Friday, 30 November 2012

With the Saints through Advent (1): 30 November, Saint Andrew

Saint Andrew ... a window in Saint Andrew’s Church of Ireland Parish Church in Malahide, Co Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Readings: Isaiah 52: 7-10; Psalm 19: 1-6; Romans 10: 12-18; Matthew 4: 18-22.

Advent is the first season of the Liturgical Year, beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (30 November) and embracing four Sundays. That means that the First Sunday of Advent can fall as early as 27 November 27 or as late as 3 December.

This year [2012], Advent begins on Sunday next, 2 December, and today [30 November 2012] is Saint Andrew’s Day.

The name Andrew comes among the first alphabetically, but is often last in the Church Year. The Gospels talk about Saint Andrew as “the First-Called,” but his feast day this year comes at the end of the Church Calendar.

Two churches in Dublin are named after Saint Andrew – one in Westland Row, tucked beneath the Dart station at the east end of Trinity College Dublin; the other on the corner of Suffolk Street and Saint Andrew’s Street, close to the West or main entrance to TCD. Both churches continue the name of a mediaeval church, built on a site near the City Hall, close to Dublin Castle, and dating from the early 13th century.

In the 17th century, the Church of Ireland parish church of Saint Andrew’s was relocated east, so it could be nearer to the newly developing suburbs around Trinity College. There it also became the parish church of the Irish Parliament and the Stock Exchange. An oddly-shaped church with a cone-shaped roof, it was known as the “Round Church.”

It was replaced in 1800 by another, new, round church, designed by Francis Johnston. That round shape is still reflected in the bend on the street at Suffolk Street and Saint Andrew’s Street, with Church Lane and Trinity Street leading down to College Green. But the new church suddenly lost its social appeal when Parliament was abolished at the Act of Union in 1800. Greater calamity came when it burned to the ground in 1860.

The cloister-like colonnade on the north side of the former Saint Andrew’s Church in Suffolk Street (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yet another new church, the present building, was built. Instead of rebuilding a round church, this one was designed in the Gothic Revival style by Lanyon and Lynn of Belfast. However, the church never recovered its parochial life, and it lost its potential for mission and ministry in that part of the city centre.

I remember Saint Andrew’s Church being used by the Ministry of Healing, certainly in the 1970s and the 1980s. But, when it closed in 1993, it had only two remaining parishioners. The building was sold, and since 1996 it has housed the Dublin Tourism Information and Booking Office. Now, a new use may have to be found for it in the coming year or two.

Although Francis Johnston was also one of the architects, Saint Andrew’s in Westland Row was built in a very different architectural style. Johnston, along with John Boulger and James Lever, built it in the classical style with echoes of the baroque of the Roman tradition, rather than the Gothic of the Church of Ireland’s Saint Andrew’s.

Outside, the church has a Doric portico, crowned by a statue of Saint Andrew, sculpted by Edward Smith and holding the X-shaped or saltire-style cross on which the apostle was said to have been martyred.

These two churches named after Saint Andrew bookend Trinity College Dublin – one at the east end and one at the west end. What an ecumenical – albeit unplanned – gesture. But Saint Andrew’s Day also bookends the Church year. This is the last great saint’s day in the Church Year this year, with a new Church Year beginning on Sunday next, 2 December 2012, the First Sunday of Advent.

Daily journey

During this season of Advent, as we prepare for the Coming of Christ at Christmas, I hope to take us on a daily journey through Advent with the saints as examples of that Christian and Christmas hope. Many of us enjoyed opening doors of Advent calendars when we were children. But this is a spiritual exercise to see how the lives of the saints open doors into understanding the meaning and implications of the incarnation for us today.

Saint Andrew the Apostle was a fisherman, an every-day ordinary-day commercial occupation, working on the Lake of Galilee in partnership with his brother Simon Peter. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and it is said that when Saint John the Baptist began to preach, Saint Andrew became one of his closest disciples. The story goes that Saint John the Baptist then sent two of his own disciples, the future Saint Andrew and Saint John the Evangelist, to Christ, declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God.

When he heard Christ’s call to follow him, Saint Andrew hesitated for a moment, not because he had any doubts about that call, but because he wanted to bring his brother with him. He left his nets behind and went to Peter and, as Saint John’s Gospel tells us in another account of his calling, he told him: “We have found the Messiah … [and] he brought Simon to Jesus” (John 1: 41, 42).

In answering our call to ministry and mission, we must not forget those who are closest to us, those in our families and those who have worked with us. But, at the same time, like Saint Andrew, we must be happy about leaving behind the nets of yesterday and not getting caught up in them.

Tradition says Saint Andrew was so obstinate and so stubborn at his martyrdom in Patras, in today’s western Greece, that he insisted on being splayed on an X-shaped cross. He said he was unworthy to be crucified on a cross of the same shape as the one on which Christ had been crucified.

Unlike the other disciples named in the Gospel reading in the Lectionary for today – Peter and James and John, the sons of Zebedee – Andrew never gave his name to an Epistle, never gave his name to a Gospel. But Andrew, the first-called of the Apostles, truly took up his cross and followed Christ. And he called others to do the same.

His stubborn and obstinate commitment to mission, to travelling for the Gospel, has made him the patron saint of mission work and the patron saint of Constantinople, Greece, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Scotland.

Saint Andrew, carved by Edward Smith, crowns the portico of Saint Andrew’s Church in Westland Row, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

We are marking the beginning of the New Church Year in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, on Sunday at the Eucharist for the First Sunday of Advent at 11 a.m. and with the Advent Procession at 5 p.m. The seasonal liturgical colours change from green to violet, we shall light the first candle on the Advent Wreath, and we have turned to the Year C readings in the Lectionary.

But, in the midst of change and in the midst of new beginnings, it is important to maintain the link between Saint Andrew and Advent, the beginning of the Church Year. For Saint Andrew is the first-called of the Apostles, the patron saint of mission work. And without mission, there is no church, without discipleship how can people live in the Advent hope, be prepared for the coming of Christ?

Caught up in the minutiae of commercial life and shopping recently, I once noticed how they were selling cinnamon-flavoured hot cross buns in Marks and Spencer in Dundrum at the beginning of November. Hot cross buns? At this time of the year? Hot cross buns with a sell-by and best-before date of 29 November?

And yet there is a direct connection. In the end, the life of this first-called Apostle reached its climax when he met his death through crucifixion. He may have left behind no Gospel or Epistles. But Saint Andrew, the first-called of the Apostles, literally took up his cross and followed Jesus. And he called others to do the same.

His martyr’s death makes Saint Andrew an appropriate introduction to start off the Church Year at the beginning of Advent. Christmas is meaningless without looking forward to the Cross, the Resurrection, and in Advent the coming of Christ again in glory.

Saint Andrew’s Street, Cambridge, with Christ’s College on the right © Alex McGregor


Almighty God,
who gave such grace to your apostle Saint Andrew
that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ
and brought his brother with him:
Call us by your holy Word
and give us grace to follow without delay,
and to tell the good news of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post Communion Prayer:

may the gifts we have received at your table
keep us alert for your call
that we may always be ready to answer,
and, following the example of Saint Andrew,
always be ready to bear our witness
to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow (1 December 2012): Blessed Nicholas Ferrar (Calendar of TEC).

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Liturgy (full-time) 9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history

The sermon (Cartoon by Dave Walker)

Patrick Comerford

EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality

Year II, 14:00 to 16:00, Thursdays, Hartin Room:

29 November 2012

This afternoon:

Rites of passage, e.g., Marriages, Funerals.

9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history: readings may include Saint Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley and Martin Luther King.

Sermon Illustrations (Cartoon by Dave Walker)

Liturgy 9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history: readings may include Saint Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley and Martin Luther King.

1, Saint Augustine:

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Saint Augustine of Hippo: ‘John is the Voice, Jesus is the Word’

Saint Augustine is one of the most important of the Early Church Fathers and is revered as a Doctor of the Church. Many of us are familiar with his famous prayer: “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.” But one of my favourite quotes from him is: “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

Augustine was Bishop of Hippo Regius, present-day Annaba in Algeria, in the Roman province of Africa in the mid-fourth century. His writings influenced the development of Western Christianity, and his thoughts profoundly influenced the mediaeval worldview.

