Holy Week Parish News

As the Lord went to His voluntary Passion, He said to His apostles on the way: “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed, as it is written of Him.” Come, then, and let us also journey with Him, purified in mind; let us be crucified with Him and die for His sake to the pleasures of this life, that we may also live with Him and hear Him say: “No longer do I ascend to the earthly Jerusalem to suffer, but I ascend to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God; and I shall raise you up to the Jerusalem on High in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings as we begin Holy Week, after our Palm Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Entry into Jerusalem, with many of the faithful confessing and communing.

Yesterday’s feast followed the joyful celebration of the Lazarus Saturday, celebrated in St Nicholas with the Liturgy and Ambrose’s baptism, with the Lazarus’s rising setting the scene for the Saviour’s entry into Jerusalem, to the acclaim of the crowds who had heard the wondrous news that he – already dead for four days – had been called forth from the tomb, and had risen from the dead, as we heard in the beautiful sequence “Rejoice, O Bethany”, chanted at the end of the Liturgy: 

“Rejoice, rejoice, O Bethany! On this day God came to thee, God came to thee; and in Him the dead are made alive, as is right for He is the Life!

When Martha went to receive Him, grieving loudly with bitter tears, bitter tears, she poured out the sorrow of her heart to Him, with great sadness, wailing her lament.

She at once cried out unto Him, “My most compassionate Lord! My Lord! At the great loss of my brother Lazarus my heart is broken, help me!

Jesus said to her, “Cease thy weeping, cease thy grieving and sad lament, sad lament; for thy brother, My most beloved friend Lazarus, very soon will live again! He will live again!

Then He, the faithful Redeemer, made His way unto the tomb, unto the tomb, where He cried unto him who was buried four days, calling him forth, saying, “Lazarus, arise! Lazarus, arise!

Come with haste, ye two sisters, and behold a wondrous thing, wondrous thing, for thy brother from the tomb has returned to life. To the beloved Redeemer now give thanks! Now give thanks!

To Thee, O Lord of creation, we kneel down in reverence profound, reverence profound; for all we who are dead in sin; in Thee, O Jesus, are made alive!

Rejoice, rejoice, O Bethany! On this day God came to thee, God came to thee; and in Him the dead are made alive, as is right for He is the Life! He is the Life!

Lazarus’s rising was, of course, a foretaste of the resurrection, as was the baptism, but the baptism was more than this, as the initiation into the Saviour’s death and resurrection, which – though only a few days on from the raising of Lazarus – was yet to be accomplished to seal the promise of the life of the age to come and the Paschal Mystery.

We now enter this week of solemn commemoration of the saving acts of the Saviour’s Passion, culminating in the Resurrection form the Life-Giving Tomb, through which we are called to follow the repentant thief into Paradise.

After our weekend in Cardiff, due to our ongoing lack of local worship space, the services of Great and Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Liturgy of Great and Holy Thursday are in Llanelli, where matins is celebrated at 19:00 each evening, and where the Holy Thursday Liturgy will be celebrated on Thursday morning at 10:00.

From Thursday evening the following services will be celebrated in Cardiff:

2nd May – Holy Thursday evening: Service of the Twelve Gospels, 19:00 in St Mary’s Butetown, NOT St John’s

3rd May – Holy Friday afternoon: Vespers and the bringing out of the winding-sheet, 16:00 in St John’s, Canton

3rd May – Holy Friday evening: Matins of Holy Saturday – Burial service of the Lord, 19:00 in St John’s, Canton

4th May – Holy Saturday: Midnight Office, 23:30, St John’s, Canton – immediately followed by…

5th May – Sunday of Pascha: midnight 00:00 Paschal matins and Divine Liturgy, followed by blessing of Paschal foods and Paschal Breakfast

5th May – Sunday of Pascha: Paschal Vespers, 12:30, St John’s, Canton

Food baskets will be blessed after the Paschal Liturgy and before/after the Paschal vespers, as required.

As we have some parishioners who are unable to travel to Cardiff during the night of Pascha, I will administer Holy Communion after the Paschal Hours in St John’s on Sunday morning, with the Hours at 11:00. This will allow a chance to sit and have a cup of tea before vespers.

As was blessed last year, those who confessed before last weekend’s services are blessed to receive Holy Communion at the Paschal Liturgy. I will hear confessions before Thursday evening’s services, between the Friday services and before the Paschal night services.

With regard to the service of Pascha night, even though we finish at a late hour, we still need to clear the church, even though we will return the next day, so may I please remind everyone able to help that your assistance is very much needed. We will all be tired, but we still have t pack away!

Those who are able to stay after the night Liturgy are invited to bring food to share as we break the fast and enjoy the Lord’s bounty, after more than forty days of abstinence. I know that this is not the norm in most places in Eastern or Balkan Europe, but it is most certainly is in parishes in western Europe, where parishioners often also share food after Paschal Vespers on Sunday afternoon – even if only kulich, paskha, eggs and cheese. Simplicity is good!

Kulichy, are still on sale before and after services, priced at £6, as a fund-raiser for our parish.

Lest us all remain steadfast in this week, and if we have been slack or negligent, use this week to prepare for the commemoration of the Lord’s Passion through fasting and prayer, immersing ourselves in the saving events of the last week of the Saviour’s pre-resurrectional earthly life.

Good strength!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

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