30 May 2024

Daily prayer in Ordinary Time 2024:
22, 30 May 2024, Corpus Christi

The Monastery of Chryssoskalitíssa, or the golden step, perched above the Libyan Sea on the south-west tip of Crete, is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The week began with Trinity Sunday (26 May 2024), and during this week after Trinity Sunday, I am illustrating my prayers and reflections with images of six churches, chapels, cathedral or monasteries I know in Greece that are dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

In the calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship, today (30 May 2024) is the feast of the Institution of Holy Communion (Corpus Christi), although this feast is being celebrated next Sunday (2 June 2024) in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford.

Before today begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

3, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

Elafonísi and the crystal clear waters of the lagoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford; click on image for full-screen viewing)

John 6: 51-58 (NRSVUE):

[Jesus said:] 51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever, 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 the ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

The church in the Monastery of Chryssoskalítíssa (Photograph: Chania Vacation)

The Monastery of Chryssoskalítíssa, Elafonisi, Crete:

This week, following Trinity Sunday, I am reflecting on Orthodox churches named after the Holy Trinity. These Trinity reflections continue this morning (30 May 2024) with photographs and images from the Monastery of Chryssoskalítíssa (Μονή Χρυσοσκαλιτίσσας), at the south-west tip of the island of Crete.

The Monastery of Chryssoskalitíssa is perched on rocks above the lagoon of Elafonisi and is 35 metres high, overlooking the Libyan Sea. This monastery once had a community of 200. But like many monasteries in Crete, numbers have dwindled and today there is only one nun and one monk.

The monastery, which dates from the 13th century, is dedicated to the Holy Trinity (Agia Triada) and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (Koimisis Theotokou). But the popular name comes from a local tradition that one step in a set of 98 leading up to the monastery appears as a golden step (chryssí skála) to those who are pure of heart.

The monastery celebrates its feast on 15 August (Δεκαπενταυγουστος, Dekapendavgoustos), It was built during the Venetian era on the site of Saint Nicholas Monastery. Before the first monastery was built, there was another church on the site dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.

It is said the staircase and the golden step were sold to the Turks to pay off taxes demanded by the Sultan. The legend also says that 200 years ago, at Easter 1824, after the massacre of Christians by the Ottomans of Ibrahim Pasha on Elafonísi, Turkish soldiers went to the monastery with plans to plunder the place. At the entrance to the monastery, however, they were attacked by a swarm of bees that saved the monastery from looting.

The church seen today was built in 19th century. The monastery was dissolved in 1894, along with other monasteries on the island, but was re-established in 1940.

During the Nazi occupation of Crete, several resistance fighters were given refuge there. German soldiers expelled the monks and occupied the monastery in 1943. When the Nazi forces left, the monks returned to the monastery.

Elafonísi (Ελαφονήσι, ‘deer island’), also known as the ‘Pearl of the West,’ is a popular destination for day trippers. No buildings are allowed on the lagoon or on the island, which helps to keep the feeling that this is a wilderness away from everything.

The beautiful sandy beaches of Elafonísi and the lagoon are fringed with pink coral sand and the sea and the lagoon have crystal clear waters so that there is a unique feeling of being on a desert island or in a South Seas lagoon while still being in the Mediterranean.

The lagoon is rimmed with sun beds and a small number of beach bars supply drinks and snacks. From the beaches that fringe the lagoon, one can wade knee-deep across to the island, which is a protected nature reserve and where there are no sun beds or beach bars. The further one walks, the quieter this tiny island becomes. At the western end there is a promontory with a small lighthouse, and chapel. Out in the distance is the Libyan Sea.

The Monastery of Chryssoskalítíssa dates from the 13th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Thursday 30 May 2024, Corpus Christi):

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘Renewal and Reconciliation.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with a Programme Update by Rachael Anderson, Senior Communications and Engagement Manager, USPG.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (30 May 2024) invites us to pray:

Lord, thank you that you made all things, and in you, all things hold together. Through your blood, you have brought reconciliation between humanity and God, and you have given us the same ministry of reconciliation. May we work for the peace and restoration of relationships that have become difficult.

The Collect:

Lord Jesus Christ,
we thank you that in this wonderful sacrament
you have given us the memorial of your passion:
grant us so to reverence the sacred mysteries
of your body and blood
that we may know within ourselves
and show forth in our lives
the fruits of your redemption;
for you are alive and reign with the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

All praise to you, our God and Father,
for you have fed us with the bread of heaven
and quenched our thirst from the true vine:
hear our prayer that, being grafted into Christ,
we may grow together in unity
and feast with him in his kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect on the Eve of the Visitation:

Mighty God,
by whose grace Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary
and greeted her as the mother of the Lord:
look with favour on your lowly servants
that, with Mary, we may magnify your holy name
and rejoice to acclaim her Son our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Reflections of Elafonísi in the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition copyright © 2021, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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