.- Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has encouraged English Catholics to prepare for the Year of Faith by embracing and proclaiming Catholicism in its entirety.
“We are invited together with Simon Peter and with his successor Benedict our Pope to profess our Catholic faith in fullness and with renewed conviction,” Bishop Davies said Aug. 26 during a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Walsingham in Norfolk.
Bishop Davies gave two homilies during his pilgrimage to England’s national Marian shrine. In a sermon to around 1,500 members of the Youth 2000 movement, he reminded the congregation of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
“The Mass brings us to make a choice, the choice Joshua put before his people, ‘choose today whom you wish to serve,’” he told the young pilgrims gathered for the movement’s Searchlight@Walsingham Festival.
“For faith, Pope Benedict reminds us, ‘is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him’ and this choosing begins for us on Sunday at the start of every new week,” the bishop said.
The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham was established in 11th century by a Saxon noblewoman, Richeldis de Faverches, who desired to undertake some special work in honor of Our Lady.
In answer to her prayers for a special work, the Virgin Mary led her in spirit to Nazareth, showed her the house where the Annunciation occurred, and asked her to build a replica in Walsingham to serve as a perpetual memorial of the Annunciation.
In his later homily to the Latin Mass Society, Bishop Davies recalled how Walsingham “was once the focus of world attention” and a center of pilgrimage “renowned alongside Jerusalem and Rome,” until it was destroyed during the 16th-century English Reformation.
“These very ruins of Walsingham towards which you will walk the last ‘Holy Mile’ of this pilgrimage serve to remind us that each successive generation must make that choice for the faith again,” he said.
The homily was delivered during a Traditional High Mass which concluded a three-day, 55-mile walking pilgrimage by the Latin Mass Society. Bishop Davies recalled the words of the 19th-century Pope Leo XIII who predicted that “when England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.”
“In this way we will pass on the flame of faith and so leave to new generations not the ruins of a Christian past but the faith which Walsingham has represented for almost a thousand years.”