Thursday, 18 April 2019

‘I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another’

‘It is the sunless stricken Tree, Upon whose branches sore to see’ … bare trees in winter at the Rectory in Askeaton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Thursday 18 April 2019

Maundy Thursday in Holy Week

Castletown Church, Castletown, Co Limerick.

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

Readings: Exodus 12: 1-4; 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 God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

I said on Sunday (Palm Sunday, 7 April 2019) that during Holy Week this year, instead of preaching each day in Holy Week I hoped to read a poem to help our reflections during this Holy Week.

In our Gospel reading this evening (John 13: 21-32), we are at the Last Supper, and Jesus is washing his disciples’ feet. He shows them that at the heart of Christian life is not what others think of us but how we serve others, sacrificial love.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, he is to show finally what sacrificial love is with his death on the Cross.

My choice of a Lenten poem this evening is ‘Holy Cross’ by Sir Shane Leslie (1885-1971) of Castle Leslie, Co Monaghan.

Some years ago, I spent a few peaceful days at Castle Leslie, walking through the woods and by the lakes around Glaslough. This was once the family home the Irish writer and diplomat, Sir Shane Leslie, a first cousin of Sir Winston Churchill.

His full name was Sir John Randolph Leslie, and he was born on 24 September 1885 in London into an old land-owning family with an estate of almost 50,000 acres in Co Monaghan, Co Tyrone, Co Fermanagh and Co Donegal that included Castle Leslie in Co Monaghan, the village of Pettigo on the Tyrone-Donegal border, and Lough Derg, the well-known pilgrimage lake and island known as Saint Patrick’s Purgatory.

His family was descended from John Leslie, Bishop of the Isles, who moved from Scotland to Ireland in 1633 when he became Bishop of Raphoe, and who became Bishop of Clogher after the Caroline Restoration, in 1661. His mother, Leonie Jerome, was the sister of Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome.

Shane Leslie’s early education began at home in Castle Leslie with a German governess, and he then went on to a prep school in Berkshire, to Eton and to King’s College, Cambridge. While he was still an undergraduate Cambridge in 1907, he became a Roman Catholic. Later he also became a supporter of Irish Home Rule and adopted the name Shane as an Anglicised Irish variant of his name John.

After graduating in 1907, he began to travel widely, visiting Russia, where he stayed with Leo Tolstoy at Yasnaya Polyana, and where he developed many of his social values. On his return, his cousin Winston Churchill took an interest in his political ambitions and introduced him to John Redmond, who persuaded Leslie to run as a Home Rule candidate in Derry City in 1910. But he lost the seat by 57 votes.

In 1912, he married Marjorie Ide, a daughter of Henry Clay Ide, the US ambassador to Spain and Governor-General of the Philippines.

At the outbreak of World War I, he enlisted in a British Ambulance Corps. When he became ill he was sent to a military hospital in Malta, where he finished his first major book of verse, The End of a Chapter (1916).

He spoke out against the execution of the leaders of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, and was sent back to Washington DC to work with the British Ambassador, Sir Cecil Spring Rice – whose family lived in this parish at Mount Trenchard, and who was the author of the hymn ‘I vow to thee my country.’ Shane Leslie’s role was to soften Irish-American hostility to Britain and to secure US intervention in the war. But he continued to look to Ireland for literary inspiration and edited a literary magazine, Ireland.

The 1918 election, when Redmond’s party lost massively to Sinn Féin, put an end to the political ambitions of a disappointed Shane Leslie. Feeling unwanted in Ireland, abandoned by the British, and no longer able to rely on an income from his landholdings, he dedicated himself to a literary life, becoming a member of the Irish Academy of Letters.

In the decades that followed, he published over 40 volumes, including poetry, novels, short stories, memoirs, biographies and essays, and a study, from a conspicuously Roman Catholic perspective, of the Oxford Movement (1933).

In a review of Ulysses in the Dublin Review in 1922, Leslie accused James Joyce’s ‘book must remain impossible to read, and in general undesirable to quote.’

But his time as the editor of the Dublin Review came to an end with the hierarchy’s disapproval of the sexually explicit scenes in his autobiographical novel, The Cantab (1926).

The wealth of the Leslie family had waned by the 1930s following the Wall Street crash of 1929. He transferred the Castle Leslie estate to his eldest son, John Norman Leslie, and he handed over Saint Patrick’s Purgatory on Lough Derg to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Clogher. But the Leslies continued to maintain their lifestyle, attendance at the London season and entertaining distinguished visitors at Glaslough, including Anthony Eden.

At the outbreak of World II in 1939, he joined the Home Guard. He spent the remainder of his life between Glaslough and London. With the death of his father in 1944, he succeeded to the family title as the third baronet.

His spent his old age in Hove, where he died on 14 August 1971 at the age of 85. He was buried at Castle Leslie.

‘It is the dead impitying Wood … Where none unmoved unweeping could’ … a still moment of reflections by the forests and lakes on the Castle Leslie estate (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Holy Cross, by Sir Shane Leslie

It is the bare and leafless Tree
Our sins once sowed on Calvary,
And mockers digged with trembling knee –
Holy Cross.

It is the dead impitying Wood,
That like a crimson pillar stood,
Where none unmoved unweeping could —
Holy Cross.

O fearful sight foretold to man,
The cloven spar, the sacred span,
Whence God’s atoning Blood once ran —
Holy Cross.

It is the Holy Gibbet Tree,
All stained with Love’s last agony
And marked with awful mystery —
Holy Cross.

What stains are these incarnadine,
What scars are these more red than wine
Of more than human Passion sign?
Holy Cross.

It is the sunless stricken Tree,
Upon whose branches sore to see
O mystery, died One of Three —
Holy Cross.

What storm swept o’er its boughs that day,
When God to God did sorely pray.
And human guilt ebbed slow away —
Holy Cross.

When earth shall smoke and sun shall flee,
Alone unmoved o’er sinking sea
Shall stand one all-redeeming Tree —
Holy Cross.

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

‘When earth shall smoke and sun shall flee, Alone unmoved o’er sinking sea’ … sunset on the Shannon Estuary, north of Askeaton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 13: 1-17, 31b-35 (NRSVA):

1 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ 7 Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 8 Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ 9 Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ 10 Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’

12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Liturgical Colour: White

Penitential Kyries:

Lord God,
you sent your Son to reconcile us to yourself and to one another.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
you heal the wounds of sin and division.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
through you we put to death the sins of the body – and live.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

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.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Introduction to the Peace:

Now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of Christ’s blood; for he is our peace. (Ephesians 2: 17)

Preface:

Through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
who, for the redemption of the world,
humbled himself to death on the cross;
that, being lifted up from the earth,
he might draw all people to himself:

Post Communion Prayer:

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.

Blessing:

Christ draw you to himself
and grant that you find in his cross a sure ground for faith,
a firm support for hope,
and the assurance of sins forgiven:

Hymns:

431, Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour (CD 26)
432, Love is his word, love is his way (CD 26)
515, ‘A new commandment I give unto you’ (CD 30)

‘Alone unmoved o’er sinking sea Shall stand one all-redeeming Tree’ … trees against a winter sunset at the Rectory in Askeaton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

Ruins of Franciscan
‘abbey’ survive on
the streets of Nenagh

The Franciscan friary in Nenagh was founded by 1252, perhaps by Theobald Butler of Nenagh Castle and Bishop Donal O’Kennedy of Killaloe(Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

The former Franciscan friary or abbey in the centre of Nenagh, Co Tipperary, may have been founded by Theobald Butler, who built Nenagh Castle. But it is also associated with Donal O’Kennedy, Bishop of Killaloe, so that Nenagh friary may have been founded before 1252 with O’Kennedy sponsorship.

The abbey is located in the centre of Nenagh, not far from the castle, the courthouse and the town’s parish churches. The site is on a lane to the south of Pearse Street, the town’s main street, and can be reached from Friar Street, Abbey Street and Martyr’s Road.


Today, the main surviving features of the friary include the walls of a large rectangular church, aligned East/West, which is 43 metres long and 10 metres wide. There is a triple lancet window at the east end and a series of 15 impressive lancet windows along the north wall. The former tower has fallen. Portions of the sacristy survive along the east end of the friary. This sacristy measured 10 x 4 metres.

The Gothic features included the doors and windows. There are sandstone dressings for the piers, jambs, and arches, while limestone was used for the main walls built of random rubble.

The crowning glory of the abbey was its east gable (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The crowning glory of the abbey was its east gable, with three large, elaborate lancet windows, with piers of solid masonry between that are deeply splayed.

There is a small gable light over the east lancet windows, above the level of the roof-slates but below the level of the ridge-piece. This was made for ventilation and for access between the inner and outer roofs to allow for repairs.

A small door in the south wall stood towards the east side that leads to the sacristy. The door has sandstone dressings and is about 5 ft high. There is only one window in the south wall. This tall window in the sanctuary had two lights, and has an eastern jamb that splays widely inwards and a western one that splays only slightly.

The rest of the light for the choir and sanctuary came from the east window and from the 11 tall, narrow, pointed, single-light windows, splaying inwards on the north wall. As well as the 11 windows in the choir, there were four smaller windows in the nave.

The ambulatory across the church divided the nave and choir. The church also had doors in the north and south walls, opposite each other.

The carvings over the west door include a carved head wearing a 15th century headdress (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

The main entrance door is in the middle of the west gable wall. The original west doorway was remodelled around the 15th century with the insertion of a limestone arch and orders.

The bellcote on the apex of the west wall appears to be contemporary with the doorway. Over the west door, there is a vine scroll with a decorated finial and a carved head inserted into it. The figure is wearing a 15th century headdress,and was once thought to be part of an effigy, while the decoration it crowns formed part of an archway. The bell was supplied by Father Eugene Callanan and remains functional to this day.

There are four buttresses on the south wall. Three of these are were not original parts of the abbey and are thought to have been added in the 15th century to support and reinforce the wall. One buttress has started to separate from the wall.

There was a series of 15 windows along the north wall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Pattress plates and tie bars run between the north and south walls at the lancet windows are. This supports the walls and stops them from falling outwards, especially the north wall which has a noticeable tilt. Along with the buttresses, the pattress plates and tie bars are keeping the wall from tilting any further.

The friary in Nenagh became the principal Franciscan house in Ireland, and a provincial synod was held at the friary in 1344.

The Annals of Nenagh, which chronicles the deaths of notable local families, was compiled in Nenagh between 1336 and 1528.

At the time of the Reformation, the friary was closed at the suppression of monastic houses throughout Ireland, and the friary was granted to Robert Collum. But it suffered a more serious assault in 1548 when the O’Carrolls burnt Nenagh, including the friary, which was then a conventual house.

The Franciscans continued to maintain a presence in Nenagh until about 1587. No efforts were made to continue that Franciscan presence for almost half a century until the Observant friars arrived in Nenagh in 1632.

The friars were expelled by the Cromwellians but returned after the restoration. A community was still living in Nenagh in the early 18th century, but this had broken up by 1766. Friars continued to work in the area as parish clergy until the last Franciscan in Nenagh, Father Patrick Harty, died in 1817.

The earliest inscribed headstone in the churchyard is for Mrs Frances Minchin, and is dated 1696.The abbey grounds continue to be used as a burial ground.

HG Leask wrote a comprehensive description of the Friary in 1937, when he described the ruin as a simple, long rectangle, without any obvious division into nave and chancel. He recorded the fine windows in the east gable, and 11 windows in the north wall of the choir.

The Franciscan Friary is known popularly in Nenagh as the Abbey, and has given its name to surrounding street such as Friar Street or Abbey Street and local businesses like Friary Iron Works, the Abbey Court Hotel, Abbey Furniture and Abbey Machinery.

Looking into the ruins from the west end (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Praying through Lent with
USPG (44): 18 April 2019

‘Jesus dies on the Cross’ … Station XII in the Stations of the Cross in the Chapel in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Today is Maundy Thursday [18 April 2019]. The liturgical colour changes on this day from the Violet of Lent or the Red of Passiontide to White, and the Eucharist or Holy Communion is to be ‘celebrated in every cathedral and in each parish church or in a church within a parochial union or group of parishes.’

It is traditional in dioceses too to have a celebration of the Chrism Eucharist in a cathedral or church in the diocese, when the bishops, priests, deacons and readers renew their vows. This year in this united diocese, the Chrism Eucharist is being celebrated in Saint Columba’s Church, Drumcliffe, Ennis, Co Clare (11.30 a.m.).

Later this evening, I am presiding and preaching at the Maundy Eucharist with foot washing in Castetown Church, Kilcornan, near Pallaskenry, Co Limerick (8 p.m.).

During Lent this year, I have been using the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections.

USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential, and champion justice. It was founded in 1701.

Throughout this week, Holy Week, the USPG Prayer Diary is focussing on the work of the Delhi Brotherhood Society (DBS) and its Women’s Helpline, which provides pastoral support and counselling to help families to resolve issues of gender violence or marital discord.

This theme was introduced on Sunday morning with a short article telling Meera’s story.

Thursday 18 April 2019, Maundy Thursday:

Pray for men prone to violence and abuse in their relationships, that they may be given insight into their behaviour and challenged to change.

Readings:

Readings: Exodus 12: 1-4 (5-10), 11-14; Psalm 116: 1, 10-17; I Corinthians 11: 23-26; John 13: 1-17, 31b-35.

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.

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.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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.

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.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow