Mary and us- Ty Mam Duw
Mary, the Mother of God receives the Word made Flesh and she stands under the cross to receive all the followers whom Jesus loves and at Pentecost the Church gathers round her to receive the fulness of grace that is the Holy Spirit.
The Mother of God stands at the beginning of our lives as Franciscans. In the time of St Francis, the little, partly ruined church of St Mary of the Angels stood in a wood on the plain below Assisi. Francis began working on it after he had heard the command: “Rebuild my Church”, from the lips of the Crucified in another little and broken church, St Damian’s.
The Benedictines of Monte Subasio (to whom St Mary’s belonged) loaned Francis the tiny chapel, which seats two dozen uncomfortably, to be the mother house of his new order. Every year the friars, even to this day, eight centuries later, pay them rent with a basket of fish.
In his lovely prayer to Mary at the end of the Salutation to the Virtues Francis calls Mary the ‘Virgin made Church.’ So to Francis, the Mother of God is like a home, she is a place where we dwell as a family.
That has been our experience. We at Ty Mam Duw have felt that the Mother of God has offered us an invitation and that she says to us ‘Come my way to Jesus’.
We were trying to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to try and live ever more completely the gift we have received in our Poor Clare Colettine vocation.
At that time two rather extraordinary things happened. An unknown person gave Sr Judith a picture of Mary walking down a valley holding a lamb followed by a flock of sheep. The person did not know Sr Judith - she just felt that God had asked her to bring it - and under the picture was this verse:
Great Mother of the ages vast,
She who never old doth grow,
Down from the hills of time now comes
Once more into this world.
Bearing glist’ning new born lamb,
The newborn age of peace and joy,
Whose banner even now unfurled
Doth triumph o’er the past.
At the same time the mother of one of the sisters sent us pictures of our Lady of Schönstatt - on the back of which was an account of the covenant of Love with Our Lady.
The covenant is a biblical concept and it drew us very close to our own beginnings with Francis and the Portiuncula - we knew no more about Schönstatt then, other than the name. But we offered Mary our home for her use.
So we called this monastery Ty Mam Duw. House of the Mother of God in Welsh, after the chapel at Courtfield the home of Mother Mary Felix Clare Vaughan who had been Abbess of Notting Hill and had sent Mother Cherubina Clare de Morla to found Hawarden at the request of her cousin, Bishop Francis Vaughan.
We have built our own Portiuncula Chapel inside our small monastery at Hawarden. With our Lady of Schönstatt at one end and a tapestry of Mary with Francis, Clare, Colette on one side and Joseph Kentenich of Schönstatt and St Vincent Palotti on the other. At her feet are the Portiuncula, the Chapel of Grace at Schonstatt and our own chapel of Ty Mam Duw
The Covenant of Love
The covenants in the Old Testament involve an exchange, an exchange, as St Clare would say, of the things of time for the things of eternity.
If I choose to attempt this, my Covenant of Love with the Mother of God will be a private thing: only she will know what I would give her; only I will know what I ask for in return. In this heart speaks to heart.
Our little sisters begin the day in the Shrine Chapel of Our Lady Thrice Admirable and they go there at the end of the day. They recite this Covenant prayer of Father Kentenich as near to nine o’clock as is possible in union with all those who bring their day to our Lady at this hour. Then we renew together our community Covenant of Love
O my Lady, my Mother,
to you I come with all I am.
And to show my devotion to you,
I consecrate to you this day
my eyes, my ears,
my mouth, my heart,
my whole self through and through;
and because I now belong to you entirely,
O good Mother,
watch over me,
protect me as your child,
your very own.
Picture: Fresco pf the Annunciation in the Portiuncula, Our Lady of Schönstatt.