Dear brothers and sisters,
How wonderful it has been to start the season with some beautiful autumnal days under blue skies and in the September sun (despite the rather wet interludes), and such a day blessed our celebration of the Nativity of the Mother of God in the cathedral, on Thursday.
The altar-feast is always a very welcome occasion on which clergy are united in the celebration of the Liturgy with our bishop, and for those of us who are far from Chiswick and other parishes within the diocese, it is good to come together and share such an important feast.
The Nativity of the Mother of God – and previous to that, the Dormition – is part of the cement that holds the parishes and clergy of a scattered diocese together, and an embodiment of common life in Christ, united around our hierarch.
Our return from London was followed by a busy few days, with confessions in Nazareth House on Friday, and our lovely local pilgrimage to St Illtud Fawr on Saturday – another day blessed by lovely autumn weather, which was made all the more pleasurable by being in the surroundings of the Vale of Glamorgan.
Though we conceived of the day as a rather low-key and ad hoc substitution for Llancarfan, it turned out to be a wonderful occasion, with Father Luke enthusiastically sharing insights on Roman-British Christianity, St Illtud and his great college, the ‘university’ of Wales in the Age of the Saints. Our time in the remarkable church was followed by a moleben to St Illtud in the church yard and a meal in the Old Swan Inn.
We are grateful to Father Luke for sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for this important chapter in the Orthodox legacy of our God-preserved Welsh land, so blessed by places of sanctity and hallowed by the countless men and women who shaped the Church in its early, formative centuries.
Many thanks to Tracy and Menna for their input, and to Rhydian for taking Father Luke and I in his car. Diolch!
Sunday saw the celebration of the after-feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Nazareth House, and the colours of autumn entered the church in the lovely icon adornments, with fragrant herbs and autumn berries, as well as flowers bringing a seasonal offering to the Lord, the Mother of God and the saints.
Again, thanks to our choir for their prayerful chanting, and the return of English as well as Slavonic hymns. I hope that we will see a steady progress in this.
I would also like to express my gratitude to parishioners for making confessions work so well on Sunday mornings, despite the time pressure. Having people ready and waiting to confess at 10:15 has made a vast difference, and rendered it possible to have an hour of confessions before the end of the Hours. Thank you, everyone!
One issue that I must raise is the supervision of children during the Liturgy.
All childen MUST be supervised at all times, and that means that parents/responsible adults MUST be able to see their charges at all times. After several occasions on which children have tried to leave the church via the staircase, I cannot stress this enough.
Looking forward in this week, our plan had been to celebrate the Exultation of the Cross in Cardiff, but I received a message a few days ago to say that the church is not available on Wednesday, due to a funeral.
This has made it necessary to cancel services in Cardiff, and the Divine Liturgy for the feast will now be celebrated in Llanelli, in the Chapel of St David and St Nicholas, at 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli SA14 8LS. The Hours and Liturgy will be celebrated at 10:00.
Thanks to Father Luke for making this possible and to the Partridges who had an unscheduled visit from me today, and supplied prosphora for the celebration.
At the end of the week, I will hear confessions on Friday afternoon/evening, and would appreciate requests by noon on Thursday.
I had planned a prayer discussion session for Friday, but as the following day’s rail strike may already see cancellations of services already on the previous evening, I feel caution must see this postponed until the following week.
The following day – Saturday – as there is a rail strike, I will be unable to travel to Cardiff and hear confessions or celebrate vespers.
I would like to remind that the Cardiff half-marathon will see some road closures on Sunday morning. Please check your journey and allow extra time, if necessary.
We will endeavour to start the Sunday service at 11:00, although the new later Sunday Mass and narrow time-space between services has pushed this to 11:05 thus far. Confessions will be heard from 10:15, at the back of the church. Please enter quietly, as Mass is still being celebrated at that time.
In your prayers, please pray for Thérèse (non-O) Brigid and Liudmilla among the sick and infirm, for Catalin, Nataliya and Galina as they travel abroad, for the newly departed servant of God, Alexey, and for Vladimir, whose anniversary of repose falls at this time.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark