Monday, 21 December 2020

Praying in Advent with
Lichfield Cathedral:
23, Monday 21 December 2020

The Visitation of the Virgin Mary to Saint Elizabeth (see Luke 1: 39-35) … a panel from the triptych in the Lady Chapel in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

Advent is the Church’s mindful antidote to some of the diversion and consumerism of a modern Christmas. It prepares us to encounter Christ again in his joy and humility.

In ‘The Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar 2020,’ the Dean and community at Lichfield Cathedral are inviting us to light our Advent candle each day as we read the Bible and join in prayer.

This calendar is for everyone who uses the Cathedral website, for all the Cathedral community, and for people you want to send it to and invite to share in the daily devotional exercise.

This is a simple prayer and bible-reading exercise to help us to mark the Advent Season as a time of preparation for the coming of Christ.

It is designed to take us on a journey, looking back to John the Baptist and Mary the Mother of Jesus; looking out into the world today, into our own hearts and experience; outwards again to Jesus Christ as he encounters us in life today and in his promise to be with us always.

You can download the calendar HERE.

The community at Lichfield Cathedral offers a number of suggestions on how to use this calendar:

● Set aside 5-15 minutes every day.

● Buy or use a special candle to light each day as you read and pray through the suggestions on the calendar.

● Try to ‘eat simply’ – one day each week try going without so many calories or too much rich food, just have enough.

● Try to donate to a charity working with the homeless or the people of Bethlehem.

● Try to pray through what you see and notice going on around you in people, the media and nature.

The last week of Advent is special: at Evensong (Evening Prayer), a special antiphon is sung or said before and after the canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Magnificat. Each begins with an ‘O’ and relates to some facet of Christ’s nature and ancestry.

17 December: ‘O Sapientia’, Wisdom
18 December: ‘O Adonai’, Lord of Israel
19 December: ‘O Radix Jesse’, Root of Jesse (Jesse was the father of King David)
20 December: ‘O Clavis David’, Key of David
21 December: ‘O Oriens’, Morning Star rising in the East
22 December: ‘O Rex Gentium’, King of all nations
23 December: ‘O Immanuel’ Immanuel – ‘God is with us’

As the week draws us to Christmas, so the note of longing love intensifies.

Monday 21 December 2020 (‘O Oriens’, Morning Star rising in the East):

Read Saint Luke 1: 39-45 (NRSVA):

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

Reflection:

As you read about Elizabeth rejoicing about the children she and Mary are bearing – earth-shaking events are beginning, the Lord is coming among us. What praise can we offer this Christmas? What’s our song of gladness?

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s evening reflection

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

Community drive in
Ballysteen to restore
former Carnegie library

Ballysteen’s old Carnegie library is getting an upgrade (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Ballysteen’s old Carnegie library is getting an upgrade, with plans to turn it into a community centre that can also be used for a wide range of community activities, including a venue social events, indoor sports, dancing, music and night classes.

A dedicated local community in the village in west Co Limerick has been raising funds for this project, including selling Christmas decorations and logs in the market in the Square in Askeaton on Friday mornings.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was a Scottish-American philanthropist, and between 1897 and 1913 he promised over £170,000 for building 80 public libraries in Ireland. He wanted these libraries available to everyone with the hope that reading would improve the lives of local people.

Carnegie never initiated an offer of money to a community for building a library. Instead, it was up to the community itself, through its local councillors, to seek a grant from Carnegie. He stipulated the libraries were to be owned by the community, used by the community and maintained by the community.

The result is that the libraries are distributed unevenly around Ireland. They are concentrated in the Dublin and Belfast areas, Co Waterford, East Cork, Co Kerry and West Limerick.

Of the 62 Carnegie libraries that survive, 14 were built in West Limerick, in two rural districts: Rathkeale and Newcastle West.

