The continuing joy of Theophany

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Sunday of Theophany turned out to be quite a gathering in St John’s, with representation from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Somerset swelling the number of those who had come from closer to home.

This required lots of confessions, reflected in the number of communicants, and it was a special joy – as always – to commune the children. We are grateful for everyone’s patience as confessions before Liturgy and before communion made things a bit longer, but the early arrival of those confessing helped immensely.

The day’s celebration was long, given the Great Blessing of the Waters at the end of Liturgy, but all seemed to go remarkably quickly, and the joy of Wednesday’s celebration in the cathedral was repeated in St John’s, though I was – perhaps – a little more restrained in sprinkling the faithful with Theophany water!

Whilst trapeza was arranged, priestly ministry moved to the porch of St John’s, where I was very happy that the feast should be the occasion to admit George, one of or students, into the catechumenate. We will now have him as our own special intention as we pray the Litany of the Catechumens each week, and we anticipate the making of other catechumens in the weeks ahead.

To return to the celebration in the cathedral – given the use of St John’s on weekdays, and limits on availability, it is our hope to organise group visits to the cathedral for weekday feasts, when we are unable to celebrate in Cardiff. We all need to remember that we have two homes: our parish churches, and our cathedral, and I wish to see the relationship with the cathedral developed. It was wonderful to be in the cathedral and to celebrate with the London clergy and parish, for whom it was a great blessing to have an experienced deacon for the feast.

Theophany brings house-blessing season, and Deacon Mark has already received some requests. It is my hope to perform some blessing whilst in Cardiff during the week. Anyone wishing to arrange a house blessing should contact the clergy. Of course, this year will see us going further afield to bless the homes of the faithful – in Cheltenham, Bath, Chippenham and Warminster, as well as in other corners of the Marches and the West of England. I pray that the renewed joy of the feast will accompany the house-blessings, however long it takes us to get around every home – no doubt long after the octave of the feast.

I would like to remind the faithful that the great veneration and respect for the water blessed to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord is reflected in the fact that we drink it whilst FASTING – especially reserving it for when we are unwell, for feast days and for Sundays when we may be unable to attend Liturgy and partake of the Holy Mysteries. Water from the monthly Lesser Blessing is used at other times, and any requests for this may be addressed to the clergy. Like the artos from Pascha, Theophany Water is greatly revered as a special gift from the Lord – uniquely connected to the feast, and treated as an extra-ordinary blessing and source of grace.

I would like to thank all who worked so hard over the last week, and all who are a constant support for the clergy, sometimes encouraging and sometimes telling them to slow down and breath. We are greatly blessed to have such a supportive and caring community – praise God!

We are also blessed to have gifted and talented individuals, and today was rewarded with the latest accomplishments in iconography and musical composition. We look forward to the growth of iconography in the parish, as our iconographers receive more training in painting and gilding, and I look forward to hearing the work of our own musicians being sung in Liturgy in the year ahead.

This year needs to be one in which we utilise and develop the many talents and skills of our parishioners: painting icons, writing music, making candles and incense, as well as vestments and Church textiles. We need to make the most of the many wonderful skills distributed between the brothers and sisters of the parish.

Looking forward to next weekend, prompt confession requests will be appreciated, and I shall no doubt hear some confessions at the end of the week.

May God bless you all, and may the feast continue be a source of joy and grace in your families and homes, which should be resounding with the troparion of the feast:

When Thou, wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast
enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.

Во Иoрда́не креща́ющуся Тебе́, Го́споди, Тро́йческое яви́ся поклоне́ние: Роди́телев бо глас свиде́тельствоваше Тебе́, возлю́бленнаго Тя Сы́на имену́я, и Дух в ви́де голуби́не изве́ствоваше словесе́ утвержде́ние. Явле́йся Христе́ Бо́же и мир просвеще́й, сла́ва Тебе́.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark