This week Fr Martin Magill attended an early morning service at St Anne’s Cathedral for his ecumenical tithing. Once again the issue of (un)shared Eucharist/communion comes up. This is something that is often glossed over in ecumenical discussions or grassroots work ‘on the ground,’ but the restrictions on communion among Christians remain a source of pain for many.
Ecumenical Tithing in St Anne’s Cathedral
I worshipped this week in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit which is located on the left hand side of the building close to the door. Each of the stained glass windows in the chapel has a representation of the Holy Spirit whilst the ceiling has a particularly stunning mosaic.
Each Sunday morning, the Eucharist is celebrated at 8 am which suited my timetable. As I drove to the cathedral, there was a lovely sense of peace at that time of the morning, as the city was beginning to awaken. Inside the cathedral chapel, there was a serene atmosphere, whilst the quiet hum of the occasional car passing by outside on a sunny Belfast morning added to the serenity of the moment. We were small in number but the presence of a Polish participant at the World Police and Fire Games brought a special dimension to the service.
We followed the second form of Holy Communion which was celebrated by the Dean, Rev John Mann. For the scriptures, I was pleased that the Dean read from the Common Lectionary and I heard again the passage from St Paul’s Letter to the Colossians 3:1-5. 9-11 and the Gospel passage from Luke 12:13-21. There was no sermon at the service. I was especially taken by the way in which Dean Mann followed the template for intercessions from the Book of Common Prayer (2004) but extended these to make them more topical and localised. As well as praying for the diocese of Connor, he prayed also for a number of Church Of Ireland parishes in the area, most of which were very familiar to me. On the international level, we prayed for a variety of countries with a particular focus on South Africa and the diocese of Pretoria.
Once again, when it came to Holy Communion, I observed my denominational discipline though I have to say I find considerable poignancy in the words of the prayer from the service: “We being many are one body, for we all share in the one bread”!!!
After the service, I had the opportunity to talk to the Dean and to hear his vision for St Anne’s Cathedral as a place of prayer where the liturgy is celebrated very well. Now that evening prayer during the week has been moved to 5.30pm, I certainly plan to come along when I’m in the city and free at that time.