Today is one of the best days of the year for the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen - the Day with Mary. This morning, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was brought into the Church and solemnly crowned, after which we had a procession of Our Lady through the streets that go round the site of the Church.
This was followed by a Missa Cantata with the propers sung by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. I was proud that Blackfen parish had the honour of being the first parish to celebrate Mass in the Classical Roman Rite for the Day with Mary. I reflected that this is a significant development whereby the movement for the Classical Roman rite was able to unite with one of the most spiritually effective movements for the new evangelisation: a moving example of the unity that Pope Benedict wished to bring to the Church.
After Mass, I renewed the consecration of the parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and then gratefully took some food with the Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate together with the indefatigable band of lay men and women who organise these days throughout the year. The group allow the parish priest to take books from the superb bookstall as a gift for his help (I should be giving them gifts for coming!) I got the Autobiography of St Margaret Mary, "Martin of Tours, Soldier, Bishop, Saint" by Régine Pernoud, and St Robert Bellarmine's "The Art of Dying Well" published by the Sophia Institute Press. The ladies at the "medals and rosaries" end of hte stall gave me a "Seven Dolours" rosary and a booklet of Devotions to the Sorrowful Mother.
In the first part of the afternoon, I took a little time out to prepare things for the parish Sunday Masses while Fr Agnellus FI exposed the Blessed Sacrament and led a procession, again round the streets, with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This year I had the presence of mind to grab my camera as the procession was returning, to take some shots from the first floor of the presbytery. Above you can see the heart of the procession, Our Lord being carried amid clouds of incense. Here is the front of the procession as it returns to the Church:
And in this picture, you can just see the canopy at the end (click to enlarge):
Later, I will give another sermon - this time specifically about Our Lady. After Benediction there will be enrolment in the brown scapular, conferral of the miraculous medal and the blessing of all the pious books and objects that people have brought with them or purchased during the day.