Dear brothers and sisters,
It’s always lovely to enjoy the silence of the convent church on a Monday morning, with the smell of Sunday Liturgy’s incense still filling the church, and Sunday’s flowers adorning the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God – especially when the sun is streaming through the stained glass windows. There is always a great sense of peace and holiness after the Liturgy. After the business of a long Sunday, it’s good to do cleaning and tidying and to have the chance to pray in silence and do the little things that always need doing – “gwnewch y pethau bychain”, as St David continues to remind us, through the centuries!
Yesterday’s Liturgy came at the end of a busy week, which started with a gathering of Wessex parishioners in Chippenham, where we had some voice coaching and singing practice, nurturing new voices for our kliros, and practicing English language chants – as was reflected in yesterday’s Liturgy. Many thanks to Masha and Neil for their hospitality, especially as they had only arrived home from their holiday in the small hours of the morning.
I was also able to meet parishioners on Tuesday and discuss mission, outreach and Liturgy for our growing number of Wessex parishioners who continue to come from further and further from South Wales.
Thank you to all all who provided transport and sustenance whilst I was in Somerset and Wiltshire. Your generosity and kindness is greatly appreciated.
Friday saw confessions and preparation for Saturday’s pilgrimage to Llancarfan, and I know that Tracy – our pilgrimage coordinator – had a very busy few days.
The following morning, everything needed for Liturgy was packed into the back of Menna’s Land Rover, and four of the young men of the parish into Tracy’s camper van – both vehicles being a great asset when we go on pilgrimage.
It was an honour and blessing to celebrate the Liturgy for the Saturday of St Demetrios in such an ancient monastic sanctuary, where Slavonic has probably only echoed in the church once before – on our last visit! We were surprised by the chanting of the cherubic hymn to an early chant melody – and in Latin – transposed by Aldhelm as an offering for the occasion:
“Qui cherubin mystice imitamur et vivifice trinitati ter sanctum ẏmnum offerimus. Omnem nunc mundanam deponamus sollicitudinem. Sicuti regem omnium suscepturi. Cui ab angelicis invisibiliter ministratur ordinibus. Alleluia!”
At the end of the Liturgy, a panikhida was celebrated in memory of all of the faithful departed “from ages past”, with the blessing of kolyvo, and we then enjoyed a pilgrimage-lunch in the Fox and Hounds, for which we are very grateful for Tracy’s labours in chasing parishioners with menus and arranging the table and lunch coices with the proprietors.
Lunch was followed by a moleben to St Teilo, before our short journey back to Cardiff.
A thankyou to everyone who made this latest pilgrimage such a lovely occasion and success. As Tracy observed (and I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting her), “Yesterday’s pilgrimage was just delightful. The church, liturgy, lunch, the company, Llancarfan village etc. All 9 pilgrimages to date have been so varied and different.” The variety of our pilgrimages has been striking, and we hope that next month will see an urban pilgrimage to “Lazarica” – the beautiful Serbian Orthodox Church of St Lazar in Birmingham, to venerate the Hilandarska Trojeručica icon of the Mother of God. This will be in the second half of November and we are currently fixing the date.
Despite half-term and quite a few parishioners away, we still had about forty adults, plus children, for Sunday’s Liturgy, with friends from far and wide, including an increased Wessex contingent.
Again, Mass was long and allowed very little time to set up before Liturgy, with the Hours starting a little late. Thank you to all who we ready to set up church in Deacon Mark’s absence. Under Hierodeacon Avraamy’s direction, our brothers were very efficient, and we now look forward to their liturgical involvement, bringing a return to a team of half a dozen or so oltarniky for the Liturgy. This will be a relief, and we await Deacon Mark’s very capable and exact direction and supervision of our young brothers in the sanctuary.
It was good to have English language chants during the Liturgy and we know that we have British parishioners who wish to join the choir to contribute to this, with a willingness to learn our Slavonic chants, as well.
As most parishioners were unable to be at Saturday’s service, we served a litia for the faithful departed after the dismissal of the Liturgy, with the blessing of kolyvo, which was shared after the service. We prayed especially for the newly-departed Reader David and Aleksey, and ask your prayers for their repose. Memory Eternal!
By the end of Liturgy, Deacon Mark had sent photos and video clips from San Remo, where he was blessed to serve in the beautiful 19th century church, observing how warm and welcoming the community is, with Fr Dionisiy gliding between Slavonic, Romanian and English. It’s always good when we build connections between the parishes of our vast diocese.
Next Saturday sees the Feast of the Kazan Icon, though we will translate the celebration to Sunday morning. This is the first time we will be celebrating the feast without either kitchen or trapeza, though space has been reserved for us in the café across the road, so that we might at least have social time, a drink and bite to eat, with the hope that our students and unwaged will be “looked after” by those of us who are in the position to treat them.
Given our lack of facilities, from next year, we will keep the parish feast on the SUMMER feast of the Kazan Icon, allowing for a parish picnic.
Despite translating the celebration to Sunday, Great Vespers for the feast will still be celebrated on Friday, at 17:00, and I will hear confessions before and after the service. Please email me by noon on Wednesday in order to arrange.
Following Friday confessions, we will have a talk on liturgical prayer in the home, and how lay people can pray the vast majority of the services of the Church without a priest, as has been done in many places where clergy are few and far between – including the Soviet Period, when the clergy had been imprisoned or killed. Given the vast catchment area of our parish, the knowledge of services according to the lay order is very valuable and practical. Some of our young brothers are quite well versed in the performance services according to the lay order, and it will be very useful for as many parishioners as possible to gain this knowledge, especially those who have to travel great distances to services in Cardiff.
With the beginning of British Winter Time, I will celebrate Saturday Vespers at 15:00 hours, and will be able to hear confessions before and after the service, and as usual before Sunday Liturgy. Thank you again to all who come in good time, allowing an hour of confessions before Liturgy. This is working well.
Finally – our sister, Marina, has been collecting fleece blankets to send to children in Dnipro for the winter, and one of our other parishioners has suggested that it would be wonderful if we could mark the feast of the Kazan Icon by bringing fleece blankets to send to Ukraine!
May God bless you all!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark