Saturday, March 31, 2018

Rosary on the Coast For Faith, Life and Peace in the British Isles

An image of the rugged north coast of Scotland near Durness and Cape Wrath.
The rugged north coast of Scotland. Photo: Scotland Info Guide/Durness and Cape Wrath.

On Sunday, April 29, at 3:00pm faithful Catholics in the British Isles will gather at the coast to recite the Rosary as part of a national day of prayer and pilgrimage for faith, life, and peace. This lay initiative, Rosary on the Coast for Faith, Life and Peace in the British Isles, is another national Rosary prayer event that follows in the footsteps of similar events in Poland, Italy, and Ireland. 

In addition to those on the coasts of England, Scotland, and Wales, the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Isle of Man, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Wight, the Scilly Islands, Lundy Island, the Channel Islands and many other smaller islands, others will gather at cathedrals, churches and shrines inspired by the words of Jesus, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them." (Matt 18:20) 

The date of Rosary on the Coast is not without its special significance: Sunday, April 29, is not only the fifth Sunday of Easter, but also the Feast of Our Lady of Faith and Saint Catherine of Sienna, both of whom are co-patrons of Europe. As the organizers point out, "This frames our initiative in the wider context of re-Christianising our great continent."

Rosary on the Coast has received support from many bishops and other members of the clergy: Bishop Alan Hopes of the Diocese of East Anglia; Welsh Bishop Tom Burns; Monsignor John Armitage, Rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham; Father Jeremy Milne, Vicar Episcopal for Marriage and Families within the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh; and Bishop Philip Egan of the Diocese of Portsmouth. 

Words of encouragement and support have also come from the Sisters of the Gospel of Life in Glasgow, Scotland who will be actively participating in this national prayer event on the coast, and invite others to join their group.

In a wonderful show of solidarity with fellow Catholics in the British Isles, Kathy Sinnott, who headed the Rosary at the Coast for Life and Faith in Ireland, has also expressed her support and encouragement.

It would be remiss of me not to include the support of Bishop John Keenan from the Diocese of Paisley, Scotland, who first caught my attention back in November 2017, when he expressed his desire that Scotland should follow in the example of Poland, Italy, and Ireland with a national Rosary prayer event.

A screen shot taken from the Rosary on the Coast's Facebook page of Bishop Keenan's daily spiritual preparation post.
Bishop Keenan's daily spiritual preparation Facebook post.
Image: Rosary on the Coast Facebook page.
To help strengthen and ensure the efficaciousness of the Rosary on the Coast, Bishop Keenan initiated a 40 Day Spiritual Preparation—which started on March 19 and will end on April 27—that includes a variety of daily guidelines: recitation of the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Stations of the Cross, and other prayers, Mass attendance, fasting, scriptural reading, sacrifices, and acts of mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. Each day's guidelines are posted on Facebook by Bishop Keenan, which are then shared at the Rosary on the Coast Facebook page. Participants are also permitted to freely choose from other guidelines as prompted by the Holy Spirit. At the end of the forty days, organizers are encouraging everyone to receive Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession, on April 28, as part of further spiritual preparation for the following day when Catholics will attend Mass in the morning and then gather at the coasts.

Bishop Keenan has also released a YouTube video in support of Rosary on the Coast, referring to it as "a courageous initiative by the lay faithful," and a call for Catholics to get to the coast and pray the Rosary to implore Our Lady's help to "arouse a great renewal of our Christian faith." It is through Our Lady, the bishop stressed, that the "scourge of abortion" will come to an end, and the Blessed Mother will usher in, "a new era of peace for all of our nations."

As more and more people join the Rosary on the Coast, it is Bishop Keenan's hope that the various groups will form a "ring of grace" around the British Isles. To date there are 141 locations and that number is growing with each passing week.

In the aforementioned YouTube video, Bishop Keenan characterized the times as a "...[D]ark and turbulent storm of aggressive secularism that's threatening ever more the dignity of the human person, the sanctity of life, and the joy of authentic relationships." Continuing further on this point he stated, "It wants to outlaw religion from public life and thinks it can solve all the serious problems of the world by ever more draconian political encroaches into ordinary peoples' lives."

With tensions rising and hopes fading, Bishop Keenan emphasized that, "...[T]he world is crying out for new solutions and these will only come from a renewal in the Church, that is strong again in faith. Our gospel can dispel the present confusion and lead us into a welcome era of peace and light."

Drawing from history, the bishop highlighted that God has demonstrated throughout the bible that renewal is "...[L]iterally around the corner when nations confess our sins, ask His forgiveness and mercy, and trust in His supernatural power to make everything new."

After encouraging the faithful to trust in Our Lady's intercession, Bishop Keenan imparted his blessing upon the Rosary on the Coast, "May God bless this important venture and begin the conversion and reconciliation of our isles."

As the organizers of this national prayer event point out on their website's Inspiration page under the subheading, Context of Prayer for a re flourishing of Faith across the British Isles, the Rosary on the Coast is:
...[A]n opportunity to pray for a re-flourishing of faith across the British Isles as a means of preparing for a New Spring Time within the Church, so that we Christians of these lands might spread the Gospel in its fullness in a renewed and joyous way. We hope that Rosary on the Coast will bring from heaven the grace of renewed evangelistic outreach and zeal as we further the work of the New Evangelisation.
Organizers have also included a statement under the subheading, Context of Prayer for the Sanctity of the Human Person, in which they not only spotlight the deplorable Abortion Act—that came into effect in April 27, 1968—that has ushered in a Culture of Death, but they have also identified the deep crisis of conscience in which citizens are, "...[U]nable to fathom and grasp the enormity of this wound to our society."

And following that statement, at the Context of Prayer for Peace in our National life and for peace among Nations subheading, organizers highlighted the troubled times we all live in evidenced by the "incessant litany of bad news" and the great need of hope that can be awakened through prayer.

The response by the organizers speaks volumes about their trust in Our Lady's intercession, as well as to the understanding that the battle for the British Isles is primarily a spiritual battle that must be fought with spiritual weapons. And the most effective way to fight the good fight is by group recitation of the Rosary.

Saint Louis De Montfort in his book, The Secret of the Rosary, at the Forty-Sixth Rose: Group Recitation, stated that not only is the group recitation of the Rosary the method of prayer that the Evil One fears the most, but "...[I]t is far more formidable to the devil than one said privately, because in this public prayer it is an army that is attacking him." (98)

A screen shot of Mgr. John Armitage's message of supprt for the Rosary on the Coast.
Monsignor John Armitage, Rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Image:
Rosary on the Coast/Message of support from Mgr. John Armitage
As Monsignor John Armitage stated in his video message in support of this national day of prayer and pilgrimage, "The Rosary is the most powerful prayer, quite simply because the Rosary is the compendium of the Gospel."
Utilizing the Rosary as a spiritual weapon has been a long-held tradition in the Church since its origin when Saint Dominic (Founder of the Order of Preachers) received the Rosary from Our Blessed Mother in 1214, as an efficacious method and powerful means to convert the Albigensians and other sinners.

The long-held tradition of praying the Rosary in times of great need was given much attention by Pope Leo XIII—who wrote extensively on the subject matter—most notably in his encyclical Supremi Apostolatus Officio, on devotion to the Rosary and its efficaciousness as a remedy for the many evils of society. In that encyclical, the pope stated, "It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary, and to seek for peace in her maternal goodness; showing that the Catholic Church has always, and with justice, put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God." (2) Written in 1883, Pope Leo XIII's encyclical not only encouraged devotion to the Rosary, but spotlighted how important it has been in the history of the Catholic Church when faced with several threats; namely, the violence of heresy, intolerable moral corruption, and aggressive Islamic attacks by the Ottoman Turks.

In the British Isles, like so many other parts of the world, a struggle has been under way for decades: the struggle to understand the meaning of the human person. That struggle has been the human dilemma of late modernity; one that drove the philosophical work and pontificate of St. John Paul II, and one that Bishop Keenan has been keen to point out in his message, posted on the Rosary on the Coast website:
Our world is engaged in a fraught struggle over the meaning of the human person. Aggressively secular anthropologies insist that nothing is really true or given in human nature, and the only lasting good for each human person comes about when they can choose everything about their identity from its very source. It brings a radically new meaning to the idea of pro-choice because it seeks to lay hold on the very prerogatives of Creation itself. Against this our Christian anthropology battles on proposing that God, in His loving plan of Creation, has already given us a nature that is best for us, so that our meaning and happiness are integrally linked to discovering, rather than inventing, the truth of who we are, and so entering its path to real dignity, freedom and peace. Since this task is now, in our times, an adventure of evangelisation we need God’s supernatural assistance in grace and mercy, which the laity are beginning to cry out for in initiatives like the Rosary on the Coast, asking the Woman who was content to be the handmaid of God’s plan to be their intercessor and guide.
Group recitation of the Rosary on a national level can draw God's Divine Intervention and Mercy upon a nation; organizers, supporters, and participants of Rosary on the Coast are seeking to do just that.

Writing about this national prayer event, I cannot help but think of Saint John Paul II's Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world in which he stated, "A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle." (3) It was released on December 30, 1988, on the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph; considering the current state of affairs in the Church and in the world, how much more relevant is Christifideles Laici today.

The example of the faithful in the British Isles is a source of inspiration for us all throughout the Universal Catholic Church. Hopefully many will be encouraged to seriously consider embarking on a similar venture, including on this side of the pond, here in Canada, where we are in desperate need of a national Rosary prayer event. 

May Catholics in the British Isles and throughout the world be united in prayer on April 29, at 3:00pm.

1 comment:

  1. It's great to hear that this is being replicated in Britain. I took part in the one in Ireland. I have to admit it was as bit dispiriting at first, as not so many people joined in as I'd hoped. But more people seemed to join as we moved towards the endpoint. When we stopped by statue of Mary on the beach, it was quite solemn and inspiring. It as a cold, wet day, as it happened.

    Especially in the context of your musings on the truth of the person, please pray for Ireland's abortion referendum on the day. I've been door-to-door canvassing and I think there's a genuine hope it could be defeated. God bless.


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