18 February 2021

A Franciscan Blessing for Lent
at the end of a USPG webinar

The cloisters in the Franciscan Friary in Askeaton, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Once again, as another week moves towards its close, I am beginning to feel ‘all zoomed-out’ with a number of Zoom meetings and webinars that have included clergy meetings, and community action groups, as well as preparing sermons for Ash Wednesday and the Sunday before Lent, along with a parish funeral that was streamed live by the undertakers.

It seems on-line seminars and meetings are going to be a pattern for the future, long after this pandemic lockdown eases, if it never comes to a final conclusion.

Earlier this week, I was one of more than 300 people who attended the online seminar ‘Past and Present: Pastoral Care across space and time.’ It was organised jointly by the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), of which I am a trustee, and SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge).

Both societies were founded over 300 years ago by the Revd Dr Thomas Day (1656-1730), and this ‘Bray Day’ webinar was a way of marking ‘Founder’s Day.’

USPG was founded by Bray as SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) in 1698, and he founded SPCK three years earlier in 1701.

The webinar discussed pastoral care across time and space, and launched an exhibition of USPG’s archives, which you may be viewed HERE.

Over 300 delegates from 30 different countries attended the webinar, making it USPG’s largest online event to date. Dr Jo Sadgrove (USPG) offered broad reflections on the contents of the archive, Dr Alison Searle and Dr Emily Vine (University of Leeds) presented documents from the archive, and the former Archbishop of Canternury, Bishop Rowan Williams, discussed the archive with journalist Rosie Dawson.

The Revd Dr Carlton Turner, a USPG Trustee, the Right Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover, and the Revd Professor Veront Satchell, Professor of Economic and Landscape History at the University of the West Indies, provided reflections on the archive.

At the end of the webinar, Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin offered this Franciscan Blessing which is a prayer to consider using throughout Lent:

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that we may reach out our hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all God’s children. Amen.

Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
2, Saint Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe

Inside Saint Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, Co Clare … installed as Precentor four years ago on 19 February 2017 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During Lent and Easter this year, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, a photograph of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society, Partners in the Gospel).

This week, as Lent begins, I am offering photographs of the four cathedrals where I have been a chapter member. This morning’s photograph is of Saint Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, Co Clare, where I have been the Precentor since my installation in the joint chapter four years ago, on Sunday 19 March 2017.

Luke 9: 22-25 (NRSVA):

22 [Jesus said,] ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’

23 Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25 What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?’

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (18 February 2021) invites us to pray:

Let us pray, that as we journey this Lent toward Easter joy, we might share the joy of the living Christ with all whom we meet.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Precentor’s stall in the choir in Saint Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, Co Clare (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