Sunday, 17 October 2021

‘Hello Canada, hello Canada’:
words that put Ballybunion
at the centre of the world

Ballybunion in this afternoon’s autumn sunshine … three flags are flying above the headland and behind the castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

After a busy Sunday morning in Askeaton and Tarbert, two of us headed on to Ballybunion for a walk on the two beaches in unseasonable afternoon autumn sunshine.

I often wondered why the flags of Italy, Ireland and Canada flew above the beaches, behind the castle ruins on the promontory that separates the Ladies’ Beach and the Men’s Beach in Ballybunion.

But, between my two beach walks this afternoon I learned how this seaside town in North Kerry was once one of the most important places on the planet when it comes to the history of telecommunications.

On 19 March 1919, the first East-to-West transatlantic voice transmission was made from the Marconi radio station in Ballybunion to a receiving station in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, using the call signal YXQ.

The memorial marking the centenary of this event was unveiled on 19 March 2019 by Marconi’s daughter, Princess Elettra Marconi Giovanelli, and her son, Prince Guglielmo Giovanelli Marconi.

‘Hello Canada, hello Canada,’ were the words Princess Elettra uttered to Nova Scotia during the centenary celebrations. These were the first words ever communicated live by voice across the Atlantic, when uttered by WT Ditchem on 19 March 1919 in his transmission from the Marconi Radio Station in Ballybunion to Nova Scotia.

The 89-year-old Princess travelled from Italy with her son Prince Guglielmo, and his wife, Princess Victoria, to take part in the celebrations in Ballybunion, including the repeat broadcast. It was successfully picked up at a station close to the original receiver in Nova Scotia in a communication that revived a moment in the history of communications and that brought joy to amateur and professional radio operators.

A plaque was then unveiled to mark the extraordinary role of Ballybunion in this event, and so the flags of the Italy, Ireland and Canada were fluttering in the sunshine in Ballybunion this afternoon

Princess Elettra Marconi Giovanelli is the daughter of Marchese Guglielmo Marconi, the ‘Father of Radio,’ who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909 for his pioneering work in wireless communication. She is the co-author and editor of Marconi, My Beloved, which includes eyewitness accounts of her father’s work – including his development of Vatican Radio and his scientific experiments on board the floating laboratory, the steam yacht Elettra.

Princess Elettra has devoted her life to talking about Marconi, educating people about his scientific achievements and about the man he was, conveying the enthusiasm and perseverance he showed through his breakthrough experiments.

She was born in Civitavecchia in Italy, and was named Maria Elettra after her father’s famous floating laboratory, the steam yacht Elettra. She inherited the Palazzo Marconi in Bologna in 1936 when she was six, after the death of her uncle Alfonso and a year before her father’s death on her seventh birthday.

The young Maria Elettra grew up heavy influenced by his work through the stories recounted by her mother. She married Prince Giovanelli in 1966, and the couple had a son the following year.

After Guglielmo Marconi’s death, Elettra’s mother dedicated her life to commemorating and celebrating his achievements, and that responsibility has since passed to Princess Elettra. Her aim has been to inspire a new generation of young scientists to make the kind of discoveries that can change our world.

She has also made it a life mission to restore the Palazzo Marconi in Bologna and to convert it to an academic centre for students studying science, technology, engineering or medicine as a tribute to her father.

Three flags in Ballybunion recall a momentous event in communications over 100 years ago (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Sunday intercessions on
17 October 2021, Trinity XX

Saint Luke depicted in a stained-glass window by Catherine O’Brien of An Túr Gloine in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale … Saint Luke’s Day is on 18 October (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Let us pray:

‘Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, how excellent is your greatness!’ (Psalm 104: 1):

Heavenly Father,
we pray for the world and the nations of the world,
for those nations where rulers and leaders hold onto power
through violence, coercion and subjugation,
who seek to be served and not to serve their people,
that the hearts of those rulers may be changed,
so that the people may know mercy, peace and justice.

We pray for all who face discrimination …
who are denied equal opportunities …
who are denied access to public services …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10: 45):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
that we may seek to serve and not to be served …

In the Church, we are in communion with the saints
who have served Christ, the Church and the world,
including this week Saint Luke on Monday (18 October)
and Saint James, Brother of the Lord on Saturday (23 October).

We pray for our Bishop, Kenneth, as he prepares to retire,
we pray for all who are responsible for serving the Church
during this vacancy,
and for all who are charged with electing a new bishop,
that they may seek someone who offers servant leadership.

In the diocese, we pray for the clergy of these diocese
who hold their annual conference this week.
In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for the Tralee and Dingle Unions of parishes,
the Rev Jim Stephens, and the congregations of
Saint John’s, Tralee, Saint Brendan’s, Killiney, Saint James, Dingle,
and the churches in Ballymacelligott, Ballyseedy and Kilgobbin.

In the Church of Ireland this month,
we pray for the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory,
and for Bishop Michael Burrows.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer,
we pray this week for the (Anglican) Church in the Province of the West Indies,
and the Primate, Archbishop Howard Gregory, Bishop of Jamaica.

In our community,
we pray for our schools,
we pray for our parishes and people …
we pray for our neighbouring churches and parishes,
and people of faith everywhere,
that we may be blessed in our variety and diversity.

And we pray for ourselves …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to number the clouds?’ (see Job 38: 36-37):

Holy Spirit, we pray for one another …

We remember Kenneth Smyth, who died last week,
we pray for those who grieve and mourn …
those who feel pain and loss …
those who are bewildered and without answers …
including Caroline, Victor and Gillian …
We remember Linda and Joe too …
May their memories be a blessing.

We pray for those we love and those who love us …
we pray for our families, friends and neighbours …
We pray for all who feel rejected and discouraged …
we pray for all in need and who seek healing …
and we pray for those we promised to pray for …

We pray for all who are sick or isolated,
at home, in hospital …
Ruby … Daphne … Sylvia … Ajay … Cecil … Pat …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer in advance of Thursday’s Service of Reflection and Hope in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh:

Sovereign, wise and gracious God, in whose hands lie the past, present and future, we acknowledge before you our failures, our divisions, and the hurt we have caused you and one another. Forgive, restore, and heal us. The events of partition and formation, which took place 100 years ago on this island, changed, shaped, and determined the outlook for this place which we all call home.

As we reflect upon those times and bring to mind what happened then and in the years since, we acknowledge before you our different and often polarised interpretations of history.

As we travel onwards in our journey, may we learn from the experiences of the past and from those who trod these roads before us, so that the inheritance we pass on to the next generation is the gift of understanding, peace, and hope. In faith we pray, and humbly ask, in the name of him who is the light of the world and giver of all hope, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Merciful Father …

Saint James the Brother of the Lord (23 October) … an icon written by Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG, for Saint James Episcopal Church, Parkton, Maryland

Is there ‘Priority’ boarding
for the ‘best seats’ in
the Kingdom of God?

Waiting for a flight … but is there ‘Priority’ boarding for the Kingdom of God? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Sunday 17 October 2021

The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XX)

9.30 a.m.:
Morning Prayer, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick

11.30 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Co Kerry

The Readings: Job 38: 1-7 [34-41]; Psalm 104: 1-10, 26, 37c; Hebrews 5: 1-10; Mark 10: 35-45


The icon of Christ the Great High Priest on the bishop’s chair or throne in the Church of Saint Nektarios in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

May I speak in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

I am back travelling again. Between last month and this month, I have been back to Greece and back to England. But this is not without some degrees of caution and of trepidation.

I am aware of the dangers that come with this, and I have been taken aback by the low level of social distancing, mask covering or other precautions in other countries that we now regard as good manners in Ireland.

And I also realise that travel is a privilege and not a right. It is a privilege that brings with it responsibilities: for carbon footprints, for the use of fossil fuels and diminishing resources, for cultural exchanges and the dangers tourism poses to many local cultures and life.

So, when I say I am back to travelling, I want to avoid being smug about it all.

But, over recent weeks at airports, I have watched people queuing at boarding gates, in the way Desmond Morris looked at human behaviour in the 1960s in his television series and books, The Naked Ape and The Human Zoo.

It is interesting how so many people want to get on first. They book ‘Priority’ boarding, join the ‘Priority’ queue, and then are shocked to find that the Priority queue is longer than the Non-Priority queue.

And that’s just the beginning of it. We all then find we are on the one shuttle bus that takes us on a two or three-minute journey to the plane, we all board together, and, when we get to our destination, we all get off together, get on the same bus once again, and still have to queue up at the same passport control desk.

Priority booking and non-priority queues make no difference to how we get to where we are finally going.

Watching those queues at three airports over the last two months, I thought, of course of this morning’s Gospel reading (Mark 10: 35-45), and I thought of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who want priority boarding or priority seats in the Kingdom of God, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory’ (verse 37).

Is that what discipleship is all about? Booking the best seats?

But they are told, ‘whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all’ (verses 43-44).

It is a response this morning that needs to be taken on board by anyone whose name might be suggested in the weeks to come as the new Bishop of Tuam, Limerick and Killaloe.

Bishop Kenneth Kearon and Bishop Patrick Rooke both retire in two weeks’ time (31 October 2021). In the weeks that follow, it falls on the episcopal electors, elected in equal numbers from these dioceses and from the wider Church of Ireland, to elect one new bishop.

In those weeks, the electors shall be asked to consider many names, for many reasons. Bishops are seen as the successors of the apostles, but would you want as bishop someone, who like James and John, saw their own self-promotion and self-glory as more important than serving the Kingdom of God in these dioceses?

There are two essential canonical or legal requirements for a bishop: the person elected must be an ordained priest, and must have reached the age of 30.

Some people are going to point out that we only have one woman as a bishop in the Church of Ireland at present. Some are going to point out that a diocese of this size needs someone young who can hit the ground running, or someone older who can be a mature, caring and tender presence, helping two dioceses grow together with mutual respect and understanding. Others may say, for example, we need to look again at the theological balance in the House of Bishops.

The ordinal in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of Ireland refers to the person being ordained bishop as ‘this your servant’ who is in need of the ‘gifts of grace.’

As the bishop-elect stands before the consecrating archbishop, she or he is reminded that bishops are called ‘to lead in serving and caring for the people of God,’ to be ‘chief pastors,’ to ‘maintain and further the unity of the Church,’ to take care of and promote the discipline, faith, and mission of the Church, not just in these dioceses, but ‘throughout the world.’

The bishop-elect is reminded of the duties of praying, teaching and governing, following the example of the apostles, speaking in the name of God, and preaching and teaching the Gospel.

‘They are to know their people and to be known by them’ – which is going to be a very difficult task in a new diocese that spreads all along the Wild Atlantic Way, from south Kerry to north Mayo, from Valentia Island to Achill Island, with parishes in eight or nine counties across three of the four provinces.

At their presentation, new bishops are asked to ‘encourage all baptised people in their gifts and ministries,’ and they are to be ‘faithful in visiting the sick, in caring for the poor and needy and in helping the oppressed.’ They are ‘to have special care for the sick and the outcast and needy.’

After the prayer of consecration, a new bishop is reminded once again that the priorities of episcopal ministry include those calling on him or her ‘to heal, not to hurt; to build up, not to destroy.’

These are the qualities a new bishop is to aspire to. But no-one has them all, and anyone wanting to be a new bishop needs humility rather than ambition, needs to be reluctant to come on board rather than seeking a priority boarding card.

The people being considered, and the people involved in electing a new bishop, need our prayerful consideration and our prayers in the weeks to come. For, ‘whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.’

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

Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptised with?’ (Mark 10: 38) … Christ as the Great High Priest in the icon screen in the Mikri Panaghia Church or Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Mark 10: 35-45 (NRSVA):

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ 36 And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ 37 And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ 38 But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ 39 They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

‘For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many’ (Mark 10: 45) … the San Damiano or Franciscan cross in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical Colour: Green (Ordinary Time, Year B)

The Collect:

Almighty God,
whose Holy Spirit equips your Church with a rich variety of gifts:
Grant us so to use them that, living the gospel of Christ
and eager to do your will,
we may share with the whole creation in the joys of eternal life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect of the Word:

God of unchangeable power,
when the heaven and earth were made,
the morning stars sang together
and the host of heaven shouted for joy:
open our eyes to the wonders of creation
and teach us to use all things for good,
to the honour of your glorious name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

God our Father,
whose Son, the light unfailing,
has come from heaven to deliver the world
from the darkness of ignorance:
Let these holy mysteries open the eyes of our understanding
that we may know the way of life, and walk in it without stumbling;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymns:

34, O worship the King all-glorious above (CD 2)
366, Praise, my soul, the King of heaven (CD 22)
294, Come down, O Love divine (CD 18)

‘For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10: 45) … ‘Serving Brunch with Love’ … a sign outside a café on the island of Paxos (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.



Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
141, Father Mathew Memorial Church, Cork

Holy Trinity Church, or the Father Mathew Memorial Church, the Capuchin church on Father Mathew Quay, Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XX). Later this morning (17 October 2021), I am leading and preaching at Morning Prayer in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, and presiding at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Brendan’s Church, Tarbert. But, before the day begins, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme for these few weeks is churches in the Franciscan (and Capuchin) tradition. My photographs this morning (17 October 2021) are from the Father Mathew Memorial Church, Cork.

Building work on the church began in 1832, but it was not completed until 1890 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Holy Trinity Church, also known as the Father Mathew Memorial Church, is a Gothic Revival church and friary on Father Mathew Quay, on the bank of the River Lee in Cork.

The church belongs to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and is the only church dedicated to Father Theobald Mathew (1790-1856), the Temperance campaigner.

The Capuchins arrived in Cork in 1637, 12 years after the first Capuchin community in Ireland was established in Dublin.

The church was built by the Capuchins, under the guidance of Father Theobald Mathew, on what was once known as Charlotte Quay. It replaced an earlier, smaller church that stand in a lane nearby, behind Sullivan’s Quay.

The name of Charlotte Quay was later changed in honour of Father Mathew.

The church was designed by the architect George Richard Pain (1793-1838). It is aligned on a north/south axis, rather than the traditional, liturgical east/west axis.

The foundation stone was laid on 10 October 1832, Father Mathew’s birthday. Pain died in 1838, and supervision was taken over by Thomas Coakley. The Great Famine interrupted the building project, and Thomas Deane was chosen to complete the church without its portico and spire, while William Atkins was responsible for the interior. The church finally opened on 10 October 1850. However, the church was not completed until 1890, in time for the centenary of Father Mathew’s birth. The friary to the west of the church was completed in 1884.

Inside the church are some magnificent examples of stained-glass windows. The sanctuary window is dedicated to Daniel O’Connell, and a number of windows on the south aisle are the work of Harry Clarke and the Harry Clarke studios.

One window was commissioned by the Cork and District Trades and Labour Council and dedicated to the Cork Capuchin Brother Thomas Dowling, who had mediated during a strike. It was produced by Joshua Clarke to a design by his son Harry Clarke and under his supervision. It depicts Christ as Prince of Peace and Saint Francis holding a dove, with the city’s skyline at the bottom of the window.

Two other windows were commissioned from Harry Clarke and his brother, Walter Clarke, depicting the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Conception being venerated by Munster saints.

The Father Mathew Memorial Church was designed by the architect George Richard Pain (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 10: 35-45 (NRSVA):

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ 36 And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ 37 And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ 38 But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ 39 They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

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

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (17 October 2021, Trinity XX) invites us to pray:

Caring God,
you sent Jesus to serve,
not to be served.
May we serve our communities,
and be humble in doing so.

The Sacred Heart depicted with angels and saints in a Harry Clarke window in the Father Mathew Memorial Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Saints in one of the Harry Clarke Windows in the Father Mathew Memorial Church (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