Dear brothers and sisters,
Yesterday, we were blessed by a sun bathed Liturgy in the morning, with our extended celebration of the feast of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God – the first celebration of the altar feast since before the misery of covid and lockdown.
We were pleased to have Deacon Mark back, after serving in Sanremo, last weekend, Nazareth House being quite a contrast to the pre-revolutionary splendour on the Italian Riviera. We were also glad to welcome Father Luke and three of the brothers from Llanelli.
Our lack of facilities limited this autumn feast, though we look forward to keeping the summer feast as our main celebration in future. In the past, the dynamics of our parish, and the summer exodus to Russia and Ukraine made sense of the focus on the autumn feast, but the changing membership of our parish and the change in people’s travel habits makes it time to change.
The café across the road was certainly lively with our takeover in lieu of trapeza, and we were pleased that Emma and her staff reserved the large tables for us. It was wonderful to have such a large gathering, with so many conversations over drinks and food. Thanks to Deacon Mark for juggling so many different orders and looking after everyone, especially our students and young people.
Thanks also to our singers, servers, and flower arrangers, and to all who facilitated a quick set up and put away. I think we have to accept that the situation is NOT going to improve regarding time pressures, and starting on time is now incumbent on our quicker and more streamlined set-up after the end of mass.
I have greatly enjoyed time with our students, this evening – this having become a fixture of Sundays, and I hope that in future we may add to our numbers.
Thank you to all who have contributed to the collection for our suffering monastics and their pupils in Bethany. Their plight is miserable – with only periodic electricity, and paucity of supplies, whilst living under siege and facing great danger from the Israeli security forces by simply going out into the street. We thank Masha for her communications with Mother Mary of the Russian Orthodox Convent and School, in Bethany, and also for organising a Sisterhood on-line prayer meeting for all who are suffering in the present conflict in the Holy Land.
Masha and Ed will be giving a concert in St John’s Church, Canton, on Wednesday 13 December, and we will advertise this, with a programme in the next week. We very much hope that as many people as possible may attend, bringing friends to support this worthy cause.
This week will be relatively quiet after a very busy few weeks.
Wednesday (the feast of St Demetrius) will see the usual mid-week service in the Chapel of St David and St Nicholas, in Llanelli (11 New Rd, Dafen, Carms SA14 8LS)
I shall hear confessions on Thursday, and though I advertised vespers, we will in fact chant a moleben to the Holy Great-Martyr Demetrios and St Nestor of Thessalonica at 16:00 – hopefully with some of our young brothers assisting. Emails requesting confessions by noon on Wednesday, please. I will be free to hear confessions before and after the service.
On Friday, our parish book club will meet in the Wenvoe Arms, Old Port Road, Wenvoe, CF5 6AN, and will be discussing the second of St Philaret of Moscow’s Sermons on the Spiritual Life, available on Amazon:
Saturday sees our Cheltenham November Liturgy for the feast of the Virgin-Martyr Anastasia the Roman at Prestbury URC Church, Deep St, Cheltenham GL52 3AW. I will hear confessions from 09:15 with the Hours at 10:00, followed by the Divine Liturgy as soon as confessions are completed. After, the Liturgy, we will have our usual bring-and-share lunch, welcoming everyone around the parish table.
I am pleased to confirm the parish pilgrimage to the Church of St Lazar in Birmingham’s Bournville Village on Saturday 25th November, where we will participate in Liturgy in the beautiful Serbian Orthodox Church, and venerate the Trojeručica Hilandarska icon of the Mother of God. The Liturgy commences at 09:00. As Tracy, our pilgrimage coordinator is busy in her new home, may I ask anyone interested to email me. As usual, we will do our best to try and sort lifts for non-drivers.
With the Nativity Fast beginning at the end of the month, I would encourage everyone to prepare some spiritual reading materials in advance.
Finally – your prayers are asked for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed handmaiden of God Photina. Memory Eternal!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark