Saturday, 12 December 2020

Praying in Advent with
Lichfield Cathedral:
14, Saturday 12 December 2020

‘Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist’ (Matthew 17: 18) … Saint John the Baptist in a stained-glass window in the chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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.

Saturday 12 December 2020:

Read Saint Matthew 17: 10-13 (NRSVA):

10 And the disciples asked him, ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ 11 He replied, ‘Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

Reflection:

Sometimes troubling people tell us difficult truths. Pray for the prophets of today and the grace to hear them.

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

A childish dilemma for
Sunday’s hurling final

A small boy developed an enthusiasm for hurling in Cappoquin, Co Waterford, in the 1950s

Patrick Comerford

The Irish definition of where you are from must be who you want to win the next All-Ireland final. If where you are from was determined by where you were born, Meath would never have a decent team, with many of their footballers born in hospitals in Drogheda or Dublin, and even some of the Kilkenny hurlers were probably born in Waterford.

I want Wexford to win the next All-Ireland final. But that’s not possible: tomorrow’s hurling final is between Limerick and Waterford. And that poses a dilemma.

When it comes to rugby, I am a Leinster fan; when it comes to soccer, I am a fan of Aston Villa first and then Tottenham Hotspur. And I enjoy cricket too. But, I have to admit my interest in Gaelic football equals my interest in Golf – somewhere between nothing and nil.

However, when it comes to tomorrow’s Hurling final, I have a minor dilemma. And not just because Wexford is not playing.

I have been living in Askeaton in west Limerick for almost four years, and I was honoured to be counted in when the Limerick hurlers brought the Liam MacCarthy cup back to Limerick and to Askeaton in 2018.

But, in recent days, I came across a photograph that reminded of when and where I became enthusiastic about hurling.

Tucked into the back of a photograph album that had once been in the house of one grandmother who lived in Terenure, I found the only photograph in the album of me as a small child. Although none of us knows what we look like to other people, I recognised myself immediately.

I must have been only 12 to 15 months old in this photograph, and it was taken around 1953 at the home of another grandmother, on her farm outside Cappoquin, Co Waterford.

From an early age, I was infected by the enthusiasm for hurling that is endemic in Co Waterford. Although my side of the Comerford family is from Co Wexford, I had uncles who brought me to many hurling matches when Waterford hurling was at another previous height in the late 1950s and 1960s, reaching its apex with the All-Ireland final win in 1959.

A caring uncle, knowing how infected I was, brought me to a number of All-Ireland finals in Croke Park, and I stil recall the Wexford final against Tipperary in 1962 and the Waterford final against Kilkenny in 1963.

My return visit to Cappoquin at the end of summer this year, complete with Blaas in Barrons and visits to Moonwee, Mount Mellary, Cappoquin House and Dromana, brought back many memories of uncles, hurling and the love that surrounded the small child in that photograph.

Perhaps I shall be a little childish and playful as I watch tomorrow afternoon’s final.

Lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup with Willie O’Meara and Father Seán Ó Longaigh in Askeaton in 2018

Praying in Advent with USPG:
14, Saturday 12 December 2020

‘Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him’ (Matthew 17: 11) … Elijah in the Chariot of Fire, depicted in a window in Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Newport, Essex (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.

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

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.

Saturday 12 December 2020:

Let us pray for the people of Kenya as they mark their Independence Day today.

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.

Matthew 17: 10-13 (NRSVA):

10 And the disciples asked him, ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ 11 He replied, ‘Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

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