Sunday, 15 August 2021

Sunday intercessions on
15 August 2021, Trinity XI

‘He provides food for those who fear him’ (Psalm 111: 5) … bread on a shop shelf in Powerscourt, Co Wicklow (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Let us pray:

‘I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart’ (Psalm 111: 1)

Heavenly Father,
we pray for the nations of the world,
and for all who live in fear and hunger for mercy, peace and justice.

We pray for the people of Greece and Turkey,
suffering in devastating fires …
We pray for the people of Aghanistan …
and we pray for all nations suffering because of
climate change, famine, poverty, violence, racism and oppression.

We pray for Ireland, north and south,
We give thanks for all who are responding
to the pandemic crisis …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever’ (John 6: 51):

Lord Jesus Christ,
we pray for the Church,
that we may be faithful in the ministry of word and sacrament,
and in response to the spiritual and physical hunger of the world.

We pray for our Bishop, Kenneth, as he prepares to retire,
we pray for 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 Anglican Church of Southern Africa,
and the Primate, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town.

In the Church of Ireland this month,
we pray for the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough
and Archbishop Michael Jackson.

In the Diocesan Cycle of Prayer,
we pray for the Shinrone Group of Parishes,
their priest, Canon Charles McCarthy,
and the congregations of Saint Mary’s Shinrone,
Aghancon, Saint Finnian’s, Kinnity, and Dunkerrin.

We pray too for our own parishes and people …
and we pray for ourselves …

Christ have mercy,
Christ have mercy.

‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalm 111: 10):

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 …
we pray for all on holidays …
and we pray for those we promised to pray for …

We pray for Sarah and Brian, who were married yesterday …

We prayer for those preparing for baptism,
and for ordination:
Jean Kearney, ordained in Killaloe this weekend …
Leonard Madden and Barbara Buckley, to be ordained in coming weeks …

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

We pray for families where children, partners and those who are vulnerable
suffer violence, abuse or neglect …

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

Ruby … Ann … Daphne … Sylvia …
Ajay … Adam … Pat … Trixie …

We pray for all who grieve and mourn at this time …
for all who are broken-hearted,
including the Killick, Gilliard and Blennerhassett families …
We remember and give thanks for those who have died …
giving thanks for the lives of Gill Killick … Arthur Gilliard …
Yvonne Blennerhassett … Beth Mayes …
May their memories be a blessing …

Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

The Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) in its Prayer Diary this morning, the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, invites us to pray:

‘For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness
And praise to spring up before all nations’.
Creator God, may we care for your creation
And pray for justice worldwide.

Merciful Father …

The Sacramental theme in the Discourse on the Bread of Life reflected in an image in Saint Luke’s Episcopal Cathedral, Orlando (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Finding life and wisdom
in the way we respond
to the needs of the poor

‘Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever’ (John 6: 51) … bread on sale in a shop in Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday, 15 August 2021, the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XI).

9.30 a.m.: Morning Prayer, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

11.30 a.m.: Parish Eucharist, Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert).

Readings: I Kings 2: 10-12, 3: 3-14; Psalm 111; John 6: 51-58

There is a link to the readings HERE.

Holy Wisdom as the mother of Hope (left), Faith (centre) and Love (right) … a fresco in a church in Rethymnon, Crete, by the iconographer Alexandra Kaouki

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

In our readings this morning, we are asked to consider where we find wisdom, and we are reminded that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.’

But the purpose of wisdom, which Solomon asks for alone, is so that good and evil can be distinguished, especially when it comes to the needs of the people.

In recent weeks, we have been reading some difficult stories about King David. In this morning’s first reading, (I Kings 2: 10-12, 3: 3-14), David has died and is buried in Jerusalem.

God appears to Solomon in a dream. Solomon realises he is dependent on God, and asks not for long life or riches, or the lives of his enemies, but for the gift of wisdom or an ‘understanding mind.’ God grants this request, and then adds on riches and honours, and also promises long life if Solomon follows God’s ways.

The alternative reading (Proverbs 9: 1-6) presents a personification of Wisdom as Lady Wisdom, who invites the unwise or ‘simple’ to her banquet (verses 1-6).

OOur Psalm tells us God ‘provides food for those who fear him,’ and that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalm 111: 5, 10).

So, what has all this to do with our Gospel reading (John 6: 51-58)?

After feeding the multitude, Christ describes himself as ‘the living bread’ (verse 51). He has told them, not just once, but three times, ‘I am the bread of life’ (John 6: 35), ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven’ (verse 41), and again, ‘I am the bread of life’ (verse 48).

Now he says: ‘I am the living bread’ (verse 51).

These are emphatic declarations. In this Gospel, Jesus says ‘I am’ 45 times. But he uses this particular way of saying ‘I am’ 24 times. He says ‘I AM,’ ἐγώ εἰμί (ego eimi), explicitly including the Greek pronoun ‘I’ (ἐγώ, ego). This is odd in Greek grammar at the time. It is as though Jesus is saying ‘I I AM.’

In the Hebrew Bible, the meaning of God’s name is closely related to the emphatic statement ‘I AM’ (see Exodus 3: 14; 6: 2; Deuteronomy 32: 39; Isaiah 43: 25; 48: 12; 51: 12; etc.). The ‘I AM’ in these accounts and the ‘I AM’ of Saint John’s Gospel is the God who creates us, who communicates with us, who gives himself to us, who feeds us in the wilderness places.

But what does it mean to acknowledge Christ as ‘the bread of life’?

We had a wedding in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, yesterday (14 August 2021). But another wedding I was at recently was celebrated within the context of the Eucharist or the Holy Communion.

In his sermon, the priest compared God’s self-giving to us in Christ’s body as an expression of God’s deepest love for us with the way in which a couple getting married give themselves bodily to each other … the most intimate loving action to be shown to each other.

Of course, for the love of God and the love of one another are inseparable.

One of the great Cappadocian Fathers, Saint Basil the Great (329-379), is known for his challenging social values. He wrote:

‘The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.’

Christian life must be nourished in our sacramental practice, but our sacramental practice must inspire and feed our practice of Christianity. Doctrine and belief must be related to how we live our lives as Christians.

Some years ago, I stayed in Saint Matthew’s Vicarage in Westminster, where Bishop Frank Weston (1871-1924) is said to have written a key, influential speech.

Frank Weston held together in a creative combination his incarnational and sacramental theology with his radical social concerns, and these formed the keynote of his address to the Anglo-Catholic Congress in 1923.

He believed that the sacramental focus gave a reality to Christ’s presence and power that nothing else could. ‘The one thing England,’ we could say Ireland here, ‘needs to learn is that Christ is in and amid matter, God in flesh, God in sacrament.’

And so he concluded: ‘But I say to you, and I say it with all the earnestness that I have, if you are prepared to fight for the right of adoring Jesus in His Blessed Sacrament, then, when you come out from before your tabernacles, you must walk with Christ, mystically present in you through the streets of this country, and find the same Christ in the peoples of your cities and villages. You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the tabernacle, if you do not pity Jesus in the slums … It is folly – it is madness – to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the Sacraments and Jesus on the throne of glory, when you are sweating him in the souls and bodies of his children.’

He declared: ‘Go out and look for Jesus in the ragged, in the naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope, in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus. And when you see him, gird yourselves with his towel and try to wash their feet.’

Something similar was said in a letter in The Tablet some years ago [4 August 2018] by Derek P Reeve, a retired parish priest in Portsmouth: ‘The … Lord whom we receive at the Eucharist is the one whom we go out to serve, and, dare I say it, to adore in our neighbour …’

So sacramental life, and accepting Christ as the ‘Bread of Life’ are wonderful concepts in my faith and in my Christian discipleship. But they are meaningless unless I live this out in the way I try to care for those who are hungry, suffering and marginalised.

And that, for me is a very concise understanding of the wisdom of God and its impact on my life.

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

Limited visiting hours at the Cave of Wisdom in Crete … but where do we find wisdom? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 6: 51-58 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 51 ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 53 So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’

The memorial in Saint Matthew’s Church, Westminster, to the former curate, Bishop Frank Weston (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Liturgical Colour: Green (Ordinary Time, Year B)

The Collect:

O God,
you declare your almighty power
most chiefly in showing mercy and pity:
Mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace,
that we, running the way of your commandments,
may receive your gracious promises,
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect of the Word:

Everliving God,
your Son, Jesus Christ, gave himself as living bread
for the life of the world:
give us such a knowledge of his presence
that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life
to serve you continually;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post-Communion Prayer:

Lord of all mercy,
we your faithful people have celebrated
the memorial of that single sacrifice
which takes away our sins and brings pardon and peace.
By our communion
keep us firm on the foundation of the gospel
and preserve us from all sin;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

‘I am the bread of life’ (Hymn 420) … bread in a Greek baker’s window (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hymns:

581, I, the Lord of sea and sky (CD 49)
420, ‘I am the bread of life’ (CD 49)

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:
78, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church,
Whitefriar Street, Dublin

The Augier Street entrance to the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel … there has been a Carmelite presence in Dublin since the 1270s (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, and, in many traditions, the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated by many in the West as the Assumption and in the East as the Dormition.

Later this morning, I am leading Morning Prayer in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, and presiding and preaching at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin (Tarbert), Co Kerry.

But, before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. 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 USPG prayer diary.

My theme this week is churches in the Carmelite tradition, and my photographs this morning (15 August 2021) are from the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, known as ‘Whitefriar Street Church’ and facing onto Aungier Street in Dublin.

Inside the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Whitefriar Street and Aungier Street, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Whitefriar Street Church is one of two Carmelite churches in inner-city Dublin run by the Carmelites: the other is Saint Teresa’s Church in Clarendon Street, near Grafton Street, and they represent two separate Carmelite traditions, the Order of Carmelites and the Order of Discalced Carmelites. The Carmelites also run Terenure College, and there are many Carmelite houses and Carmelite-run parishes throughout Ireland.

Whitefriar Street Church is noted for holding the relics of Saint Valentine, donated to the church in the 19th century by Pope Gregory XVI from the cemetery of Saint Hippolytus in Rome. The church also holds relics of Saint Albert, a Sicilian who died in 1306 (feast day, 7 August), and a life-size oak figure known as ‘Our Lady of Dublin.’

The first Carmelites arrived in Ireland five years later in 1279, when they founded a friary at Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow. The Carmelite friars have been a presence in one of the oldest parts of Dublin city since the 1270s. Sir Robert Bagot, chief justice of the King’s Bench, built them a house in Saint Peter’s parish on the south side of the walled city. He had bought a portion of land in what is now Whitefriar Street from the Cistercian Abbey in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow. The Irish Parliament met at the ‘Whitefriars’ in Dublin in 1333.

By 1500, there were 25 Carmelite monasteries in Ireland. Whitefriars Street Church stands on the site of a pre-Reformation Carmelite priory in Dublin built in 1539.

A number of the friars in Ireland and England, including provincials, supported the reforms introduced in the reign of Henry VIII. At the Reformation, the Whitefriars’ priory in Dublin was surrendered on 3 August 1539. Perhaps the most notable and the most detested of the Carmelite friars in Ireland was John Bale (1495-1563), who was Bishop of Ossory for seven months in 1553.

The Carmelites returned to Dublin soon after the Reformation, and in the early 17th century they had a house in Cook Street. By 1728, they were in Ashe Street, and they then moved to French Street (later Upper Mercer Street) and built a chapel nearby in Cuffe Lane in 1806.

They opened their first school in Longford Street in 1822 and moved to Whitefriar Street in 1824-1825 when the long, narrow site was acquired by the Prior, Father John Spratt.

The church was designed by Sir George Papworth, who also designed Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Dublin. The foundation stone of the new church was laid in 1826, and the church was consecrated in 1827.

The flower-crowned skull of Saint Valentine is kept in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. When some relics were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina near Rome in 1836, they were identified with Saint Valentine. They were then placed in a casket, and brought in a procession to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and to people in love.

That same year, the Prior, Father John Spratt, was in Rome where he preached a popular and acclaimed sermon in the famous Jesuit church, the Gesu. Following his sermon, Pope Gregory XVI gave him a gift of the remains of Saint Valentine and ‘a small vessel tinged with his blood.’

When the Reliquary with Saint Valentine’s remains arrived in Dublin on 10 November 1836, they were brought in a solemn procession to the Carmelite Church in Whitefriar Street, where they were met by Archbishop Murray.

The church opened and was extended and enlarged in 1844, in 1859 by JJ McCarthy, in 1868, and in 1951 by JJ Robinson. It was originally oriented on the traditional liturgical east-west axis. In work that began in 1951, the entrance was moved from Whitefriars Street to Aungier Street, the High Altar was moved to the west end, and the interior was reversed, with a new entrance and its landmark Calvary facing out onto Aungier Street.

For many years, the relics of Saint Valentine were placed in storage. But during the renovations of the church in the 1950s and the 1960s, they were given a new place in the church, and a special altar and shrine were built for them. A statue carved by Irene Broe shows Saint Valentine in the red vestments of a martyr and holding a crocus in his hand.

The statue of ‘Our Lady of Dublin’ is said have stood originally in Saint Mary’s Abbey, Dublin. There is a persistent legend that the golden crown was removed from the statue to crown Lambert Simnel as Edward VI in Dublin in 1487.

The stained-glass windows in the church include work by Michael Dunne (Saint Nuno Alvarez), Leo Earley (Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Christ Child Enthroned), Willie Earley (Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and the Madonna and Child with Saint Therese), and Kevin Kelly (the Risen Christ).

Inside Whitefriar Street Church … facing the original liturgical east end (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

John 6: 51-58 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 51 ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 53 So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’

The shrine of Saint Valentine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (15 August 2021) invites us to pray:

‘For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness
And praise to spring up before all nations’.
Creator God, may we care for your creation
And pray for justice worldwide.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The shrine of ‘Our Lady of Dublin’ …. today is Feast of the Assumption or the Dormition (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

A window depicting Saint John of the Cross (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)