Friday, December 08, 2006

Our Blessed Lady

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, celebrating God's marvellous love for us when he prepared a worthy dwelling place in whom his Son could become incarnate. Many people have asked whether we will be having the usual Holy Day Masses - well, no, because the Immaculate Conception is not a Holy Day of Obligation in England. Each Bishop's Conference has to select one Feast of our Lady as a HDO - in the USA it is the Immaculate Conception, in South Africa it is Mary Mother of God (1 January) and in England it is the Assumption (15 August). We will have a sung Mass tonight. Just because it's not a Day of Obligation does not make it less important. So we shall sweetly sing the praises of Mary as we offer the sacrifice of her Son.

The special title of our Lady for Universities and students is our Lady, Sedes Sapientiae, or "Seat of Wisdom". Jesus is the Word of God, the Eternal Wisdom, and it is through Mary that the Word, the Wisdom of God, is made flesh. Jesus seated on the lap of Mary, Mary the seat of Wisdom.

Pope John Paul II received a gift of a mosaic icon of our Lady, Sedes Sapientiae, from Slovenian artist Ivan Rupnik. The Holy Father gave this mosaic to the universities of the world during the Great Jubilee Year 2000. The image has been travelling around the world ever since, and was with us here at Newman House for the Feast of the Imacculate Conception in 2004. A group of about 20 students then accompanied the icon to Rome, where it was presented to Pope John Paul at what in the event was his last major public appearance, the Academic Mass in St Peter's Basilica on 14 December 2004. We were part of a united choir of students which sang the Mass. It was a spine-tingling moment when the choir burst into Tu es Petrus - You are Peter: and indeed there with us was Peter, Vicar of Christ.

Our happy band in the Piazza of St Peter's Basilica, before the Academic Mass.

Inspired by the pilgrim icon, a group of residents then began work on a mosaic based on the original. Led by Ian Mannion and Russell Hearn months of work ensued. It is not an exact copy, nor is it professional, but it is our very own! It is still awaiting framing (everything takes a long time at Newman House!!!!!) but it will be hung in our Chapel in due course. The mosaic was blessed by Cardinal Arinze when he visited Newman House following the Academic Mass.

We hope, in the new year, to start regular devotions to our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, to inspire us as students as we pursue knowledge in seeking truth as we follow the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ.
Sedes sapientiae, Ora pro nobis


Anonymous said...

Just wondering - who updates this blog? It's very well written and I really enjoy reading it!


Newman House said...

Fr Peter says: I wish more people would make contributions and post on the blog!!!! Sadly, It's mostly me at the moment :-(