Thursday, 13 April 2017

Reflections in Holy Week 2017 (4),
Maundy Thursday, Castletown Church

An icon of the Last Supper, known in Orthodoxy as the Mystical Supper (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Maundy Thursday, 13 April 2017

8 p.m., The Maundy Eucharist, with Washing of Feet.

Castletown Church, Pallaskenry, Co Limerick.


Readings: Exodus 12: 1-4 (5-10), Psalm 116: 1, 10-17; I Corinthians 11: 23-26; John 13: 1-17, 31b-35.

May I speak to you in the name of + the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Throughout this week, as we journey together through Holy Week, we continue the gradual build-up from Palm Sunday, with services each evening in this group of parishes. We began in Saint Mary’s, Askeaton, on Monday [10 April 2017], moving on to Saint Brendan’s, Tarbert, on Tuesday [11 April], and Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, yesterday [12 April].

Earlier this morning, I was at the Chrism Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, when the bishop and the priests of this diocese together renewed our ordination vows.

This evening, we are here in Castletown for the Maundy Eucharist [13 April 2017], and tomorrow we mark Good Friday prayerfully and appropriately in Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Rathkeale at noon and in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton in the evening.

All this is to prepare us to celebrate the Resurrection, on Easter Eve here in Castletown and on Easter Morning in Tarbert, Askeaton and Rathkeale.

Among Anglicans, Maundy Thursday is the normal name for this day, and it is used in the Book of Common Prayer. Among Roman Catholics, today is usually known as Holy Thursday; in the Orthodox Church, today is Great and Holy Thursday.

In all traditions, this day is associated with the Last Supper. This is the day before the Crucifixion, and on this day Christ had his last meal with his disciples. As the Gospel according to Saint Matthew tells us:

‘While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’.’ (Matthew 26: 26-29).

The liturgical colours change to white for this evening’s Maundy Eucharist, which includes the Washing of Feet.

The name Maundy comes through Middle English and the Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase Jesus uses in our Gospel reading this evening to explain to his disciples why he is washing their feet: ‘Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos’ (‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another’ (John 13: 34).

Until the reign of James II, the monarch washed the feet of poor people on Maundy Thursday. These days, the Maundy Thursday celebrations in the United Kingdom involve the monarch giving alms in the form of ‘Maundy Money’ in red and white purses to selected senior citizens – one man and one woman for each year of the sovereign’s age. This year, the Maundy Ceremony took place in Leicester Cathedral.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates Christ’s Last Supper with the Twelve, along with the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood, and the new commandment to love one another. This is the only Mass on this day, and inaugurates the period of the three days, the Easter Triduum, including Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Day.

All the bells of the church, including the altar bells, may be rung during the Gloria, but the bells and the organ then fall silent until the Gloria at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. Later, the main altar is stripped bare and crosses are removed from the church or are veiled.

In the Orthodox Church, the primary service today is Vespers, and there are three Old Testament readings.

With the first reading, Exodus 19: 10-19, God’s descent from Mount Sinai to his people on the morning of the third day is interpreted as an image of the Resurrection on the third day or of Christ coming to us in the Eucharist.

In the second reading, Job 38: 1-23, 42: 1-5, Job reflects on his conversation with God, and questions himself and replies with these words: ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know’ (Job 42: 3). These great and wonderful things are fulfilled in the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood.

The third reading, Isaiah 50: 4-11, is the beginning of the prophecies on the suffering servant of God: ‘Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant, who walks in darkness and has no light, yet trusts in the name of the Lord and relies upon his God?’ (Isaiah 50: 10).

This evening, as we accept the new commandment we are given by the suffering servant, to love one another, we prepare for tomorrow, Good Friday, when God in Christ takes on all the consequences of emptying himself completely because of his love for us.

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Collect of the Day:

God our Father,
you have invited us to share in the supper
which your Son gave to his Church
to proclaim his death until he comes:
May he nourish us by his presence,
and unite us in his love;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or

Almighty God,
at the Last Supper your Son Jesus Christ
washed the disciples’ feet
and commanded them to love one another.
Give us humility and obedience to be servants of others
as he was the servant of all;
who gave up his life and died for us,
yet is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Post-Communion Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ,
in this wonderful sacrament
you have given us a memorial of your passion.
Grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries
of your body and blood
that we may know within ourselves
the fruits of your redemption,
for you are alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or

O God,
your Son Jesus Christ has left us this meal of bread and wine
in which we share his body and his blood.
May we who celebrate this sign of his great love
show in our lives the fruits of his redemption;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is Priest-in-Charge, the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes. This Holy Week Reflection was prepared for the Eucharist in Castletown Church, Pallaskenry, on Maundy Thursday, 13 April 2017.

With ‘faithful stewards of
the mysteries of God’ in
Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh

Inside Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh … ‘an interesting example of small-scale Gothic Revival architecture’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

I was in Saint Mary’s Church in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, this morning for the Chrism Eucharist when the Bishop and Priests of the Dioceses of Limerick and Killaloe together renewed our ordination vows.

At the renewal of our ordination vows, Bishop Kenneth Kearon asked us:

At your ordination to the priesthood, you took authority to watch over and care for God’s people, to absolve and bless them in his name, to proclaim the Gospel of salvation, and to minister the sacraments of his New Covenant? Will you continue as faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, preaching the Gospel of Christ and ministering his holy sacraments?

By the help of God, I will.

I was ordained deacon in 2000 and priest in 2001, and this was the first time for me to renew these vows in a church other than Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, and my fist time to do so in the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe. Like me, the Rector of Nenagh, the Revd Rod Smyth, is a new arrival in this diocese, arriving at the end of last year.

Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh, was built in 1862-1865 to a design by the architect Joseph Welland (1798–1860), and includes a stained-glass window from the Harry Clarke studio in Dublin.

The Resurrection depicted in the Foley window in Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

The church stands in the shadow of its larger and more ornate neighbour, Saint Mary of the Rosary. It is striking in its simplicity, yet is an interesting example of small-scale Gothic Revival architecture in the mid-19th century.

All that remains of the earlier Church of Ireland parish church built in Kenyon Street ca 1700 are some ruins, including a four-stage square-plan tower to the west elevation and the roofless remains of a D-plan lobby to the now-demolished nave. This tower and lobby, set back from the street, are still a notable and dominant structure in Nenagh, and the graveyard retains many old carved stones.

By the early 19th century, the earlier church was unfit for use, and the then rector, the Revd James Hill Poe, had the vision for building a new church. The first planning meeting was held on 6 May 1855, and the site was donated by a local lawyer, Carroll Watson.

James Hill Poe died in 1859, without ever seeing his dream fulfilled. Work began that September on a new church designed by the architect Joseph Welland (1798-1860), who was strongly influenced by Pugin and the Gothic revival.

Saint Mary’s Church. The building is notable for the finely-carved dressings, especially in the voussoirs above the lancet windows. The notable features inside include the stained glass, with one window coming from Harry Clarke’s studio.

The church has four-bay side elevations to the nave, a south side aisle, a two-bay chancel to the east end and a projecting porch and a two-stage tower with a spire.

There are double lancet windows at the East End, with quatrefoils above and with double pointed-arch windows to the side aisle, with stained glass. The tower has lancet, trefoil and pointed windows.

Inside there is an open truss roof, an arcade to the side aisle and a sculptured reredos behind the altar in the chancel.

Joseph Welland was architect to the Board of First Fruits and later to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of the Church of Ireland. He was born in Midleton, Co Cork, in 1798. His father, William Welland, was head agent to George Brodrick, fourth Viscount Midleton. Through the influence of Lord Midleton’s brother Charles Brodrick, Archbishop of Cashel, Joseph became a pupil and subsequently an assistant to John Bowden, architect to the Board of First Fruits.

Bowden also had a large secular practice, and, according to his obituary in the Irish Builder, Welland ‘enjoyed an extensive share of business,’ with responsibility for ‘numerous works.’

When Bowden died in 1821, Welland may have inherited many of his projects and clients, and he became one of the four architects at the Board of First Fruits, with responsibility for the Church province of Tuam. By 1843, he had responsibility for the whole island.

During his career, Welland designed over 100 new churches and altered and enlarged many others. He died on 6 March 1860 and was buried in Saint George’s churchyard, Dublin.

His eldest son, Thomas James Welland (1830-1907), later became Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, while another son, William John Welland, became an architect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Most of Welland’s drawings for churches and glebe houses are held in the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin.

