From the Pastor: Our Lady of Walsingham
As you are aware, this Monday evening at 7:00 pm I will celebrate Mass for local Catholics who are associated with the Personal Ordinariate of the chair of St. Peter. (Everyone else is most welcome to attend, too, so put it on your calendar!) Put simply, the Ordinariate is the branch of Catholicism for those who were Anglican or Episcopal and have converted to the Catholic faith and are allowed to use a special Missal for a Form of the Mass which is similar to but different than both the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo) and the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin) Masses. Call it a hybrid, if you will. I don’t say that to be disrespectful and I am pretty sure that a priest of the Ordinariate would probably describe it in much more glowing terms, but I don’t really know how else to describe it in a succinct manner and still give you the general picture of how the Mass will be celebrated. Anyway, since I was asked to celebrate this Mass on their big feast day, Our Lady of Walsingham, who is the patroness of the Ordinariate (their cathedral church in Texas is even named for her), I thought it would be a good idea to get an altar Missal for the occasion. Somebody was kind enough to send me a link to the missal publishing company (it is located in England, of course, as not everything in the world revolves around the US) and I placed my order on Amazon Europe (or something like that). Unlike the Amazon I am used to dealing with, there was no “second day delivery” option. So I waited. And waited. And waited. They had given a quite wide range of expected delivery dates and when the last one was past and still no missal had arrived, I emailed the company. When they replied it was to send me a US Postal Service tracking number and a statement from the USPS that it was already delivered to Tampa and was awaiting “acceptance”, whatever that means. So I got online with the USPS and put in the tracking number and asked for information on the delivery. The next day I received notice that the package was moving from Tampa to Ybor City and would be delivered to me by Friday (of last week). (“Awaiting acceptance” evidently means “sitting on a shelf until somebody bothers us about it”.) They actually delivered it this past Thursday morning, a day “early”. I excitedly tore into the box and pulled out a very beautiful leatherbound Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition. In other words, an elegant Missal for use at a Novus Ordo Mass. Yes, the one I wanted is evidently out of stock so, rather than lose a sale, they sent the wrong one instead. Oh well. I tried. If anyone out there wants to give a NO priest a very nice altar missal, let me know before I send it back!
Of course, one of the things I had to do was research a little about Our Lady of Walsingham. Every place I look which mentions her feast day says that in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar it is celebrated on September 24, the date on which the Mass was requested. Yet on our TLM calendar, it is the feast of Our Lady of Ransom. On the Novus Ordo calendar, there is no celebration of Our Lady (or any Saint, for that matter) listed. Wikipedia, which is not exactly noted for complete accuracy even though it is often a good starting point, is one of only two places I found which claims that Our Lady of Ransom and Our Lady of Walsingham are one and the same. It explains it this way. “According to the reputed Marian apparition to Lady Richeldis, the Blessed Virgin Mary fetched her soul from England to Nazareth during a religious ecstasy to show the house where the Holy Family once lived and was then tasked to build an imitation of the home in which the Annunciation of Archangel Gabriel occurred. The building structure came to be known as the ‘Holy House’, and later became both a shrine and the focus of pilgrimage to Walsingham. The wooden image was carved in Oberammergau, Germany, and was once associated with the Virgin of Mercy under the venerated Marian title of Our Lady of Ransom, sometimes locally worded as ‘Our Lady of the Dowry’. The popularity of the Marian cult gradually localized the place of devotion as ‘Our Lady of Walsingham’.”
The second place I found confirming this was the online old Catholic Encyclopedia. It included one simple line under the heading of Our Lady of Ransom. “In England the devotion to Our Lady of Ransom was revived in modern times to obtain the rescue of England as Our Lady's Dowry.” So, if Our Lady of Ransom, Our Lady of the Dowry, and Our Lady of Walsingham are all the same (of course, it is the same Blessed Mother; I mean if they are all the same like Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Fatima are simply two titles of the Blessed Mother as she appeared to the children in Fatima) that makes it quite interesting. St. Peter Nolasco, following a vision of Our Lady of Ransom, started the religious order of Mercedarians to rescue (by means of paying ransom) Catholics enslaved by Muslims and who were in danger of losing their souls through apostasy. Connecting the dots, once-Catholic England became Anglican and is becoming Muslim. Hmmm... Our Lady, pray for us!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka