Dear brothers and sisters,
This is a week of significant celebrations in the life of the Church, having been the feast of the Burial of St Alexander Nevsky on Monday, the Great-Martyr Katherine yesterday, the Leave-Taking of the feast of the Entry of the Mother of God today, and the feast of the Novgorod and Kursk Icons of the Theotokos on Friday.
I particularly hope that our parishioners are taking special notice of the commemorations and feasts on their Advent journey, so that the saints are our companions as we make the spiritual journey to the Lord’s Nativity.
These feasts are all way-side markers, and the lives of the saints and sacred events celebrated point the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.
We journey through this week, having been buoyed and filled with joy by the celebrations of the past weekend, and what a wonderful and grace-filled weekend it was.
Saturday – the feast of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple – saw our student Elliot enter the icy waters of the River Ewenny, in which he was baptised and named in honour of the Holy Hierarch Aldhelm of Sherborne, in his native Dorset.
The newly-enlightened Aldhelm emerged from the river shivering but smiling radiantly, and the late afternoon sun offered a little warmth during his chrismation and tonsure.
The parishioners from our local ROCOR and Romanian parishes who gathered to support him and welcome him into the Church were filled with great joy and heartily sang ‘mnogaya leta’ before heading for a hot meal to celebrate the feast, to warm up, and to spend time together.
Sunday began with Aldhelm’s churching before the Hours and a well-attended Liturgy, with his baptism, first-communion, and his excellent chanting of the Thanksgiving Prayers bringing a very special joy to our service.
We pray for God’s blessing on our newly-enlightened brother, that the Lord may grant him many years!
Later this week, on Friday, we will chant an Advent Moleben before a seasonal reflection in the parish hall at St Mary Butetown, in Greek Church Street, our theme being ‘In the beginning was the Word.’
We will gather at 19:00 and expect that the prayers and Advent reflection will last around an hour, with time for refreshments and a chat. We are extremely grateful to Father Dean for his characteristic warmth and hospitality. I would appreciate a quick email or text from those joining us and look forward to our slightly delayed first Advent gathering. Email: email@example.com
On a similar note, may I ask that those confessing on Saturday and Sunday also get in touch with us. We will be stopping off at Deacon Mark’s office on the way home from our Cheltenham Liturgy on Saturday and will look to begin confessions at 16:00. Please email me by Thursday night, as Friday will be a busy day and I will need to make arrangements for confessions before heading to Cardiff in the late-morning.
In Cheltenham, on Saturday, confessions will be heard from our arrival at 09:15, and we will begin the Hours as close to 10:00 as possible, knowing that there are always lots for confession and communions, which is wonderful, given the recent schismatic-assault against our Gloucestershire community.
Back in Cardiff on Sunday, the Hours and Liturgy will be at the usual time of 11:00, and I must remind parishioners that confessions are BEFORE the Hours, whilst Deacon Mark directs the setting up of the church. Confessions begin at 10:15.
A bring-and-share lunch will follow both of our Liturgies, with the typicon allowing us fish, wine and oil.
I would like to give advance notice that there will be a baptism at 14:00, on Sunday 19th December, and parishioners will need to be mindful of this with regard to post-Liturgy refreshments and food.
May God bless you, and give you good strength, and thank you all for your support over the last few weeks – especially to our ‘baptismal-team’!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark