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Seven Sorrows of Homeschooling Mothers

This talk by a FSSP priest contains much food for thought and had me oscillating between tears of laughter and tears of sad recognition: any home educating mother will find something to relate to, and I think this deserves to be more widely shared.

Friday, 24 July 2015


...to see that Linen on the Hedgerow is once again viewable. For some reason -- possibly because Blogger doesn't allow deceased authors -- it had been locked down with a violation of terms message for the past couple of months. If you aren't familiar with this wonderful blog then take advantage of once again having the opportunity to explore it; if, like me, you were an avid reader you'll simply be thrilled that it's back live: what a tribute to a lovely man and good strong Catholic. His online contribution to the Faith was immeasurable, and what I knew of his personal offline life reflected the same strength and values.

Richard's death left a yawning chasm in the Catholic blogosphere: things haven't quite been the same since. He is sorely missed.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

This post initially began as a pointer to the Wayback Machine Internet Archive which allows users to see websites that have been removed from the internet (as long as they've been archived). Checking the archive against the live URL I reaslised that Richard's blog was once again viewable in the ordianary way.

The Wayback Machine is still rather amusing should you wish to dig out that first embarrassing hand-coded HTML site you built 20 years ago complete with animated GIFs *cough* and awards. Remember when websites used to be given awards and list them on separate "awards pages". Oh the heady days of 1996 when the 'Net was much less cynical...

Yes, Rat Site Excellence. What we all used to strive for.