Monday, 7 December 2020

Praying in Advent with
Lichfield Cathedral:
9, Monday 7 December 2020

Saint Ambrose of Milan (third from left) among Seven Fathers of the Church carved above the south porch of Lichfield Cathedral (from left): Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, Saint Ambrose, Saint Gregory, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Athanasius and Saint Basil (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

Advent is the Church’s mindful antidote to some of the diversion and consumerism of a modern Christmas. It prepares us to encounter Christ again in his joy and humility.

In ‘The Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar 2020,’ the Dean and community at Lichfield Cathedral are inviting us to light our Advent candle each day as we read the Bible and join in prayer.

This calendar is for everyone who uses the Cathedral website, for all the Cathedral community, and for people you want to send it to and invite to share in the daily devotional exercise.

This is a simple prayer and bible-reading exercise to help us to mark the Advent Season as a time of preparation for the coming of Christ.

It is designed to take us on a journey, looking back to John the Baptist and Mary the Mother of Jesus; looking out into the world today, into our own hearts and experience; outwards again to Jesus Christ as he encounters us in life today and in his promise to be with us always.

You can download the calendar HERE.

The community at Lichfield Cathedral offers a number of suggestions on how to use this calendar:

● Set aside 5-15 minutes every day.

● Buy or use a special candle to light each day as you read and pray through the suggestions on the calendar.

● Try to ‘eat simply’ – one day each week try going without so many calories or too much rich food, just have enough.

● Try to donate to a charity working with the homeless or the people of Bethlehem.

● Try to pray through what you see and notice going on around you in people, the media and nature.

Monday 7 December 2020 (Saint Ambrose):

Read Saint Mark 1: 1-8:.

Luke 5: 17-26 (NRSVA):

17 One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 Just then some men came, carrying a paralysed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; 19 but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. 20 When he saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ 21 Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, ‘Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ 22 When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? 24 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ – he said to the one who was paralysed – ‘I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.’ 25 Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. 26 Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’

Reflection:

Jesus gives more than we can ask or conceive. Prepare to be given a fresh dose of wonder and pray to want it.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s evening reflection

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

Lismakeery, a ruined
mediaeval church and
site outside Askeaton

The church ruins at Lismakeery, seen from the north side (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Patrick Comerford

Two signs mark the entrance into a small housing estate in Askeaton: one road-sign points into Lismakeara; a second, carved marker with the outline of a traceried, three-light Gothic window, names the estate as Lismakeera.

Both signs into this housing estate, opposite Colaiste Mhuire and Saint Mary’s Church of Ireland parish church, take their name from a mediaeval church site, about 3 km outside Askeaton.

Apart from Saint Mary’s Church, there are three church ruins within walking distance of Askeaton that have served as Church of Ireland parish churches in times past: the church at Morgans North (or Dysert), which I visited at the end of last month, and the churches at Lismakeery, near Creeves and Toomdeely, near the point where the River Deel flows into the Shannon Estuary.

The two signs at the entrance to the housing estate in Askeaton were an invitation to visit Lismakeery or Lismakeera earlier last week.

The church ruins at Lismakeery, seen from the south side (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

The church site is about 3 km south-west of Askeaton, close to Altavilla and Creeves, on the west banks of the River Deel.

The name of Lismakeery comes the Irish Lios Mhic Thíre (‘he enclosure of Mac Tíre’), although one account claims the Irish means ‘MacKeery’s Fort.’

Lismakeera has 213.58 hectares (527.76 acres), and ten townlands: Altavilla, Ballyclogh, Ballycullen, Ballyellinan, Conicar, Creeves, Liffane, Lismakeery, Miltown North and Miltown South.

Lismakeera was a parish in the Diocese of Limerick from the early 14th century. When it was surveyed for Papal Taxation in 1302, the parish was referred to as Lismaceyre and later as Lismakeery.

Later in the 14th century, Lismakeery was held by the Augustinians of Keynsham Abbey, between Bristol and Bath in Somerset, along with Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, and a number of other churches and parishes in this part of Co Limerick.

After the Tudor Reformation in the 16th century, Lismakeery passed into the hands of the de Lacy family. James Roe Lacy, who held Lismakeery, was executed in Limerick in 1571 during the Desmond rebellion. Lismakeery then passed to John de Lacy of Ballingarry.

Inside the church ruins, facing east (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Dr Hugh Lacy, clerk (priest) and former Bishop of Limerick, was granted a 21-year lease of Lismakeery in 1577. He had been appointed Bishop by the Pope in November 1556 in succession to William Casey, who had been deposed that year by Queen Mary.

Lacy took the oath of allegiance to the Crown that year, and he remained in office during the first few years of Elizabeth I’s reign. He was the Queen’s Commissioner in Limerick in 1564, but he was deposed in 1571 as a supporter of the Pope and was replaced as bishop by his predecessor, William Casey.

By 1573, Lacy was described as an adherent of the Pope, and he was placed in the See House by the supporters of the Earl of Desmond in 1573.

As a ‘clerk’ or priest in the Diocese of Limerick and a former bishop, Lacy was granted a lease of Lismakeery in 1577, which indicates he was in good standing in the Church of Ireland once again. But he was under house arrest by 1579, and probably died in 1580.

It is an interesting but not exceptional anomaly that he appears on the lists of both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Bishops of Limerick.

Inside the church ruins, facing west (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

King James I granted the lands of Lismakeery in 1603 to Sir Richard Boyle (1566-1643) of Lismore Castle, later Lord Boyle (1616), Viscount Dungarvan (1620) and Earl of Cork (1620). However, Lismakeery was transferred in 1610 to Sir Francis Berkeley, Constable of Limerick Castle.

That year, Berkeley was also granted Askeaton Castle and 40 acres, offered to wall Askeaton, constituted the ‘Manor of Rock Barkley,’ and established a fair and weekly market in Askeaton.

Askeaton became a parliamentary borough, sending its own MPs to Irish House of Commons. Askeaton was incorporated by a charter of 1614, with a provost (or mayor) and 12 burgesses, and Edmond Drew was the first provost or mayor of Askeaton.

Meanwhile, in 1612, Berkeley leased Lismakeery to Edmond Drew, the Provost of Askeaton. Berkeley died at Askeaton Castle on 20 December 1615.

A Bateman family grave in Lismakeery with traditional signs of the passion, crucifixion and death of Christ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

From this time, there is a separate list of Vicars or Rector of Lismakeery in the Church of Ireland from 1617 until 1790.

The names of the Church of Ireland Rectors of Lismakeery are the same names as the Vicars of Askeaton at the time, with the addition of the Revd Cyprian Eames, who was the vicar in 1639, and the Revd Walter Finglass, who was a curate in 1703-1704 and a Vicar Choral of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.

The last recorded Rector of Lismakeery was the Revd William Sprigg or Sprigge, who was Vicar of Askeaton and Dromdeely alias Tomdeely and Rector of Lismakeery for over 40 years from 1747 to 1790. He was probably a son of Canon Nathaniel Sprigge, who had been Rector of Newcastle and Moneygay (Rathcahill or Rachaell) and Prebendary of Ballycahane.

The north door of the church in Lismakeery, looking out into the churchyard (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

The separate parish of Lismakeery seems to have been abolished or absorbed into the parish of Askeaton after William Sprigge died in October 1790.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the parish of Lismakeery continued to be associated with the de Lacy family. Dr Edmund Lacy of Conigar in Lismakeery and his brother, Father Thomas Lacy, who lived in exile, commissioned the ‘de Lacy Chalice’ in 1662.

Father David Lacy was registered as the Catholic pastor of Askeaton, Lismakeery and Toomdeely in 1704. Four years later, he was suspected of having Jacobite sympathies, and he was indicted in 1714 and again in 1719 for not taking the Oath of Abjuration.

The Lourdes-style grotto inserted in the east wall in 2004 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

By 1837, Samuel Lewis noted in his Topographical Directory of Ireland that Lismakeery, also known as Lismacdiry, was ‘a rectory in the Diocese of Limerick, forming part of the union of Askeaton,’ and that ‘the tithes amount to £180.’ One of the leading families in the parish at the time was the Bridgeman family of Altavilla.

Lismakeery Church was known locally in the 1840s as the ‘de Lacy Church.’

The ruined church stands on a raised site and measures 59 ft in length and by 22 ft 6 in width. It dates from the 15th century but stands on the site of the earlier 13th century foundation. Archaeologists say there is evidence that part of one wall may date back to the eight century.

A sign in Askeaton recalls an old church site (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

In recent decades, a canopied altar has been erected inside the ruins at the east end, and a ‘Lourdes Grotto’ shrine, originally in the Convent of Mercy, in Newcastle West, was inserted on the outside east wall by the Foley family in 2004.

The surrounding, rectangular graveyard measures about 60 metres north to south, about 30 metres east to west, and is enclosed by a stone wall. Most recent burials lie north of church, with a scattering of headstones south of church dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. There are many burials inside the church ruins too.

Some of the older gravestones I found include those of Welsh family (1787) and the Bridgeman family (1794 and 1809), with traditional symbols of the Passion and Crucifixion.

Street signs in Askeaton can lead to exploring mediaeval church sites (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Praying in Advent with USPG:
9, Monday 7 December 2020

‘A Promise of Hope’ … the theme of USPG’s Christmas project this year

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

I am one of the contributors to the current USPG Diary, Pray with the World Church, introducing the theme of peace and trust after Christmas.

The theme of the USPG Prayer Diary this week (6 to 12 December 2020) is ‘A Promise of Hope,’ which is the theme of USPG’s Christmas project this year.

Monday 7 December 2020:

Let us pray for the people of Ghana as they go to the polls today to elect a new president and members of parliament.

The Collect of the Day (Advent II):

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.

Luke 5: 17-26 (NRSVA):

17 One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 Just then some men came, carrying a paralysed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; 19 but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. 20 When he saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ 21 Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, ‘Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ 22 When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, ‘Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? 24 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ – he said to the one who was paralysed – ‘I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.’ 25 Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. 26 Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s morning reflection

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