18 September 2022

Praying in Ordinary Time with USPG:
Sunday 18 September 2022

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, is unique in its dual role as a cathedral and a college chapel (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

Today (18 September) is the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XIV). It is six months since since I was taken to Milton Keynes University Hospital following my stroke (18 March 2022).After last week's hospital procedures in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, and a few days rest in York, I am back in Stony Stratford, and later this morning I hope to attend the Parish Eucharist in the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles.

But, before today begins, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

This week I am reflecting each morning on a church, chapel, or place of worship in Oxford that I visited earlier this month.

In my prayer diary this week I am reflecting in these ways:

1, One of the readings for the morning;

2, Reflecting on a church, chapel or place of worship in Oxford;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

Inside Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, facing east (Photograph Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Luke 16: 1-13 (NRSVA):

1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.” 3 Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” 6 He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” 7 Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.” 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

10 ‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’

Inside Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, facing west (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Christ Church, Oxford

For my reflections and devotions this week, I am reflecting on a church, chapel, or place of worship in Oxford, which I visited earlier this month. This follows my posting on Friday evening on my visit to the Oxford Jewish Centre (OJC) and Jewish sites in Oxford.

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, is both the college chapel of Christ Church and the cathedral church of the Diocese of Oxford, which extends across Oxfordshire Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and beyond. I first visited Christ Church as a teenager, but this is my first time to visit it as a priest living in the Diocese of Oxford.

Christ Church is one of the smallest cathedrals in the Church of England, and its dual role as cathedral and college chapel is unique.

The cathedral was originally the church of Saint Frideswide’s Priory. The site is said to be the location of the nunnery founded by Saint Frideswide, the patron saint of Oxford, and her shrine is now in the Latin Chapel. It once held her relics, brought there in 1180, and it was the focus of pilgrimage from at least the 12th until the early 16th century.

The priory was surrendered in 1522 to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who had selected it as the site for his proposed college. However, in 1529 the foundation was taken over by Henry VIII. Work stopped, but the college was refounded by the king in June 1532. Henry VIII transferred the recently-created See of Oxford from Osney to Christ Church in 1546.

There has been a choir at the cathedral since 1526, when John Taverner was the organist and master of the choristers. The statutes of Wolsey’s original college, initially called Cardinal College, mentioned 16 choristers and 30 singing priests.

The nave, choir, main tower and transepts are late Norman. There are architectural features ranging from Norman to the Perpendicular style and a large rose window of the ten-part or botanical type.

The Dean of Christ Church is both the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and the head of the governing body of Christ Church, a constituent college of the University of Oxford.

The chapter of canons of the cathedral has formed the governing body of the college since its foundation, with the dean as ex officio head of the chapter and ipso facto head of the college.

The position of dean has been vacant since 26 April 2022 since the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy, stepped down as the Dean of Christ Church after a lengthy and acrimonious dispute. Previously, he had been the principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon (2004-2014).

The university’s four senior theology professors are also ex officio canons residentiary.

WB Yeats refers to Christ Church in his poem ‘All Souls’ Night, Oxford’:

Midnight has come and the great Christ Church bell
And many a lesser bell sound through the room;
And it is All Souls’ Night …

The High Altar in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Today’s Prayer (Sunday 18 September 2022, Trinity XIV):

The Collect:

Almighty God,
whose only Son has opened for us
a new and living way into your presence:
give us pure hearts and steadfast wills
to worship you in spirit and in truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post Communion Prayer:

Lord God, the source of truth and love,
keep us faithful to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,
united in prayer and the breaking of bread,
and one in joy and simplicity of heart,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

The theme in the USPG prayer diary this week is ‘Welcoming Refugees.’

Father Frank Hegedus, Chaplain of Saint Margaret’s in Budapest, spoke to USPG about how the Church in Hungary is helping refugees fleeing Ukraine. USPG recognises that the situation may have changed since time of writing.

‘Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine began, St Margaret’s received around 20 Nigerian medical students, who had been studying in Ukraine. Along with the students came a medical professor and her husband, Father Solomon Ekiyor, who had been an Archdeacon in Nigeria. Receiving Fr Solomon and his family was a bittersweet experience – it was wonderful to have them with us but the circumstances that brought them here were most unfortunate.

‘The Church in Hungary is supporting various initiatives designed to help refugees. The House of Refuge in Budapest has taken in Hungarian-speaking refugees from a Roma background, who had been living in Western Ukraine. One of the members of St Margaret’s, Gordon Cross, has been running ‘Ukrainian Space’, a day-care centre for Ukrainian families which also offers assistance with residence permits and Hungarian and English language lessons.

‘Whilst Hungary has not received refugees on the same scale as countries like Poland, the Church in Hungary is supporting Ukrainian refugees who do arrive here.’

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

King of kings,
you lead with justice and mercy.
May our earthly leaders embrace humility
and pursue justice.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The monument to the Irish philosopher Bishop George Berkeley of Cloyne in Christ Church, Oxford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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

The memorial to the poet WH Auden in Christ Church, Oxford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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