24 May 2023

Morning prayers in Easter
with USPG: (46) 24 May 2023

The Ascension depicted in the West Window in the Collegiate Church of Saint Nicholas in Galway (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Eastertide and Ascensiontide continue throughout this week, until the Day of Pentecost next Sunday (28 May 2023).

Today, the calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship remembers John and Charles Wesley, Evangelists and Hymn Writers. Later this morning, I have my next Covid-19 vaccination in the Open University in Milton Keynes. But, before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for prayer and reflection.

I am reflecting each morning during Ascensiontide in these ways:

1, Looking at a depiction of the Ascension in images or stained glass windows in a church or cathedral I know;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The Ascension Window over the west door in Saint Nicholas Church, Galway (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The West Window, Saint Nicholas Church, Galway:

The Collegiate Church of Saint Nicholas of Myra, the Church of Ireland parish church in Galway, was first built ca 1320 and is the largest mediaeval church in Ireland.

The chancel with its three windows in the south wall dates from the beginning, the nave, and the transept date from about a century later. Christopher Columbus is said to have visited the church in 1477. The church was given collegiate status in 1484, so that it was in the charge of a warden and vicars appointed by the mayor and burghers of Galway.

Cromwell’s troops destroyed all the stained glass windows in the church, including the east window that had been filled with ‘coloured glass’ by the Mayor of Galway, James Lynch, in 1493.

The Galway distiller Henry Sadleir Persse put up the east window over the High Altar in memory of his daughter Matilda Theodora who died aged 15 in 1881. The five lancets in the window show Christ as the Good Shepherd, Christ raising Jairus’ daughter, Christ in Gethsemane, Christ blessing children, and the Risen Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene.

Persse was one of the largest employers in Galway and for a long time was identified with public life in the city. Shortly before his death, he bought and presented a site at the bottom of Taylor’s Hill for building a rectory in the parish.

After Persse died on 8 March 1899, his family erected the window over the west door in his memory. The window was made by Mayer & Co of Munich in 1899 and is composed of five lancets, seven main and four small tracery-lights.

The window one portrays the Ascension in the centre and the Acts of Mercy in the lower left panel and the Parable of the Good Samaritan in the lower right.

The West Window was erected in 1899 in memory of Henry Sadleir Persse (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 6: 30-34 (NRSVA):

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Henry Sadleir Persse put up the east window over the High Altar in memory of his daughter Matilda Theodora (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s prayer:

The theme in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) this week is ‘Accountability and Care.’ USPG’s Research and Learning Advisor, Jo Sadgrove, introduced this theme on Sunday, when she reflected on accountability on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death tomorrow (Thursday 25 May 2023).

The USPG Prayer invites us to pray this morning (Wednesday 24 May 2023):

Let us pray for ourselves as we seek to acknowledge our own shortcomings. May we have the courage to name them and may we know God’s grace to change.


God of mercy,
who inspired John and Charles Wesley with zeal for your gospel:
grant to all people boldness to proclaim your word
and a heart ever to rejoice in singing your praises;
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.

Post Communion:

God, shepherd of your people,
whose servants John and Charles Wesley revealed the loving service of Christ
in their ministry as pastors of your people:
by this eucharist in which we share
awaken within us the love of Christ
and keep us faithful to our Christian calling;
through him who laid down his life for us,
but is alive and reigns with you, now and for ever.

The Collegiate Church of Saint Nicholas of Myra, the Church of Ireland parish church in Galway, dates from 1320 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

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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