Parish News – week of the pharisee and the tax-collector


Monday 14/27 February

Dear brothers and sisters,

What a busy few days across our parish, with today starting with a visit to several of the historic parish churches of the Wylye Valley in Wiltshire with Wessex parishioners, starting at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Boyton, with its wonderful collection of remnants of medieval, renaissance and Georgian stained glass, carved stone monuments and liturgical features, and embroideries – including a monumental icon of the Hospitality of Abraham.

It was also lovely to revisit the little church of St Cosmas and Damian, in Sherrington, where some of our Wiltshire ladies prayed in the ample porch each Sunday during the misery of lockdown – prior to their migrating to Cardiff from their erstwhile parish, where the Holy Mysteries were completely abandoned. This quintessentially English village church is a remnant of the rural Anglicanism of past centuries, with its texts painted in cartouches on the walls, and its candlelit pulpit and lectern: the only real adornment being an embroidered Madonna and Child by the same embroiderer whose work we had seen in Boyton Church – Margaret Cuddiford.

The evening saw our ‘last-Monday-gathering’ on Porphyrios’s narrow-boat on the Kennet and Avon canal, where we chanted compline with the canons to the Mother of God and the Guardian Angel before supper and discussions about our forthcoming first Wessex Liturgy at 10:30 on Saturday 9th March. This followed a very positive meeting with one of the feoffees (trustees) of the chapel of St Lawrence in Warminster, with a tour of the church, including climbing the tower to see the 17th century curfew-bell and the 18th century clock.

Many thanks to our parishioners from Wiltshire for their characteristically warm hospitality and generosity. We are extremely grateful to Porphyrios for welcoming us aboard his home, where we look forward to praying before the icon-corner in the lamp and candlelight light, warmed by the wood-burning stove, and tonight, with wonderful homemade soup (not soap, as per the typo in the emailed  newsletter!)

We also enter this week after a weekend blessed not only by the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, but also by Saturday’s pilgrimage, whose locality in no way undermined the significance of the occasion as we gathered in the Oratory Church to honour the holy protomartyr of Britain, St Alban, with a moleben offered before his shrine.

Our young brothers took turns chanting the canon and parts of the service of supplication, and we look forward to those soon to be baptised taking their turns in the prayers of our pilgrimages in the coming months. We are most grateful to the Oratorians for their usual warm hospitality, including the use of the hall, where we shared lunch and chatted, with Aldhelm tinkling the ivories in the background. I was the very happy to be able to perform a house-blessing after the pilgrimage.

We now look forward to our next pilgrimage on the first Saturday of the Great Fast, 23 March, the Saturday of St Theodore. The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated in Margam Abbey, with devotions to the Mother of God and the commemoration of St Theodore, with the blessing of kolyva. Details will follow.

I will not be arranging an April Pilgrimage, as I hope it’s place may be taken by our April Liturgy in Warminster on Saturday 13th and the Holy Unction (soborovanie) service in our London cathedral the following Saturday, 20thApril, at 14:00, for which I hope as many people as possible will make the journey and join in this important celebration.

This Sunday’s Liturgy, in St John’s, was blessed by a well supported kliros, and some of our boys were very enthusiastic in chanting the Litany responses with a generous fortissimo! Again, we had a congregation of around fifty, an encouraging number of students and young people, and a large number of confessions and communicants. I spent the hour before proskomedia hearing confessions, as well as hearing our children’s confessions during the preparation of the Holy Gifts. I had intended to not hear confessions at this point, but given the number of children to be confessed, it was necessary.

I would appreciate confession requests for this Thursday’s Nazareth House confessions by 18:00 on Wednesday, please, and also notice from those requiring Sunday confessions would be appreciated. It may be necessary to hear the Sunday confessions of regular communicants every other week, given the sheer volume of confessions, which are a challenge to fit in.

At the end of Thursday’s confessions, Compline will be chanted at 19:00, with the hope that this will be repeated each week.

Please start thinking about the Great Fast, particularly in terms of reading materials, and ensure that you have spiritual food for the Lenten season.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Posted in Newsletter, Parish News.