It was wonderful to celebrate the Nativity of the Forerunner with the Divine Liturgy in the church of St Mary Butetown this morning.
We were enveloped in great peace, as a few of us gathered at the nave altar, with the beautiful simplicity of two-voices singing prayerfully and quietly on the kliros.
The Liturgy was punctuated only by the mewing of sea-gulls and children’s voices from the school playground, and the church was bathed in summer sun, reflected on the holy vessels and icons.
Following the Liturgy, we enjoyed a simple lunch in the parish room, celebrating our starosta’s nameday, happy that Father Dean could join us for a short time in his very busy day. We thank him for his generosity and open-door to the parish.
We were greatly blessed to make a local pilgrimage to the Oratorian Church yesterday, serving a moleben before the shrine and relics of St Alban, before venerating a portion of the relics and having refreshments in the parish hall. We are grateful to the Oratorians for their limitless generosity, making this and so many other activities possible.
We look forward to our Divine Liturgy for the Nativity of St John the Forerunner, on Thursday, when we will serve the Liturgy in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Butetown, at 10:30. Those attending are invited to bring refreshments to share after the Liturgy, with fish, wine and oil being permitted for the feast.
On Friday, our catechesis, our group will meet in the parish room at St Mary, Butetown, at 19:00, continuing our study of the Holy Mysteries.
Confessions will also be heard before catechesis, and those requiring confession (unless already discussed) are asked to email me as soon as possible and no longer than Thursday lunchtime (14:00) – firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to take this opportunity to tell parishioners that, despite being told that we would be able to return to the chapel of Nazareth House imminently, sadly, there has been NO answer to the invited email requesting this. I have discussed the matter with the Oratorian Fathers, as chaplains to the house, and will be exploring an alternative channel of communication.
Those of you who have been at Liturgy over the past few weeks will be aware of the unsociable behaviour of certain locals who have taken advantage of the goodwill and generosity of the parish, not only behaving in a threatening way that has worried and alarmed our parishioners, but also raising serious concerns surrounding security and safeguarding.
Also, there have been problems with smoking (by these individuals) in the church porch during the Liturgy, and parishioners are feeling increasingly uncomfortable entering and exiting church.
Given that our parish has children and vulnerable adults and, following recent problems surrounding the fabric of a building that is NOT ours, we must consider the well-being of our parishioners, the security of the church, and the security of the Liturgy, itself.
We ask that parishioners arrive for the Liturgy on time, as the church doors will be closed early in the Liturgy, and parishioners arriving late may have to wait for the door to be answered to gain access.
Parishioners are beginning to feel threatened in church, and we must do everything possible to make everyone feel safe and secure. This means taking measures that we would not usually wish to take, or even envisage.
The Sunday Hours commence at 11:00, fillowed by the Divine Liturgy and I pray that we will have a quiet celebration without disruption.
Our profound thanks go the Very Revd Father Sebastian Jones Cong.Orat., and the brethren of the Cardiff Oratory, for their characteristic warmth and hospitality in welcoming a small group of parishioners to the Oratory Church of St Alban on the Moors, this afternoon.
We were privileged to pray at the shrine of St Alban, offering a moleben before his sacred relics and icon, venerating the Protmartyr’s relics, then chatting over refreshments in the parish hall.
It was just over a year ago, in June 2021, that the portion of St Alban’s relics in the Oratory Church were presented and enshrined by the Abbot of St Michael’s Benedictine Abbey in Farnborough, which is blessed with one of the Protomartyrs thigh-bones, saved during the reformation, and evacuated to the continent to escape desecration and destruction.
Since the Oratorian Fathers were granted the parish of St Alban on the Moors, and especially since they were replaced as University chaplains (with the resultant Orthodox exodus from Newman Hall), we have been continually blessed to have the use of the Oratory Church for confessions and shrine-prayers.
Troparion, Tone 3: With faith, piety and devotion let us hasten to the sacred shrine of the wondrous martyr Alban, the first in Britain to shed his blood for Christ the Lord, for Whom he willingly laid down his life; and let us pray that through his supplications our souls may find mercy and salvation.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Kontakion, Tone 2: Imbued with courage and bravery from on high, the glorious martyr Alban stood undaunted before the tyrant and boldly confessed Christ as the only God of all; and he utterly refused to offer sacrifice to false deities. Wherefore, having laid down his life for the Lord, he maketh earnest entreaty in behalf of our souls.
As we celebrate the feast of the Venerable hermitess, Melangell, we send our greetings to Pennant Melangell where Melangell (Menna) is celebrating her nameday on pilgriamge just a matter of days after her baptism, and to Mother Melangell in Walsingham.
We pray that the Lord may grant them many years, and we wish them a joyful and grace-filled feast.
Venerable Mother, Melangell, pray to God for us!
Troparion, Tone 8: Preferring the rigours of monasticism to worldly status and marriage, 0 pious Melangell, though wast fifteen years on a rock, emulating the example of the Syrian Stylites. Wherefore, 0 Saint, pray to God that He will give us strength to serve Him as He wills, that we may be found worthy of His great mercy.
Kontakion, Tone 4: Praise, glory and honour are thy due, 0 righteous Melangell, for in consecrating thy virginity to Christ, thou didst give us a model of Christian living. Wherefore we who keep thy festival pray for grace to amend our lives according to thy example, glorifying God in every word and deed.
Having celebrated a joyful and well attended Ascension day Liturgy in the church of St Mary the Virgin, in Butetown, it was a wonderful to sustain the feast with the baptism of Melangell (Menna), in St Nicholas.
A short distance from the medieval parish church, in the garden of what was once the church hall, the trees sheltered us from both sun and wind, as the baptismal waters were blessed; as Melangell was anointed with the oil of the catechumens before her immersion in the baptismal waters; and her chrismation and tonsure.
It was an occasion of great joy and celebration, followed by a baptismal tea – with a Welsh-Sicilian ‘baptismal-cake’ – then a musical interlude in the house, where Melangell played the harp, and Aldhelm entertained with traditional Dorset dance tunes on the accordion – including a specially composed Dorset jig for the occasion… though we were content to tap our feet and continue drinking tea, rather than responding in a more energetic fashion.
We thank Melangell for her great hospitality and the warmth with which all were welcomed in St Nicholas, and likewise thank the congregation, who in services and the catechism group, have welcomed Melangell into the community with equal warmth and generosity.
May the Lord grant the newly enlightened handmaiden of God, Melangell, many years!
Christ is Risen! Христосвоскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστόςἀνέστη!
Sunday brought us the double joy of celebrating the Samaritan woman – St Photini/Svetlana – and the translation of the relics of St Nicholas from Myra to Bari. I was very happy to be able to preach on the Samaritan woman, in addition to celebrating the great Wonderworker in a festal moleben, with the faithful being anointed with manna from the relics of St Nicholas in the basilica in Bari.
During the moleben, we prayed for Daniel and Katherine, who were crowned in holy matrimony by Daniel’s priestly father on Sunday afternoon in the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church of St Nicholas the Wonderworker (Moscow Patriarchate) in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. We pray for a blessed marriage and ‘many years’, to the newlyweds and their families – especially to Father Seraphim and matushka Solomonia. What a blessing for the newlyweds to be crowned in a temple dedicated to St Nicholas on his Spring Feast.
Later, on Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak to those recently confirmed in the Anglican ministry area, and tell them a little about the Orthodox Church, also taking the opportunity to talk with the Anglican clergy about parish life in the wake of the arrival of refugees from Ukraine.
This coming Sunday is the Sunday of the Blind Man, and we will celebrate the Hours and Liturgy at the usual time of 11:00, with our customary bring-and-share-lunch after the service.
The variable parts of the Liturgy may be found at Orthodox Austin, as usual:
Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!
I have been very fortunate to make a pilgrimage to Walsingham for a few days, celebrating the altar-feast of the Orthodox chapel of the Life-Giving Spring.
The Mother of God appeared to Richeldis (Rychold), Lady of the Manor of Walsingham in the 11th century, commanding her to build a replica of the original Holy House of Nazareth, later dismantled and rebuilt in Loreto, in Italy, after the Islamic conquest of the Holy Land.
The great shrine and priory, which developed around the chapel of the Holy House was endowed through royal patronage and was renowned throughout Europe, but despite its sanctity and fame it fell victim to the ravages of the reformation and the destruction of the holy places by King Henry VIII and his henchmen.
