Searching for Mary
Just a few scanty notes here on Easter Monday.
A few years ago I found myself belonging to a fledgling group of Episcopalians devoted to honoring Saint Mary, the mother of Christ. Now we Episcopalians are an interesting lot. The “high church” lay people like me love the incense, bells, high liturgy, Rite I, vestments, and many have a devotion to Mary. Not worshiping her, but honoring her as the Mother of God.
The “low church” or more Protestant lay members think we’re crazy, and are suspicious of anything they think smacks of Catholicism.
Hundreds of years since the Protestant Reformation swept England, we Anglicans are still quarreling about candles and Mary. The high church laity like me may use an Anglican Rosary, and have some distinct leanings toward conversation with Mary, which freaks out the low church members. I’m in the group who uses an Anglican Rosary, and embraces Mary as my Mother, Sister, and more importantly the most important woman in Christianity. I believe in giving her what’s due. Please don’t talk to me of false idols, or spout Scripture about me running off the road spiritually.
So I look with sadness upon the dissolution of the monasteries, the sacking of the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in 1538, along with her sister shrines of Our Lady of Doncaster, Our Lady of Ipswich and others. From the time of Edward the Confessor to Henry VIII, Our Lady of Walsingham had been a pilgrimage site for lowly born to kings. Then she was cast low, her property dispersed to royal flunkies, and she might have been lost to us forever, if not for a few who kept her memory.
Our little order of Our Lady of Walsingham didn’t last long, and went out with a whimper. I have no idea what happened; one day we were a group, then nothing. My black women’s Anglican cassock, blue scapular, and black cincture are hanging in my closet, a sad kind of souvenir.
My love for Mary is undimmed. I look to her by myself, or with other Anglicans, as we seek her wisdom with respect and child-like love.