The American writer Thomas Cahill considers Augustine the first mediaeval man and the last classical man. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of the Reformation because of his teachings on salvation and divine grace.

This excerpt from a sermon by Saint Augustine (Sermo 293, 3: PL 1328-1329) is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the Third Sunday in Advent, known as Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday. It presents a wonderful contrast between the role of Saint John the Baptist, the voice crying out in the wilderness, and that of his cousin, Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. The humility of John, whose role was to prepare the way of the Lord, is highlighted. His joy was complete to see Jesus increase and himself decrease in importance.

2, Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer: Sermon on the Knowledge of Scripture Part 2 (The Second Part of the Sermon of the Exhortation to Holy Scripture Against Fear and Excuses)

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), the ‘Father of the Prayer Book,’ was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury (1533-1555) during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and (briefly) Mary I. He built a favourable case for Henry VIII’s divorce and supported the principle of royal supremacy.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, he was responsible for establishing the first doctrinal and liturgical structures of the Church of England. He did not make many radical changes in the Church, but succeeded in publishing the first officially authorised vernacular service, the Exhortation and Litany.

During the reign of Edward VI, Cranmer wrote and compiled the first two editions of The Book of Common Prayer, a complete liturgy for the Church of England. With the help of Continental reformers, he developed new doctrinal standards in areas such as the Eucharist.

With the accession of Mary I to the throne, Cranmer was tried for treason and heresy, and he was executed in Oxford in 1556. On the day of his execution, he dramatically withdrew his recantations. As the flames drew around him, he placed his right hand into the heart of the fire and his dying words were, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit ... I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

His legacy lives on through The Book of Common Prayer – although it is difficult to ascertain how much of the Prayer Book is actually Cranmer’s personal composition – and through the 39 Articles, which are part of his legacy although not his composition. But we can agree that his chief concern was to design corporate worship to encourage a lively faith.

This excerpt from Thomas Cranmer’s preface to the Great Bible of 1539 is an apt introduction to part two of his sermon:

... the Apostles and prophets wrote their books so that their special intent and purpose might be understood and perceived of every reader, which was nothing but the edification of amendment of the life of them that read or hear it ... Wherefore I would advise you all that come to the reading or hearing of this book, which is the word of God, the most precious jewel and most holy relic that remaineth upon earth; that ye bring with you the fear of God, and that ye do it with all due reverence, and use your knowledge thereof, not to vain glory of frivolous disputation, but to the honour of God, increase of virtue, and edification both of yourselves and other.

3, Lancelot Andrewes

Lancelot Andrewes ... TS Eliot describes him as ‘the first great preacher of the English Catholic Church’

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626): Gunpowder Plot Sermon, 1606

Lancelot Andrewes held senior positions in the Church of England in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, and after two decades at Cambridge he was successively Bishop of Chichester, Ely and Winchester, and chaired the committee that had oversight of the translation of the King James Version or Authorised Version of the Bible.

TS Eliot, in his essay, For Lancelot Andrewes: an Essay on Style and Order (1928), argues that Andrewes’s sermons “rank with the finest English prose of their time, of any time.” Eliot spoke of his indebtedness to the bishop’s writings: he is “the first great preacher of the English Catholic Church,” and he had “the voice of a man who had a formed visible church behind him, who spoke with the old authority and the new culture.”

For Eliot, “The intellectual achievement and the prose style of Hooker and Andrewes came to complete the structure of the English Church as the philosophy of the thirteenth century crowns the Catholic Church … the achievement of Hooker and Andrewes was to make the English Church more worthy of intellectual assent. No religion can survive the judgment of history unless the best minds of its time have collaborated in its construction; if the Church of Elizabeth is worthy of the age of Shakespeare and Jonson, that is because of the work of Hooker and Andrewes.

“The writings of both Hooker and Andrewes illustrate that determination to stick to essentials, that awareness of the needs of the time, the desire for clarity and precision on matters of importance, and the indifference to matters indifferent, which was the general policy of Elizabeth … Andrewes is the first great preacher of the English Catholic Church.”

4, John Wesley

John Wesley, by William Hamilton

John Wesley, Sermon 101: The Duty Of Constant Communion, from The Sermons of John Wesley (Thomas Jackson, editor, 1872 ed).

The Revd John Wesley (1703-1791) was an Anglican priest and theologian who is seen – alongside his brother Charles Wesley – as the founder of Methodism.

His sermons are a key to understanding Wesley, for Methodism began when he took to open-air preaching, albeit reluctantly at first. His great contribution was to appoint itinerant preachers who travelled widely to preach as well as to evangelise and to care for people.

Wesley was a fluent, powerful and effective preacher. He usually preached spontaneously and briefly, though occasionally at great length. His written sermons are characterised by spiritual earnestness and simplicity. They are doctrinal but not dogmatic. Both his Notes on the New Testament (1755) and his Sermons are doctrinal standards for Methodists.

John Wesley says in a preface to the sermon we are looking at this afternoon:

The following discourse was written above five-and-fifty years ago, for the use of my pupils at Oxford. I have added very little, but retrenched much; as I then used more words than I do now. But, I thank God, I have not yet seen cause to alter my sentiments in any point which is therein delivered. 1788 J.W. “Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22: 19.

5, Martin Luther King

The Revd Dr Martin Luther King … ‘How Long? Not Long!’

Martin Luther King: Our God Is Marching On! (25 March 1965. Montgomery, Alabama)

The Revd Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was an American Baptist minister, Nobel Peace laureate and prominent Afro-American human rights campaigner. He is best known for his non-violent direct action and his speeches in the civil rights movement in the “Deep South” in the 1950s and the 1960s.

Many of his speeches at marches and demonstrations have the quality and tenor of sermons, even though they were often delivered outside the context of church and liturgy. His “I Have a Dream” speech at the climax of the March on Washington in 1963 has made him as one of the greatest orators in American history.

He was assassinated on 4 April 1968. This afternoon’s sermon or speech – with its repetition of the echoing question-and-answer sayings “How Long? Not Long!” – was delivered on 25 March 1965 on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march that began with the violent attacks of ‘Bloody Sunday’ (7 March 1965).


10.1: Theology of the whole people of God, the theology and rites of ordination; gender and ministry.

10.2: Seminar: Spirituality of ministry; readings on the minister as person, private, public and holy:

Christopher Cocksworth and Rosalind Br own, Being a priest today (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2nd ed, 2006), Chapter 7 (pp 129-153).

Malcolm Grundy, What they don’t teach you at theological college (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2003), Chapter 16 (pp 162-172), ‘Spirituality and a Rule of Life.’

Sister Barbara June (Kirby) SLG, ‘Simple Gifts: Priesthood in a Praying Community,’ (Chapter 5), pp 62-71 in George Guiver et al, Priests in a People’s Church (London: SPCK, 2001).

Michael Ramsey, The Christian Priest Today (London: SPCK, new ed., 1992), Chapter 9, ‘The Ordination Gospel’ (pp 61-67).

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. These biographical notes were prepared as introductory notes for a seminar on 29 November 2012 as part of the Module EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality on the MTh course.

Liturgy (full-time) 9.1: Rites of passage, including Marriages, Funerals

‘Hatch, Match and Dispatch?’ … setting the tone for rites of passage includes many liturgical considerations, including the use of colour and space (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality

Year II, 14:00 to 16:00, Thursdays, Hartin Room:

29 November 2012

This afternoon:

Rites of passage, e.g., Marriages, Funerals.

9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history: readings may include Saint Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley and Martin Luther King.

Liturgy 9.1: Rites of passage, e.g., Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals

‘Hatch, Match and Dispatch?’

The three rites of Baptism, Marriage and Funeral are sometimes referred to in a jocular way by clergy as the rites of “Hatch, Match and Dispatch.”

But, at times, I think this is unfair to the people involved in these rites. These are crisis moments, the most sacred moments in life, and they note merely rites of passage, when people publicly declare the most important stages of life in front of God and in front of the community they most value … even when they are not regular churchgoers.

They are not moments for evangelisation, but they are sacred moments, moments of grace, moments of joy and sorrow, moments that will most surely test your ministry.

People will forgive you a badly-prepared or badly delivered Sermon every now and then; they may not notice or may soon forget when you make what you regard as major mistake in my eyes on an occasional Sunday; and they may forget who baptised their child, forget to thank you for your part at their wedding or at the burial of one of their parents … if all goes well.

But they will never, ever forget, and perhaps never forgive you if you get it wrong at a baptism, wedding or funeral.

For that reason alone, but also because we all realise how sacred these moments are, most new curates, and even most new rectors fret for the first years when it comes to Baptisms, Marriages and Funerals.

We fret so much that we often concentrate or energies on the minute details, and forget that it all takes part within the context of the worship and the liturgy of the Church, and that we ought not be the centre of attention. We are the facilitators, the enablers, the “liturgical midwives,” but we should never be the centre of attention, or do anything that makes us so.

1, Baptism:

In recent weeks, we have looked at the origins and early understandings of Baptism. But do you feel liturgically literate when it comes to taking part in a baptism?

Like our other services, the Church of Ireland has revised the service of Baptism in recent years. And these revisions, like all others, have been informed by the insights of the modern liturgical movement.

For example, as long ago as 1968, the Anglican bishops agreed at the Lambeth Conference that “confirmation is not a rite of admission to Communion.”

The International Anglican Liturgical Consultation said as long ago as 1985 in Boston that “since baptism is the sacramental sign of full incorporation into the church, all baptised persons [should] be admitted to communion …”

Some of the understandings incorporated into the writing of Holy Baptism Two (The Book of Common Prayer, the Church of Ireland, 2004) include:

● there should be one baptism for all ages;
● Baptism should be the main service when it takes place, and not tagged on as an added extra, a sideshow or an appendix to the main service;
● Baptism comes as a response to the Word of God.

What do you think is the theological underpinning of these insights?

The Baptismal font in Saint Edan’s Cathedral, Ferns, Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

These insights are reflected in the outline of the Baptismal Rite:

1, The presentation (p. 371):

Candidates are presented;
Questions are put to Parents and Godparents of those who cannot answer for themselves;

2, The Decision (p. 372):

Questions to candidates’ sponsors; questions to the congregation;
The signing with the Cross (here or after the Baptism);

3, The Baptism (p. 373):

Water poured into the font;
The Thanksgiving Prayer over the Water,
including prayer of blessing and sanctification (see pp 363-364);
Questions about the Christian faith to the candidate or sponsors;
Interrogatory Apostles’ Creed;
The Baptism (dipping or pouring, but not sprinkling, see p. 174; this does not exclude immersion);
The signing of the Cross (if this has not already taken place);
The Peace.

The Baptismal Font in Lichfield Cathedral earlier this month (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Some observations and questions:

Note how the Baptismal Rite follows the sermon (see p. 376).
Who should be sponsors?
What are the responsibilities of godparents?
What about “private baptisms”?
What about family requests for a different time?

Be aware too of the need to make connection between Baptism and the other rites that are part of Christian Initiation (see p. 346 ff), including Receiving into the Congregation (p. 377 ff), Confirmation (p. 382 ff), the Renewal of Baptismal Vows (p. 398 ff) and Thanksgiving after the Birth of a Child (p. 402 ff).

2, Marriage:

A wedding in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge … how is the theology of matrimony reflected in the marriage rites? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The traditional Anglican understanding of matrimony is that Holy Matrimony is the blessing of a union between a man and woman, acknowledging the presence and grace of God in the life of the couple. The form is manifested as the vows.

Despite popular belief and imagination, the blessing and exchanging of the rings is only customary, and neither is necessary for the rite of matrimony to be valid.

In marriage, the husband and wife seek God’s blessing, and through the mediation of the priest, the prayer is answered.

The couple are thus generally regarded as the ministers of the sacrament or the rite through their voluntary exchange of vows. And for this reason they should face each other during the marriage, and not the officiating minister.

However, in the traditional Anglican understanding, the sacrament or rite must be celebrated before an ordained priest (or, in exceptional circumstances, a deacon), who witnesses and mediates the prayers. The priest or deacon has been described by Michael Perham as the “chief witness” or “the master of ceremonies,” and only takes over, so to speak, when the couple are married, in order to pronounce God’s blessing on the couple.

For those who count seven sacraments, then matrimony was the last of the seven to be added to the list.

Its origins can be found in the civil necessity that arose in the Middle Ages to regularise intimate relationships and to legitimise children.

As Bishop Harold Miller points out, the Church of Ireland has always recognised the total validity of civil marriage services, as marriage is essentially an ordering of society. But it is also a “holy mystery” and a sign of the “mystical union … betwixt Christ and his Church...” (The Book of Common Prayer (1960), p. 266; The Book of Common Prayer (2004), p. 406).

In these islands, the “Form of Solemnisation of Matrimony” remained almost entirely unchanged in these islands from 1662 until the 1980s.

The Wedding at Cana ... a modern icon

The introduction to the marriage service in that older form says quite quaintly that marriage is “for the increase of mankind … and for the due ordering of families and households; … for the hallowing of the union betwixt man and woman, and for the avoidance of sin; [and] … for the mutual society, help and comfort, that the one ought to have for the other, both in prosperity and adversity.” (The Book of Common Prayer (1960), p. 266; The Book of Common Prayer (2004), p. 406).

However, things changed with the introduction of the Alternative Service Book (Church of England, 1980, pp 283-304). However, the Alternative Prayer Book (Church of Ireland, 1984) did not include a revised marriage service, and this only came about with the publication of the “White Booklet” in 1987 and the Alternative Occasional Services in 1993.

We now teach that marriage is about love, comfort, “living together in plenty and in need, in sorrow and joy,” that it is about knowing each other in love “with delight and tenderness,” about a bodily union that strengthens the union of hearts and lives,” and – only later its – about “the children they may have” (The Book of Common Prayer 2004, p. 417). So the flesh, love, comfort, delight, tenderness, bodily union, are all stressed before we even mention children, and there is no mention in this second form (pp 416-430) of the “increase of mankind,” the “due ordering of families and households” or the “avoidance of sin.”

A little more adult and mature an approach, I should suggest; certainly a reflection of how society has changed, and a realisation that not every couple can have or choose to have children.

But the wording of the services continue to agree that the Church teaches that marriage should be monogamous, life-long and between one man and one woman.

In the section on Marriage Services (pp 405-438), The Book of Common Prayer (Church of Ireland, 2004) includes two marriage services, a traditional rite from The Book of Common Prayer 1926 (see The Book of Common Prayer (2004), pp 406-413), with an option for “Holy Communion at the Time of Marriage” (pp 414-415), and a revised, contemporary rite (pp 416-427), with extensive notes on many of the legal requirements (see p. 413, and pp 428-430). In addition, there is “A Form of Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage” (pp 431-438), again with a number of notes and guidelines on how this service is to be used.

There are legal requirements that are going to concern you, and they vary between jurisdictions and may change even before you are priested. There are also canonical requirements that you need to be aware of too.

For example, when it comes to a couple where one or both have been previously married and divorced, the clergy involved must, under the provisions of legislation passed by General Synod in 1996, apply to the diocesan bishop first of all for permission, and listen carefully to the advice the bishop gives in reply.

If the ceremony goes ahead, the couple are required to go through a service of preparation, which has been devised by the Liturgical Advisory Committee but is not in The Book of Common Prayer (2004), although it is included by Bishop Miller in The Desire of our Soul (see pp 250-253).

From a pastoral point of view you will also need to learn how to prepare a couple properly and appropriately for both the wedding ceremony itself and for future married life.

All these you will learn as you go on. But of course they also impinge on how you behave at a wedding itself.

And it is important to know why you are doing something, so that by understanding what you are doing you are doing it properly. If the couple are not married according to rites and customs of the Church of Ireland, there may be serious consequences for your actions.

But this afternoon we are looking at the marriage rite itself, from the point of how you prepare yourself for it, what you do within your understanding of the liturgy and common prayer of the Church, and how you relate in that to the life of the Church and to those for whom you provide this office – and they are not just the couple being married!

The outline of the service is:

1, The Entry (p 416 ff):

(Greeting of the Bridal or Marriage Party);
(Hymn or Music);
The Introduction: Introduction;
The Collect.

2, Proclaiming and Receiving the Word (p. 418):


3, The Marriage (p. 419 ff):

Questions to the congregation;
Words to the couple;
The Consent;
The Vows;
Giving and receiving of a ring;
The Declaration, including the joining of hands;
The Blessing of the Couple;
Affirmation by the People;
The Acclamations;
(The Registration of the Marriage);
(A Psalm or Hymn).

4, The Prayers (p. 423 ff):

(Prayer by the couple);
The Peace;
The Lord’s Prayer;
(The Grace or the Blessing).

Exchanging the στέφανα or wedding crowns as the Gospel story of the Wedding at Cana is read … not part of the Church of Ireland tradition

What is missing?

Is there a place for giving away the bride? Or for saying: “You may now kiss the bride”?

Who chooses the readings and the hymns?

How suitable are the Wedding March (Mendelssohn) – written for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

How suitable is the Bridal Chorus (Wagner) – sung after the wedding in the opera Lohengrin by the women of the wedding party as they accompany the heroine Elsa to the bridal chamber?

Ave Maria (Bach and Gounod or Schubert)?

Which customs and traditions do you accept?

Separate sides of the church for the families of the bride and groom?

The bride being walked up the nave (aisle) by her father?

The bride’s white dress?

The “giving away”?

Signing the register in the vestry?

When are these meaningful?

When do they perpetuate the myth that the church sanctions patriarchy?

When do they become “liturgical” and sideline the liturgy itself?

What about the way the pledge to “obey” has been dropped?

Who should lead the prayers and intercessions?

Would you be embarrassed by the prayer giving thanks for the gift of sexual love (see p. 426)?

Michael Perham says that at a marriage, more than at one other service, it is right to let the participants have a say in the form that it takes, “and the wise minister will not make too many rules about what will or will not be allowed to be said, sung, or done.”

Should there be a sermon (see p. 418)?

The sermon gives the minister the opportunity to say something about marriage and about the Gospel in a less formal way than the words of the liturgy provide.

But we need to take care not to repeat what has already been said, and not to end up repeating what has been said at every previous wedding we have been involved in.

When and where do you allow photographs?

Should there be a celebration of Holy Communion (see p. 428, note 5)?

Do you accept an invitation to the reception and to say grace?

Some dioceses, particularly in the US Episcopal Churches, allow for the blessing of same-gender marriages. How do you respond to this?

Services of Prayer and Dedication:

In many parts of the Anglican Communion, there is a provision to bless civil marriages. This rests on the understanding that a couple cannot be married twice.

Some Anglican provinces allow the marriage of divorced people, others do not, still others require the permission of the diocesan bishop.

We often think of Services of Prayer and Dedication as option for people who have already been married and divorced, and for whom a church wedding may pose problems or difficulties.

But there are other reasons for choosing this option:

A couple who have been married in a civil ceremony, which is a legal requirement in many other countries, may then want a Church occasion in Ireland.

A couple who not legally resident in terms of marriage legislation, but would still like what they will see as a “church wedding” in Ireland for family, romantic or sentimental reasons.

Although we ask God’s blessing on the new marriage, notice how this ceremony is not called a “blessing” and should not be referred to as such. It is really a form of prayer and dedication.

Nor is it a wedding, so there is a stipulation (p. 438) that no rings should be given or received during it – even if it happens that the woman who has already been married wants to arrive in a veil and white dress, and with sisters or friends she may call “bridesmaids.” This ceremony does not repeat what has already happened, and in the pastoral preparation beforehand this should be explained clearly.

3, Funerals

If it be your will ... (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Eventually you are going to accumulate a collection of unusual stories about Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals. To make the connection between Weddings and Funerals, I heard once of an elderly rector who came out to meet the bride as she arrived at the church, and led her up the aisle, reading the words: “Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live …”

But I also heard the distressing story of a rector who would meet the funerals of the landed gentry at the lych gate entering the churchyard; the middle class coffins were met at the steps before the church door; and he waited at the top of the chancel steps for the coffins of working class parishioners to be brought into his church.

But every funeral is different, every funeral is important for everyone involved, and everyone involved is important.

Who do you think “owns” a funeral?

It is not a sacrament, when you consider Baptism, nor is it sacramental in the way that a wedding is. Nor is it merely yet another rite.

But where and when it takes place, and how it is conducted is more than providing the pastoral care of the church at a moment of crisis.

A church and churchyard on Achill Island, Co Mayo (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

A Christian funeral has several purposes, which are difficult to achieve in an hour in a church or in 20 minutes at a crematorium.

A Christian funeral seeks to bring a community together:

● to honour a life;
● to commend the dead to God;
● to give space for grief and yet to move people on;
● to express the love and compassion of God to the bereaved;
● to proclaim the Gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection;
● to warn of the inevitability of death and to encourage them in walk in this with an eye to eternity;
● to take leave of the body and to say farewell;
● to dispose of the body reverently.

How are these objectives fulfilled in the Funeral Services in The Book of Common Prayer (2004)?

A grave in Kerameikós, Athens … what is customary and what is liturgical at a funeral? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The structures of the funeral service are like this (see p. 481):

A, The Funeral Service:

1, Gathering in God’s Name, p. 482):

Receiving the coffin at the door;
Sentences of Scripture;

2, Prayers of Penitence (p. 483):

The Penitential Kyries;

3, The Collect (p. 484):

The Collect.

4, Proclaiming and Receiving the Word (p. 484):

(Old Testament or New Testament reading);
New Testament reading (always a Gospel reading when there is Holy Communion).
The Sermon.
The Apostles’ Creed or Te Deum Part 2 (but the Nicene Creed when there is Holy Communion).

5, The Prayers (p. 486):

Thanksgiving for the life of the departed;
Prayer for those who mourn;
Prayer for readiness to live in the light of eternity.

Other prayers including the Lord’s Prayer.

6, The Farewell in Christ (p. 487):

Silence by the coffin;
The Easter Anthems;
‘Leaving’ Prayers.

7, The Committal (p. 488):

Sentence of Scripture;
The Committal;
Prayers when the body has been lowered into the grave, or at a cremation;
Sentence of Scripture (Revelation 14: 13);
(The Lord’s Prayer).

8, The Dismissal (p. 489):

The Dismissal;
The Grace or a blessing.

B, The Funeral Service with Holy Communion;

1, Gathering in God’s Name;
2, Prayers of Penitence;
3, The Collect;
4, Proclaiming and Receiving the Word;
5, The Prayers;
6, The Peace;
7, The Great Thanksgiving;
8, The Breaking of the Bread;
9, The Communion;
10, The Farewell in Christ;
11, The Committal;
12, The Dismissal.

Note the resources and prayers that are also offered (pp 491-497).

A sculpted gravestone in Kerameikós, Athens (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

One of the most difficult situations you may face is the Funeral Service for a Child (pp 504-513).

Other resources and options include a Form for Use in the Home, Funeral Home or Crematorium (pp 514-516).

Like weddings, there are customs and traditions associated with funerals that are not necessarily part of the funeral service:

● members of the family carrying the coffin;
● throwing earth clods into the grave on top of the coffin;
● draping the coffin in a purple pall;
● sprinkling the coffin with the water of baptism.

