July 2020

Our churches will be reopening, on a phased basis, at the beginning of July! (This is dependent on the Covid-19 pandemic remaining under control so subject to change.) Initially, there will need to be 72 hours between services so there will be no 8.00 a.m. service in the Cathedral until these restrictions are lifted. Please see “Weekly Sunday Reflections” for more information about our opening.

I will continue to provide liturgies (which will be posted on our website and via email), for those who are unable to attend services.

29th June – 20th July (Phase 3)

During this phase, services will be short and about coming together for Morning Prayer or Service of the Word.

21st July – 10th August (Phase 4)

During this phase, as we grow accustomed to new protocols, we will begin having Eucharistic Services again.

Some Thoughts from Lockdown

“In time we will be given the opportunity to either contract around the old version of ourselves and our world—insular, self-interested and tribalistic— or understand the connectedness and commonality of all humans, everywhere. In isolation, we will be presented with our essence—of what we are personally and what we are as a society. We will be asked to decide what we want to preserve about our world and ourselves and what we want to discard.”

When I first read this quotation by singer songwriter Nick Cave I focused on how we individually would be confronted with ourselves in lockdown. As lockdown went on we began to see society and culture, traditions and structures, the holding and withholding of power, also being confronted.

We have been witnessing something immensely important in the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. I wanted to write something about this for The Chapter but in a conversation recently my daughter said wisely that this is our time to shut up and listen—to really listen. So, instead, just a quote from the writer Reni Eddo-Lodge in her book “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race”. The quote emphasises why we need to listen.

“Equality is fine as a transitional demand, but it’s dishonest not to recognise it for what it is—the easy route. There is a difference between saying ‘we want to be included’ and saying ‘we want to reconstruct your exclusive system’. The former is more readily accepted in the mainstream.”

Commission on Ministry
The above quotation has a lot to say about how we ‘do’ community, society and also church. We are often happy to assimilate people and numbers, but become uncomfortable if that requires us to change. We have experienced profound change during lockdown. There are things we do and do not need back. Our goal is not to bolt back to the way we were but to return to communal worship changed by all we have been through and reflected on. The Diocese set up a Commission on Ministry this time last year to think strategically, creatively, prophetically and with vision, as to what church might be in the coming years. We will engage more with this in the future, but do pray for them as they help us reflect on issues discerned before Covid-19 and those that have emerged in these seismic times.

Resilience of Faith Community in Lockdown
It has been difficult but encouraging the last few months. School Boards met by Zoom, the Bible Reading Fellowship met initially on WhatsApp and latterly on Zoom and the Vestry did their work remotely too. The website has carried liturgy, reflections and videos.

Resources have been made available to deepen a personal rhythm of prayer, reading and meditation. We have found encouragement in diverse places across the spectrum of the church and spirituality. Less rooted in a physical structure we have become a bit more rhizomic. I am not a great gardener, but I believe that means ‘underground growth horizontally’! If you are familiar with rhizomes you might like to skip the next paragraph, otherwise this is from ‘Gardening Know How’. gardeningknowhow.com

What is a rhizome? Technically, a rhizome is a stem that grows underground. It usually grows horizontally, just below the soil’s surface. Since it’s a stem, it has nodes and is able to put out other stems, usually straight up and above ground. This means a patch of what looks like several individual plants grouped near each other may actually all be shoots of the same plant, put up by the same rhizome. Rhizomes are also used by the plant to store energy, since they are thicker than above ground stems and under the soil where they are safe from freezing temperatures. Many cold weather perennials have rhizomes, and they use this energy storage to survive underground through the winter.

Instead of being rooted and fixated on one place such as a building, we find horizontal growth in serving the community and being blessed by the depths of spirituality in other traditions. Like the rhizomes, we reach out and connect with others and share nutrients. This is the kind of good thing we need to hold on to and nurture beyond all of this.

