This introductory weekend is the first in a series of weekends designed to help people enter in depth into the Spirituality of Walsingham. Through a series of talks, lectio divina, silence, spiritual accompaniment and litugical prayer moments, the sisters will enable individuals to apply this rich spirituality in the reality of their own lives.

Walsingham exists to remind us of the mystery of Mary’s silent surrender, her self-sacrificing love, her joy and humility in bearing and believing the Word of God. The Spirit is ultimate freedom, total unpredictability. God lives not in a ‘house made with hands’ but in hearts that are, with Mary, ready for anything – ‘Be it done unto me according to your word.’ At the heart of Walsingham lies the mystery of the Annunciation.

The house symbolises stability. It was the house that made Nazareth permanently present in Walsingham, standing firm and strong, guaranteeing the future of the village and the Shrine. But this is balanced by the theme of the Annunciation which implies a radical openness to change and growth. Everyone of us carries within ourselves an element of unpredictability.

As she is presented to us in Luke’s gospel, Mary stands for the perfect disciple. Like Israel of old she is chosen and called simply out of love. She has not chosen God; rather God has chosen her. She is a child of grace, of choice, and so she is able to respond to God’s initiative with the words ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.’

But that is not the end of the story. Mary had to be open to human growth and development, just as Jesus had to grow physically, spiritually, socially. She had to make choices, accept responsibility, and ultimately let her Son go his own way even when she did not understand.

Mary is our vocational model as one who responded totally, allowed God to do with her all that he wanted. When Jesus says that his mother, brothers and sisters are those who do the will of his Father in heaven we have a glimpse into the wholeness of Mary’s self-giving. It was not bearing Christ in the flesh that made her blessed. Her real motherhood lay in her surrender to the Father’s will; her ‘Be it done unto me (her ‘Fiat’, ‘Amen’, ‘Alleluia’) in sorrow and in joy, in diminishment and fullness.

Members of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham will guide participants, through a series of talks and lectio divina, into what it means to imitate Mary’s FIAT, her YES to God’s love and will for her life.

This introductory weekend will look especially at what it means to ACCEPT God’s will in one’s life.

Date: Friday 6th – Sunday 8th October 2017

Location: Walsingham

Venue: Dowry House Retreat (www.dowryhouse,org.uk)

To book a place email: dowryhouse@walsingham.org.uk