The Raising of Lazarus, Juan de Flandes, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Some questions:

Who chooses the hymns and readings?
What prayers should you use when you arrive at a house or in hospital to find the person has just died?
What prayers do we say at an evening removal before a morning funeral (see p. 498 ff)?
Are we providing two funeral services?
What if the person who died had no apparent faith?
What if the person who died had faith, but none of their friends or family members has?
Should the funeral service take place in the home? In the undertakers’ chapel?
What makes a crematorium chapel different?
Who chooses the readings and the hymns?
What about secular readings, poems, songs?
Is a eulogy or address appropriate? And, if so, when?
Do you have another funeral service when it comes to the burial of ashes returned from the crematorium? (see p. 501.)
Are you aware of the differences in funeral customs in different parts of Ireland?
What about memorial services?
What about general memorial services in November?
What do you do when it comes to a miscarriage or stillbirth? (see p. 512.)

4, Other rites

At another stage, I hope we shall look at the theology and rites of ordination; and issues in debates about ordination, including gender (for the Ordinal, see pp 517-590).

But you will also need to be familiar with the Confirmation services, even if you are never elected a bishop, for you will be involved in preparing candidates for Confirmation, and be involved in many ways in Confirmation services.

Some of the other liturgical resources provided in The Book of Common Prayer include the Service of Ash Wednesday (p. 338), Harvest resources, Ember and Rogation prayers, and Ministry to those who are Sick (pp 440 ff).


Michael Perham, New Handbook of Pastoral Liturgy (London: SPCK, 2000).


9.2: Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history: readings may include Saint Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley and Martin Luther King.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. This lecture on 29 November 2012 was part of the Module EM8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality on the MTh course.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Celebrating Christ in Majesty

Christ in Majesty ... John Piper’s window in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

I am presiding at the Community Eucharist this evening [28 November 2012], when we are celebrating the Kingship of Christ with the collect, readings and post-communion prayer of last Sunday, the Sunday before Advent (The Kingship of Christ).

Sunday’s readings, which we are using this evening, are: Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1: 4b-8; and John 18: 33-37.

Marking the Kingship of Christ on the Sunday before Advent, the Feast of Christ the King, is a recent innovation. At the end of 1925, Pope Pius XI published a papal encyclical, Quas Primas, in which he castigated secularism in Europe and declared that the secular powers ought to recognise Christ as King and that the Church needed to recapture this teaching.

At the time, the entire idea of kingship was quickly losing cache in the Western society, not so much to democracy but to burgeoning fascism – Mussolini was in power in Italy since 1922, and there was a wave of fascism sweeping across central Europe.

The mere mention of kingship and monarchy today evokes images of either the extravagance of Louis XVI in Versailles, or the anachronism of pretenders in Ruritanian headdress, sashes and medals claiming thrones and privilege in Eastern Europe.

Sunday was also the last Sunday in Pentecost, the last Sunday at the end of our journey in the lectionary with Christ on his journey to Jerusalem. We will begin it all again next Sunday, but we have time to pause and reflect on the fact that we have followed Jesus for seven months or so on this journey to Jerusalem as told in Saint Mark’s Gospel.

In this Gospel reading, we are at the moment when Christ is on trial before Pilate. At first reading this might appear a more appropriate reading for Holy Week than the week before Advent, a more appropriate preparation for Easter than Christmas.

But at this stage, Pilate demands to know whether Christ is a King: “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18: 33).

And he answers Pilate: “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here ... You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18: 36-27).

Before this, the promise of Advent is emphasised in the reading from the Book of Revelation:

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.

‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1: 4b-8)

True majesty

Christ in Glory ... Graham Sutherland’s tapestry in Coventry Cathedral

The readings and the theme of the Kingship of Christ are reflected in the hymns chosen for the Community Eucharist this evening:

Processional Hymn: Majesty, worship his majesty (Irish Church Hymnal, 276), by Jack Hayford, who was inspired to write this hymn during a visit to Blenheim Palace outside Oxford in 1977.

The Gradual: Christ triumphant, ever reigning (259), by Canon Michael Sward.

The Offertory Hymn: How shall I sing that majesty (468, but including verse 3 from the version in the New English Hymnal, 373, and the tune Coe Fen by Kenneth Naylor). This is one of my favourite hymns, but its message and meaning are lost in the version that omits this third verse. On the other hand, the Church Hymnal uses the tune Coe Fen where the New English Hymnal uses Thomas Tallis’s Third Mode Melody, with Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Kingsfold as an alternative.

Recessional Hymn: Rejoice, the Lord is King! (281). Handel’s tune, Gopsal, used for this hymn, was discovered by Samuel Wesley in a manuscript in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Kingship may not be a good role model in this part of the island or for people living in modern democratic societies where the heads of state are elected. Nor are the models of kingship in history or in contemporary society so good. Three examples serve to illustrate this:

● We are familiar with a model of monarchy that paradoxically appears to be benign on the one hand and appears aloof and remote on the other hand, at the very apex of a class system defined by birth, title and inherited privilege.

● In other northern European countries, the model of monarchy is portrayed in the media by figureheads who are slightly daft do-gooders, riding around on bicycles in parks and by canals in ways that threaten to rob kingship of majesty, dignity and grace.

● Or, take recently deposed emperors: Halie Selassie of Ethiopia, who died in 1975, sat back in luxury as his people starved to death; Emperor Bokassa of Central Africa, who died in 1996, was a tyrant accused of eating his people and having them butchered at whim.

Is it any wonder that some modern translations of the Psalms avoid the word king and talk about God as our governor?

But Christ rejects all the dysfunctional models of majesty and kingship. He is not coming again as a king who is haughty and aloof, daft and barmy, or despotic and tyrannical. Instead he shows a model of kingship that emphasises what majesty and graciousness should mean for us today – giving priority in the kingdom to the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the prisoner.


Eternal Father,
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
Keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

Stir up, O Lord,
the wills of your faithful people;
that plenteously bearing the fruit of good works
they may by you be plenteously rewarded;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

A feast of music in Christ Church Cathedral

Early Christmas lights in Temple Bar, Dublin, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

I spent an hour or so this afternoon, between the Cathedral Eucharist and Choral Evensong, browsing through the books shops and second-hand book barrows in Temple Bar. But the winter rain was a bit of a dampener, and many of the stallholders were closing their barrows earlier than usual.

The rain also took away some of the bright joys of a Sunday afternoon that saw some of the Christmas lights come on in the city centre – although it still feels early for Christmas trees and Christmas lights, with Advent only beginning next Sunday.

Winter comes to Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

This last Sunday before Advent marks the end of Ordinary Time. But today [25 November 2012] is also the Sunday nearest the Feastday of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians and Church Music.

It said that as the musicians played at Saint Cecilia’s wedding she “sang in her heart to the Lord,” and that when she was dying, she sang to God. She was martyred in Sicily during the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius ca 176-180, and her feastday is celebrated on 22 November.

She is often depicted playing the organ or another musical instrument. Musical societies and conservatories frequently have been named in honour of Saint Cecilia, and I was honoured some years ago by being elected a Fellow of the Academy of Saint Cecilia, a learned society with an interest in early music [].

She is celebrated in poems by John Dryden and Alexander Pope, and music by Henry Purcell, Greorge Frideric Handel, Charles Gounod and Benjamin Britten, who was born on 22 November.

The setting for the Cathedral Eucharist this morning was the Mass in E Flat by Josef Gabriel Rheinberger (1839-1901), sung by the Cathedral Choir. Rheinberger, who was born in Liechtenstein, was a prolific composer. His religious works include 12 masses – one for double chorus, three for four voices a cappella, three for women's voices and organ, two for men’s voices and one with orchestra – a requiem, and a Stabat Mater.

We also had music from Handel and Anton Bruckner this morning.

Winter rain caused many of the book barrows in Temple Bar to close early this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

After four of us went to lunch in The Larder in Parliament Street, I went on to rummage through the book barrows and bookshops of Temple Bar, but I was back in the cathedral again for Choral Evensong at 3.30. The Preces and Responses were by Philip Radcliffe, and the canticles Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, from Charles Wood’s Evening Service in F (Collegium Regale).

A day of music came to a close with the presentation by Archbishop Michael Jackson of certificates to students who have been successful in the organ exams on the Archbishop’s Certificate Course in Church Music organised by Church Music Dublin, a committee in the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Early winter lights in the late evening in Fingal

Shades of sepia and hints of purple on the beach in Portrane this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

Winter is closing in, the afternoon lights are fading earlier and earlier, and there was a chill in the air along the Fingal coast this evening.

Although Keeling’s large field opposite Newbridge House in Donabate has ridges filled with water, we have avoided the heavy rains and floods that have hit large parts of England this week.

The tide was out in Portrane when we arrived late this afternoon, there were large rivulets of water and swirls of pools in the sand, .with just one man and his dog going for a walk. With the low lights in the sky, there were hues of sepia on the lengthy stretches of sand and hints of purple below the clouds.

After visiting my Lynders cousins at The Quay, we then moved on to Malahide. New Street was closed for a market, and waiting for the Christmas lights to be turned on later in the dark.

Early winter lights on the winter waters in Malahide this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Down on the beach, the water was a clear blue and one or two boats bobbing about in the water. On one side, there were reflections from the Grand Hotel in the evening water, on the other reflections of lights from the apartments around the Marina.

We returned to New Street for dinner in Cape Greko, Malahide’s Greek and Cypriot restaurant, with a view out onto the street and a glimpse of the beach beyond.

Later, as we drove along the Howth Road beside the bay, the lights of Dublin were decked along the roadside before us.

The Marina at Malahide in the fading lights of evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Student readers commissioned

This weekend’s edition of The Church of Ireland Gazette [23 November 2012] carries this photograph and caption on page 4:

Twelve student ordinands at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin, were commissioned as student readers by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Michael Jackson (back row, 4th left),at a Community Eucharist. Also present were Instute staff, the Revd Patrick McGlinchey and Canon Patrick Comerford (back row, extreme left and extreme right respectively), who presented the students for licensing. (Photo: Lynn Glanville).

Friday, 23 November 2012

Church History 6.3: External and internal priorities: the Crusades and the Monasteries

Monasticism and the Crusades … Saint Bernard of Clairvaux preaches the Second Crusade

Patrick Comerford,

Church of Ireland Theological Institute,

Church History Elective (TH 7864)

Friday 23 November 2012, 11 a.m.:

Church History 6.3:
External and internal priorities: the Crusades and the Monasteries


We left a few moments ago with the division of the Church at the Great Schism into East and West. By then the Western Church was in need of consolidation, and two priorities, pressures or forces, one external and one internal, helped to provide that consolidation or focus for it in very different ways – the development of monastic and mendicant traditions, and the lessons and disasters of the Crusades.

In many ways, those two movements are brought together in the person of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who is remembered for his efforts to reform the Benedictine monastic tradition, and for his zeal in preaching on behalf of the Crusades.

Part 1: The Crusades

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem … at the heart of the conflict between Islam and Christianity in the Holy Land

The Crusades were a series of religious wars between 1095 and 1291 blessed by the Pope and the Church with the expressed goal of restoring Christian access to holy places in and near Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the sacred city and symbol of the three principal Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It was first captured by Islamic forced in the year 638. When the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantine army in 1071, Christian access to Jerusalem was cut off and the Emperor Alexis I feared the Turks would over-run all Asia Minor. The Byzantine emperor called on western Christian leaders and the papacy to come to the aid of Constantinople and to free Jerusalem from Islamic rule.

In all, there were nine Crusades from the 11th to the 13th century, along with many “minor” Crusades. Several hundred thousand Crusaders came from throughout western Europe, but they were not under any one unified command. Their emblem was the cross, and the term “Crusade,” although not used by the Crusaders to describe themselves, comes from the French term for taking up the cross. Many were from France and were called “Franks” – the common term used by Muslims.


The Cathedral of Pisa … funded through two raids on Muslim territories in the 11th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

In the decades immediately before the launch of the Crusades, the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim bin-Amir Allah ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. His successors allowed the Byzantine Empire to rebuild the church in 1039 and Christian pilgrims were allowed once again to visit the holy sites in Palestine.

In second half of the 11th century, even before the First Crusade, European forces had been at war with Muslim forces:

● The city of Pisa in Italy funded its new cathedral through two raids on the Muslims – in Palermo (1063) and Mahdia (1087).
● In Sicily, the Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard had conquered northern Sicily by 1072.
● In 1085, Moorish Toledo fell to the Kingdom of León.

The Crusades came as a response to wave-after-wave of Turkish assaults on the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine emperors sent emissaries to the Pope asking for aid in their struggles with the Seljuk Turks. In 1074, Emperor Michael VII sent a request for aid to Pope Gregory VII, but there was no practical response.

In 1095, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos appealed to Pope Urban II for help against the Turks, and Urban II responded by launching the crusades on the last day of the Council of Clermont.

His speech is of the most influential speeches ever. He called for Christian princes across Europe to launch a holy war in the Holy Land. He vividly described attacks on Christian pilgrims and contrasted the sanctity of Jerusalem and the holy places with the plunder and desecration by the Turks. He urged the barons to give up their fratricidal and unrighteous wars in the West for the holy war in the East. He also suggested material rewards in the form of feudal fiefdoms, land ownership, wealth, power, and prestige, all at the expense of the Arabs and Turks.

When he finished, those present chanted: “Deus vult, God wills it.”

Immediately, thousands pledged themselves to go on the first crusade. Pope Urban’s sermon at Clermont was the start of an eight-month preaching tour he undertook throughout France. Preachers were sent throughout Western Europe to talk up the Crusade.

Urban’s example inspired the preaching of Peter the Hermit, who eventually led a “People’s Crusade” of up to 20,000 people, mostly from the lower classes, after Easter 1096. When they reached the Byzantine Empire, Alexius urged them to wait for the western nobles, but the “army” insisted on moving on. They were ambushed outside Nicaea by the Turks, and only about 3,000 people escaped the ambush.

First Crusade (1095–1099):

The Siege and Capture of Jerusalem in 1099 (Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris)

The leaders of the First Crusade were Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke William II of Normandy, but not King Philip I of France or the German Emperor Henry IV. In all, the forces may have numbered 100,000.

The first crusader armies set off from France and Italy on 15 August 1096. They received a cautious welcome in Constantinople from the Byzantine Emperor. The main army, mostly French and Norman knights, then marched south through Anatolia and first fought the Turks at the lengthy Siege of Antioch from October 1097 to June 1098. Once inside the city, the Crusaders massacred the Muslim inhabitants and pillaged the city.

Most of the surviving crusader army then marched south, finally reaching the walls of Jerusalem on 7 June 1099 with only a fraction of their original forces. Although Jerusalem was defended by its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants, who fought alongside each other, the crusaders entered the city on 15 July 1099. They proceeded to massacre the remaining Jewish and Muslim civilians and pillaged or destroyed the mosques and the city itself.

As a result of the First Crusade, several small Crusader states were created. In the Kingdom of Jerusalem, at most 120,000 Franks ruled over 350,000 Muslims, Jews, and e Eastern Christians. The other Crusader states were the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch and the County of Tripoli.

Eventually, the Muslims began to reunite and Edessa was retaken in 1144 It was the first city to fall to the Crusaders, and was the first city recaptured by the Muslims. This led the Pope to call for a second Crusade.

The historian Steven Runciman writes of the First Crusade as a barbarian invasion of the civilised and sophisticated Byzantine empire, ultimately bringing about the ruin of Byzantine civilization.

The Second Crusade (1147–1149):

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux preaches the Second Crusade

After a period of relative peace in the Holy Land, the Muslims reconquered Edessa and a new crusade was called for by various preachers, especially Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. However, Bernard of Clairvaux was upset with the amount of misdirected violence and the slaughter of the Jewish population of the Rhineland.

French and German armies under the King Louis VII and King Conrad III marched to Jerusalem in 1147 but failed to win any major victories. Even the pre-emptive siege of Damascus was a failure. By 1150, the kings of France and Germany had returned home without any gains. As part of the wave created by the Second Crusade, however, Lisbon was retaken from the Muslims in 1147, and Tortosa was captured in 1148.

The Third Crusade (1187-1192)

The Crusaders before Saladin

The divided Muslim forces and powers were united by Saladin, who created a single powerful state. Following his victory at the Battle of Hattin, he overwhelmed the disunited crusaders in 1187 and all of the crusader holdings except a few coastal cities. The Byzantines, who now feared the Crusaders, made a strategic alliance with Saladin.

Saladin’s victories shocked Europe. When he heard of the Siege of Jerusalem (1187), Pope Urban VIII died of a heart attack on 19 October 1187. On 29 October, Pope Gregory VIII issued a papal bull calling for the Third Crusade. Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of Germany, King Philip II of France and King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England responded by organising a crusade.

But Frederick died on the way and few of his men reached the Holy Land. The other two armies arrived but were beset by political quarrels. Philip returned to France. Richard captured Cyprus from the Byzantines in 1191, recaptured the cities of Acre and Jaffa, and his Crusader army marched south to Jerusalem. However, Richard did not believe he could hold Jerusalem once it was captured.

The crusade ended without Jerusalem being retaken. Instead, Richard negotiated a treaty with Saladin allowing merchants to trade and unarmed Christians to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

The Fourth Crusade (1202-1204):

The Crusaders assault Constantinople in 1204

The Fourth Crusade was initiated by Pope Innocent III, with a plan to invade the Holy Land through Egypt, with a fleet contracted from Venice. But the crusaders lost the support of the Pope and were excommunicated.

They lacked supplies, the leases on their vessels were running out when they turned on Constantinople and tried to place a Byzantine exile on the throne. In 1204, the Crusaders sacked the city and established the so-called “Latin Empire” and a collection of petty Crusader states throughout the Byzantine Empire.

Finally, the Pope returned his support to the Crusade, and backed a plan for a forced reunion between the Churches of the east and the West. But this forced but short-lived reunion was the final breaking point of the Great Schism.

The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221):

Saint Francis of Assisi before the Sultan at Damietta in 1219

In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council formulated yet another crusade plan for the recovery of the Holy Land. In the first phase, a crusading force from Austria and Hungary joined the forces of the “King of Jerusalem” and the “Prince of Antioch” to retake Jerusalem.

In the second phase, the Crusader forces captured Damietta in Egypt in 1219. Saint Francis of Assisi crossed the battle lines at Damietta to speak to the Sultan, who was impressed by Francis and spent some time with him. Francis was given safe passage and his action eventually led to the establishment of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

But in 1221, the Crusaders launched a foolhardy attack on Cairo, where they were turned back and forced to retreat.

The Sixth Crusade (1228-1229):

The Dome of the Rock ... left in Muslim hands by the Sixth Crusade

Emperor Frederick II launched the Sixth Crusade in 1228, when he set sail from Brindisi for Saint-Jean d’Acre. There were no battles in the Crusade, and Frederick signed a treaty with the Sultan of Egypt allowing Christians to rule over most of Jerusalem and a strip of territory from Acre to Jerusalem, while the Muslims had control of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa Mosque. In 1228, Frederick crowned himself king of Jerusalem. The peace lasted for about ten years. Following the Siege of Jerusalem in 1244, the Muslims regained control of the city.

The Seventh Crusade (1248-1254):

King Louis IX of France organised a crusade against Egypt from 1248 to 1254. The crusaders were decisively defeated on their way to Cairo and King Louis was captured, released only after a large ransom had been paid.

The Eighth Crusade (1270):

Louis IX again attacked the Arabs in 1270, this time in Tunis in North Africa. The king died in Tunisia, ending this last major attempt to take the Holy Land.

The Ninth Crusade (1271–1272):

The future Edward I of England, who had accompanied Louis on the Eighth Crusade, launched his own Crusade in 1271. But the Ninth Crusade was a failure and it marks the end of the Crusades in the Middle East.

Antioch had fallen in 1268, Tripoli fell in 1289, Acre n 1291, and the island of Ruad, 3 km off the Syrian shore, was captured by the Mamluks in 1302. The last traces of Christian rule in the Levant disappeared.

The Knights of Saint John relocated themselves to the island of Rhodes, which they held until 1522. Cyprus remained under the House of Lusignan until 1474, and then in the hands of Venice until 1570.

Some other “Crusades”:

The Albigensian Crusade was launched in 1209 to eliminate the heretical Cathars of Occitania in southern France. It was a decades-long struggle that had as much to do with the concerns of northern France to extend its control southwards as it did with heresy. In the end, the Cathars were exterminated and the autonomy of southern France came to an end.

The “Children’s Crusade” The chronicles report a spontaneous youth movement in France and Germany attracted large numbers of peasant teenagers and young people in 1212, convinced they could succeed where older and more sinful crusaders had failed. Many of the children died of hunger or exhaustion on the hot summer’s journey to the port of Marseilles, others were captured and sold into slavery. At Marseilles, seven ships were put at their disposal. It was 18 years before anything more was heard of them.

Evaluating the Crusades:

The Crusades had political, economic, and social impacts on western Europe. Later consequences were, on the one hand, the way they weakened the Byzantine Empire, which fell eventually to the Muslim Turks; and on the other hand a long period of wars in Spain and Portugal leading to a Christian conquest or reconquest of the Iberian peninsula. The Crusades allowed the Papacy to assert its independence of secular rulers and developed the arguments for the proper use of armed force by Christians, leading eventually to the development of the “Just War” theories.

Some historians have argued that the Crusades opened up European culture to the world, especially Asia, and gave Christian Europe a more cosmopolitan world view that led to its world-wide empires.

Sir Steven Runciman says of the Crusades: “High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed ... the Holy War was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God.”

Runciman has highlighted the tension between the Patriarchs of Constantinople and the Popes in Rome during the Crusades, and the more tolerant attitude of the Byzantines towards Muslim powers. For Runciman, the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 was the culmination of the mounting dislike and suspicion that western Christendom felt towards Byzantium.

The West misunderstood Byzantium, and could not accept the ideas that the Roman inheritance had shifted from Rome to Constantinople and that the civilised, Christian world was centred on Constantinople. For their part, the Byzantines had a deep-rooted antipathy towards the West, convinced of Byzantine cultural and religious superiority, despite Byzantium’s military and political weakness.

Nevertheless, the Crusades had an enormous influence on the Church and on western Europe in the Middle Ages. In part, they contributed to the development of nation states such as France, England, Spain, Burgundy and Portugal.

Much knowledge in areas such as science, medicine, mathematics, philosophy and architecture were introduced to Europe from the Islamic world during the crusades.

Along with trade, new scientific discoveries and inventions made their way east or west. Arab and classical Greek advances, including the development of algebra and optics and the refinement of engineering, made their way west and sped the course of advancement in European universities that led to the Renaissance in later centuries.

Maritime passage brought the rise of Western European and Mediterranean trading and naval powers such as the Sicilian Normans and the Italian city-states of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa.

Trade routes opened across Europe, bringing many things to Europeans that were once unknown or rare, including a variety of spices, ivory, jade, diamonds, improved glass-manufacturing techniques, early forms of gun powder, oranges, apples, and other Asian crops and produce.

The Crusades mark Europe’s recovery from the Dark Ages (ca 700–1000). The economy of Western Europe advanced, and the Renaissance began in the Italian maritime republics of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa which were opened to the ancient knowledge of the Greeks and Romans.

But the rising Ottoman Empire would pose a new threat to Western Europe in advance of Christopher Columbus’s voyage in 1492 and the opening of the Reformation at the beginning of the 16th century.

Part 2: The rise of the monastic tradition:

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux ... links the Crusades and Monasticism

The role of the monastic and mendicant orders at the time of the Crusades is crucial to their development. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, responsible for the reform of the Benedictine tradition, “preached up” the Second Crusade; Saint Francis of Assisi crossed the battle lines at Damietta to speak to the Sultan in 1219 during the Fifth Crusade; and the Carmelites arrived in Europe as a loose group of hermits forced to leave the Holy Land in the wake of the failure of the Crusades.

