One advantage of Fr Tim's temporary absence from the blogging scene is that I get a chance to put up a post on what's been happening in the parish before he does... (his blog is so much better-written than mine, and he says what I'm thinking anyway, so I sort of feel that there's not much point just repeating it all!)
Anyway, on Monday morning the Stella Maris icon from the Apostleship of the Sea arrived in our parish. It's a beautiful icon, and the image I have doesn't really do it justice. It's massive, and comes complete with its own stand, plus another two stands for the explanatory notes - being an icon, all of the component parts have a symbolic meaning.
The icon was carried into the church by some of our parishioners just after the morning Mass, and Braz, one of our deacons, led us in saying three Hail Marys and a prayer to Our Lady, Star of the Sea by Pope John Paul II. We then sang "Hail Queen of heaven" which was particularly appropriate as it repeats the phrase "Star of the sea" and afterwards went in to the parish hall for tea and coffee and the chance for a chat.
There weren't that many people around for the Monday morning Mass, but on both Tuesday and today we had 50-60 parishioners. I was delighted that this happened during my summer holiday, so I was able to attend. Unfortunately, the icon has now moved on, I think to Our Lady of the Angels, Erith.
O Mary, Star of the Sea, light of every ocean, guide seafarers across all dark and stormy seas that they may reach the haven of peace and light prepared in Him who calmed the sea. As we set forth upon the oceans of the world and cross deserts of our time, show us, O Mary, the fruit of your womb, for without your Son we are lost.
Pray that we will never fail on life's journey, that in heart and mind, word and deed, in days of turmoil and in days of calm, we will always look to Christ and say, "Who is this that even wind and sea obey him?" Our Lady of Peace, pray for us! Bright Star of the Sea, guide us!
UPDATE: It would seem that Fr. Tim beat me to it again - he put up a post on the parish blog on Sunday. You can read about the different symbols in the icon HERE.