Dear brothers and sisters,
What a busy three days we had from Friday to Sunday, with Friday ‘s Transfiguration Liturgy in Butetown, Saturday Liturgy in Cheltenham, and yesterday’s Liturgy in Canton.
Our Cardiff celebrations brought worshippers from Bath, Stroud, Chippenham, Warminster and the Forest of Dean, in addition to our locals. It also meant that we were able to bless the home-grown fruit and produce of three English counties as part of our Transfiguration celebrations!
Though our Cheltenham Liturgy only brought a dozan of us together, it was a joyful occasion, with a second blessing of fruit and produce and a wonderful meal with everyone around the table chatting, welcoming new arrival from Khmelnitsky.
Having had the blessing of been able to celebrate services with the faithful in Wiltshire in the last fortnight, and then Cheltenham, being able to serve the faithful in their home environs is a great blessing, and I think all who have provided transport for making this possible.
Sunday was certainly one of my busier days, and such was the volume of confession that they exceeded time before proskomedia, continuing whilst Deacon Mark prepared the chalice for communion, and also after Liturgy. Together with spiritual counsel to individual parishioners this lasted until 15:30, by which time virtually everyone had gone.
I am sorry that I was unable to socialise, eat and talk with parishioners at trapeza, but it was simply not possible, given pastoral needs on an unusually busy day. However, in future, this needs managing, as the only time we are all together is for Sunday Liturgy and trapeza, and the faithful must have the opportunity to talk to there priest.
Some of you will remember how days like yesterday became normal when we first came to St John’s, so that I hardly ever had time with parishioners after Sunday Liturgy. This must not be allowed to be ‘normal’. It is both amusing and apt that in Cheltenham, our matriarch. ‘mama Galina’, will not allow eating unless the priest is sitting at the table, insisting that this is the rule, and that everything else must wait until after trapeza.
Such a long ‘priest-day’ is, of course, the result of our not being able to enter St John’s until 10:15ish, leaving only 45 minutes before the Hours and proskomedia.
As I’ve commented before, in Nazareth House, I could be in the church two and a half hours before the Hours, having had hours to hear confessions the previous evening. This allowed ninety minutes for confession on Sundays, as proskomedia – apart from the day’s zapisky – had been completed before anyone arrived.
Since those days in Cathays, we have also gained parishioners from Gloucestershire, Northeast Somerset and Wiltshire, whose confessions are not possible in the week, as is the same for some of our older South Wales parishioners. They must have time for confession on Sunday morning.
The almost impossible juggling is one of the main reasons we need the use of a building with early access. Ideally, at least an hour is needed for the proskomedia, not twenty-five to thirty minutes, plus time to say the entrance prayers a vest before doing so. The present situation puts a strain on both time and clergy and needs to be appreciated by those confessing. This is why we have been so blessed to have Father Luke’s assistance and patience on so many Sundays, when he hears many confessions.
On the confessional theme, this week’s confessions will be on Thursday, in St Mary’s, Butetown, as the church will be unavailable on Friday. May I ask for requests by noon on Wednesday, to allow time to email those confessing.
Saturday will see Tracey’s baptism at 14:00 at Menna’s home in St Nicholas in the Vale, with our service for the eve of the Dormition at the end of the afternoon.
On Sunday, our Dormition Liturgy will be celebrated with the Hours, at 11:00, in St John’s Church, Canton. The variables may be found, as usual, at Orthodox Austin:
You are encouraged to bring herbs and flowers to place around the plaschanitsa of the Mother of God, as it is traditional for us to bless them to distribute to the faithful at the end of Liturgy!
I also encourage you to continue to dedicate this second week of the Dormition Fast to the Mother of God, and will continue to post the English translations of each evening’s Supplicatory Canon – not that they have to be only in the evening, but can be prayed at any time!
Remember that the afterfeast of the Transfiguration lasts until Friday, and try to include the troparion and kontakion – possibly other hymns of the feast – in your daily prayers.
Praying that the All-Merciful Lord may bless and protect you – Hieromonk Mark