Here we are at the end of another busy weekend of services and fellowship in Cheltenham and Cardiff, having been blessed to hear confessions, serve the Liturgy, enjoy meals with parishioners and to spend plenty of time with our students and young people.
Yesterday was a long one, but we were very glad to have been able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy for the Parental Saturday, also offering a panikhida for “the souls of all our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters who from the ages have fallen asleep in the true faith, and in hope of resurrection and life eternal…”, especially remembering the newly-departed priests Stephen and John, the warrior Ioann, and Viktoria, who was laid to rest on Friday.
As usual, we shared a sociable and joyful trapeza before a local house-blessing and a visit to All Saints, Pittville, to collect parish belongings remaining since we last worshipped there in summer 2021. It was lovely to see Father Robert, who will be moving to the parish of St Agnes, Kennington, in April.
The need to set up the chapel at Nazareth House and an hour and a half of confessions saw a stop-off in Cardiff, finally arriving home fourteen hours after the morning departure – fifteen for Father Deacon Mark, for whom the driving on such a long day and in such awful weather must have been tiring and challenging.
Praise God that we see such dedication and such a profound understanding of diakonia – driving, setting up the church, leading the kliros as our usual singers were away, putting everything away again, more driving, setting up another church, and yet even more driving. And then… we started again today!
Such dedication and labour is indicative of the character of the clergy and idea of service in our diocese. We most certainly do not become clergy in ROCOR for an easy, comfortable life, with regularity, and routine, or with a sense of entitlement – especially given that all but three of us in the British part of the diocese have secular work in addition to serving parishes! Or clergy live to serve, however tiring and challenging that service might be.
How blessed we are!
Today was blessed with the Hours and Liturgy for the Sunday of St Gregory Palamas in Nazareth House, and we were pleased to welcome new visitors as well as returning visitors who have discovered us in the last few weeks. Trapeza allowed friendly social interaction, and the chance to welcome new faces, and social time was extended when a group of us made our way to the nearest café, enjoying time together, with much musical talk between some of our musicians, largely about traditional chant systems – and we have so much musical expertise within the community!
I was very pleased that our oltarnik Oswald’s icon-stall continues to receive lots of support from parishioners, and was very glad that my ordered “Weep Not For Me O Mother” was ready, as well as wonderful icons of St Brigid being added to those on sale.
This week will see confessions on Thursday, before compline at 18:00, and I would like those needing to confess to email me by 12:00 on Wednesday.
Saturday will see our pilgrimage to Capel-y-ffin slightly higher up the valley of the Honddu from the site of St David’s Celtic foundation at Llanthony. We will assemble there at 10:30 to set up for the Hours and Liturgy at 11:00. It looks like we will fill the little church, given the numbers who have indicated their intention to join us.
We are very grateful to Fr Richard for the warm hospitality extended to us in allowing the use of Little St Mary’s at Capel-y-ffin, and hope to visit to St Mary’s Church in Hay-on-Wye, part of the same ministry area to which Capel-y-ffin belongs, as well as enjoying the bookshops and cafés.
Unbelievably, Sunday will mark the middle of Lent, with the Veneration of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, and the following weekend will be a baptismal one, when we will welcome Dan, Mo and Germaine into the Church – thanks be to God!
Many thanks to all who made the weekend’s celebrations so joyful and warm, especially our singers – who have started preparing for Pascha – and our parish sisters who fed so many people, and also supported the clergy with food. It was a joy to share some of this with students this evening – with Serbian cooking going down very well!
I pray that you will maintain the impetus of the Great Fast, and continue to struggle for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
May God bless you all.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark