14 Jan 2012

15th January 2012 - Solemnity of St Ita in the Diocese of Limerick

This week Sacred Space is staying local to Limerick as we join in the celebrations for the feast of St Ita - Virgin - who is co-patron of the Diocese of Limerick. January 15th is her feast day, and on this weeks show, Michael Keating tells us about this extraordinary woman and her role on the development of the faith. This year St Ita's feast day falls on a Sunday in Ordinary time and as such is elevated to the rank of Solemnity in the Diocese of Limerick. We have a short reflection on the gospel of the solemnity, some celestial guides and local notices.

This weeks podcast is now available HERE.

Solemnity of St Ita (Virgin, Co-patron of the Diocese of Limerick)

St Ita also known as the Brigid of Munster is associated with the parish of Kileedy and is one of the co-patrons of the diocese of Limerick. January 15th is her feast day, and on this weeks show, Michael Keating tells us about this extraordinary woman and her role on the development of the faith. This year St Ita's feast day falls on a Sunday in Ordinary time and as such is elevated to the rank of Solemnity in the Diocese of Limerick.

Along with her life story, we discuss how she is a role model and especially how she is a role model for women.

We discuss her links with Killeedy, her fostering of various Irish saints and her link with St. Brendan the Navigator. We look at her feast day and the 'high mass' in Raheenagh church on Sunday, January 15th followed by a social event in the evening. She is reportedly a good intercessor in terms of pregnancy and eye illnesses.

"St Ita, the patron saint of Killeedy, was born before 484AD in County Waterford, in the Tramore area. Her father was Cennfoelad or Confhaola and her mother was Necta. Cennfoelad was descended from Felim the lawgiver. Ita's name was originally Dorothea or Deirdre. She was a member of the Déisí tribe. Ita refused her father's wish that she should marry a local chieftain, as she believed that she had a calling from God and wanted to become a nun. To convince her father to change his mind, she fasted for three days and three nights. On the third night, God gave out to her father in his sleep. The next morning, Cennfoelad agreed that Ita could do as she wished. At the age of sixteen, Ita set off on her journey. Bishop (St.) Declan of Ardmore conferred the veil on her. Legend has it that Ita was lead to Killeedy by three heavenly lights. The first was at the top of the Galtee mountains, the second on the Mullaghareirk mountains and the third at Cluain Creadhail, which is nowadays Killeedy. Her sister Fiona also went to Killeedy with her and became a member of the community. Ita was welcomed to Killeedy by the local chieftain of the Ui Conaill Gabhra tribe. The chieftain wanted to give Ita a large trait of land but she only wanted a few acres as a garden for her community."
You can read more about St Ita at the Limerick Diocese Heritage site, wikipedia and here and here. Other reading from the blog Under the Oak available here and here.

St Ita of course shares the patronage of the diocese with St Munchin whose feast day was January 3rd and once again we encourage you to invoke the intercession of our two diocesan patrons for the selection and consecration of a new bishop of the diocese of Limerick.
Ever living God,
We rejoice in the life of Saint Ita of Killeedy.
We give you thanks for her powerful intercession and we implore her continual protection. Inspire us by her example to live with joy our calling in life, give us perseverance to serve you all our days;
We make this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, world without end. Amen

Also, check out the blog 4dLord from the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Limerick city which has prayer service for the feast of St Ita . Another suggestion for a service is from the Russian Orthodox community which we came across here.

Two suggested readings from the Office of Readings for the Feast of St Ita

9th Century poem attributed to St Ita

Saint Ita sees Christ come to her in a vision as a baby to be nursed:

It is Little Jesus
who is nursed by me in my little hermitage:
though it be a cleric with treasures,
all is a lie save little Jesus.

The nursing I do in my house
is not the nursing of a base clown:
Jesus with the men of Heaven
under my heart every single night.

Young little Jesus, my eternal good!
to heed him is a cause of forgiveness,
the king who controls all things,
not to beseech Him will cause repentance.

It is Jesus, noble, angelic,
not an unlearned cleric,
who is fostered by me in my little hermitage,
Jesus the son of the Hebrew woman.

Sons of princes, sons of kings,
though they should come into my country,
I should not expect profit from them;
more likely, I think, from Jesukin.

Sing ye a chorus, O maidens,
to Him who has a right to your little tribute,
who sits in his place above,
though little Jesus is at my breast.

SOURCE: The Martyrology of Oengus. translated by Whitley Stokes. London, 1905.

The second is an account from the life (vita) of St Ita which is the suggested second reading from the Office of Readings for the day (Double click on the picture to enlarge).

Gospel - Luke 10: 38-42

A very familiar story is presented to us today from the gospel of St Luke. With any piece of scripture which can be over familiar, it is a prime example of one that we should do lectio on. We should read and reflect on the text, read it a couple of times maybe even out loud for one of those times. We should then go back line by line, reflecting on what arises out of the text. We need to enter dialogue with the scripture, enter in dialogue with God through his inspired word which ultimately leads us deeper into prayer.

The beginning of the piece challenges us on our understanding of welcome. Ireland is supposed to be the country of the welcomes but how do we welcome God into our homes in our fellow human beings? We are all made in the image and likeness of God and like St Ita are we welcoming and open to those around us? Are we truly welcoming to others, especially those who are see as "Other" in the society that we live in be that immigrants, travellers, people who are gay, those suffering from mental illness? Do we only welcome those we are comfortable with?

Then we have the question, do we sit at the feet of the Master? Our contemplatives in the Church are a great powerhouse to the universal Church but there are also those who go apart for an hour or half hour on a regular basis for Eucharistic Adoration. We are a society which is almost afraid of silence and this gospel challenges us to sit in the silence to be open to the promptings of God.  Do we make time, even if it is only 5 minutes in the day to listen and hear to what God has to say to us? Are we actively reading and listening to scripture in our lives and what it has to say to us in our daily existence? It must be a fruitful listening, it is not enough to listen to the word of God but are we using it in our lives?

A very human response arises for Martha. Being the practical one she is rushing around sorting things out for the visitors - chances are Jesus wasn't alone but had the 12 apostles with him. Oddly Martha says to a guest - Jesus - that she needs the help. It stresses the intimacy of the relationship and humanity in it all. And Jesus' response is also a very intimate response. Jesus calls Martha by her name and speaks to her to her heart.

It reminds us that Jesus is always trying to speak to us in our hearts, he is always willing to enter into an intimate relationship with us if we let him. He calls us to imitate Mary and even St Ita to go and sit at his feet to listen to him and then like Martha to go back out into the world to live out our faith in our everyday lives.

Various other reflections on the gospel selection (please bear in mind that some of these selections may be from other times in the liturgical year as this gospel is often heard during Lent).
For those looking for reflections for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Saints of the Week

January 16th - St Fursa (Abbot and missionary)
January 17th - St Anthony of Egypt (Father of Monasticism)
January 19th - St Thecla (Virgin martyr)
January 20th - St Wulston of Worchestor
January 21st - Ss Fabian (Pope, martyr) and Sebastian (Martyr)
January 22nd - St Agnes (Virgin martyr)

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