The Carnegie libraries built in the Rathkeale Rural District Council were designed by the engineer Francis Hartigan. They include a main library at Rathkeale (1907) and sub-libraries in Askeaton (1907), Ballyhahill (ca 1907), Ballysteen (ca 1905), Croagh (ca 1906), Kildimo (ca 1906), Kilcolman (ca 1906), Pallaskenry (1905-1907) and Shanagolden (1905-1907).

The more rural buildings were simple, single-storey structures with little architectural pretension. They had one or two porches and looked quite similar to school buildings.

They were designed by the Rathkeale-based architect, engineer and surveyor, Francis Hartigan (1863-1933).

Frank Hartigan was born in Co Limerick in 1863, the son of Patrick Hartigan, a farmer. He was educated at Queen’s University, Galway (BE), and in 1904 he married Rita Danaher from Athea, Co Limerick, in Saint Saviour’s Dominican Church, Limerick. They lived at Saint Kieran’s, Rathkeale.

Hartigan became district engineer for Rathkeale and from 1904 to 1907 he was responsible for designing several plain and basic Carnegie Libraries in Co Limerick.

Hartigan was appointed an assistant county surveyor for Co Limerick in 1915, and for many years he was engineer of the old Rathkeale District Council and Board of Guardians. He died in Saint John’s Hospital, Limerick, on 15 July 1933 at the age of 70.

Ballysteen’s old Carnegie library is being restored … but still needs €46,000 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Carnegie Library in Ballysteen was built in 1905, but it never had toilet facilities and it was derelict by 2004. The derelict library and site were bought by a local development group in October 2019, and rebuilding and development work began in January 2020.

This community project is part-funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development, and Limerick City and County Council under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. Other donations have come from the Tomar Trust, JP McManus Benevolent Fund, Stonehall Harriers Hunt, Aughinish Alumina, and local fund-raising.

However, as the project nears completion, there is still a deficit of €46,000, and local fund-raising drives continue.

As for the other Carnegie libraries in West Limerick, the libraries built on the initiative of the Newcastle West Rural District Council were of a different style. They were designed by the President of the Royal Institute of Irish Architects, Richard Caulfield Orpen (1863-1938), and they include a library in Newcastle West (1916) and smaller branch libraries in Athea (1917), Broadford (1917), Cloncagh (1917) and Feenagh (1917).

Orpen’s designs were more architecturally competent, with the smaller buildings having the appearance of estate cottages or gate lodges. There is a hint of Arts and Crafts design in their execution. One of their most distinguishing features is the simple cut limestone doorcase that gives these buildings a touch of architectural quality.

The church ruins and churchyard at Beagh seen from the Carnegie Library in Ballysteen (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

For the Carnegie Library in Broadford, Co Limerick, visit HERE
For the Carnegie Library in Cappoquin, Co Waterford, visit HERE
For the Carnegie Library on John’s Quay, Kilkenny, visit HERE
For the Carnegie Library in Skerries, Co Dublin, visit HERE.

Praying in Advent with USPG:
23, Monday 21 December 2020

‘When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb’ (Luke 1: 41) … the Visitation depicted in a window in Saint Ailbe’s Church, Emly, Co Tipperary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

I am one of the contributors to the current USPG Diary, Pray with the World Church, introducing the theme of peace and trust next week.

Before today gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for my own personal prayer, reflection and Scripture reading.

The theme of the USPG Prayer Diary this week (20 to 26 December 2020) is ‘Christmas in the Holy Land.’ This week’s theme is introduced by the Very Revd Canon Richard Sewell, Dean of Saint George’s College, Jerusalem.

Monday 21 December 2020:

Let us give thanks for the life and ministry of Saint Thomas the Apostle.

The Collect of the Day (Advent IV):

God our redeemer,
who prepared the blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of your Son:
Grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour,
so we may be ready to greet him
when he comes again as our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Advent Collect:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Luke 1: 29-45 (NRSVA):

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s morning reflection

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