24 October 2022

Praying in Ordinary Time with USPG:
Monday 24 October 2022

Christ healing an infirm woman on the Sabbath, by James Tissot (1886-1896)

Patrick Comerford

Before today gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

For the rest of this week, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, One of the readings for the morning;

2, A reflection based on six churches or church sites I visited in London last week;

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

The Kahal Shalom Synagogue, with the women’s gallery behind and above the tevah (Photograph: RhodesPrivateTours.com)

Luke 13: 10-17 (NRSVA):

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.’ 15 But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?’ 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

A plaque marking the site of Saint Benet Sherehog Church on the corner of Sise Lane and Pancras Lane (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Saint Benet Sherehog Church:

Saint Benet Sherehog Church, first dedicated to Saint Osyth, was a mediaeval parish church built before 1111, on a site now occupied by No 1 Poultry in Cordwainer Ward. This was once the wool-dealing district of the City of London, and a ‘shere hog’ is a castrated ram after its first shearing.

The church was originally dedicated to Saint Osyth. Sise Lane in the parish uses an abbreviated form of the saint’s name. The historian John Stow believed that the later dedication of Saint Benet Sherehog was derived from a corruption of the name of Bennet Shorne, a benefactor of the church in the reign of Edward II.

The patronage of the church belonged to the monastery of Saint Mary Overy until the Dissolution, when it passed to the Crown.

Matthew Griffith, chaplain to Charles I, was the rector from 1640 until 1642. He was removed from the post and imprisoned after preaching a sermon, ‘A Pathetical Persuasion to Pray for Publick Peace,’ in Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Saint Benet’s was one of the 86 parish churches destroyed in the Great Fire of London. It was not selected to be rebuilt when the 1670 Act of Parliament became law. The parish was united to Saint Stephen Walbrook that year, but continued to be represented by its own churchwarden. However, for almost 200 years, the arrangement continued to cause tensions.

The church site was used as a burial-ground for the united parishes until closed by an Act of Parliament in 1853. It was excavated in 1994-1996 before the current office block was erected.

The burials in the churchyard included the poet and woman of letters Katherine (Fowler) Philips (1632-1664), also known as ‘The Matchless Orinda.’ She achieved renown as a translator of Pierre Corneille’s Pompée and Horace, and for her editions of poetry after her death.

Katherine Philips was born in London, the daughter of John Fowler, a Presbyterian cloth merchant. As a child, she had a strong memory and was intellectually advanced, and it is said she could read the Bible before the age of four.

Katherine Philips broke with Presbyterian traditions she became a member of the Church of England and an ardent admirer of King Charles I. In 1647, when she was 16, she married a Welsh Parliamentarian James Philipps, once said to have been 54 on their wedding day – in fact, he was only 24.

They were the parents of two children, including a son Hector who died in infancy in 1655 and was buried at Saint Benet Sherehog. Hector’s death was the subject of some of her later poems, including ‘Epitaph on Hector Philips’ and ‘On the Death of my First and Dearest Childe.’

She went to Dublin in 1662 to pursue her husband’s claim to Irish estates. In Dublin, she completed a translation of Pierre Corneille’s Pompée, produced with great success in 1663 in the Smock Alley Theatre, and printed that year in both Dublin and London, under the title Pompey.

She travelled back to London in 1664 with a nearly completed translation of Corneille’s Horace, but died of smallpox. She was buried in the church of Saint Benet Sherehog, just two years before it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London.

The site of Saint Benet Sherehog Church on the corner of Sise Lane and Pancras Lane (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Today’s Prayer (Monday 24 October 2022):

The Collect:

Blessed Lord,
who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
help us so to hear them,
to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them
that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word,
we may embrace and for ever hold fast
the hope of everlasting life,
which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post Communion Prayer:

God of all grace,
your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry
with the bread of his life
and the word of his kingdom:
renew your people with your heavenly grace,
and in all our weakness
sustain us by your true and living bread;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Theology in Korea.’ This theme was introduced yesterday.

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today (United Nations Day) in these words:

We give thanks for the United Nations and the work it does to foster international co-operation on difficult issues like trade and conflict.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

‘We give thanks for the United Nations and the work it does to foster international co-operation’ … the United Nations Peace Garden near the West Door of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (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

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