However, we last left the monks at our visit to Kells, when we looked at the rise of the monastic tradition in Ireland. Perhaps we should take a step back a few centuries to understand the development of monasticism in the history of the Church.

Two particular rules have shaped Western monasticism: the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Rule of Saint Augustine. But the monastic tradition has its roots in the Desert Fathers and a tradition that developed in Egypt and Syria.

Origins of Monasticism:

Saint Anthony of Egypt (252-356) ... the founder of the eremetical or solitary monastic life

The word monk comes from the Greek word monos, indicating someone who lives alone. At first, monks did not live in monasteries but lived alone in the wilderness or the desert. When their followers started to come together and model themselves along the lifestyle of the monks, the monks began to form communities.

Saint Anthony the Abbot (252-356) could be regarded as the founder of the eremetical or solitary monastic life, while Saint Pachomius is seen as the founding figure in the cenobotical or community-style monastic life.

Eremitic monasticism, or solitary monasticism, is marked by a complete withdrawal from society. The word “eremitic” comes from the Greek word eremos, meaning desert. Saint Anthony of the Desert, or Saint Anthony of Egypt, left civilisation behind in the third century to live a solitary life on an Egyptian mountain. Although he was probably not the first Christian hermit, he is generally seen as such.

Then, ca 323, at Tabenna in Upper Egypt, Saint Pachomius gathered his disciples into a more organised community that lived in individual huts or rooms, but worked, ate and worshipped together. Similarly, in 328, Saint Makarios established individual groups of cells. These two monastic saints wanted to bring together individual ascetics who were not able to live a solitary existence in the desert.

The head of these monasteries came to be known as “Father” – in Syriac Abba, which gives us our English “Abbot.”

Saint Pachomius helped to organise other communities, so that by the time he died in 346 there were 3,000 such communities throughout Egypt. From there, monasticism quickly spread first to Palestine and the Judean Desert, Syria, North Africa and then through the rest of the Empire.

Two different two types of monastic lifestyle developed – the permanent and the mendicant; the permanent monks were committed to living in one community, while the mendicants renounced all of their worldly possessions and travelled about preaching, dependent on the alms and offerings of others.

Western monasticism:

Saint Marin of Tours ... a bas relief in Oxford of Saint Martin giving half his cloak to a beggar

After serving in the Roman legions, Martin of Tours converted to Christianity and established a hermitage near Milan, and then moved on to Poitiers, where he gathered a community around his hermitage. He became Bishop of Tours in 372, and his community has strong associations with the story of Saint Patrick and his mission in Ireland.

Saint John Cassian began his monastic career at a monastery in Palestine and Egypt around 385 and established two monasteries, one for men and one for women, near Marseilles ca 415. In time, these attracted over 5,000 monks and nuns.

Ireland was the first non-Roman area to adopt monasticism. The earliest monastic settlements in Ireland emerged at the end of the fifth century. Irish monasticism spread widely, first to Scotland and northern England, and then to Gaul and Italy.

The Benedictine tradition:

Saint Benedict of Nursia ... the key figure in the foundation and development of the Western monastic tradition

Within the Western monastic tradition, there are two key figures, Saint Benedict and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

Saint Benedict of Nursia is the most influential figure in western monasticism. He was educated in Rome but soon sought the life of a hermit in a cave at Subiaco, outside the city. He attracted followers and with them he founded the monastery of Monte Cassino ca 520, between Rome and Naples.

Saint Benedict was more focused on schools, and the education of the monks who followed his rule. He wished to reform the education throughout the monasteries so that a monk could be a better person, and more greatly achieve their quest of living a life like that of Christ.

He set out the rule that led to him being credited with the title of Father of Western Monasticism.

By the ninth century, largely under the inspiration of Charlemagne, the Rule of Saint Benedict had become the guiding rule for Western monasticism.

The Mendicant orders:

Saint Dominic in Prayer by El Greco

In the 13th century, with the decline of the monasteries, new mendicant orders of friars were founded to teach the Christian faith. Within the mendicant orders, two principal groups of friars emrged: the Franciscans and the Dominicans.

The Franciscans begin with Saint Francis of Assisi in the early 13th century. Saint Francis realised that as the monks became rich from their earnings, they ultimately started to become lazy and proud. His Franciscans believed in living in poverty and sought to survive by begging.

The Dominicans or the Order of Preachers was founded by Saint Dominic de Guzman in the 13th century. He established a systematic and organised method of teaching the monks so they would be prepared to travel and preach to the people. Saint Dominic taught the most importance of linking the monastic rules with lives of poverty, chastity and obedience. He also emphasised charity and meekness.

Later, the Dominican friars would be linked with the Spanish Inquisition. But among their great scholars and theologians were Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Catherine of Siena.

The principal western monastic and mendicant traditions include:

● The Benedictines: founded in 529 by Benedict at Monte Cassino. They, stress the combination of work, prayer and study in the monastic life.
● The Augustinians, who evolved from the canons who lived under the Rule of Saint Augustine.
● The Carmelites (Whitefriars) who were founded ca 1206 and 1214, but claimed to have originated on the slopes of Mount Carmel.
● The Cistercians or Trappists, who developed out of reforms of the Benedictine tradition initiated by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
● The Dominicans (the Blackfriars), founded in 1215 by Saint Dominic.
● The Franciscans, who followed the lifestyle of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.

Julian of Norwich

Julian of Norwich … “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”

If you recall how we looked at the monastic tradition including both those who lived in community and those who lived a solitary life, then one of the most interesting people, from an Anglican perspective, to live a solitary, religious life at the end of this period must be Julian of Norwich (ca 1342 – ca 1416).

She was an English anchorite who is regarded as one of the most important Christian mystics. Yet, apart from her writings, we know little about her life: we do not know her birth name, nor do we know the date of her death, whether she was a nun or a laywoman, single or widowed.

Her major work, Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (ca 1393), is believed to be the first book written in the English language written by a woman.

The saying, “…All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” which Julian claimed was said to her by God, reflects her theology. It is well-known line in Anglican and Catholic spirituality, and one of the best-known phrases of the literature of her era. It has been given new literary currency in recent generations by TS Eliot, who drew on this quotation and her phrase, “the ground of our beseeching,” in his poem Little Gidding, the fourth of his Four Quartets:

Whatever we inherit from the fortunate
We have taken from the defeated
What they had to leave us – a symbol:
A symbol perfected in death.
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching.

Monasticism in the East:

The Monastery of Vatopediou on Mount Athos (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Eastern Orthodox monasticism does not have religious orders as in the West, and there are no formal monastic rules, and no division between the active and the contemplative life.

There are three types of monasticism in the East: eremitic, cenobitic and the skete. The skete is a small community, often of only two or three, under the direction of an elder. They pray privately for most of the week, then come together on Sundays and Feast Days for communal prayer.

Among the first figures to try to regulate the monastic life is Saint Basil the Great. He was educated in Caesarea, Constantinople and Athens, and visited groups of hermits in Palestine and Egypt. He was deeply impressed by the communities that developed under the guidance of Saint Pachomius.

Saint Basil wrote a series of guides for monastic life which, while not rules as later understood in West, provided guidelines for communities living under one abbot.

The Ladder of Divine Ascent, represented in an icon from Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai

An important place in the development of Eastern monasticism is Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai. There the Ladder of Divine Ascent was written by Saint John Klimakos (ca 600).

The central and unifying feature of Orthodox monasticism is Hesychasm, the practice of silence, and the concentrated saying of the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on me, the sinner” ... which is a good place to end this part of our module on Church History.

Next (Week 11):

7.1, A house divided: Rome and Byzantium.

7.2, Seminar: readings in key thinkers in the late Mediaeval Church: Gregory the Great, Aquinas, Francis, &c.

7.3, Meanwhile, back in Ireland: the Anglo-Norman and post-Norman Church.

Semester II:

8.1: New questions: Lollards, Hussites and Erasmus.

8.2: Reformation readings: Luther, Calvin and Zwingli.

8.3: The Anglican Reformation: readings.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. This lecture on 23 November 2012 was part of the Church History Elective (TH 7864) on the MTh course, Year I.