Dean Paul

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June 2020

MAJOR FESTIVALS OF THE CHURCH

Ascension Thursday 21st May (Liturgical Colour: White or Gold)

Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus returns to the Father, promising the disciples that they will not be left alone. Dean Beare called it the forgotten festival of the church, because it falls on a Thursday often meant only a handful could/would observe the day together.

A Reflection on Ascension, Mental Health and Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
(Emily Dickinson)

It is no longer the new thing—this social distancing—and the definitive answers to the “new normal” seem hard to see. Signs of hope and hilarious memes, stories and videos have all helped. BUT “let’s name it”, as my esteemed former colleague James Mulhall would say. Some of us are struggling and that is okay. During Mental Health Week the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke about his own struggles with depression. This has been part of my life, too, for many years and for many of you also in different ways. Amidst the hope, support and smiles let us keep space for the conversations about sadness, struggle and loneliness.

Remember Elijah (1 Kings 19) who runs as far as he can and collapses in physical and mental exhaustion. All alone, in the wilderness, he says (in essence) to God that he is “done”. We see as we read, his loss of perspective, physical depletion, poor decisions, introspection and crippling fear.

Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, ‘Get up and eat’. He looked and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. He ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.’

What he encounters here is the remarkable tenderness and compassion of God who meets his need for sustenance and sleep. There is no argument about perspective, no corrective teaching…just nurture and rest. I learnt as a parent, children don’t want an analysis of electrical storms when they hear thunder, they want a hug.

From here, Elijah is able to journey on to Mount Horeb where he encounters God not in earthquake, wind or fire, but in the still small voice, or as an excellent translation puts it…“the silent sound”.

As a young parent, I read a book that introduced me to “separation anxiety”, (which is what affects infants when they cannot see their mother or father, even if they are in the same room). I learnt this when, unannounced, I dived into a ground level pool in a garden and Chloe was distraught thinking I had disappeared, swallowed up by the ground!

Surely the disciples would suffer separation anxiety, as Jesus goes back to the Father. Yet, we hear they returned from that mountain top with joy in their hearts. Why? St Augustine said it best when he pictured the disciples saying “You ascended from before our eyes and we turned back grieving, only to find you in our hearts.”

They now knew the still small voice, the silent sound of his presence. Elijah and the disciples knew hardship and they knew they would face more difficulties and suffering and we will too…but they had heard his voice within; the morning star ascending in their hearts and they felt that thing we know to be so precious—the thing with feathers. Hope.

Dean Paul
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May 2020

Reflecting on Holy Week under Lockdown

As we reflect on the effects of the restrictions in Ireland, we add our prayers for all who have died, are suffering, bereaved and all who are redefining the word “care” for us on the front line of health care. Thank you for all you are doing.

During Holy Week, we thought about the Seven Last Words of Jesus, through short devotions on the website. The third word is when Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son’ and said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’

Martin L Smith SSJE reflecting on this, reminds us that church is not an institution or a structure.

“ … John does not even use the word “church”. It is a communion grounded in the common experience of intimacy with Christ. The new community is not an inward-looking mutual admiration society, but a force field of costly self-giving. In a mysterious sign, the evangelist points to the new home of the beloved disciple as the place where this has happened…”

This quotation moves church into the home and into our inter-relatedness. The current lockdown has taken us there; to the recognition that we are a people given to each other and to the world in the same selfless love that brought us to being. We are instinctively being “church” by expressing our givenness in creative ways and by using our distinctive giftings.

Yes…it was very strange not to be together from Kilmacthomas to Cappoquin and Stradbally to Lismore…and yet we found our togetherness apart. We shared liturgies at home, what was sustaining us and recommended links to choirs and other liturgies.

We leapt forward several centuries (or at least I did) in our use of technology and enabling the website to connect us. We uploaded reflections on the Seven Last Words of Jesus to our website—www.stcarthagescathedral.ie—and posted and e-mailed daily devotions to the Union.

We continued to deliver the Chapter to readers and they were very appreciative, while many read it on-line. We engage with the world church through the Anglican Communion streaming services from different countries each week.

We had hoped to celebrate Easter Sunday in the Cathedral with Bishop Michael yet he is still with us weekly, through his reflections.

We rang the bells at noon most days and also on Good Friday. Special thanks to Eddie

Hanley in Lismore and Marianna Lorenc in Stradbally.

Parishioners were moved by the cross which was placed in the porch of the Cathedral during Holy Week and it was lit by night. Those who walked around and came to see the cross often left flowers.

Many shared they cried at a recording of an Easter reflection and verse of “Thine be the Glory” on Easter Day from the Cathedral…and so we connect, pray and learn to walk again by faith in this uncharted terrain.

I was asked recently in what ways the church might change or evolve after this. I keep returning to this quotation:

In time, we will be given the opportunity to either contract around the old version of ourselves and our world—insular, self-interested and tribalistic—or understand the connectedness and commonality of all humans, everywhere. In isolation, we will be presented with our essence—of what we are personally and what we are as a society. We will be asked to decide what we want to preserve about our world and ourselves and what we want to discard.” Nick Cave

Dean Paul

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A Reflection for Easter V 2020

Some years ago I was reflecting on two different passages of the Bible for two different occasions. One was today’s reading from John 14 – Jesus The Way, The Truth and The Life. The other passage was from Luke 24 – the account of The Emmaus Road. At some point the two reflections became one.

What was striking was to see in the two heavy hearted disciples on the Emmaus Road a “flesh and blood” example of how Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. What is even more striking and even shocking is to see how Jesus does this.

He becomes The Way for them by walking their way.

He becomes The Truth for them by entering into their own truth, their own perceptions and felt experience of the last few days, including the crucifixion.

He becomes for them The Life by entering into their life, their home, and their bruising experience of death and desolation.

In his birth Jesus came to be with us fully.

In his death he entered and took upon himself our hurt, pain, division and loss.

In his resurrection he transfigures our experiences into hope.

When the disciples have talked at great length to the stranger on the road, he then talks with them and helps them see all that has happened and all they are enduring, through the lens of his cross and resurrection. Surely it is then that their hearts begin to warm again, as hope kindles. Later they will confess to each other “Did not our hearts burn within us as he shared with us on the road?”

May we know, and may those at the centre of this Covid-19 Pandemic know, that we do not journey alone, that God holds our experiences and pain, and in Jesus they are transfigured into hope.

So there is Hope, there is a Way forward, there is Truth that sets us free, and there is Life in all its wholeness for all. His name is Jesus and he calls us to walk attentively with him and with each other.

Dean Paul

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AN EASTER REFLECTION 2020

In a poem by Luci Shaw, she sees us as the first disciples who…

“…witness a miracle of fish

dawn-caught after our long night

of empty nets. Handling

his Word, we feel his flesh,

his bones, and hear his voice

calling our early-morning name.”

Clergy may think that people are missing their sermons! So it is good to remember that there were really no sermons in the first Holy Week and Easter.

On Maundy Thursday what does Jesus leave them? He takes water and washes them—an example of deep service. He prays for them to be one and to love one another. These are the sermons every day now. During this pandemic, we are witnessing such depths of selfless service, care and a recovery of deep and humane community. This is what it is to be disciples and indeed how the world will be blessed; not by our buildings, fine words and being right, but by the quality of our relationships…

“see how they love each other…”

…and on resurrection morning and all the appearances following there is no sermon, or workshop on interpreting his resurrection. He encounters people where they are, as they are:

A lonely woman in a garden

A weary and regretful fisherman by a lake

A shattered couple on a long trudge home

Frightened friends hiding in a room

A man full of doubts and questions

In Holy Week Jesus doesn’t give a sermon, He gives himself.

At Easter, there is still no sermon, He just speaks our name, “our early-morning name” where we are. We don’t need the right words, we just need to receive His love, hear His call and live in His risen presence…which is strangely the best sermon of all.

On Good Friday, the curtain of the Temple tore in two and the rocks split. Ranieri Cantalamessa writes that God has nothing against rocks; rather the hardest heart that watches through the passion must break before such forgiving, self-giving love.

On Easter Day, the rocks again shake and the great rock is rolled away. As the hardest heart will yield before the dying Saviour, so the hardest problem, difficulty, place, the immovable hurt, the thing that blocks out the light and pervades a deadening presence… all these are rolled away in the presence of a Risen Saviour, who simply calls our early morning name.

So, we are called back to the most powerful sermon of all—a life of deep service, heartfelt prayer, listening to and staying close to Jesus, cross-shaped sacrificial love and yes…life-changing, resurrection joy.

Caravaggio : Supper at Emmaus

The Emmaus Road is a most wonderful resurrection account. Two people shattered by what has happened walk home, frightened, unsure of what has happened and uncertain about their future. They share together and as they do the risen Jesus walks with them, though as yet they do not recognize him. He listens attentively to them. Ponder that. He listens to them attentively. Then, and only then, he helps them see the events they have gone through by the lens of his cross and resurrection. Their hearts begin to warm and they invite the stranger into their home at Emmaus for the simple fare of bread and wine. As he takes, breaks and blesses the bread and wine to give to them, they recognize that this is Jesus alive.

Caravaggio’s painting startlingly captures the moment of recognition with drama. To the right a disciple flings his arms wide and his left hand nearly comes out of the painting to pull us in. The basket of fruit looks like it will topple into our laps and we feel like pushing it back in. The front of the painting is wide open so that we too are at the table.

We too walk an uncertain path these days and new ways of sharing have been a great blessing. The risen Lord walks with us and enters into our felt experiences, our fears and worries. In our simple acts of kindness and sharing we see him in our midst. As he holds the brokenness of our world our hearts numbed by so much suffering begin to warm again.

May we know this Easter on the journey of our lives, that we have each other, and that the risen Jesus walks with us. May we see the depth of all he endured on the cross, and rejoice in his resurrection, and have our eyes opened to his presence. Pope John Paul II said…

Stay with us, Bread of eternal life, broken and distributed to those at table:
give also to us the strength to show generous solidarity towards the multitudes who are even today suffering and dying from poverty and hunger, decimated by fatal epidemics or devastated by immense natural disasters. By the power of your Resurrection, may they too become sharers in new life. We, the men and women of the third millennium, we too need you, Risen Lord!
…Sustain us, we pray, on our journey. In you do we believe, in you do we hope,
for you alone have the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68). Mane nobiscum, Domine! (Stay with us Lord)
Alleluia!

Dean Paul

Download the MORNING PRAYER EASTER III 2020HERE

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An Easter Reflection 2020

In a poem by Luci Shaw, she sees us as the first disciples who…

“…witness a miracle of fish
dawn-caught after our long night
of empty nets. Handling
his Word, we feel his flesh,
his bones, and hear his voice
calling our early-morning name.”

Clergy may think that people are missing their sermons!

So it is good to remember that there were really no sermons in Holy Week and Easter.
On Maundy Thursday what does Jesus leave them?
He takes water and washes them – an example of deep service.
He prays for them to be one and to be lovers of one another.
These are the sermons every day now. During this pandemic we are witnessing such depths of selfless service and care, and a recovery of deep and humane community.
This is what it is to be disciples and indeed how the world will be blessed; not by our buildings, fine words and being right, but by the quality of our relationships…
”see how they love each other…”

…and on resurrection morning and all the appearances following there is no sermon,
or workshop on interpreting his resurrection.
Just this…he encounters people where they are, as they are

  • A lonely woman in a garden
  • A weary and regretful fisherman by a lake
  • A shattered couple on a long trudge home
  • Frightened friends hiding in a room
  • A man full of doubts and questions

In Holy Week Jesus doesn’t give a sermon he gives himself.
At Easter there is still no sermon, he just speaks our name, “our early-morning name” where we are.
We don’t need the right words, we just need to receive his love and hear his call, and live in his risen presence…which is strangely the best sermon of all.

On Good Friday the curtain of the Temple tore in two and the rocks split. Ranieri Cantalamessa writes that God has nothing against rocks ; rather the hardest heart that watches through the passion must break before such forgiving, self-giving love.

On Easter Day the rocks again shake, and the great rock is rolled away. As the hardest heart will yield before the dying Saviour, so the hardest problem, difficulty, place, the immovable hurt, the thing that blocks out the light and pervades a deadening presence… all these are rolled away in the presence of a Risen Saviour, who simply calls our early morning name.

So we are called back to the most powerful sermon of all – a life of deep service, heartfelt prayer, listening to and staying close to Jesus, cross shaped sacrificial love, and yes…life changing resurrection joy.

Dean Paul

Download the MORNING PRAYER EASTER II 2020HERE

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April 2020

Palm Sunday & Holy Week

Dear Friends, here we stand on the verge of a Holy Week
such as none of us have ever known.
Perhaps that dislocation will help us enter in and integrate ourselves
with the Passion of our Lord  like never before.

Like the disciples we now enter with uncertainty, confusion and concern.

Each day of Holy Week and thereafter I will go to the Cathedral at 11.00
to read the lessons of the day and pray for you and yours,
and all our common humanity. Daft as it may sound I feel that the cathedral is lonely!
At 12.00 the bells will ring as a sign of hope into the quieter streets of Lismore.

Attachments here are for the liturgy for Palm Sunday
and a sermon by Rowan Williams (abridged).
Do sit and reflect on his words,
which seem so pertinent 17 years after this sermon.

From Monday you can go each day to the Union website
www.stcarthagescathedral.ie
and click on a link to a short reflection for each day of Holy Week.

Stay close to Jesus, to each other though apart, stay safe and stay at home.
With love and prayers.

Dean Paul

Download PALM SUNDAY SermonHERE

Download PALM SUNDAY LiturgyHERE

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March 2020

Saint Patrick : An Unlikely Patron Saint?

Patrick was a very hesitant and under confident person.

The following is from Patrick’s own writing.

For this reason I had in mind to write, but hesitated until now; I was afraid of exposing myself to the talk of men, because I have not studied like the others, who thoroughly imbibed law and Sacred Scripture, and never had to change from the language of their childhood days, but were able to make it still more perfect. In our case, what I had to say had to be translated into a tongue foreign to me, as can be easily proved from the savor of my writing, which betrays how little instruction and training I have had in the art of words; for, so says Scripture, by the tongue will be discovered the wise man, and understanding, and knowledge, and the teaching of truth.

Not alone was he hesitant, but he could have rejected this island with its memories of captivity.Yet he was reconciled to his own experiences here, and came back in love with the message of the Gospel. In a land that in our generation has known such animosity and division, he is actually the perfect saint.

“Patrick was a humble man,well aware of his own shortcomings, but he believed that grace is a transforming gift which enables the believer to do great things in God’s service.As our redemption cost Christ his life,Patrick believed that wholeheartedness was the only possible response.”
Lesley Whiteside “The Spirituality of Saint Patrick

So where lay the source of his humility? Again Patrick writes
As a youth, nay, almost as a boy not able to speak, I was taken captive, before I knew what to pursue and what to avoid. Hence today I blush and fear exceedingly to reveal my lack of education; for I am unable to tell my story to those versed in the art of concise writing—in such a way, I mean, as my spirit and mind long to do, and so that the sense of my words expresses what I feel.

But if indeed it had been given to me as it was given to others, then I would not be silent because of my desire of thanksgiving; and if perhaps some people think me arrogant for doing so in spite of my lack of knowledge and my slow tongue, it is, after all, written: The stammering tongues shall quickly learn to speak peace. How much more should we earnestly strive to do this, we, who are, so Scripture says, a letter of Christ for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth, and, though not an eloquent one, yet… written in your hearts, not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God! And again the Spirit witnesses that even rusticity was created by the Highest.

This is a wonderful belief of Patrick that we are letters of Christ. He takes this from the letter to the Corinthians
…and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (II Corinthians 3.3)

We are a walking text – so what do people read there when they are with us?
Could they read hope, solidarity, encouragement… especially in these days.

As the South American proverb goes
…  Don’t tell me what you believe, let me observe you and I will tell you what you believe.

As another saint (Francis of Assisi) said to his students –
Go and proclaim the Gospel, and use words if you have to.

May we who celebrate Saint Patrick today be letters of hope and healing to our wounded and frightened world.

Take care.

Dean Paul

 

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In a world where you can be anything, BE KIND

There is a rise of ‘non listening’ among individuals and society. We are losing the ability to listen–in–depth and as a result there is increasing depersonalisation and a corresponding number of people who feel themselves disenfranchised. This can and does lead to violence, towards oneself and others.” Bill Kirkpatrick

I came across this quotation about a week ago, before the troubling and sad news arrived of Caroline Flack’s death. The depth of her pain and hurt should cause reflection in an age when we can communicate extensively but barely know how to listen, empathise, or even gauge how damaging and toxic our communications have become.

Silence, solitude, attentiveness, repentance, hospitality and selflessness are not arcane Lenten practices; they are what our culture is silently screaming for. Caroline tweeted profound and prophetic words shortly before her death…..

“In a world where you can be anything, BE KIND”

Kathryn and I attended a day last month with Russ Parker on attentive listening. It was challenging but very helpful and we plan to have Russ visit the Cathedral in 2021. The following was written about another day he facilitated.

There is a rise of ‘non listening’ among individuals and society

The importance of listening to one another in the context of our centenary commemorations in Ireland.

Dr Russ Parker (International Ambassador with the Acorn Christian Healing Foundation) is the author of Healing Wounded History. Russ has worked internationally in reconciliation and dialogue. The ‘Acorn’ programmes were adopted as part of the resourcing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and its Director, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, became the president of ‘Acorn’s’ work in that country. Dr Parker recently led a day in Cork entitled The Church as New Acoustic Community: the proactive role of listening in conflict resolution. To set the scene, Russ Parker quoted the author, nurse and priest Bill Kirkpatrick, using the quotation attributed to him in the first paragraph.

Reflecting on the training day in Cork, Russ Parker said: ‘In the midst of a season of sensitive commemorations which have the potential to re–polarise the divisions within a Community we held a day conference to reflect on how the Church of Ireland can offer the gift of listening to all affected by their still wounded history. With the talk of the need for reconciliation between the divided communities we explored how reconciliation requires dialogue and how that dialogue, is impossible, without listening.

Right Reverend Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, added that … “In the context of our centenary commemorations, attentive listening to one another, dialogue and engagement have become more important than ever”. This article was adapted from The Church of Ireland website.

 

Lent

Lent can be “…a time of joy because it is a time for coming home, a period when we can come back to life. It should be a time when we shake off all that is worn and dead in us in order to become able to live and to live with all the vastness, all the depth and all the intensity to which we are called.” (Metropolitan Anthony Bloom)

Lent began with Ash Wednesday on 26th February. At the 10.00 a.m. Wednesday morning Lenten Eucharists in the Cathedral we will be reflecting on T. S. Eliot’s poem ‘Ash Wednesday’ and particularly the lines:

Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood (4th March)
Teach us to care and not to care (11
th March)
Teach us to sit still (18
th March)
Even among these rocks (25
th March)
Our peace in His will (1
st April)

 

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February 2020

Ministry Matters

Sunday 19th January at Evensong in the Cathedral Daniel Fleming was commissioned as a Diocesan Reader. Daniel will now be able to lead Morning and Evening Prayer, The Service of the Word and other liturgies that are not sacramental. This is an exciting moment for Daniel and for the Union, as he joins Brian Dungan as a Reader. Brian has exercised a diligent and fruitful ministry in this capacity since 2012. Indeed the day of Daniel’s commissioning was the 30th anniversary of Winston Boyle being made a Parish Reader. Winston often leads Morning Prayer at Kilmacthomas and Comeragh.

Once a month, I strive to meet with readers and retired clergy to plan services. Again, at Christmas, we saw how blessed we are to have such gifted priests as Revd Jenny Crowley, Canon Herbie Dunwoody and Canon George Cliffe.

Assistant Priest

Canon George Cliffe is now Assistant Priest within the Union, taking services across the Union and doing pastoral work at the Stradbally side. George will also cover for me when I am away. George is much loved and appreciated already for his work among us and this forward step is good for us all.

The Feast of the Presentation 2nd February CANDLEMAS

This day is often thought of as the hinge in the church year when we look back one more time to the birth of Jesus and then turn to look ahead through Lent to his Passion and death. As the Candlemas hymn puts it…

The candles invite us to praise and to pray

when Christmas greets Easter on Candlemas Day.

This day has Simeon and Anna holding the baby Jesus in the Temple as he is presented by his mother and father. They rejoice in his birth and proclaim the salvation he will bring and the suffering he and his parents will undergo. At our Service of the Word in the Cathedral at 11.30 a.m. we will, appropriately, have a baptism as Robin and Elena Turk bring their son Malachy for Holy Baptism.

 

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December 2019

Advent: Waiting

‘And puzzled wakers lie and listen hard To something moving in their minds’ backyard.’

These words appear in a poem by P J Kavanagh called ‘A Blackbird in Fulham’ comparing the eponymous bird with John the Baptist. At our Clergy Conference we were fortunate to have Bishop Stephen Platten as our speaker. A respected writer on Liturgy he gave gentle wisdom and humorous insights. In his most recent book ‘Animating Liturgy’ he refers to mimetic liturgy, a kind of performative liturgy that reveals truth. This seems so true of how we start the liturgical year in Advent. Movement—darkness into light; sharing light; dispelling darkness; stillness; waiting—texts of hope and yearning. These speak first to the sub-conscious before comprehension. Something stirs in the mind’s backyard. May we all stir and be stirred by Advent.

‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded.’

 

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November 2019

Tree Planting & Harvest at the Cathedral

Before the Harvest Liturgy in the Cathedral on 11th October, there was a short tree planting ceremony in thankful memory of Peter Dowd. The tree is appropriately positioned between the spire and the school, reflecting the two places he gave such service to as well as to the wider community. The order of service had these words as an introduction.

Peter served the School, the Cathedral and the whole community over many years. He was Chairperson of the School Board of Management for over a quarter century and oversaw the new building. He was an officer of the Church of Ireland Primary Schools’ Association, a member of Diocesan Council and Synod. He was also churchwarden of the Cathedral during many renovations. In the community he was Mayor of Lismore and an integral part of the flourishing Immrama Festival. He was a colleague and friend to many.

The Trees by Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf Like something almost being said; The recent buds relax and spread, Their greenness is a kind of grief. Is it that they are born again And we grow old? No, they die too, Their yearly trick of looking new Is written down in rings of grain. Yet still the unresting castles thresh In full-grown thickness every May. Last year is dead, they seem to say, Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Bishop Michael was with us. The church was bountifully and beautifully decorated and the choir led us in joyful worship. Bishop Michael spoke about prayer as so aligning ourselves to the will of God, as to rise up and be a part of the answer to that same prayer, particularly in relation to climate change and the environment.

A great supper was held afterwards, followed by the draw for the wonderful quilt made and generously donated by Gwen Roe. This raised €1,800 for the Cathedral Restoration Fund.

As we await the season of Advent (beginning December 1), these words remind us of the glory of the upcoming season:

Advent
This is the season of solitude, when we listen and watch.
We find warmth in the signs of your presence.
This is our season to make room, a time to make ready.
For we shall join in the angels’ chorus. Peace on earth, goodwill to all.

 

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October 2019

Creation Time

The following prayer expresses thanks for the beauty of the world and for its resources, but quickly puts us in a parable with Lazarus at our gates, with no access to those same resources. This year as we give thanks to God, let us also express solidarity in our prayers and giving to those in need. The Harvest collection this year is for Bishops Appeal. Bishop Michael will be in the Cathedral on Friday 11th October, to tell us more about the relief work that they do.

A prayer for solidarity
God of all creation
you have given us the beautiful land.
Teach us to see those who are at our gates,
to act justly so all may come to the table and
to weep for those who perish before they are invited.

Where there is hunger in our world,
may we share our food and resources
and contribute our skills and knowledge
to create a sustainable food supply.

Where there is disaster,
may we respond quickly and generously,
to bring relief to those injured and deprived of homes
and help them to rebuild their lives and communities.

September 2019

Recent Bible readings from the prophets have alerted us to their words against people and nations plundering resources and using inequality as a measure to divide out their extorted gains. How should we enter ‘Creation Time’ and then celebrate Harvest this year? By next year that ‘window of possibility’ (environmentalists are talking about) will look even nearer to being closed. Can our liturgies combine beauty, thanksgiving, urgency and engagement? Can we give a place to prophetic voices this year?

Greta Thunberg sounds like one of the prophetic voices of our times. Speaking to a group of MPs at the Houses of Parliament in London she said:
“We children are not sacrificing our education and our childhood for you to tell us what you consider possible in the society that you have created. You don’t listen because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. We have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us and tell us that you really admire what we do.
We children are doing this to wake the adults up.”

Vocation Sunday

“One day you understood that, without your being aware of it, a ‘yes’ had already been inscribed in your innermost depths. And so you chose to go forward in the footsteps of Christ, a choice no-one can make for another. In silence, in the presence of Christ, you heard him say, ‘Come, follow me; I will give you a place to rest your heart.’ And so you are led to the audacity of a ‘yes’ that lasts until your dying breath. This ‘yes’ leaves you exposed. There is no other way.” No Greater Love (Brother Roger of Taizé)

For every Christian there is the call to follow Christ at the heart of our lives. There may be a particular call, within that, to serve in many different ways. One of these is ordination: to being a particular kind of person, not just doing particular things, as Rowan Williams so succinctly put it. On Sunday 15th September the Church of Ireland is observing a Sunday to reflect on and pray for vocations. At the heart of vocation, Christ does the calling and we pray for attentiveness, over the din of our own lives, to hear him and for the grace to respond.

July/August 2019

Vision
In May, we held an open meeting for anyone interested in the evolving plans for the Cathedral. The work will be extensive and I would very much like to stress two things:

Firstly, the careful planning is to enhance the integral holiness in the DNA of the building and is not an intervention. So many people comment on the stillness and charm of the Cathedral and it does not need us to add to it; just let it be what it is—unhindered. Some alterations will increase the sense of light and space and will be a reversion to what the Cathedral was in its past.

Secondly, while we have to be business-like in our application and in our future planning, the primary motivation remains the glory of God and the blessing of all people. Indeed, the vision is of engagement with a much wider community through spirituality, the arts and to being a place where we can offer retreats, quiet days and diverse artistic events. These are exciting times and much in need of your prayers.

As these notes are being prepared, we are in the season of St Columba, the dove of the Church. His collect expresses beautifully what we might all pray for:

Almighty God, who filled the heart of Columba with the joy of the Holy Spirit and with deep love for those in his care;
may your pilgrim people follow him, strong in faith, sustained by hope,
and one in the love that binds us to you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
from “Exciting Holiness”

© ST. CARTHAGES CATHEDRAL 2020 | Built at Red Heaven Design
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