His thoughts on Belfast’s need for mercy and healing are appropriate at this time – and lead me to ask whether mercy is needed if healing is to begin?
Fr Magill also references a 2008 paper on the peace walls by Tony Macaulay, which I’ve tracked down on the CAIN website but have not yet read.
Back to St Anne’s Cathedral for Worship
For two reasons, I chose to return to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit within St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast for worship at 8am on Sunday 11 August.
Firstly, I was keen to worship in a church near scenes of mayhem and rioting that had affected the city on Friday evening.
Secondly, owing to the annual lecture in the parish, the early morning liturgy suited my timetable.
As I drove along Royal Avenue on this quiet Sunday morning, I saw no evidence of the events of Friday night. I suppose Belfast has over the years much experience of having to recover from all the suffering inflicted on the city. As I drove to St Anne’s Cathedral, I recalled some words which I attribute to the Dean of St Anne’s:
Belfast is “a city of healing and in need of healing”.
The worship was led by Rev Paul Twomey and it was the congregation which made the experience very intimate and poignant. We followed the second form of Holy Communion with the scriptures taken from the Common Lectionary from the letter to the Hebrews chapter 11 and the Gospel passage from Luke 12:35-40. There was no sermon at the service. I had to follow the words of the Book of Common Prayer very carefully as I responded as the words at times were very similar to the Roman Missal within my own denomination.
I have a particular fondness for the words of one of the prayers of penitence and the response of the congregation:
“Lord have mercy on us, and write these your laws in our hearts”.
Afterwards I enjoyed a chat with Paul and hearing about some of his experiences. I was especially interested in some of the cross community work he had been doing.
He referred to a paper which the author Tony Macaulay wrote in 2008 called “A Process for Removing Interface Barriers. A discussion paper proposing a five phase process for the removal of ‘peace walls’ in Northern Ireland”.
I’m wondering what has happened to this paper and how it can help in creating a new Belfast?