Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Praying in Advent with
Lichfield Cathedral:
24, Tuesday 22 December 2020

‘He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly’ (Luke 1: 52) … symbols of the Virgin Mary in a stained-glass window in Saint Mary’s, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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.

Tuesday 22 December 2020 (‘O Rex Gentium’, King of all nations):

Read Saint Luke 1: 46-56 (NRSVA):

46 And Mary said,

‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

56 And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.

Reflection:

This is the Magnificat, Mary’s Song. The humble are exalted, the proud brought low. How do we share in her song?

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

A good reason to revisit
the Augustinian priory
ruins in Rathkeale

The south side of the ruins of the Augustinian Priory of Saint Mary in Rathkeale, Co Limerick … the church of Rathkeale and nine dependent chapels in Co Limerick were part of the possessions of Keynsham Abbey (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Patrick Comerford

I have spent much of this morning in Rathkeale, at a school Christmas service in Holy Trinity Church. As I was researching my paper last week on Keynsham Abbey in Somerset and its dependent house in Co Limerick, including Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, I was interested to come across the many links that also exist between Keynsham Abbey and Rathkeale, Co Limerick.

So, early last week, as part of my research, I returned to visit the ruins of Saint Mary’s, the former Augustinian priory or abbey in Rathkeale.

At the turn of the 12th and 14th centuries, Keynsham Abbey acquired considerable property in Ireland, including the churches at Askeaton, Rathkeale, Lismakeera, Croagh and Bruree in Co Limerick.

Sir Roger Waspail granted the church of Rathkeale to Keynsham Abbey ca 1213-1226. He died in 1226 and was succeeded by his son, Henry Waspail, who reconfirmed his father’s grant of Rathkeale to Keynsham Abbey ca 1226-1228.

The ruins of Rathkeale Priory seen from the north-east (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Following Roger Waspail’s grant of Rathkeale, Keynsham managed its new benefice, collecting income and appointing clerics. But the politically unstable situation in Ireland made it difficult to collect revenue.

Some time after 1237, under the direction of John de Bureford, a canon of the abbey and their proctor in Ireland, Keynsham granted the church of Rathkeale and nine dependent chapels and property rights in the cantred of Askeaton to the Bishop of Limerick.

The Augustinians at Keynsham were Augustinian canons regular and they adopted the rule of the Order of Saint Victor. The head of the house was always called an abbot, and the house was known as the House of the Canons of Saint Austin and Saint Victor.

Inside the ruins of the priory church in Rathkeale (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

The remains of the Augustinian Priory or abbey in Rathkeale are at the top of the east end of the town, on the old Limerick Road. This priory or abbey was founded in 1280 by Gilbert Hervey not for the Augustinians of Keynsham Abbey but for the Augustinian Canons of the Order of Aroasia.

The Augustinians of Keynsham and of Rathkeale followed different traditions and disciplines, and were members of different, distinct orders. The Augustinian Canons of Aroasia were founded in the Diocese of Arras in France in 1097, and were a separate order from the Augustinians at Keynsham.

The number of friars or monks in Rathkeale seems to have been supplemented by Augustinians from Rattoo, 10 km outside Listowel, Co Kerry. The Augustinians in Rattoo were also Aroasian Canons, and their abbot was a Lord of Parliament.

The Augustinian Abbey in Rathkeale was founded in 1280 by Gilbert Hervey (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Soon after the Augustinian Abbey in Rathkeale was founded by Gilbert Hervey, it was endowed by his niece, Elinor Purcell, with the tenth loaf of every baking, the tenth flagon of every brewing, the tenth pork, the tenth mutton and a large portion of every ox killed in the Manor of Mayer or Croagh.

In 1290, Benedict, the Prior of Saint Mary’s, Rathkeale, was involved in a law suit against Thomas Le Chapelin, Guardian of the house of Saint Senan on Scattery Island.

Elinor Purcell’s son, Hugh Purcell, was sued in 1307 by the Prior of Saint Mary’s for not fulfilling the grants made by his mother. The case ended in a compromise in which Hugh agreed to give to the Prior each year two crannogs of bread corn, three crannogs of oats on the Feast of Saint Michael and four porks on the Feast of Saint Martin forever.

The four-light, tracieried East Window in the ruins of the priory church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Thomas Purcell was Prior of the Abbey in 1318, when he was accused of violence at Croagh.

It was claimed that in 1436 the Virgin Mary had worked several miracles at the abbey.

Pope Pius III addressed a letter to the prior of Rathkeale in 1463, giving instructions about appointing David Fitzmaurice as the Rector of Randbarad (Ryndbera) in the Diocese of Ardfert. JB Leslie identified this parish with Aglish, north-west of Killarney, between Killarney and Killorgin. Fitzmaurice was also Chancellor of Ardfert.

The priory in Rathkeale owned the mill and a great island and a large part of the water weir. There were six ploughlands and six quarters and it all belonged to the church with all kinds of tithes.

In 1513, Thomas Hayes bound himself to the Apostolic Chamber for the first fruits of the Priory of the Blessed Virgin, order of Saint Augustine, Rathkeale. But O’Dowd says that the ‘original building must have been destroyed for the present structure is not later than the 16th century.’

There are few records of the priory between then and the suppression of the monastic houses in Ireland at the Reformation. The monastery was officially suppressed in 1542, but it is thought that a small community of Augustinian canons may have remained there until 1581.

The Gothic arch is all that survives from the former south transept (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

According to an inquisition during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the priory was in the possession of Gerot Baluff or Gerald Balfe, who was killed during the Desmond Rebellion. After the death of this last prior, the abbey was granted to Sir Henry Wallop, who also received large tracts of land on the banks of the Slaney at Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, and was the ancestor of the Earls of Portsmouth.

Peyton’s Survey in 1586 noted: ‘It was found that the site of the Monastery – a castle called Cam-ne-Monaster, alias The Castle at the Head of the Monastery – together with 20 gardens, one of which was called the Prior’s Garden, contained three acres.’

In addition, there were 20 more acres in Temple Trenode in Rathkeale, eight acres in Ardagh, eight acres in Callow, and 10 acres in Nantenan, between Rathkeale and Askeaton, that were described as ‘very bad land.’

A small, vaulted chamber outside the building, against the north wall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Although the Augustinian priory in Rathkeale was founded in the late 13th century, the present structures may date from the early 16th century, replacing the earlier buildings on the site. Although its roof is gone and many of its historical details have been lost in time, the abbey is a beautiful, peaceful place.

The ruins include is a rectangular church with a vaulted room at the north side. It has a simple four-light traceried east window.

The south wall is the most complete, but it does not reach its original total length. There are five round headed windows in the south wall of the chancel.

The nave section is in ruins. There was once a south transept, but only the arch of this remains. Another segment of the nave wall stands detached from the rest of the building.

There is a small, vaulted chamber outside the building, against the north wall.

Remains of the abbey building are scattered through the surrounding town park (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

It was reported many years ago that the bell of the abbey had been discovered and given to the local bell-man, but no more is known of its whereabouts. It may have been given to Jim Murray, the last bell-man in Rathkeale.

In recent years, the ruins were renovated by Rathkeale Community Council and FÁS in 1988 and the surrounding grounds were landscaped and developed as the town's park.

Holy Trinity Church, the Church of Ireland parish church in Rathkeale, stands on a site at the west end of the town that has been a place of worship since the 13th century, although the present church building dates from 1831.

A blocked-up arch in the north wall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

But because the two Augustinians in Rathkeale and Keynsham Abbey followed different traditions, it appears the earlier church on the site of Holy Trinity Church can be identified with the church in Rathkeale that was a dependency of Keynsham.

It is as though Holy Trinity Church at the west end and the ruined Augustinian Abbey at the east end of the town bookend Rathkeale as complementary churches, both with links to the different Augustinian traditions in the mediaeval church.

The abbey ruins were renovated by Rathkeale Community Council and FÁS in 1988 and the surrounding grounds were landscaped (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Praying in Advent with USPG:
24, Tuesday 22 December 2020

The words of the canticle Magnificat carved on the wooden screen at the west end of the monastic church in Mount Melleray Abbey, Cappoquin, Co Waterford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

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 the day 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.

Tuesday 22 December 2020:

Let us pray for the staff of Saint Luke’s Hospital in Nablus, run by the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem.

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: 46-56 (NRSVA):

46 And Mary said,

‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

56 And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.

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