I love A Day with Mary - it's something that our family has looked forward to each year since we first encountered this wonderful apostolate in 2011. It's a day jam-packed with prayer and devotion but even so, somehow the whole ends up being much greater than the parts.
My children are particularly enthusiastic - they love the processions and the singing as well as the beautiful medals and devotional items on which they can spend their pocket money. This year's haul included a lovely silver miraculous medal to (finally) replace the one my eldest daughter lost when we were burgled a couple of year ago (it's the first time she's found one that she liked enough), picture medals of Blessed Francisco & Jacinta for my younger daughter who has a special devotion to the little seers at Fatima, some large medals and a crucifix for my eldest son and a glow-in-the-dark standing crucifix for the youngest (6) who said "now I can see Jesus on the cross when I wake up at night."
I love the bookstall -- I always come away from ADWM with a decent reading list for the next couple of months...
The weather was appropriately glorious for Margate's first ever Day with Mary and the town made a picturesque backdrop for the devotional procession while the very bricks echoed back the strains of Ave Maria after each decade of the Joyful Mysteries.
One of the many lovely things about ADWM is the variety of people that you meet and the way that parishioners and pilgrims blend together and make friends. There is something wonderfully unifying about a church packed to the rafters with smiling, praying, people singing their hearts out to Our Blessed Lord and his Mother. There is something joyfully transcendent about such an experience: I think that it might be a tiny flicker through a glass darkly of what heaven might feel like.
Another great pleasure of the day was seeing the wonderful Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate whom we have been privileged to get to know over the past few years -- and even go camping with at Walsingham! (OK, they were sensible enough to stay in the pilgrim bureau while we roughed it in a muddy field ... but they did manage to survive the journey home in our van and prayed their office with us before letting the girls visit their convent). We're very fond of them and it was a delight to be treated to their wonderfully pure voices singing the propers to the Solemn Mass and other devotional music throughout the day.
What else can I tell you? You should come and experience it for yourself: words can't begin to describe the graces that flow from a day like this. For me the high point was the consecration of our parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We are so blessed at St Austin & St Gregory: not only do we have a beautiful church, a kind and holy parish priest, a diverse and welcoming congregation and a quiverful of saintly patrons (Gregory the Great, St Augustine, St Anne - patron of the other church in our parish) but now we also enjoy the protection of the Immaculate. It feels like having the best ever spiritual security system installed. Not only was the parish consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary but also every individual and family present consecrated themselves to her care.
After the stirring and thought provoking sermons, the hours of prayer, reflection and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the joyful singing, processions, confessions, and outpouring of caritas, I think that a spiritual Geiger counter would have measured the parish of St Austin and St Gregory glowing for miles around with the positive outpouring of prayer.
The demons must have fled in terror.