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A wonderful trip into the past…

The beautiful Sanctuary at St Mary Immaculate, Warick

The beautiful Sanctuary at St Mary Immaculate Church, Warick

This past Bank holiday week-end, my better-half and I finally decided to spend a much longed for week-end away together. It was just what the doctor ordered. It was great to just relax without any interruptions from any electronic device whatsoever. Bliss!

We decided to visit Stratford Upon Avon as we’ve never been there, and booked into a hotel in the nearby town of Warick. The next important decision, was about where we would attend Mass on Sunday and  St. Mary Immaculate Church happens to be about 5-6 km from the hotel, so that became the obvious choice for our weekly Sunday sojourn. We saw it as a  bonus that we could attend the 8;30am Mass and then carry on from there to do our site-seeing and exploring in the neighbouring town of  Stratford (or so we’d planned!) On Saturday I came down with a racking and relentless cough, which kept me wide-eyed and bush-tailed throughout the night. Not good. So, we abandoned said plans and after Mass decided to head back to the hotel where I spent the entire day in bed (still coughing) trying to catch up on a bit of sleep.

Our attendance at St. Mary Immaculate was just lovely in every sense of the word. We  were greeted by a most beautifully adorned  Sanctuary as we walked into the intimate seating area for about 200 worshippers. ( I say intimate, as our church holds probably upwards of 600 parishioners at a time.)

The icons of Saints adorned the back wall, rightfully taking their place to ‘worship’ alongside us during the Mass. The Sanctus took on a new meaning for me with these wonderful images  staring down upon the Altar, during the most special prayer of  devotion and worship in the Mass. We received Communion in both kinds that morning, in an unknown community of fellow Catholics.

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 024

Stratford Upon Avon May 2013 023

After Mass we introduced ourselves to Fr. Stefan Laszczyk, who by and by came to tell us about to one of  St. Mary Immaculate’s world famous parishioners: JJR Tolkien! He and his wife were married at this church in 1916. I love the fact that in England history lies around every corner, and if you’re not careful, you may just miss an exciting titbit.

I’m glad we introduced ourselves to Fr. Laszczyk!

Sorry about the blurriness!!

Sorry about the blurriness!!

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Our Blessed Lady, Immaculate!

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Our Lady of Lourdes by Auxilium Christianorum

On the 5th and 12th centuries, St. Augustine and St. Bernard, respectively, pointed out a contradiction:  “How could Jesus be the Saviour of a human creature who had been exempt from sin from the moment of conception?”  This issue sparked debates among theologians for centuries, until theologian Duns Scutos argued that the Virgin Mary is favoured with an “anticipated redemption,” but still this argument didn’t settle the issue.

On November 27, 1830, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared for the second time to St. Catherine Laboure.  She was standing on a globe.  Her arms were outstretched downwards.  An oval frame formed around her on which were written the words “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”  Then Mary instructed Catherine to have a medal struck after this model. Countless extraordinary blessings were attributed to the medal after its propagation in 1832 that in 1834, people began calling it the miraculous medal.
Largely because of the widespread use of Mary’s miraculous medal, and the countless debates on the issue of Mary “as conceived without sin,” on December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX solemnly declared Mary’s Immaculate Conception as a dogma in his encyclical Ineffabilis Deu
Then, four years later, on the sixteenth apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Bernadette on 25 March 1858, in Lourdes, France. Bernadette asked her who she was.  She answered “I AM THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION.”        

I found the hymn of Our Lady Immaculate’s Feast at UCatholic

Immaculate Mary, thy praises we sing;
Who reignest in splendour with Jesus our King.
Ave, ave, ave, Maria! Ave, ave, Maria!

In heaven, the blessed thy glory proclaim;
On earth we, thy children, invoke thy fair name.
Ave, ave, ave, Maria! Ave, ave, Maria!

We pray for our Mother, the Church upon earth,
And bless, dearest Lady, the land of our birth.
Ave, ave, ave, Maria! Ave, ave, Maria!

Waiting together with Mary.

mary-laughing

Our Lady and her cousin Elizabeth.

I thought that as it’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I’d search for some beautiful images of Our Lady. Uppermost in my mind as I looked for these was Our Lady’s time of waiting.

image004

A special moment for Our Lady.

maria-schwanger

Maria Schwanger

A beautiful rendition of the pregnant Madonna.

Madonna del Parto,  Antonio Veneziano

Madonna del Parto, Antonio Veneziano

Her time of waiting is almost over…

Mary and Elisabeth Meet ZachariahLorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni about 1416

Mary and Elisabeth Meet Zachariah
Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni about 1416