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‘Then longen Folk to go on pilgrimage’

by Sr. Tamsin Mary Geach 

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Dominnican Pilgrimage 2018.  ©Lawrence Lew

Yesterday I went on pilgrimage to Walsingham.  Part of this was a May procession.  I have been in many May processions, and yesterday was reflecting how they are like a snap-shot of the Church. 

Sometimes when it rains the procession moves along in a sluggish sullen clump,with occasional arguments about the route and (on one memorable occasion) outright schism, with a group being led off on the ‘correct’ route, away from the statue of Our Lady and the Cross of Christ.  More often there is a disturbing lack of coherence – the back is singing the wrong verse of the hymn, or is a full decade behind in the Rosary;  meanwhile a group of impatient youngsters on the right hand side of the group gets ahead of the cross and joins a group of elderly people who for some reason have stopped praying, stopped following, and gone on ahead.   Sometimes the front goes too fast, causing an anxious middle to have to choose whether to hang back or trot at an uncomfortable speed to keep up.   Sometimes there is horrible tunelessness in the singing, and sometimes the hymns are of dubious taste or orthodoxy (Never in a Dominican pilgrimage of course!).   Carrying the cross or the statue is lovely to begin with, but the weight soon makes one weary. 

Nonetheless,  where the procession works best, with everyone walking in step, behind the cross through the sweet green of May-time fields,  where the people are charitable to each other, when the singing is sweet and the sunshine temperate,  where the Mass has been celebrated and Benediction is to follow, there is no place nearer heaven on this earth.  So follow the Cross.