Pilgrimage has held a significant place in Christian experience for many centuries, a journey with intent, often with a holy site as destination, on which the pilgrim discovers new things about relationship with God, with others encountered on the way, with oneself.  This intentional journey is often viewed as a model of our journey through life to our heavenly home.

Jason Brown, one of our servers, has recently returned from walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the shrine of our St James’, and an ancient place of pilgrimage.  We look forward to hearing from Jason about his experience:  he has gifted us a pilgrim cross, which you may find in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

On my recent UK visit, I made pilgrimage to Walsingham, a small Norfolk village (www.walsinghamanglican.org.uk).  People have journeyed here to pray since the 11th century, when the Lady Richeldis received a vision in which Mary asked her to build a copy of the holy family’s house in Nazareth.  So Walsingham became England’s Nazareth, and the restored Anglican Shrine has its Holy House, in which there is an image of Mary and her Child, Our Lady of Walsingham, copied from a medieval seal.  Since the 1920s revival, Walsingham has been a focus of prayer and intercession, with pilgrims coming individually and in parish groups, and for larger gatherings too, such as the National, Healing and Youth Pilgrimages.

The weekend pilgrimage is a time of retreat and renewal, with pilgrims sharing in processions and liturgies, with opportunity to walk the Stations of the Cross, to make confession, to receive the sacrament of healing, to offer intercession together for the church, the world and all in need.  Lamps burn in the Holy House as a sign of prayer for individuals and churches:  there is now a lamp for our St James’.

With all generations, as Magnificat reminds us, we call Mary blessed:  she who gave flesh to Christ in her womb, and who still today says to us, as she did to the wedding guests at Cana, “Do whatever Jesus tells you.”  [John 2.5]  The image of Our Lady of Walsingham reminds us that now, as then, Mary always points us to Jesus, her Son.

Fr Kevin

Ninth Anglican Indigenous Sacred Circle, 6 – 11 August 2018
At the opening Eucharist, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, recalled a significant anniversary. On that very day 25 years earlier, Vi Smith, “a great Indigenous woman who was a faithful follower of Jesus”, stood up at the closing Eucharist of the National Native Convocation and accepted the apology of then-Primate Michael Peers for the church’s role in administering the residential school system.

Invoking the gospel and his predecessor’s words from the apology, “more than I can say”, Archbishop Hiltz suggested a new phrase underscoring the continuing relevance of Archbishop Peers’ apology in 2018: “more than ever”.

“More than ever,” the Primate said, “let us persevere in showing that the church’s apology remains a living text. […] Let us be unwavering in our resolve to spot and stomp racism in the church, and in this country […] to strive for right relationships among the children of God from all four directions […] More than ever, let us remain committed to paths of healing and reconciliation upon which the apology set our feet.”

The Primate urged Anglicans to be determined in their efforts to educate the church about the lingering impact of the Doctrine of Discovery, to honour the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to make good on our church’s public pledge to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He gave thanks and prayed for continued support to the Anglican Healing Fund. He asked members of the church to turn their hearts and minds to the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and to rid Canada of the crime of human trafficking.

Yet even as the Primate drew attention to these issues, he grounded them and the larger journey towards Indigenous self-determination in that day’s Bible readings, making clear their inseparability from the life and teachings of Jesus. “More than ever, may we be as those of whom [Jesus] says, ‘Blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, blessed are the ones who show mercy, and blessed are the ones who hunger and thirst after right relationships with God and one another. […] More than ever, let us be obedient to the call of the father, ‘This is my beloved son, listen to him.’”

Abridged from Matt Gardner’s report of Day 1 of the Ninth Indigenous Anglican Sacred Circle, Prince George, 6 August 2018. (To be found on www.anglican.ca)