THE SOCIETY OF MARY Are you surprised that Anglicans honour Mary? Why?
In the English speaking world there is hardly a place of any size which does not have a church named after her. In small towns and great cities alike you will find churches consecrated to S. Mary, or named after one or other of her mysteries, such as the Annunciation or the Assumption. She is by far and the most popular and beloved of all the saints.
SO DON’T BE SURPRISED ANY LONGER! The Anglican Church, in common with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, has a great love and veneration for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
What we believe about Mary
We have always given the Blessed Virgin Mary a special place of honour amongst the Saints who surround us in that great “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1).
All over the world there are Anglican churches with a chapel or an altar called the “Lady Chapel” after Mary’s ancient title of Our Lady, retained by the Church of England’s Prayer Book of 1662, which also honours her with five special feast days each year in the Kalendar. The same Prayer Book declares the Church of England’s acceptance of the doctrines decided on by the early Councils of the Church, one of which (the Council of Ephesus in A. D. 431), defined Mary as being “The Mother of God”, insomuch as her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
We believe that there is something incomplete in our Christian Faith if we do not love and honour the Mother of Jesus. Mary said ‘Yes’ to God, and gave birth to Jesus the eternal Son of God; she stood near him as he died on the cross; she is now the Mother of his body, the Church. She is our Mother! She is our model of faith and love. Mary always kept the Word of God, she was always open to the Holy Spirit. She supports us with her love and prayers.
Some Christians, however, feel that only Roman Catholics or Orthodox may give Mary a place in their devotions. These people have not thought very much about Mary’s special place; they usually consider that devotion to her is mistaken or extravagant or even just a matter of personal choice.
In the face of the Bible and the Church’s teaching, including consistent Anglican devotion to the Lord’s Mother,.they are clearly mistaken. In 1635, for example, Anthony Stafford published ‘The Female Glory: or the Life and Death of our Blessed Lady, the Holy Virgin Mary, God’s own Immaculate Mother.’ In this book, approved by the Bishop of London, and officially defended at the insistence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the mystical titles of Our Lady are used, the rosary is recommended as an aid to prayer, and the Assumption is taught:
“What honour could to this great Queen be done More than be taken up to heaven high, And there have God for Father, Spouse for Son, The Angels wait, the world stand wond’ring by?”
One of the great Anglican bishops of the seventeenth century was Bishop Thomas Ken. In The English Hymnal we find his hymn for festivals of Our Lady, which demonstrates a belief in the Immaculate Conception, and Our Lady’ glory in heaven:
“Her virgin eyes saw God incarnate born, When she to Bethl’em came that happy morn; How high her raptures then began to swell, None but her own omniscient Son can tell.
As Eve when she her fontal sin reviewed, Wept for herself and all she should include, Blest Mary with man’s Saviour in embrace Joyed for herself and for all human race.
All Saints are by her Son’s dear influence blest, She kept the very Fountain at her breast; The Son adored and nursed by the sweet Maid A thousandfold of love for love repaid.
Heaven with transcendent joys her entrance graced, Next to his throne her Son his Mother placed; And here below, now she’s of heaven possest, All generations are to call her blest.”
Mary’s place in the worship of heaven is wonderfully summed up in the second verse of Athelstan Riley’s well-known hymn, “Ye watchers and ye holy ones…
“O higher than the Cherubim, More glorious than the Seraphim, Lead their praises, Alleluia! Thou Bearer of the eternal Word, Most gracious, magnify the Lord, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
If you would like to honour Mary Why not join the Society of Mary?
THE SOClETY OF MARY springs from two similar societies founded in 1880 and 1901 respectively, which united in 1931. It has members all over the world and is no longer confined to Anglicans. In fact, the number of Roman Catholic members has been steadily increasing over the last fifteen years.
Where there are sufficient members in one place or area they combine to form a Ward, with a priest as Superior and an elected Secretary. They can then organise regular services, meetings and many other activities. Five or more members may form a Cell, and organise joint prayer and fellowship. Isolated members are joined to the Headquarters Ward. At present there are three Wards in Australia.
The Society publishes its magazine “Ave” twice a year, containing teaching articles together with details of pilgrimages, retreats, festival services, etc., in various centres around the world. It is the effective link between members.
The Society is not affiliated to any single Shrine or Marian institution, and is the only organisation endeavouring to promote equally all the different aspects of devotion to Mary.
Objects of the Society of Mary
The Society is dedicated to the glory of God and in honour of the Holy Incarnation under the invocation of Our Lady, Help of Christians.
- To love and honour Mary.
- To spread devotion to her, in reparation for past neglect and misunderstanding, and in the cause of Christian Unity.
- To take Mary as a model of purity, personal relationships and family life.
The Society's rules of Life
Members promise to keep a simple RULE OF LIFE, which involves:
- The regular use of recommended prayers and devotions to Mary (such as the Angelus, the Rosary, the Litany and Anthems of Our Lady).and a commitment to Christian service, where possible, in the name of the Society.
- Praying for departed members of the Society and offering Mass for them.
- Taking part in the Mass on the principal Feasts of Our Lady.
- Engaging in apostolic and pastoral work, according to opportunity, under the guidance of the local Ward Officers and the General Council.
Why not join now?
Contact your nearest Ward Secretary, or the Regional Secretary for an application form.
The Cost of membership is:
$15Annual Membership ($5 for the Region: $10 for the Ward)
$200 Life Membership (£60 – approx. $170 – $180 – life Membershlp and the balance to the Ward)
The subscription includes AVE sent twice a year. This is organized through each Ward.
Officers of the Society SUPERIOR GENERAL
The Rt Rev’d Robert Ladds, Bishop of Whitby
60 West Green,
Middlesborough TS9 5BD
The Rev’d G.C. Rowlands,
S. Silas Place,
London NW5 3QN
REGIONAL SUPERIOR FOR AUSTRALIA
The Rev’d David Chislett SSC
St Luke’s Church
Cnr Gibbon Road and Burton Road
KINGSTON UPON THAMES KT2 6AB UK
REGIONAL SECRETARY FOR AUSTRALIA
Ms Lorraine Hines
12 Luck Street,
SLACKS CREEK QLD Australia 4127