The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

As announced in church on Sunday, the Great Canon of St Andrew is being chanted in Llanelli on the first four evenings of this week in the Chapel of St David and St Nicholas at 19:00.

Additionally, through the good offices of Father Dean and Georgina, we will chant Great Compline with the Great Canon in the church of St Mary Butetown on Wednesday and Thursday, at 19:00.

On Friday, we will continue our catechesis sessions for learners and ‘refreshers’, preceded by a moleben to St Theodore and the blessing of Kolyva. As on past Fridays, this will be in the parish room at St Mary’s at 19:00.

Saturday, being the second of the month, sees us head to Cheltenham to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, with confessions from 09:15 and the Hours at 10:00, followed by Liturgy as soon as confessions have finished. Location: United Reformed Church, Deep Street, Cheltenham. GL52 3AW.

Will all requiring confessions email me by Thursday please, with Thursday and Friday giving opportunity for confession, and Saturday, if needed? Any Cardiff parishioners heading to Cheltenham may confess there, after Liturgy, in preparation for Sunday.

With Sunday being the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, may I ask you all to bring an icon, so that we may make a procession / krestny khod around the church, at the end of Liturgy (weather permitting) to celebrate the restoration of the holy icons in 843.

Services will be in St John’s at the usual time, with confessions from 10:15, and the Hours and Liturgy at 11:00. As we will be celebrating the longer Liturgy of St Basil, it is important that we seek to avoid delay. We understand that those coming distances are unable to confess during the week, which makes it imperative that local parishioners confess before Sunday morning.

During Great Lent, priority will be given to those travelling from outside Wales; those travelling from West Wales; and those who have no possibility of weekday or Saturday confessions.

Please communicate with the clergy, so that we are able to make arrangements so that nobody is excluded.

The last notice is the reminder that the Wonderworking Kursk-Root Icon will be making a brief but very welcome visit to Cardiff on Friday 18th March, with a moleben being celebrated in St John’s at 19:00. We will hold a moleben in Cheltenham the following morning, before the Cardiff clergy take the icon to Telford. The visit may be short, but what a joy it will be to honour the Mother of God by receiving her grace-filled icon.

Now, for the head-masterish Lenten bit:

  • All should be following the Lenten Fast, whether communing or not, and not following a regimen of their own making. If there are personal obstacles to fasting, they need to be discussed with the priest or spiritual father.
  • If the fast has been broken this MUST be confessed. There is no self-absolution.
  • Before communing, the Sunday Fast is to be TOTAL, unless blessed to be otherwise for whatever reason. Despite the late hour of Liturgy and communion, this includes drinking. Again, if there is a problem, talk to the clergy, who are sympathetic and realistic. Again, self-given dispensations are to be avoided, and the usual one is simply defeatism, human weakness, and a self-justified ‘need’.
  • The Divine Liturgy, is not a ‘drive-by’ event, and unless living at a distance, those communing should be part of the week-by-week life of the Church. If you are local and have not been attending for some time, it is necessary to become part of the worshipping community again before a blessing to receive the Holy Mysteries will be given. This is not intended for our parishioners travelling from England, some of whom cannot make the journey too often, but for those on the doorstep.
  • According to our fasting traditions, we do not simply turn to sea-food as a Lenten larder. Octopus stew, lobster, crab and tiger prawns are hardly ascetical – whatever may be thought in Mediterranean climes about creatures lacking back-bones This may be normal elsewhere in the Orthodox world, but apart from Lazarus Saturday when ikra/caviar is permitted, and fish on the feast of the Annunciation and Palm Sunday – our Lenten diet should be VEGAN. For those with good reason, economia is applied, but this is given by the Church, not by self-determination and self-dispensation.
  • Olive oil and wine are permitted on weekends as a consolation with which we celebrate the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.
  • Rather than having forty days of dietary substitution (potentially expensive), adults should all be eating as simply and as little as little as possible, unless this is not appropriate due to personal circumstances.
  • Instead of spending lots of money on substitute foods in the health-food shop or ‘free-from’ aisle of the supermarket, eat cabbage, kasha and potatoes and give the money to support homeless and destitute refugees.
  • But remember… it is far more important to pray more than eat less! Without this being a season of spiritual struggle and prayer, dietary fasting will have no meaning.

Wishing you all a good struggle during the season.

Forgive me a sinner, for Christ’s sake.

May God bless you all!

Hieromonk Mark

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