Irish news – Ash Wednesday

Ashes to Go @CUH; ‘Spiritual Capital’ series in TCD Chapel; Bishop of Down’s Lent message; Bishop of Down’s Lent reading   

Ashes to Go @CUH

Ash Wednesday (13 February) will be observed at the Chapel of Christ the Healer, Cork University Hospital once again by the opportunity for patients, staff and visitors to reflect, pray and to receive ashes as symbols of our penitence and mortality.  At 07:30 and again at 12:00 there will be two short services of reflection and the imposition of ashes for those who wish to receive them as a potent biblical symbol of our brokenness and mortality -themes which illness can bring into a gritty foreground of experience.

Outside these times, there will be reflective music, prayer cards and ash available in the chapel with the invitation for all who wish, to sign themselves with ash at a time that is convenient for them.

Hospital Chaplain Daniel Nuzum says
‘Ashes to go’ provides an open invitation for all in the hospital community to to take some time out for personal reflection and prayer and to avail of the opportunity to receive ashes in the privacy of the beautiful Chapel of Christ the Healer. When all is done we are but dust… in this place of illness, suffering, mystery and healing we take ash to come close to our pain and invite God to meet us, to touch us to heal us.

Ashes to go first started at St John’s Episcopal Church in St Louis,  Missouri, USA in 2007 and is an imaginative way to meet God’s people where they are and to invite reflection, prayer and healing.  For further information please contact Daniel Nuzum at (021) 454 6400 or daniel.nuzum@hse.ie

‘Spiritual Capital’ series in TCD Chapel

This Sunday (17 February) sees the start of this year’s Lenten series in the Chapel of Trinity College Dublin. The series, entitled ‘Spiritual Capital’, will examine Ireland’s social and economic crisis. A group of distinguished visiting speakers will share their thoughts on the spiritual and other values which can best guide us out of our present difficulties.

The series will begin on Sunday 17 February with Mr. Peter Byrne of Christian Aid Ireland, and continues as follows: 24 February, Fr. Sean Healy SMA, Director of Social Justice Ireland; 3 March, Senator Sean Barrett, TCD Economics Department and member of Seanad Éireann; 10 March, Senator Ivana Bacik, TCD Law School and member of Seanad Éireann; 17 March, the Revd Darren McCallig, Dean of Residence and Chaplain and 24 March, Ms. Gina Menzies, Theologian & Lecturer in Medical Ethics.

All of the addresses are in the context of the Church of Ireland Sunday morning Choral Eucharist at 10.45am and all are welcome. Full details of the series as well as recordings of the addresses will be available on the Chaplaincy website: www.tcd.ie/chaplaincy

Bishop of Down’s Lent message

Bishop Harold Miller – Here we go again: Lent begins for another year, and most of us arrive at the gate to Lent without having really thought through how we might approach it. Having said that, Fasting is (dare I use the word) kosher again. Why? Because of the popularity of ‘The Fast Diet’ It’s on the TV, in the Radio Times, the Daily Mail, and lots of other places, and at least one person in this house (nameless) is on it.

But the key factor is this: We are now being told what we should have known all along: Fasting is good for you! The reality is that we don’t need three meals every day to survive and our muscles will not waste away if we don’t have them. The Church of Ireland has always believed that Fridays and the forty days of Lent are to be observed as days of abstinence and denial. Isn’t it weird that the world is telling the church that fasting is good for us. It should be the other way around.

I suggest we all do a bit of fasting this Lent, and if we are on the Fast Diet, that we pray while we are fasting. Not to make us feel better, or just to lose weight, or even to save money, but the kind of fasting where we open ourselves to God, spend time with him, and, without the comfort of food, come face to face with ourselves in his presence. That is the kind of fasting which will transform us and our churches to be the presence of the Lord in the world of today.

Have a happy, serious and life–changing Lent. Start now!

Bishop of Down’s Lent reading

I was asked a couple of weeks ago, by the Diocesan Communications Officer, if there was a book I would like to recommend to the Christians of Down and Dromore for their Lenten reading and study. To be honest, it felt like one of those questions: ‘What is your favourite song, food, team, holiday resort! – the kind of question to which I never have an immediate answer. But today it became clear. There is a book, in fact three books, I would love everyone to at least begin reading, and my choice may be surprising, because their author is Joseph Ratzinger: Pope Benedict XVI, who is to resign his office very shortly –news which has surprised most of us, because no pope has ever left his role other than through death in the last six hundred years.

I simply thank the Lord that he gave Benedict the time and faculties to finish his trilogy Jesus of Nazareth. In all honesty when I read the first part of this trilogy, I felt I had never in my entire life read anything so inspiring about the life of Jesus. It was insightful, beautifully written (and translated), deep, and came from the pen of one who truly knows and loves the Lord. What a wonderful thing it would be here in Northern Ireland where there is so much misunderstanding and ignorance about what we believe between protestants and catholics, if we were to take time to read at least some of Benedict’s work on the Lord we have in common, the one we all declare to be the incarnate Son of God.

These books will be a major part of the legacy of Benedict XVI. People will cherish them, come to faith through them, and have their love of Christ rekindled as they meditate on them. What better legacy can there be than that?