09 July 2018

Stay with us, Lord, as daylight dies;
Let angels guard us through the night

The High Altar in the Church in Glenstal Abbey (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

I am in Glenstal Abbey in Co Limerick on a 24-hour retreat with a priest colleague, taking time to pray, think and reflect.

We arrived shortly after lunch, and joined the community in the abbey church for Vespers this evening and for Compline at the end of the day.

The school term ended a few weeks ago, and while there is a group of students from Argentina here for an English language course, the few pilgrims and people on retreat hardly encroach on each other, and we are enjoying the grounds, the lakes, the woods and the sunny blue skies, as well as the swallows, which I associate with summer in Glenstal.

This is, I think, my third time in Glenstal Abbey, having been here before as the keynote speaker at a Glenstal Ecumenical Conference in the 1990s, and here again last year, when I spoke at a one-day meeting of priests and readers from the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe.

During Compline this evening, the monks in the choir sang:

When darkness everywhere draws near
Creation’s sign to close the day
Teach us to calm our inner fear
That we may watch with you and pray.

Let not anxieties undo
Our trust that you are always there;
Increase our fragile hope in you
Who hold us ever in your care.

As shadows overwhelm the skies
Shine in our hearts eternal light.
Stay with us, Lord, as daylight dies;
Let angels guard us through the night.

To you be glory, God of rest,
To you be glory, God the Son,
To you be glory, Spirit blest,
The One in Three and Three in One. Amen.

And we prayed:

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
You have redeemed us, O Lord God of truth.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to Holy Spirit.

Save us, O Lord, while we are awake; guard us, O Lord, while we sleep. That we may keep watch with Christ, and rest with him in peace.

After the Canticle of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis), our prayers concluded:

Guard us, O Lord, as the apple of your eye.
Hide us in the shadow of your wings.

We leave after lunch tomorrow, which means we are going to miss the celebrations of the Feast of Saint Benedict on Wednesday [11 July 2018] and the blessing of four new bells in the abbey church.

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