|Fr George celebrating Mass in Redditch|
Due to Fr George's pastoral commitments, this week's Friday Mass (9th August) at West Heath has been cancelled. However, no doubt in part due to the first Friday devotion, we are blessed in the West Midlands with two other regular Friday evening EF Masses at the Oratory at 6pm and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Wolverhampton at 6.30pm. Perhaps if you usually go to West Heath or were thinking of going this week you might consider one of these alternatives instead - more details are available in the sidebar.
It was, however, possible to satisfy the weekly fix of a Fr George EF Mass tonight as he celebrated the first Monday Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Redditch (pictured above), a satellite town of Birmingham which strictly speaking falls under Worcestershire but has obvious links with our area. In the Novus Ordo, the Optional Memoria today is the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major. Until 1969 though and therefore in the 1962 Missal, it was known as Dedicatio Sanctæ Mariæ ad Nives (Dedication of the Church of Our Lady of the Snows), based on the following (probably) mythical story:
There lived in the Eternal City a nobleman, John and his childless wife, who had been blessed with much of this world’s goods. They chose the Mother of God as the heir to their fortune, and at the suggestion of Pope Liberius, prayed that she might make known to them how to do this by a particular sign.
In answer, the Virgin Mother during the night of August 5, appeared to John and his wife and also to the Holy Father, Pope Liberius, directing them to build a church in her honor on the crown of the Esquiline Hill. And what would be the sign that John and his wife had requested?
“Snow will cover the crest of the hill.”
Snow rarely falls in Rome, but the flakes fell silently during that night, blanketing the peak of the historic hill. In the morning the news quickly spread and crowds gathered to throng up the hill and behold the white splendor. The snow had fallen in a particular pattern, showing the outline of the future church. When it became known that the snow was a sign from Mary, the people spontaneously added another to her long list of titles, Our Lady of the Snows.The doctrine of Theotokos, Mary as the Mother of God, was defined dogmatically at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Pope Sixtus III (432-440) erected a basilica at Rome on the Esquiline Hill in honour of the Mother of God which later became know as St Mary Major, the oldest church in the west dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.