Dear brothers and sisters,
Having already celebrated the Sundays of All Saints and of All Saints of the lands of Rus’, yesterday was the Sunday of All Saints have who have shone forth in the Isles of Britain – though some Orthodox parishes across different jurisdictions celebrated this the previous Sunday.
Through prayer and pilgrimage over the last year, as groups and individuals, we have been blessed to deepen our relationships with our local saints who are part of the vast cloud of witnesses we celebrated – St David, St Non, St Teilo, St Illtyd, St Brigid, St Melangell, St Aldhelm and other saints of the British Isles: visiting their shrines and the places where they lived, venerating their relics, chanting their hymns and services. We look forward to continuing building on this wonderful foundation of holiness.
Next Sunday, as well as celebrating the saints of the day, we will also celebrate the memory of St Calogero, the refugee-saint of Sicily, whose icon was gifted to us by Father Efraim Augello and matushka Olympia, who serve in Sicily. At this time, when so many refugees have found temporary refuge in South Wales, our Venerable Father, Calogero (wherever he hailed from… North Africa, Byzantine Asia Minor?) reminds us that many saints fleeing heresy, persecution, war and revolution have sowed the seeds of Faith in foreign fields far from home, and have brought an abundant harvest to Christ.
Given the ongoing hot weather and its effects on health and mobility, to say nothing of the transport system, I am limiting my movements this week – especially as my weekend continued with a pastoral visit in Cheltenham last night and several more today, with the temperature and humidity on the trains and in hotel accommodation being a challenge.
Norman and Georgina have confirmed that we are able to resume our discussion group, on prayer, this Friday at 19:00 in the parish room at the church of St Mary the Virgin, North St, Butetown. I shall hear confessions before the service, making time for any longer confessions – as needed – in Nazareth House in the afternoon, as well as for those who are unable to come later on. Please email me regarding confessions by Wednesday midday.
As there will be visitors from London next Sunday, I would also appreciate knowing who wishes to confess that morning. If impediments make weekday confession impossible when I am not in Cardiff on Saturdays, please check regarding Sunday morning. There is usually a gap of twenty minutes before anyone arrives for confessions, which potentially provides time for several people. As announced at Liturgy, please persist in trying the door-handle if you are struggling to enter the church, turning it to the left. Yet again, this work, we had people unable to access the church for confessions because of recurring problems.
As our numbers are already dented by parishioners’ travels and knowing of the holidays booked by our “pilgrimage-core”, looking forward to July, there is no organised parish pilgrimage apart from the visit a few of us will make to Walsingham.
However, I am always happy to go on pilgrimages should those round next month wish to visit a local holy place, and would like to encourage parishioners to, perhaps, visit the Serbian Orthodox Church in Birmingham for the weekly Friday akathist before the Three-Handed Icon of the Mother of God, painted in the Athonite Monastery of Hilandar. It is a copy of the wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, and has itself been a source of grace for the faithful.
Happily, after Liturgy and trapeza, yesterday saw Steve being admitted to the catechumenate, and we congratulate him on this step towards Holy Baptism.
May God bless you all, and the week ahead.
In Christ – Fr Mark