My first experience of Walsingham came when I attended the New Dawn Conference, which is held every year at the Catholic Shrine, in 2014. As I’m sure is the same for many people who have visited the Shrine, it holds a really special place in my heart.
Growing up in London, I’m used to quite a fast-paced lifestyle; loads of traffic, tall buildings lining the streets and a Pret a Manger every few steps you walk. What Walsingham primarily gives me is peace.
Although the times I have visited have generally been when there have been events on (meaning there are a few hundred people at least!), there is just something in the air which feels calm and allows me the space to put aside all the things that are usually going on in my head and give God the time He deserves. I remember speaking to a close friend about Walsingham and she said that when she is there, she almost forgets that there is anywhere else.
This September, we at Westminster Youth Ministry should be preparing for our annual diocesan pilgrimage later this month. However, unfortunately we have had to reschedule and, instead, there will be a Mass celebrated and live-streamed online on 12 September 2020 at 3:00pm.
Although things will look a little different this year, I for one want to try and experience a little bit of that ‘Walsingham Effect’ – even if I’m watching the livestream Mass from my bedroom.
I’ve been thinking about a few things I could do to try to create an atmosphere to really get the most out of the situation and have put together a few tips that might be of use!
- Create a prayerful space to watch the Mass at home (where possible!). If you have any icons, candles or even fairy lights why not set up a little area where you can pray the Mass. I’m definitely not the most artistic person but I do know that when I make more of an effort with my prayer space it can really help my head space.
- Take some time before the 12th to begin praying the Novena in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham which can be found here >
- Get outside! For me, a huge part of the Walsingham experience is all the walking I do. Now, while I’m not suggesting you walk a Holy Mile around your home, I do think there is something to be said for making a flask of tea and going for a bit of a stroll, even if it’s just your usual route to work or into town. It can be helpful to get out of your own head and to appreciate the world around you – you could even ask a pal to join you!
- Try to take some time as you move through the day and do your usual tasks to see where God is and be thankful. Particularly during lockdown, I felt that this really helped me to not get too frustrated and fed up. I noticed that I was more grateful for things that I don’t usually notice, like having clean clothes and a choice of food to eat in the cupboard.
What are your tips to making the most of an ‘At-home Pilgrimage’?