The 19th century saw the restoration of Roman Catholic pilgrimage to Walsingham, based in the Slipper Chapel, and the 20th century saw the restoration of Anglican religious life around a newly built Holy House and shrine complex.
The founder of the restored Anglican shrine, Father Alfred Hope Paten, was encouraged to engage with the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile by Father Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, vicar of St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge, who had travelled in Russia before the revolution, visiting holy places and holding theological discussions with some of the leading churchmen of the time. Despite his advanced Papalist Anglo-Catholicism, he was a great admirer of Orthodoxy and a friend and supporter of the exiled faithful, including the first hierarch of the Church in Exile, Metropolitan Antoniy of Kiev and Galych.
The Orthodox presence in the shrine has been developed over the years by a series of remarkable Orthodox figures, including Archimandrite Nicholas Gibbes (former tutor to the Tsarevich Alexei), Archbishop Nestor of Kamchatka, Archbishop Sava of Grodno, St Nikolai Velimirovich, Archbishop Nikodem, and the pioneer of iconography of British saints, Archimandrite David.
Our diocese and its clergy have been involved in spiritual life here since the earliest years of the Anglican shrine, when emigré Russians made pilgrimages to this corner of Norfolk to honour the Mother of God.
The intended free-standing Russian Orthodox chapel was never built, but the little chapel in use since 1941 and consecrated by Archbishop Sava on the Sunday of Pentecost in 1944, remains a place of Orthodox prayer and worship, occupying a landing on above the south aisle of the Anglican shrine church.
Now that Father Philip Steer is unable to serve in the chapel of the Life-Giving Spring, the Orthodox presence is maintained by Mother Melangell, who has a house-skete in the village. There is a Russian-tradition parish of the Patriarchate of Constantinople a short distance away, based in the Church of the Transfiguration in Great Walsingham, and the former monastic-brotherhood church of St Seraphim survives, though sadly bereft of services for most of the year.
We are greatly blessed that Orthodox prayer is offered in Walsingham EVERY day, even if the Liturgy is not celebrated in the shrine very often.
It is a joy to celebrate and pray in the shrine, especially in the evenings, when the church is quiet. The Holy House, dedicated to the Annunciation and built to replace that destroyed by the reformers of the 16th century is a special place to pray the akathist hymn to the Mother of God.
There were many intentions for which to pray during the short pilgrimage, and the culmination of this prayer was our Liturgy for the feast of the Mother of God, the Life-Giving Spring, a short distance from her holy well within the shrine-church.
It was a privilege to be with our local friends, including parishioners from Walsingham, Cambridge and Norwich, to meet local supporters of the Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow, and to share a Paschal lunch in the orangery after the Liturgy – welcoming two Ukrainian pilgrims who visited that day, not knowing that there would be an Orthodox presence.
We very much look forward to returning in the summer and autumn, knowing that the Mother of God continues to pour out her grace on this shrine and the many pilgrims who honour her in England’s Nazareth.
A very joyful Lazarus Saturday – Лазарева суббота to you all.
As we celebrate the rising of Lazarus, we look forward to baptising our catechumen George, in the sea at Watch House bay, in Barry, at 18:00 this evening. We would have liked to have done so in the morning, but the tide dictates the hour of his baptism, which will follow Palm Sunday vespers.
Having celebrated Lazarus’s resurrection from his four-day tomb, we rejoice that on this day, George will be baptised into the Saviour’s death and resurrection, and will celebrate the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem by receiving the same Lord, Himself, in the communion of His Most Holy and Precious Body and His Most Holy and Life-Giving Blood.
Looking forward tomorrow, I would like to remind you of a tradition that has been followed by our Church Abroad from it’s earliest days in the emigration:
Following pre-Revolutionary tradition and supported by the founders of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and their successors, parishes across the ROCOR will be making plate collections on Palm Sunday to benefit the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem.
Следуя дореволюционной традиции, поддерживаемой основоположниками Русской Зарубежной Церкви и их преемниками, во всех ее храмах и монастырях в праздник Вербного воскресенья будут проводиться тарелочные сборы на нужды Русской Духовной Миссии в Иерусалиме (РДМ).
Also, any offerings towards the cost of Holy Week and Pascha flowers may be given to Deacon Mark.