Dear brothers and sisters,
Despite the impact of illness and parishioners being away, it was a joy to celebrate the Liturgy in Cardiff yesterday, and slightly lower numbers did little to lessen the numbers confessing and communing, or to diminish the joy of worshipping together.
Our starting time has been somewhat affected by numbers of confessions, and realistically, I think this will continue to be the case as we settle back into life in Nazareth House. However, it is impossible to confess all needing to do so in thirty minutes, so those wishing to confess need to arrive a little earlier than at present, and we will hopefully resolve this over the coming weeks so that the Hours can begin at 10:30.
Deacon Mark and I have been very pleased with the beauty of our Liturgies since our return to Nazareth House, recognising the hard work of our small but conscientious kliros. We thank our singers and also our oltarniky, reduced to only two yesterday, but working hard and serving well.
Before the kissing of the cross, we chanted years for our parish elder Andrew (Allan) who celebrated his nameday in the past week. Many, blessed years to him!
Compared to last week, we were very thin on children, but the few we did have happily spent time at during the homily, arranging lovely little ikebana flower arrangements, which they showed to us at this time. Giving some of these as gifts.
The Liturgy was only the first part of our day, and as members of the congregation chatted and visitors were greeted after the service, a team of our parish gentlemen prepared for the afternoon’s baptism, filling our pop up ‘font’ with enough water to immerse a ten-year-old: the youngest son of one of our Herefordian families. Though his older brother was baptised as an infant in Tikhvin, Josh – Georgiy in Holy Baptism – was never been baptised. So, it was a very great joy to welcome Tom and Julia with their family, with Georgiy’s older brother Maximus representing godfather Igor, who was unable to travel here from Russia.
After the reading of the exorcism prayers, Georgiy ably made his baptismal renunciations and after spitting on the devil, overseen by his older brother, he turned to the east and confessed the creed.
It was lovely to baptise someone who is still a child, but old enough to really take part, so explanations were interspersed between the actions so that our newly enlisted soldier of Christ could appreciate what was happening.
As most of those involved were British, the baptism was largely celebrated in English, but with some Slavonic, as the baptism was being filmed for godfather Igor, in Russia, whom we remembered in our prayers.
Having been anointed with the oil of the catechumens, our youngster climbed into the water and knelt to be fully submerged and baptised in honour of the Holy Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer George. So, we now have two Herefordian Georges in our community, and Yuriy was happy to hear that there would be another Georgiy, and gave his namesake the ikebana he had arranged.
We look forward to welcoming Julia with both of her sons to commune of the Holy Mysteries! Many years to Georgiy, his godfather Igor and all of the family!
Deacon Mark and I would particularly like to thank Oswald for being such a great help, staying to help with the packing away and clearing of the church, not setting off for Stroud until after 17:00. We are very grateful.
This morning, we celebrated the feast of St Nicholas with Divine Liturgy in Llanelli, with Father Luke celebrating as I chanted on the kliros with Ruth-Silouana and Nicholas, and following the Liturgy, a panikhida was chanted to mark the anniversary of the repose of the mother of one of the Llanelli parishioners. It was a lovely, prayerful Liturgy, and only a pity that more people did not come to celebrate the feast.
Tomorrow, we celebrate another great Church Father, St Ambrose of Milan and our wonderworking father St Nil Stolbensky, and later this week we will celebrate the feast of the Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos by St Anna and the Icon ‘Unexpected Joy’.
Next weekend will, of course, be Western Christmas, and as such will occupy many of our parishioners with family commitments. However, we shall still celebrate Liturgy for the feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker of Tremythus. Even though there will be few of us, I greatly look forward to this feast.
Anticipating only a small number of confessions, I expect to be able to hear all confessions before Liturgy. However, I would still appreciate an email from those wishing to confess and commune on Sunday, asking that emails are received by Thursday.
Finally, may I ask that on arrival each Sunday, parishioners remain towards the back of the church until all residents have exited, given the number of viruses, coughs and colds that are in circulation and the age and vulnerability of those who live in Nazareth house.
May God bless you all. Struggle to maintain the momentum of the Nativity Fast.
In Christ – Fr Mark