03 October 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
127, Saint Anthony’s Church, Mitropolis Square, Rethymnon

Saint Anthony’s Church is in an almost-hidden corner of Mitropolis Square in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XVIII). We are celebrating the Harvest Festival this Sunday (3 October 2021) and next Sunday, with the Harvest Eucharist this morning in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, and a harvest theme at Morning Prayer in Saint Brendan’s Church, Tarbert, Co Kerry.

But, before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme for these few weeks is churches in Rethymnon on the island of Crete, where I spent two weeks last month.

My photographs this morning (3 October 2021) are from the Church of Saint Anthony in a corner of Mitropolis Square, close to the Cathedral in Rethymnon.

Inside Saint Anthony’s Church, a tiny, single-aisle church built in 1863 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The Church of Saint Anthony is tucked into a corner of Mitropolis Square, close to the Cathedral. The church is set back from the street by a small courtyard, and is almost hidden by the awnings of the taverna next door. It is noticed by few of tourists who pass by, seldom seeing the steps down into the courtyard.

This tiny, single-aisle church was built in 1863 but looks much older and is decorated simply inside.

The church is dedicated to Saint Anthony or Saint Antony the Great (Ἀντώνιος) who lived from ca 251 to 356, was a monk in Egypt, and should not be confused with the Franciscan Saint Anthony of Padua, who gives his name to the only Roman Catholic church in Rethymnon.

Saint Anthony of Egypt is important among the Desert Fathers and a key figure in the development of Christian monasticism. Because of this, he is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on 17 January.

The biography of Saint Anthony by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread monasticism, particularly in Western Europe through Latin translations.

He is often considered the first Christian monk, although his biography and other sources make it clear that there were many ascetics before him. Saint Anthony, however, was among the first known ascetics to go into the wilderness, ca 270.

Accounts of Saint Anthony’s life and his temptations during in the Desert have inspired many works in Western art and literature.

Close to Saint Anthony’s Church, in nearby Mousoúrou Street, off the square, is the Bishop’s Palace, an impressive, symmetrical, palatial white neoclassical building renovated in 1900 at the expense of General Thedore de Chiostak, the commander of Russian troops in the town.

Behind the Bishop’s Palace, the Diocesan Church Museum is usually open for two hours some days during the summer weeks.

An image of Saint Anthony above the entrance to the church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Mark 10: 2-16 (NRSVA):

2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ 3 He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ 4 They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ 5 But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Votive candles burning inside the church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (3 October 2021, Trinity XVIII) invites us to pray:

Creator Father,
May we remember that
We are all children of God.
Let us pray for young people,
For they are both the present
And future of the Church.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Votive candles are available for visitors inside the door of the church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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

Life passes by in the square outside the church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

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