14 December 2017

A taste of Italy is
the reward for being
patient and a patient

The bandstand on the seafront in Bray, Co Wicklow, in the fading light of dusk this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

It is some months since I have written about or commented on the theme of ‘Living with Sarcoidosis.’ Like many people living with this condition, I have learned to adapt to understand what is happening to me when the symptoms flare up.

In recent months, however, I noticed an occasional dizzy spell, when it took a few seconds (and no longer) to regain my balance.

I am not too perturbed or bothered about very minor incidents like these – although it is at times like these that I am pleased that I never learned to drive. I wondered, without foundation whether these had anything to do with my Sarcoidosis or my Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Thankfully, I have a GP who pays careful attention to every little detail. And so I have spent these two days in Dublin, visiting Tallaght Hospital each morning, and having a heart monitor attached to my chest for 24 hours.

Watching other postings on social media by people with pulmonary Sarcoidosis, I notice how many of them need regular heart check-ups and monitoring. My experience over a 24-hour period was a very painless, unobtrusive procedure, with cheerful, attentive professional staff in the hospital.

For anyone, hospital visits like this are times of anxiety and stress. Travelling to Dublin late on Monday in order to make an early Tuesday morning appointment involved a 5½-hour journey from Askeaton on public transport.

But the stress was compounded on Tuesday morning by three frustrating efforts to book a taxi – the first two simply failed on the app on my phone, without any explanation; on the third occasion, the taxi driver decided to cancel his acceptance of the booking when his own app failed, although the message would only reach my phone late in the afternoon.

A fourth call eventually resulted in the taxi driver who had cancelled his booking turning up. By then, after half an hour delay, we were straight into the morning rush-hour traffic that builds up at this time of the year.

It all goes to test the real meaning of being patient and being a patient at one and the same time.

But, to be honest, the only unpleasant parts of this experience are seeing other people’s distress, eased only by the care and attention they receive from hospital staff and the love and tender affection that is obvious in the family members who stay patiently with them.

A real taste of Italy in Carpe Diem in Bray, Co Wicklow, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Later this afternoon, after returning to Tallaght Hospital to have the heart monitor removed, two of us went to Bray for a walk on the seafront and a late lunch in Carpe Diem on Albert Walk.

After last month’s visit to Bologna, with visits to Ravenna, Rimini and San Marino, the sight of real Italian food was welcome once again, but was also a comforting way to bring these two days to a close with little less than a celebratory hint.

One of us had handmade Tagliatelle tossed with sundried tomatoes and Taggiasche olives in a smooth garden peas sauce, topped with creamy stracciatella; while the other dish was oven-baked Foglie d’Ulivo pasta with cod and potato bites in a velvety béchamel sauce. These were accompanied by breads, a glass of Refosco and an iced coffee, and followed by double espressos.

A reminder of Italy at Campo De’ Fiori on Albert Avenue (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

This corner of Bray is like a little corner of Italy. On the other side of Albert Walk, on the corner with the seafront, Campo De’ Fiori on Albert Avenue, is another taste of Italy – both inside and outside.

Pizzas ’n’ Cream on Albert Walk claims to be ‘the oldest pizzeria in Ireland’ – it was established in 1986. Nearby, also on Albert Walk, is the Caffé Letterario Gatta Nera – the Black Cat Literary Café, which offers authentic tastes of Sicily.

Forno Ragazzi opened on Albert Walk last April (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

A new addition to these Italian delights in this area of Bray is Forno Ragazzi, which opened on Albert Walk last April.

At the counter, I bought from their selection of breads, which include wheat flour and wholegrain baguettes, loaves and wheat flour small rolls or cazzotti. Their focaccia is made following a traditional recipe of wheat flour, olive oil and sea salt, and their sliced pizza include Margherita and potatoes and rosemary, all freshly baked in-house.

After a walk through the Victorian and Edwardian streets of Bray, and browsing in some bookshops, as well as photocopying the order of service for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, next Sunday afternoon, there was another walk along the seafront in the late afternoon disk before heading back to Knocklyon.

A freshly-painted shelter on the seafront in Bray, Co Wicklow, in the fading light of dusk this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Praying in Advent with USPG
and Lichfield Cathedral
(12): 14 December 2017

Mending fishing nets in Cape Coast … the USPG Prayer Diary this week is sharing reflections and experiences from Ghana

Patrick Comerford

We are in the second week of Advent. Today [14 December], the Church Calendar commemorates Saint John of the Cross (1542-1591), the Spanish Carmelite friar and mystic and friend of Saint Teresa of Avila. He was the descendant of a Jewish family that had converted to Christianity at the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

The calendar of Common Worship in the Church of England and, since 2009, the calendar of the Episcopal Church (TEC) commemorate Saint John of the Cross as a ‘Teacher of the Faith’ and ‘Mystic’ on this day, 14 December.

Thomas Merton once described him as ‘the church’s safest mystical theologian.’ Others have called Saint John of the Cross ‘the poet’s poet,’ ‘spirit of flame,’ and ‘celestial and divine.’

He is known for his wresting with what he calls ‘the Dark Night of the Soul,’ and for his axiom that the soul must empty itself of self in order to be filled with God, that it must be purified of the last traces of earthly dross before it is fit to become united with God. His writings on the soul united with God in prayer reveal the most profound mystical expressions, experiences and insights. These writings make him an important figure in Spanish literature and he is one of 36 Doctors of the Church.

Throughout this season of Advent, I am spending a short time of prayer and reflection each morning, using the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency, USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar from Lichfield Cathedral.

USPG, founded in 1701, is an Anglican mission agency supporting churches around the world in their mission to bring fullness of life to the communities they serve.

Under the title Pray with the World Church, the current prayer diary (22 October 2017 to 10 February 2018), offers prayers and reflections from the Anglican Communion.

This week, the Prayer Diary continues its Advent series, looking at how the church is reaching out to mothers and babies through ‘a USPG-supported Anglican health programme in Ghana that has helped to eradicate cholera in parts of the Cape Coast.

In the Prayer Diary on Sunday, Gloria, told her story and how she had benefitted from this programme.

The USPG Prayer Diary:

Thursday 14 December 2017:

Give thanks for the ministry of the Anglican Church in Ghana. Pray that leaders might have the grace and wisdom needed to strengthen and grow the work of the church.

Silence descends on Lichfield Cathedral and the Cathedral Close in the snow earlier this week (Photograph: Steve Johnson, 2017)

Lichfield Cathedral Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar:

The calendar suggests lighting your Advent candle each day as you read the Bible and pray.

Today, the calendar suggests reading Luke 7: 18-23.

The reflection for today suggests:

Try and keep silent for 10 minutes, concentrating on the word ‘Emmanuel’ – God with us. Turn it over in your mind. Pray the word ‘Emmanuel’.

Readings (Revised Common Lectionary, the Church of Ireland, Holy Communion):

Isaiah 41: 13-20; Psalm 145: 1, 8-13; and Matthew 11: 11-15.

The Collect of the Second Sunday of Advent:

Father in heaven,
who sent your Son to redeem the world
and will send him again to be our judge:
Give us grace so to imitate him
in the humility and purity of his first coming
that when he comes again,
we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Advent Collect:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post-Communion Prayer:

here you have nourished us with the food of life.
Through our sharing in this holy sacrament
teach us to judge wisely earthly things
and to yearn for things heavenly.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow.