Sunday, 13 June 2021

Sunday intercessions on
13 June 2021, Trinity II

‘Don’t judge the day be the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you sow’ … a sign in a café in Greystones, Co Wicklow (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Let us pray:

‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?’ (Mark 4: 30):

Heavenly Father,
we pray for the world, for the kingdoms and the nations of the world,
for the G7 leaders meeting in Cornwall,
and for our own country, Ireland, north and south.

We pray for justice, mercy and peace,
for an end to violence, hatred and oppression.

We give thanks for all who are responding
to the pandemic crisis and the cyber attack …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

‘With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it’ (Mark 4: 33):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
that we may hear your word and grow in love for one another.

We pray for our Bishop, Kenneth,
our neighbouring churches and parishes,
and people of faith everywhere,
that we may be blessed in our variety and diversity.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer,
we pray this week for the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).

In the Church of Ireland this month,
we pray for the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh,
and for Bishop Ferran Glenfield.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer this week,
we pray for the Tubbercurry Group of parishes in the Diocese of Achonry,
the priest-in-charge, the Revd Peter Norman,
and the people of Saint Crumnathy’s Cathedral, Achonry,
Saint George’s Church, Tubbercurry and Killoran Church, Rathbarron).

We pray for our own parishes and people …
We give thanks for all involved in reopening this church …
and we pray for ourselves …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘O Lord … answer us when we call upon you’ (Psalm 20: 9):

Holy Spirit,
we pray for one another …
we pray for those we love and those who love us …
we pray for our families, friends and neighbours …
and we pray for those we promised to pray for …

We pray for those who feel rejected and discouraged …
we pray for all in need and those who seek healing …

We pray for those who are sick or isolated,
at home or in hospital …

Ruby … Arthur … Ann … Daphne … Sylvia … Ajay …

We pray for all who grieve and mourn at this time …
for all who are broken-hearted,
trying to come to terms with the loss of loved ones,
for the Downes, Smyth and Doherty families …

We remember and give thanks for those who have died …
especially Ena Downes … Joe and Linda Smyth … Catherine Doherty …
May their memories be a blessing …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

A prayer from the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) on the Second Sunday after Trinity:

Creator Father, may we be patient and kind,
As we seek to serve You.
Let us spread the seeds of the Kingdom,
Trusting in You that they will grow and flower.

Merciful Father …

The ‘Sower’ window in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Sowing the seeds of faith and
reaping the harvest of life

The Sower and the Seed … an image in the East Window in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 13 June 2021

The Second Sunday after Trinity (Trinity II)


9.30 a.m. Castletown Church, the Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion II)

11.30 a.m. Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Morning Prayer

The Readings: I Samuel 15: 34 to 16: 13; Psalm 20; Mark 4: 26-34

There is a link to the readings HERE.

‘The earth produces of itself’ (Mark 4: 28) … summer flowers in the gardens at Kells Bay House near Cahersiveeen, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Chapter 4 in Saint Mark’s Gospel is the ‘parables chapter,’ recalling parables that make this chapter the central teaching section of this Gospel. Christ is in a boat beside the sea teaching a very large crowd who are listening on the shore (see Mark 4: 1-2).

In this morning’s reading (Mark 4: 26-34), Christ tries to describe the ‘kingdom of God’ using images of a sower scattering seed on the ground in the hope and expectation of the harvest (verses 26-29) and of the mustard seed that grows into a great tree (verses 30-32).

As in the story of David in our first reading, God’s work may have small beginnings, or in those we may see as insignificant or overlook.

We have been bereaved sorely in this group of parishes in recent months, with four funerals since Christmas, four funerals in less than six months in one small group of parishes.

But at each funeral I heard how Alan, Linda, Joey and Ena had the seeds of their faith sown at an early stage in life, how that seed grew into a strong faith in their adult lives, and how they, in turn, had sown the seeds of faith.

Like a sower scattering seed, I sometimes think of God sowing seeds in the minds of many people that eventually grow into full bloom.

In the Gospel reading, Christ tells two parables: the first is the story of how seed scattered on the ground sprouts, grows and produces full grain at harvest time; the second is the story of how the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, grows into the greatest of all shrubs.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that people who set out to be high achievers regret that over the span of a career they have never blossomed into great trees. Instead, they think that in the sight of other people they have remained small twigs or leaves on the tree, and that when they die, like a falling leaf, they will be forgotten and be of no further value to others.

Yet, when death is at our doorstep, none of us is going to be worried about the obituary pages or whether we will be judged by our achievements.

When he was interviewed on RTÉ three years ago [29 May 2018] by Ray Darcy, the late Gay Byrne spoke of his achievements and regrets over a long career that spanned 60 years. He admitted candidly that his biggest regrets were having worked too hard and given too much time to RTÉ when he could have spent more time with his children as they were growing up.

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse, has worked for several years in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She has counselled the dying in their last days and has tried to find out what are the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives.

Among the top, from men in particular, is: ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.’

There was no mention of media profiles or better job titles.

In her best-selling book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, which has been read by over a million people worldwide and translated into 29 languages, Bronnie Ware lists the top five regrets we have when we are dying:

1, I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2, I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3, I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4, I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5, I wish that I had let myself be happier.

What is your greatest regret in life, so far?

And what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

Our intrinsic, individual value does not depend on how useful we were to the projects of others. It is seen, instead, when we we are truly ourselves, when we spend time with those we love and those who love us, when we are in touch with our feelings, when we value our friendships, when we are happy rather than ambitious.

We are blessed when we come to the point of realising that love is more important than ambition, when we know friendships are more important than careers, when we know we are blessed by others not because of what they do, but simply because they are.

And when we love, when we can cry together, then we can laugh together too.

John Betjeman was a press attaché in Dublin during World War II. He was immensely popular during his time in Dublin, and when his official stay came to an end in 1943, his departure made one of those great stories on the front page of The Irish Times.

In one of his less well-known poems, ‘The Last Laugh’ (1974), John Betjeman wrote:

I made hay while the sun shone.
My work sold.
Now, if the harvest is over
And the world cold,
Give me the bonus of laughter
As I lose hold.


When we recall friends and family members who have lost their hold on life, do we allow ourselves to put aside their regrets and our regrets in life?

As part of the great tree of life, whether they were tiny twigs, small leaves, little branches or great big trunks, we can remember them with the bonus of laughter and with the bonus of love. For without them, we would not be who we are today.

And so, may all we think, say and do be to praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

‘The seed would sprout and grow’ (Mark 4: 27) … trees and a shaded garden in Platanias in suburban Rethymnon, Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 4: 26-34 (NRSVA):

26 [Jesus] also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

30 He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

‘The seed would sprout and grow’ (Mark 4: 27) … the garden in the cloisters in Arkadi Monastery in Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical Colour: Green

The Collect of the Day:

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
Send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake.

The Post-Communion Prayer:

Loving Father,
we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son.
Sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Sower and the Seed … an image in the East Window by Mayer & Co in Saint Michael’s Church, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hymns:

630, Blessed are the pure in heart (CD 36)
39, For the fruits of his creation (CD 3)



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

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
15, Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, Amalfi

Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, Amalfi … 62 steps lead from the Piazza Duomo up to the cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During this time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

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).

Today is the Second Sunday after Trinity (Trinity II), and later this morning I am presiding at the Parish Eucharist in Castletown Church, Kilcornan, and leading Morning Prayer in Holy Trinity Church, Rathkeale, Co Limerick.

This week my photographs are of seven cathedrals in Italy. This morning (13 June 2021), my photographs are of Saint Andrew’s Cathedral in Amalfi.

Inside the cathedral in Amalfi … this is a pair of cathedrals: the Cathedral of Saint Andrew and the older Cathedral of the Crucifixion (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Amalfi, once an independent Byzantine republic, then from 839 to 1135, one of Italy’s four great maritime republics with a fleet to rival the naval powers of Pisa, Genoa and Venice. Today Amalfi has a lively seafront and is an attractive small town, with narrow alleyways, hidden courtyards and a population of 5,500 – before the tourists and day-trippers arrive in the morning, or once they have left in the evening.

Amalfi also claims to be the home of Flavio Gioia, an imaginary 14th century mariner and inventor who never existed but who, nevertheless, is said to have perfected the compass and to have determined the direction of true north.

A few steps north of the statue of Flavio Gioia on the seafront, the town’s main square, Piazza Duomo, is dominated by Amalfi’s Duomo or cathedral which stands above the town centre at the top of a steep flight of steps.

At the top of the steps, this cathedral also has an impressive pair of bronze doors, dating from 1066 and originally from Constantinople.

The cathedral in Amalfi is, in fact, a pair of cathedrals: the Duomo di Sant’Adrea (Cathedral of Saint Andrew) and the older Duomo del Crocifisso (Cathedral of the Crucifixion).

Beside the paired cathedrals is the Chiostro del Paradiso or Cloister of Paradise, and below is the crypt with relics of the Apostle Andrew.

The Cloister of Paradise was once the ancient cemetery of the nobility of Amalfi, and is enclosed by rows and colonnades of 120 Moorish-style, white, slender, interlaced columns erected in 1266.

The cathedral dates from 596, but the original cathedral now serves as a museum. The newer cathedral, built in 1100, was originally in Romanesque style, concealed by the sumptuous baroque reordering of the 18th century.

In the crypt below, the cathedral claims its greatest relic – the head and bones of Saint Andrew, the first Apostle. During the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the head and bones were removed from a church in Constantinople by the papal envoy, Cardinal Pietro Capuano, and were buried in the crypt in Amalfi in 1208.

To this day, a crystal phial is placed on top of the sepulchre on some days in the church calendar for the past 750 years, and a dense liquid is collected. But similar sepulchres and similar miracles are claimed in Rome and in Patras in Greece. The ‘miracle of the phial’ overshadows the other treasures of the crypt, including statues by Michelangelo and Bernini.

As a wedding was about to begin, I stepped out into the extravagant atrium, built of striped marble and stone in a mixture of Spanish baroque, Moorish-Arabesque and Italian Gothic styles, with open interlaced arches.

Below me spread the delights of Amalfi as the clock in the campanile above chimed mid-day. The bride had arrived to applause from tourists and shopkeepers and was climbing the 62 steps covered with a long red carpet.

The atrium in Amalfi is built of striped marble and stone in a mixture of Spanish baroque, Moorish-Arabesque and Italian Gothic styles (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 4: 26-34 (NRSVA):

26 [Jesus] also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’

30 He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

The shrine of Saint Andrew in the crypt in Amalfi’s cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (13 June 2021) invites us to pray:

Creator Father, may we be patient and kind,
As we seek to serve You.
Let us spread the seeds of the Kingdom,
Trusting in You that they will grow and flower.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Cloister of Paradise is enclosed by rows and colonnades of Moorish-style, white, slender, interlaced columns (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