Postcard from Valladolid

By Joseph Champion-Williams

For Joseph Champion-Williams, spending Holy Week at his Spanish seminary and sharing in the traditions of the place was a wonderful time rich in blessings.

Dear friends,

I write to you wishing that you may be full of Easter joy and peace in the risen Christ. The celebrations of Semana Santa and the Easter Vigil here at the English College in Valladolid were extraordinary, most definitely an experience I will always hold close to my heart. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to live this great week of weeks in a place like this, filled with beauty, goodness and the truth of our faith, celebrating the risen Christ. 

One particular moment I would like to share with you was from the night of Santo Lunes, the Monday of Holy Week. At around midnight, the college led the city in prayer and adoration of the love between Our Blessed Mother and her beloved son, Jesus Christ, as the students of the college carried the centuries-old statue of Our Lady Vulnerata out of our chapel and onto the street to greet Our Lord. 

It had been a typical Monday until then, the usual business of the day done by about 9pm. Then a long wait ensued before we were called upon to serve at midnight. So I went into the chapel where, to my great joy, the throne had been prepared with Our Lady placed on top. I looked up at the statue, and although this ancient image of Our Lady has been hacked away at – and she looked wounded and dearly longing for her son – she was beautiful. I used these hours until the procession to spend time with her, to meditate especially on her great 'Fiat' and the way she gave her whole life to God.

I then reflected upon these last nine months of my life. The Lord has matured me greatly, but I have a long way to go. Our Lord is wanting me entirely, and I'm still afraid to let go completely. I'm wounded, I'm broken, but like Our Lady Vulnerata, I'm also longing for that unity of will with her son. 'My heart desires You Lord, and with Your Blessed Mother's help I will come to know You better.' It was a special time of prayer for which I was very thankful. 

The rest of the week was full of the various different processions, liturgies and celebrations, all pointing to, and glorifying, Our Lord's passion, death and resurrection. In fact, I could probably write a book about the wonderful experiences I have had, but I choose to share this with you – because I feel it is these kind of moments, times of deep meditation and prayer, centring our lives on the Lord, with Our Blessed Mother, that give us life and sustain us for our journey. 

In Domino,

Joseph