Some Christians think that it is wrong to pray to Mary since you should worship God alone. That is, in one sense, true, as we do not worship Mary in the same way we worship God. But, if you think of prayer as talking and listening, then it makes sense to pray to Mary. We are not asking her to heal us, but we are asking her to pray for us. If we ask one another to pray for us, why shouldn't we ask Jesus' mother to pray for us as well?
As Christians, we are all members of one family, the church. The saints are also members of the church, called the 'church triumphant', that is, they are with God in heaven. And so they pray for us, as we do for each other. And in a family, we all talk to each other, not just to the father, or mother. That is why we should talk to the saints, because they are our brothers and sisters too.
The Church has always held Mary in high regard, since she points us to her Divine Son as the source of our salvation. Christians from the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and many of the reformed traditions look to Mary as an example not only of how we should respond to God, but also of what we hope to be when, like her, we reach our goal in heaven.
At Christ Church we give special honour Our Lady, since it was by her saying ‘yes’ to God, that it was possible for Jesus to be born into the world. That is why Christians have a great deal of thanks to Mary. That is also why she is referred to as being blessed – she was blessed by God to be the mother of His son; she is also blessed by us for her part in bringing Jesus to us. If Mary had not complied with God’s will, then God would not have come amongst us and died for us on the cross.
Our Lady of Walsingham
Every year there is a pilgrimage from Staincliffe to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
In 1061, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Mary appeared with Jesus to Lady Richeldis de Faverches the Lady of the Manor of Walsingham. Mary asked her to build a copy of the Holy house at Nazareth, in which the boy Jesus had grown up. To help her with her efforts, Mary gave Richeldis the exact measurements. The site was indicated by the springing up of a holy well.
At the reformation, the shrine was, like others, destroyed under the orders of King Henry VIII. However, despite it's closure, the fame of what had become known as 'England's Nazareth' was not entirely forgotten. A slow stream of pilgrims still made their way to Walsingham. One of them was John Wesley, who, when he preached in the Methodist chapel (which still stands) lamented the destruction of the shrine, linking it with the decay of the national religion that he found all around him.
In the nineteenth century, the Church of England experienced revival, firstly with the evangelical movement and then Anglo-Catholicisim. An effect of this was a rediscovery of a devotion to Mary. In 1921, the vicar of Walsingham, Fr Alfred Hope-Patten, re-established the shrine, setting up a carved statue, which was copied from the original, depicted on a medieval seal of the priory. Again pilgrims came, in increasing numbers so that by 1931 a new shrine church had been built, reproducing the original Holy House, using the same dimensions as the Saxon original. This is how we find the shrine today.
Every year, people come to Walsingham. Some seek healing, others spiritual refreshment. Many have been making pilgrimages all their life, and so Walsingham is their second home. All find it a holy place. That is why we go back again.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.