Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is Born!
Greetings and congratulations on the Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God! Please do something on this second day of the Nativity feast to honour and thank the Most Holy Theotokos for the wonder of her birth-giving.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone for such a bright and radiant celebration of the Lord’s Nativity, which brought great joy and a lovely memory for us to hold as our time in Nazareth House draws to a close. We look forward to Theophany, hoping that the same radiant joy will mark our last Cathays Liturgy on the Sunday after the feast, when the great blessing of the waters will be performed in Nazareth House.
The services of the Nativity brought together around seventy of the faithful from South Wales, Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset and Bristol, and it was a blessing to have parishioners back from Ukraine and Czechia for the feast.
I was pleased that our Nativity vigil was inclusive, ensuring that there was plenty of English singing, perhaps even the majority of our chants, and I am grateful to Masha and our ‘Wiltshirites’ for their hard work, and also to our young brothers who joined me to chant the Polyeleos in skipping, joyful Byzantine chant.
It was wonderful to see people look so joyful, particularly after communion and at the end of the Liturgy during the kissing of the Cross, as our choir sang carols in Russian, Ukrainian and English, even continuing to sing after a wonderful buffet trapeza had been blessed and people broke their fast. Our trapeza reminded us how important this post-Liturgy fellowship is, and gave us something to look forward to, as our return to St John’s, Canton approaches.
Thanks to Olga and our choir for our joyful services; thank you concelebrants; thank you readers; thank you flower arrangers, bakers, cooks, cleaners, drivers… and all, whose presence and labours made the feast such a joyful occasion. Congratulations to all who partook of the most pure Mysteries, which seemed an endless number of people, with the communion queue reaching the back of the convent church.
At the end of the afternoon, prayers were offered and the kolach (festive bread), žito (kolyvo) and wine blessed in preparation for the Terzić family slava, in honour of the Holy Apostle, Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen on Tuesday, which – of course – is also the first name-day of our newly-baptised brother, Stephen, as well as our dedicated oltarnik Stefan, who assisted in the slava prayers as the man of the family. We look forward to congratulating our men named for St Stephen when we next celebrate Liturgy.
I will hear confessions on Thursday, this week, and would appreciate requests by Wednesday noon.
Saturday – the leave-taking of Nativity – will see our Nativity Liturgy in Cheltenham, with the Hours and Liturgy starting at 10:00, at Prestbury United Reformed Church, 5 Deep St, Prestbury, Cheltenham GL52 3AW. There will be. Bring-and-share lunch after the Liturgy, wo which everyone is most welcome.
Enjoy the Nativity feast and all of the Sviatky – Holy Days – from now until the Baptism of the Lord, and try to maintain the momentum of prayer and spiritual watchfulness after the days of the Nativity Fast.
May God bless you all, and may the joy of the Saviour fill your hearts, your families and your homes – where Christ has been welcomed and His Nativity glorified.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark