After the turmoil and confusion of the last week, this morning was full of light not simply due to the glorious late summer weather, but also the joy of meeting our core Cheltenham parishioners as we come to the end of the Dormition period.
Rather bleary eyed after a week of visiting, we headed from west to east, across the Severn to celebrate the penultimate day of the feast with our brothers and sisters in Gloucestershire.
After a meeting to discuss continuing parish life, we shared a festive lunch and then prayed the akathist to the Mother of God, in honour of her icon the Giver of Reason (Pribavlenie Uma – Прибавление ума), whose feast fell last Sunday.
The parishioners who attended, and those who were unable and sent their apologies, confirmed the very evident truth that the ROCOR parish of the Holy Great Prince Vladimir is alive and well – Praise God!
As well as discussing continuing liturgical and spiritual life, we look to building links between the Cheltenham and Cardiff parishes, something which has hitherto been little encouraged from Gloucestershire. Our Cardiff community will do everything possible to support its brothers and sisters across the Severn, and our Cheltenham parishioners are already encouraging car-shares to Cardiff, whilst we make arrangements for the next service in Cheltenham.
Father Deacon Mark and I are extremely grateful for the warm hospitality we received today, and are greatly heartened by the strength and resilience we encountered.
We earnestly pray for God’s blessing upon the Cheltenham faithful, and praise Him for their steadfastness in the Faith.
Most Holy Mother of God, save us!
Holy Great Prince Vladimir, pray to God for us!
O Most Pure Theotokos, the House that God’s Wisdom has created for Himself, Giver of spiritual gifts, who dost elevate our minds from the world to the spiritual spheres and teach us reason! Accept the prayerful singing of thine unworthy servants, who venerate thee with faith and compunction before thy Most Pure image. Entreat thy Son and our God that He may grant our authorities wisdom and power; our judges truth and justice; our pastors spiritual wisdom, zeal and vigilant guarding of our souls; our mentors humble wisdom; our children obedience, and to all of us the spirit of reason and piety, the spirit of humility and meekness, the spirit of purity and truth. And now, our all-praised and all-loved Mother, increase our intelligence, pacify and unite those in hostility and separation, and give them an unbreakable bond of love; direct all those who have strayed through lack of reason, to the light of Christ’s truth and edify them in fear of God, abstention and love of work; give words of wisdom and knowledge, useful for the souls of those pleading with thee, who art more radiant than the cherubim and more honourable than the seraphim; that we, seeing God’s glorious works and His unfathomable wisdom, in the world and in our lives, shall abandon all earthly vanity and needless earthly concerns, raising our minds and our hearts to the heavens, and with thy protection and help shall glorify, thank and praise God, One in three and Creator of all, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen