Sunday 20 November: Looking Forward to Our Return to Nazareth House

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Thanks to all who laboured for the celebration of today’s service, and to everyone for their patience given the number of confessions today and the delayed start to Liturgy. 

Today’s Liturgy was one tinged with sorrow, as we prayed for the repose of the soul of the newly departed Andrzej and Sara: a double loss for the Pietraszkewicz family, with Lukasz having lost both brother and goddaughter within days. Following Liturgy, I celebrated a panikhida, and we will continue to remember the newly-departed, praying for their repose in a place of refreshment, light and peace. May the Lord remember them in His Kingdom, and may their memory be eternal! We pray for all who sorrow and mourn at this sad and difficult time, commending them to the maternal care and protection of the Mother of God. 

As announced after Liturgy, today’s service was our penultimate celebration in St John’s, as we will be returning to Nazareth House for the first weekend in December, at the beginning of the Nativity Fast. I was very happy to visit and spend time with Sisters Aquinas and Marie, and the greatly-missed Morag the West Highland Terrier, yesterday – entering the church for the first time since the beginning of lockdown. 

After a series of ‘false-starts’ and disappointments, we will be returning just over five years since we first arrived in Cathays, and will do so with so many new parishioners who have never been inside the convent church. So much has happened since our initial arrival, with a whole series of baptisms, parishioners travelling from England for Liturgy, and so much growth in our community. 

The Sisters have missed our parish presence greatly and look forward to welcoming us back, to being surrounded by icons and having Orthodox worship within the House once more. We know that even in such a long absence, so many prayers have been offered before the shrines and icons. We have not been forgotten, and the imprint of Orthodoxy remains. 

I will be having further discussions with Sister Anna, the new superior on her return from a week away, and will confirm our new timings.

Though the Fathers of the Oratory are no longer Catholic chaplains to the univeristy, they retain spiritual care for Nazareth House and its residents, as well as the convent, and we are grateful for their ongoing support and concern for the Russian Orthodox parish faithful and clergy.

Father Luke, Deacon Mark and I will be in London for the diocesan clergy convocation from Thursday to Saturday and will be able to meet brother clergy from across our vast Western European Diocese as we celebrate services together and discuss diocesan and parish life. As I still feel under the weather, and will no doubt be very tired after these days away, there will be no possibility of hearing confessions on our return journey on Saturday.

Sunday morning confessions will be for those who did not confess this weekend, and who are preparing to commune of the Holy Mysteries. Those who have confessed this weekend may be blessed to commune next weekend unless a pressing need for confession arises. 

May I ask those requiring confession next week and who did not confess today to email me by Friday evening, just to establish how many will need to be confessed before Liturgy. 

We ask your prayers for Svetlana’s daughter, Julia, who will be returning to Ukraine for a week, for Lukasz who left for Poland today, for Masha and Neil, who are in Cyprus, and for our clergy who will be travelling to London from so many countries within Western Europe. We ask the Lord to bless their journeys. 

Looking forward to the week ahead, we celebrate some notable commemorations: 

  • Monday 8/21 – The Synaxis of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salaphiel, Jegudiel, Barachiel, and Jeremiel and the Other Bodiless Powers. 
  • Tuesday 9/22 – St. Nectarius (Kephalas), metropolitan of Pentapolis (1920) and the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “She Who Is Quick to Hear” of Docheiariou, Mt. Athos (10th c.). 
  • Wednesday 10/23 – The commemoration of the beginning of the torture of Great-Martyr George (303). 
  • Thursday 11/24 – The Great-Martyr Menas of Egypt (304) and Blessed Maximus of Moscow, the fool-for-Christ (1433). 
  • Friday 12/25 – St. John the Merciful, patriarch of Alexandria (616-620) and Blessed John “the Hairy,” fool-for-Christ, of Rostov (1580). 
  • Saturday 13/26 – St. John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople (407). 

I will post lives of the saints and some of their canon as the week progresses. Please try to celebrate the saints in your daily prayers. 

May God bless you all. 

In Christ – Fr Mark