Friday, 1 March 2019

A creative invitation to
prayer and contemplation
in a church in Askeaton

The ‘Ionad Guí’ or Prayer Space in Askeaton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

I spent some time this week in the ‘Spiritual Garden,’ a walled garden beside my neighbouring Roman Catholic parish church, the ‘other’ Saint Mary’s in Askeaton.

Later in the afternoon, I visited the Ionad Guí is a new ‘Prayer Space’ in the east transept of the church, inspired by the traditions of Celtic Spirituality. It lays stress on the Celtic focus on God’s creation and on Jesus Christ as the high point of that creation and the key to unlocking the mystery of life.

This prayer space is simply set out with an emphasis on the need to be humble before God.

A notice in the church porch quotes a saint who once said, ‘There are many gates to the orchard of mystical truth.’ It goes on to explain that the parish hopes that, as ‘different people would have found helpful either prayer before the tabernacle or before the statue of Our Lady or praying the Stations of the Cross or even reflecting on the stained glass windows, so now some may find the new Prayer Space helpful in their communication with the Lord.

Explanatory leaflets are provided to help people understand the various elements in the Prayer Space, including the icons, which include an icon of Christ, an icon of the Transfiguration and a copy of Andrei Rublev's icon of the ‘Visitation of Abraham’ or the ‘Old Testament Trinity,’ and the water feature where the water in the ‘well’ comes from the River Deel nearby.

Together, the Spiritual Garden and the prayer space in Askeaton are inspiring ideas about how we can used sacred space inside and outside our church buildings in ways that are creative, inspiring and welcoming and that are invitations to prayer and contemplation.

The icon of Christ in the prayer space in Askeaton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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