Shrewsbury: Dowry of Mary prayer cards

  • Simon Caldwell

Source: Diocese of Shrewsbury

Angelus prayer cards are being distributed throughout the Diocese of Shrewsbury as part of preparations for the rededication of England as the 'Dowry of Mary.'

Rt Rev Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, is asking Catholics of the Diocese to say the Angelus on a daily basis ahead of the National Day of Rededication on March 29.

He is making the prayer cards available in every parish of the Diocese so that Catholics might have the text at their fingertips throughout the season of Lent.

The initiative will be announced by Bishop Davies in a pastoral letter read out at Masses over the weekend of February 29 and March 1.

The Angelus is a prayer centred around the Annunciation, when the Blessed Virgin Mary was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and freely assented to become the Mother of Jesus Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Davies wants Catholics to copy the fidelity of the Virgin Mary by uniting their assent to the will of God with hers.

The National Day of Rededication, which falls on the fifth Sunday of Lent, will see Catholics throughout the country making a personal 'Angelus promise' to God in union with the "yes" of Mary at the Annunciation.

Communal acts of entrustment will be made in cathedrals at 12 noon, renewing the vows of dedication made by King Richard II. Schools are invited to join the rededication on Monday March 30.

In his pastoral letter Bishop Davies says: "In a time of amnesia - forgetfulness - of the Christian past, we recall how England began with this desire to say 'yes' to God's grace, in order that a once pagan people might share Christ's victory in the wilderness by learning to live 'by every word which comes from the mouth of God' and worshipping and serving the Lord God alone.

"Our national identity would be forged by the Christian faith we now share. England's Monarchs would entrust this land to the Mother of God so that, like Mary, we might respond to God's word in faith. They recognised England's high destiny to be a place where the joy of the Annunciation will never fade.

" ... Where Monarchs once acted on behalf of their people, today may this same act of dedication be renewed in the hearts of each one of us. Let us entrust ourselves, our families, our diocese and our whole nation to the Mother of God that we may say with her, a decisive 'yes' to God's grace and God's plan for our lives.

"The Angelus seems especially appropriate for this purpose, for it is the prayer of the Angel's announcement to Our Lady ... This Sunday, prayer cards will be distributed across the Shrewsbury Diocese so we can have the words of this beautiful prayer to hand. I wish to invite you to pray the Angelus with me each day and especially around midday on Wednesday 25th March, when we celebrate the great feast of the Annunciation. The two or three minutes we give to this prayer will be like a 'breath of fresh air' in the middle of the day, allowing us to raise our minds and hearts to God and to re-direct all to His glory."

England has enjoyed the unique status of the "Dowry of Mary" since 1381 when, amid great political turmoil, King Richard II set the country and its people aside for the special guidance and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The dedication coincided with the growth of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham into one of the four great pilgrimage destinations of Medieval Europe.

The shrine was destroyed during the reign of King Henry VIII and the original statue burned at Chelsea by Sir Thomas Cromwell - (along with thousands of others from around the country. The fire lasted three weeks.)

But the shrine was re-established in the 19th century and the English bishops decided in 2017 that a rededication was desirable given the rapid de-Christianisation of the country.

The Catholic Church has for centuries recognised England's status as "Dowry of Mary" and has consequently granted the local Church the privilege of praying the Hail Mary during the course of the Mass.

The pastoral letter of the Bishop of Shrewsbury follows in full.

A PASTORAL LETTER

To be read at Mass on the First Sunday of Lent

On the Re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary 1st March 2020

My dear brothers and sisters,

I think of you all each morning at the Altar and each evening as we pray the Angelus before the statute of Our Lady in the Cathedral. I think of your families and your work; of the loneliness of old age and the generous hopes of youth; of those seeking their vocation, especially the men discerning their vocation at the Cathedral and our seminarians preparing for the priesthood and the young couples preparing for marriage; I think of all our priests and deacons and consecrated women and men, and of the whole mission of our Diocese. We know that in the offering of every Mass our lives, our prayer, our work and our sufferings are "united with those of Christ and his total offering, and so acquire a new value"i. In the simple prayer of the Angelus we also seek to unite ourselves to the "yes" Mary gave to God's word and thereby to Christ Himself. In the Angelus we say with Our Lady, "Let it be to me according to your word".ii This is a perfect prayer to accompany the Year of the Word.

At the beginning of Lent, the Book of Genesis tells how human history began with our first parents saying "no" to God and his loving purpose. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that: "Man, tempted by the devil let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command"iii. This is original sin and "all subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness".iv Yet amid the disaster of this primeval fall, we hear the first announcement of the Gospel telling of the Saviour to come and of a New Eve, the Mother of Christ, who would truly be the Mother of all who live. Together with Our Lady we now repeat her fiat, her "yes" to all God asks of us and to the grace God wishes to pour into our hearts.

In a time of amnesia - forgetfulness - of the Christian past, we recall how England began with this desire to say "yes" to God's grace, in order that a once pagan people might share Christ's victory in the wilderness by learning to live "by every word which comes from the mouth of God" and worshipping and serving the Lord God alone.v Our national identity would be forged by the Christian faith we now share. England's Monarchs would entrust this land to the Mother of God so that, like Mary, we might respond to God's word in faith. They recognised England's high destiny to be a place where the joy of the Annunciation will never fade. vi

This year, the Bishops invite us to renew that solemn act of entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary amidst the de-Christianisation of our society, re-echoing the call with which Lent begins, "Come back to me with all your heart".vii On the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we will make this act of entrustment together at the end of Mass. In Shrewsbury Diocese, I want us to also make this entrustment throughout Lent using the simple and profound words of the Angelus. Where Monarchs once acted on behalf of their people, today may this same act of dedication be renewed in the hearts of each one of us. Let us entrust ourselves, our families, our diocese and our whole nation to the Mother of God that we may say with her, a decisive "yes" to God's grace and God's plan for our lives.

The Angelus seems especially appropriate for this purpose, for it is the prayer of the Angel's announcement to Our Lady. Following the Second Vatican Council, Saint Paul VI commended the Angelus prayer especially for our times as it vividly recalls with the words of Scripture the Incarnation of the Son of God and leads us to pray that we may be led "by his Passion and Cross to the glory of his Resurrection". viii Pope Paul asked us to use this prayer "whenever and wherever possible" amidst our working day, however busy we might be.

This Sunday, prayer cards will be distributed across the Shrewsbury Diocese so we can have the words of this beautiful prayer to hand. I wish to invite you to pray the Angelus with me each day and especially around midday on Wednesday 25th March, when we celebrate the great feast of the Annunciation. The two or three minutes we give to this prayer will be like a 'breath of fresh air' in the middle of the day, allowing us to raise our minds and hearts to God and to re-direct all to His glory.

United with you in this prayer and entrusting us all to the most pure heart of Mary,

+ Mark
Bishop of Shrewsbury

i CCC 1368 ii Lk. 1:38 iii CCC 397 iv Ibid v Cf. Mt. 4 vi Cf. Pynson Ballad, the message of Our Lady of Walsingham vii Joel 2:12
viii Cf. Marialis Cultus n. 41

LINKS

Twitter: @ShrewsRCnews
Website: www.dioceseofshrewsbury.org
Behold: www.behold2020.com


Tags: Shrewsbury, Bishop Mark Davies, Dowry of Mary, Simon Caldwell, Behold

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