Friday, 19 March 2021

Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
31, Coventry Cathedral

‘Father Forgive’ … the Cross of Nails and the Litany of Reconciliation in Coventry Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During Lent and Easter this year, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, a photograph of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

This week I am offering photographs from seven churches that have shaped and influenced my spirituality.

Today is the Feast of Saint Joseph, and my photographs this morning (19 March 2021) are from Coventry Cathedral, which also featured on the News at Ten on the BBC the night before last (17 March 2021). During the 1970s, I regularly visited Coventry Cathedral. I was strongly influenced by the values that inform the ministries at the cathedral, particularly the Ministry of Reconciliation, and for a few years I was a member of the Community of the Cross of Nails.

Following the bombing of Coventry’s mediaeval cathedral in 1940, the Provost, the Very Revd Richard Howard, had these words inscribed on the wall behind the charred cross and the Altar of the ruined building, ‘Father Forgive.’

These words moved generations of people and are prayed in the Litany of Reconciliation every Friday at noon outside in the ruins of the mediaeval cathedral in Coventry and in many other places around the world by the Community of the Cross of Nails.

The Litany of Reconciliation, based on the seven cardinal sins, was written in 1958 by Canon Joseph Poole, the first Precentor of the new, post-war cathedral in Coventry. This Litany is a universal and timeless confession of humanity’s failings, but it calls on us to approach these sins and weaknesses in the forgiveness of God’s love.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father Forgive.

The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father Forgive.

The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Father Forgive.

Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Father Forgive.

Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
Father Forgive.

The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
Father Forgive.

The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Father Forgive.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Jacob Epstein’s sculpture of ‘Saint Michael’s Victory over the Devil’ at Coventry Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 1: 18-25 (NRSVA):

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22 All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’,

which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (19 March 2021, Saint Joseph of Nazareth), prays:

Let us pray that churches and national institutions that work on climate change advocacy can work harmoniously together for the common good.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The new Coventry Cathedral, designed by Basil Spence, rises above the shell of the cathedral bombed in 1940 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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