Dear brothers and sisters,
At the end of this ‘cheese week’, in which we use up dairy food and eggs, Sunday will not only have the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, but also the Forgiveness Vespers, which will mark the beginning of the Great Fast.
So, in the week ahead, use up all of the proscribed foods, ready to start the Great Fast seriously. Avoid being one of those sloppy repeat-offenders who find themselves using up dairy food during the first days of Lent, saying that it would be a sin to bin the food – having repeated this this year after year.
Looking ahead, think about the distractions that should be limited or even put aside during the Lenten Season: television and radio, secular music, social media, gaming, unnecessary phone calls and emails. Fasting from these is as much a part of the Great Fast as the dietary fast.
Our focus should be on things spiritual and heavenly: prayer, spiritual reading, acts of mercy, serving others. Prepare for a season of not simply inner repentance, but of active virtue and mercy.
The variables of Forgiveness Vespers may be found here:
The service ends with the rite of mutual forgiveness, and we should strive to ensure that we are at peace with everyone, trying to put right any disagreement, and seeking reconciliation.
Though we will have celebrated the Forgiveness vespers, we will have our last pre-Lenten refreshments until Pascha. Please remember, meat is no longer permitted, when preparing food for our bring-and-share lunch.
Our catechism/study-group will meet once more in the parish room at St Mary Butetown, in North Church Street at 19:00, and I will hear confessions from 18:00 – for those who have made prior arrangement.
As usual, I ask all needing confessions this week to email me, and again ask that this is by Wednesday night to allow planning for Friday and Saturday, given that there may be more confessions than usual: firstname.lastname@example.org
This week should be one of preparation, as we think about what we will be eating during the Great Fast, what spiritual books we will be reading, what extra prayers we will undertake.
The weight of the present situation in Ukraine bears upon us, and perhaps makes clear to us what extra prayers we should be saying, for the people of both Ukraine and Russia, for the peace and reconciliation which each of us seeks at the beginning of the penitential season.
Looking forward to the first week of the Fast, the Canon of Repentance of St Andrew of Crete, will be chanted from Monday to Thursday evening at 19:00 in the Chapel of St David and St Nicholas in Llanelli.
In the meantime, I encourage you all to undertake extra prayers for the people of Ukraine, and for peace and an end to bloodshed. I know that some of you are already praying the Akathist to the Mother of God, the Softener of Evil Hearts, and encourage others to join this. The English and Slavonic links are below.
Акафист Пресвятой Богородице перед иконой «Умягчение злых сердец»: https://azbyka.ru/days/caa/486
May God bless you all.
Asking your forgiveness for Christ’s sake.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark