Dear brothers and sisters,
After a wonderful pilgrimage to Capel-y-ffin and Llanthony, yesterday, Mid-Lent was celebrated in the parish today with the Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Life-Giving Cross, just days after we gathered before the Cross to chant the akathist to the Lord’s Passion, as we will again after Thursday confessions.
As expected, Mothering Sunday dented service attendance, though one of our trustees confirmed that there were still around forty souls gathered for Liturgy. We venerated the Cross at the end of the service, and express our profound thanks to matushka Alla for the floral frame in which it was placed. Spasi Gospodi!
Thanks also go to our choir, reduced to three voices today by commitments and illness, and to our oltarniky. Young Stefan served his tenth Liturgy this morning, and given his confidence and knowledge, it is hard to believe that he has only served for two and a half months.
We rejoice that when we next celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we will have three newly-enlightened members of the parish and partakers of the Holy Mysteries, after the baptism of Dan, Mo, and Germaine on Saturday afternoon – and look forward to welcoming them to the chalice of the Holy Mysteries by their baptismal names of Patrick, Brigid and Mary. Please pray for them as they approach the mystery of Holy Baptism and Chrismation, and as they prepare to for confession and communion of the Lord’s Holy and Life-Giving Body and Blood.
Today brought the joyful news that another of our students wishes to be admitted to the catechumenate in the next few weeks, after faithful attendance in both the Cardiff parish and its Cheltenham mission. Glory to God!
It was very interesting to talk with brothers of the parish in a local café regarding the place of Father Seraphim (Rose) of Platina in the spiritual journeys of those coming to Holy Orthodoxy, and – interestingly – of the spiritual characteristics of the communities encountered that frown upon their parishioners reading his works: in a word, renovationsist and modernist pick-and-mix parishes that don’t really make sense to those seeking traditional, patristic Orthodoxy. I am heartened to hear of the traditional spiritual reading of our parishioners – with a good appreciation of the Holy Fathers, including those of the 19th and 20th centuries like St Ignaty Brianchaninov, St Theophan the Recluse and St Paisios the New. I have also been struck by the appreciation of the lives of the Holy Fools among the brothers of our parish – and as a great admirer of the yurodivy, I am very pleased by this.
After Liturgy, I was glad to see that our oltarnik, Oswald, continues to gain parish support for his icon stall, having ensured I left with an icon of St Gerasimos and the lion. His icons are now sold by White Horse Wares, from whom we have bought excellent candles and gifts – https://whitehorsewares.co.uk
Looking ahead to this week, confessions will be held late on Thursday afternoon, and due to the commitments of some of our parishioners we will chant Compline and the Akathist to the Passion of the Saviour at the later time of 19:00.
Given the worsening situation of the persecuted Church in Ukraine, I would like to draw parishioners’ attention to the open letter written by His Grace, Bishop Irenei, which may be found on the diocesan webpage (in English and Russian):
All of our parishioners are called upon to redouble their prayers for the suffering Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and for the Brotherhood of the Kiev-Caves Lavra in particular. The clergy of the diocese will serve molebny for the Lavra Brotherhood on 29th March, the day the state-persecutors have set as the deadline for the monks to vacate the Lavra.
I will post the canons to the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev-Caves Lavra on our Facebook page, so that parishioners may pray them for the sake of the persecuted brotherhood.
As mentioned, Saturday afternoon will see the baptism of Dan, Mo and Germaine. We will gather in St Nicholas at 14:00 and anyone wishing to attend should email me for details.
Next Sunday celebrates the memory of St John of the Ladder, with our celebration commencing with the Hours at 10:40, followed by the Divine Liturgy. The variables for the service may be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1O4cW5PW9eIeDfGGD5ZAJj5XOtTB20yEU/view
Having discussed Holy Week with Sister Anna, I will publish service details in the next few days.
May God bless you all, and give you strength for the second half of the Great Fast. If things have flagged a bit, take encouragement from this Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross to regain momentum and spiritual direction.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark