Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Eucharist and Wedding Renewal

Eucharist and Wedding Renewal in Glendalough 7.15.12 On Sunday, Cathy, Chad, Jana, Kris, Robbie, and I celebrated the Mass in the ruins of St. Mary’s Chapel, just outside the monastery walls. The tiny chapel, twelve feet wide by thirty feet long, was probably built in the early 10th or 11th Century. The grounds surrounding the church were filled with small cross headstones and graves three feet in length. This was the church where unbaptized babies and children were brought for burial. Nuns or female priests were the only clergy serving the grieving families at St. Mary’s. The families of the unbaptized were sent to St. Mary’s because the Roman Church told them their unbaptized children could not be buried in consecrated ground, in other words, their children were not Christians, and their eternal resting place was in perilous question. Admittedly, it is impossible for me to image that the Church could turn away a parent holding her dead child in her arms, telling her the child of her womb could not be buried in consecrated ground. We decided to celebrate Sunday morning Mass in the ruins of this chapel to revere the work of those female priests and to celebrate the blessings of our own children. I brought my mother’s green hanky and used it as the corporal for the Eucharist. Her presence, now gone in the physical sense, is always with me in the spirit. She would have loved being with us in the misty joy of the Irish morning gathered around a stone altar in a thousand year-old ruin. I poured wine into a plastic cup and the freshly baked brown communion bread had been a part of the morning’s breakfast. We chanted the psalm, heard the gospel, prayed for the people, and shared a sign of peace. The Spirit, the lush green scenery, the land of Ireland, our walk, inspired the Eucharistic prayer. Then we wandered through the cemetery and the monastery ruins. We took pictures, wondered about the stories of the people buried under foot, and tried to imagine living in the sixth century. From the monastery we walked two kilometers up to the Lake of the Angels where Saint Kevin resided in his aesthetic cell hone out of rock ten feet above the water. On the opposite side of the lake from the monk’s cell we found a spot by the lake that I was familiar with from previous visits. Saint Kevin’s cell is off limits, so in order to see it you have to know what you are looking for and the only vantage point is the opposite side of the lake. We had to hike down a fifty-foot slippery trail to a lakeside stone, which jutted out into the lake waters about ten feet. The large stone was a perfect place from which to see the cell. My intention when leaving home was to find this special spot from my past. And I had brought rosaries for just this moment. From here, I was able to lie down on the stone, lean over its edge and dip our rosaries into the revered lake. It was here on the stone by the Lake of the Angels that Kris and Robbie decided to renew their wedding vows. Part of their pilgrimage to Ireland was the opportunity to share an intimate moment of renewal with each other and with friends in this land of mystical passion. To conclude the ritual, I tied the couple’s wrist together with a rosary rope that had been blessed at Eucharist and ‘baptized’ in the lake. It was a joyous and teary moment for the participants and the witnesses. I am on this pilgrimage to discern what the Spirit is saying. This morning the Spirit was speaking clearly into my soul that my calling as priest is stronger than ever. But how that ministry looks continues to evolve. My dream last night had me making a sign that read, “Called to Walk the Wicklow Way.” So, I am on the next leg of the pilgrimage, down the path towards Glenmalure.

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