Welland’s designs for Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh, are for a church with a nave, chancel, south aisle, north and south porches, a vestry room, a tower and a spire. The organ gallery at the west end had a Telford organ, later replaced by an organ built by Nicholson and Ward of Walsall.

Welland died before the church was completed, however, and the work was completed by Welland and Gillespie. The total cost was about £4,000, and the contractor was J Hunter of Bandon, Co Cork.

The church was consecrated on 19 December 1860 by the Bishop of Killaloe, Ludlow Tonson, Lord Riversdale. At the time, the Nenagh Guardian reported the bishop was present ‘though somewhat feeble of limb.’ He died within a year on 13 December 1861.

The paintings in the reredos are the work of Anne Towers, whose husband, Canon Patrick Towers, was the Rector of Nenagh (1989-2000). The three-light East window by AL Moore of London is in memory of the Revd James Hill Poe.

‘Christianity embraces all nations’ … the Kortright window designed by the Harry Clarke studios (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

A window designed by the Harry Clarke studios in Dublin and dedicated in 1971 depicts Christ sitting among children of different ethnic backgrounds, illustrating the theme ‘Christianity embraces all nations.’ It commemorates Michael Kortright, the infant son of Frank and Kathleeen Kortright, who worked in Borneo for many years.

While the Revd Sid Morant was the Rector of Nenagh (2000-2004), the roof and much of the interior of the building was repaired and restored, and €230,000 was raised in the local community. Saint Mary’s Church celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2010.

Saint Paul and Saint Luke … a window in Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Praying in Lent 2017 with USPG,
(47) Maundy Thursday 13 April 2017

The Last Supper … a sculpture seen in Quonian’s Lane, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

In our pilgrimage and journey in Lent we have arrived at Holy Week, the last week in Lent. In our pilgrimage and journey in Lent we have arrived at Holy Week, the last week in Lent. Later this morning, I am taking part in the Mandy Thursday Chrism Eucharist with the bishop and priests of the Diocese of Limerick in Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, where the Rector is the Red Rod Smyth.

Every evening in Holy Week, there are special services in the churches in the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes. This evening’s service (13 April 2017) is the Maundy Thursday Eucharist in Castletown Church, near Pallaskenry, Co Limerick, at 8 p.m.

The Lent 2017 edition of the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) follows the theme of the USPG Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life.’

Throughout Lent, I have been using this Prayer Diary for my prayers and reflections each morning, inviting you to join me in these prayers and reflections, for just a few moments each morning.

In the articles and prayers in the prayer diary, USPG invites us to investigate what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The Lent study course, ‘Living an Authentic Life’ (available online or to order at www.uspg.org.uk/lent), explores the idea that discipleship and authenticity are connected.

This week, from Palm Sunday (9 April) until Holy Saturday (15 April), the USPG Lent Prayer Diary is following the narrative of Holy Week. The topic was introduced on Sunday in an article in the Prayer Diary by Paulo Ueti, a Bible scholar and theologian in the Anglican Church of Brazil.

In his article, he recalled how the fourth-century Church Father, Evagrius Ponticus, says we can only encounter God if we are prepared to encounter ourselves in truth. When we can acknowledge and accept our own darkness, then we are able to accept others.

Thursday 13 April 2017:

Maundy Thursday

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet. May we be so filled with God’s love that we are inspired to share that love.

The Collect of the Day (Maundy Thursday):

God our Father,
you have invited us to share in the supper
which your Son gave to his Church
to proclaim his death until he comes:
May he nourish us by his presence,
and unite us in his love;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or

Almighty God,
at the Last Supper your Son Jesus Christ
washed the disciples’ feet
and commanded them to love one another.
Give us humility and obedience to be servants of others
as he was the servant of all;
who gave up his life and died for us,
yet is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Post-Communion Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ,
in this wonderful sacrament
you have given us a memorial of your passion.
Grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries
of your body and blood
that we may know within ourselves
the fruits of your redemption,
for you are alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

or

O God,
your Son Jesus Christ has left us this meal of bread and wine
in which we share his body and his blood.
May we who celebrate this sign of his great love
show in our lives the fruits of his redemption;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Christ washes the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper ... a fresco in Saint John’s Monastery, Tolleshunt Knights, Sussex (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Continued tomorrow.

Yesterday’s reflection.