Dear brothers and sisters,
Every Liturgy is an occasion for rejoicing, and each week we leave Cardiff buoyed by the joy of our celebration, no matter how physically tired we feel. However, today was an especially joyful Sunday, beginning with Elliot being made a catechumen and formally beginning the journey to the waters of baptism, after being an active member of our community for the greater part of the year. It was wonderful to see the joy on the faces of our parishioners – particularly on the kliros – when Elliot recited the creed, and during the final prayer:
O Master, Lord our God, call Thy servant Elliot to Thy holy Enlightenment and count him worthy of the great grace of Thy holy Baptism. Put off his old self and renew him for eternal life and fill him with the power of Thy Holy Spirit for union with Thy Christ, that he may no longer be a child of the body, but a child of Thy kingdom. Through the good pleasure and grace of Thine Only-begotten Son, with whom Thou art blessed, together with Thine all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.
A wonderfully affirmative Amen resounded from the kliros.
I was greatly heartened to know that in baptism, he will take the name of his local sainted-hierarch, St Aldhelm of Sherborne: an apt name for a Dorset musician.
May St Aldhelm pray for him, protect and bless him!
The triumphal joy was sustained by the choir, lifted by the return of Aleksandra, after her period of rest following a fall, with the added blessing of Byzantine chants, in addition to the usual Russian melodies.
It was good to have an army of oltarniky today, and a blessing to have them helping with our commemoration after a busy time of confessing the faithful. When they bowed to the high-place and turned to the west behind the Holy Table for the creed, it was a wonderful sight. As always, they coped with the unexpected, as a blessing of our new travelling holy-vessels and icons crept into the dismissal of the Liturgy.
We were very happy to congratulate Peter on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, and to sing Mnogaya Leta with conviction and hwyl (Welsh gusto!). Again, dear Peter, we pray that God will grant you many, blessed years!
Our social time after Liturgy, allowed us to welcome visitors and catch up over a glass of wine, super-strong coffee for the rector and some lunch. This is one of the aspects of parish-life that we missed so much under stringent covid-regulations, and to return to this fellowship is a blessing and relief.
It was wonderful to have parishioners come to Liturgy to receive a blessing before travelling abroad, and we also hold our student Marina in our prayers, as she completes her M.A. dissertation at home in Moscow. It was strange not to have her with us, but the consolation was to see the friendship between our young parishioners.
Anglican use of St John’s, coupled with my work commitments see us relocate to Swansea, next week, to support Father Luke with the first public Russian Orthodox Liturgy in Swansea, in the Vivian Hall, 82 Mumbles Rd, Black Pill, Swansea SA3 5AS. We hope the weather will be fine, so that we might enjoy relaxing in the lido gardens after Liturgy. All are encouraged to bring food and refreshments for a bring-and-share lunch.
The Hours will be celebrated at 10:00, followed by the Divine Liturgy at 10:30. Confessions will be heard before and during the Hours. Parishioners from Wiltshire and Cardiff have already pledged their support, and our ‘mobile singers’ will be prepped in the next day or two.
Father-Deacon Mark, Alla and Yuriy will not be with us, but will be enjoying a well-deserved break in Corfu, charged with bringing the prayers of our parishes to the shrine of St Spyridon the Wonderworker, and when they return, we will hopefully chant a moleben to St Spyridon, who is greatly loved in the Cardiff parish.
Thank you to all who contributed to today’s Liturgy and lunch, making the parish a prayerful, warm and welcoming place for those who came through the church doors for the first time. Thanks are also due to parishioners who supported Liturgy in Cheltenham Liturgy, yesterday, building the spiritual bonds between our communities.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments…”
May God bless you all.
With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark