09 March 2011

Ash Wednesday retreat in Skerries

Skerries Sailing Club, the venue for today’s Ash Wednesday retreat, overlooks Skerries Harbour (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

As a community, we are spending Ash Wednesday on a retreat in Skerries. This charming, small fishing harbour in Fingal (north Co Dublin), with its lengthy stretches of beach and the cliffs at Red Island, has generous, expansive views across the Skerries Rocks, out onto the Irish Sea and up to the Mountains of Mourne.

It has long been a favourite location of mine for beach walks and for quiet cups of coffee, and so it was a natural choice as a location for today’s retreat.

We are meeting in Skerries Sailing Club, which overlooks both the harbour and the South Strand. There we have time for prayer, reflection, silence and walks.

Later in the afternoon, we plan to walk the length of the South Strand from Skerries Sailing Club to Holmpatrick to close the day with a quiet celebration of the Eucharist at 4 p.m. in Holmpatrick Parish Church.

The bidding at this morning’s opening service says:

Brothers and sisters in Christ: since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. It became the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and fasting.

At first this season of Lent was observed by those who were preparing for Baptism at Easter and by those who were to be restored to the Church’s fellowship from which they had been separated through sin. In course of time the Church came to recognise that, by a careful keeping of these days, all Christians might take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the Gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

I invite you, therefore, to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.

Collect of the Day:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

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