Parish Magazine

Fr. Ray Whelan’s Pastoral Letter for September

Dear Friends

The Feast of Mary! “Oh, he’s not banging on about Mary again?” – can I hear in imagination by one or two groans!

Well, yes but not because it’s some dry theological High Church bit of partisanship. But because it really can deepen and expand our spirituality and at the risk of being patronising, enrich our whole way of life.

“I have Jesus and that’s enough for me”, again a sometimes heard riposte in defence against such things. Of course Jesus is enough. But we would be foolish to refuse a drink at the same time as enjoying a slap-up meal!

The Church of England Lectionary advises that IF the 15th August is not celebrated in a particular church (the lectionary calls that date “The Blessed Virgin Mary”), it may be celebrated on the 8th September which the lectionary correctly calls “The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.

Well, we did celebrate the 15th August as a vigil Eucharist on Wednesday 14th August 2019 at 6.30pm under the Title of ‘The Dormition’ or ‘Falling Asleep’ or ‘Assumption’ of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When I kept the same Feast (Solemnity) at St Richard’s Aldwick earlier in the same day I included in my address some words on the approach of Methodism as there were some members of that tradition present. “The Church of England fully participates in the ARCIC accord of 1986 & 2005 which states “the teaching that God has taken the Blessed Virgin Mary in the fullness of her person into his glory as consonant with Scripture, and only to be understood in the light of Scripture”.

“There is also of course the strong Methodist presence in the Ecumenical Society of the BVM which began with Gordon Wakefield and Stewart Denyer and has continued with John Newton and others. Neville Ward, made the outstanding Methodist contribution to Marian devotion with his classic work on the Rosary, ‘Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy’.

Returning to our theme today, a review on that seminal work “Mary for Evangelicals” by Tim Perry, a protestant Professor of Theology, one review reads: “For too long Protestant evangelicals have ignored Gabriel’s (The Angel -RKW) assessment of Jesus’ mother as the one who is ‘blessed among women.’

Mary for Evangelicals impressively addresses this deficiency, developing a Mariology that has biblical, historical and theological integrity. In addition, Tim Perry makes a positive contribution to the larger Protestant evangelical-Roman Catholic dialogue by addressing the right issues and taking them on with sensitivity and fairness to all. Perry has done the Protestant evangelical community and the ‘God-bearer’ (Mary – RKW) a great service.” (DENNIS OKHOLM, professor of theology, Azusa Pacific University).

Don’t we all bear Christ in our bodies? Of course we do, spiritually. And for a short time we bear Him physically after receiving the Blessed sacrament at communion, going on to sustain and deepen our spiritual bearing of Him. But Mary bore Him actually, constantly until His birth, taking His body, His flesh from her.

There are countless excellent books and works on Mary, the Bearer of God, but perhaps the most important of all for Anglicans is ‘Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ’. This book is the Fifth and complete statement of the second phase of ARCIC (Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission), concerning Mary.

Also in his book ‘Life in the Spirit and Mary’ Christopher O Donnell from a Charismatic point of view, paying tribute, to among others, Father René Laurentin, writes towards a conclusion, “It is the experience of persons involved in the charismatic renewal that they develop a new love for well established devotions such as the Rosary and the Angelus. As the Scriptures come alive, as a regular prayer becomes established, new values are seen in many traditional practices. But full piety toward Mary recognizes her as model, as mother, as one who loves and cares.”

I have included an article later in the magazine.

Jesus mercy, Mary Pray.

Love and prayers

Fr Ray Whelan