I really enjoy the annual visit of the Day With Mary team to our parish. I have no idea how they manage to do this every week; after one day, I feel like I need to lie down for a month. It is, however, the sort of exhaustion which is satisfying: I feel that I have had a spiritual Spring Clean, just in time for Lent.
I got back a short while ago, and am already being bombarded with text messages, all demanding to know why there's nothing up on my blog yet. I bet they're not cyber-bullying Fr. Tim...
Ok, ok. I give in.
The day always starts with the Crowning of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Each year, I anticipate some disaster or other because climbing a stepladder while wearing a cope is no mean feat.
Then there is a procession with the statue around the block. The procession is small, and stays on the pavements, so it doesn't interfere with traffic... nevertheless, there are always a few puzzled expressions on the faces of passers-by.
Looking back at previous posts, I see that I've pretty much wimped out of doing the actual procession (the slow walking pace adopted is murderously hard going on both my knee and my ankle) for the past few years, and this morning was pretty much the same. Damp, cold weather is not good for my aching joints. I remained in the church and said the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary... which is pretty much what those in the procession were doing anyway!
Fr. Tim preached on Our Lady and a rarely heard title of hers (I've forgotten it... something against heresies) The upshot of it was that by defending the right of Our Lady to be called Mother of God, the Church also preserved the correct understanding of the person of Christ.
Fr. Tim also mentioned that the Holy Father had been having a rough ride from the media over the past few weeks, and so, after Mass, we all prayed for Pope Benedict, and sang "God bless our Pope!" - belted out by 230 people, it was stirring stuff.
Lunchtime saw me make a beeline for the extremely well-stocked bookstall. More on that later. Suffice it to say that the bookstall crew remembered me, and when I finished, we were all very happy bunnies... I was an even happier bunny when I discovered that one of my friends had come armed with spare sausage sandwiches, and one of them had my name on it.
In the afternoon, a Blessed Sacrament procession followed the same route round the streets as the morning's Rosary procession. We then had Exposition, and a sermon on from Fr. Agnellus, one of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. His topic was holy prudence, not a subject often preached about. He related it to the passage where Our Lord advises his disciples to be "wise as serpents and innocent as doves," and Fr. Agnellus said that the wisdom referred to was not worldly wisdom, but prudence. Very thought-provoking.
In addition, we had the Luminous and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, meditations on the Stations of the Cross, another sermon from Fr. Tim (this time on Our Lady, Queen of the Family,) Benediction, enrolment in the Brown Scapular and the Miraculous Medal, consecration of the parish to Our Lady, and the final farewell, with everyone waving white hankies during the chorus of the last hymn (which always makes me blub...)
If there is a Day With Mary visiting anywhere near you, I would seriously recommend that you make the effort to go along, even if only for a part of the day. It'll be well-worth the effort.