The Sunday of St Mary of Egypt – Looking Ahead Through the Week…

Dear brothers and sisters,

Sunday numbers were a bit low in Cardiff, with the beginning of the Easter school holiday and illness impacting on parish attendance.

However, we still had thirty-five adults, including half a dozen crossing the border from England, as well as a few children.

It was a great joy to have Father Hierodeacon Avraamy back with us, after his assistance in the cathedral last weekend, and I very much appreciated the return to our now ‘normal’ celebration with two deacons!

Despite the slightly later end to Mass, our morning confessions progressed at a goodly pace, and it was possible to accommodate eight penitents during the hours.

It was a busy week of confessions, with Wednesday and Thursday dedicated to them, and on Wednesday we also chanted a moleben for the Brotherhood of the Holy Kiev Caves Lavra, as well as the four hour long matins with the Great Canon and life of St Mary of Egypt, whose Sunday was celebrated today.

Yesterday, was the penultimate Liturgy for the newly-baptised Mary (Germaine), soon to move to Pamplona with husband José, and we treated the day as an anticipated name-day for her, as it was the Lenten Sunday dedicated to her ‘angel’ – St Mary of Egypt.

It was a quiet and prayerful Liturgy, with the choir continuing to sing the prolonged Lenten melodies for the Liturgy of St Basil, with its longer priestly prayers. We are very grateful to our singers for their labours, especially as they rehearse for Pascha – with their singing sounding wonderful as we socialised at the back of the church.

The number of confessions for the week was reflected in the goodly number of those receiving the Holy Mysteries, and in a repeat of last week, it was wonderful to see those who had communed assembled on the left kliros after communion.

Worshippers enjoyed socialising over a ‘picnic’ after the service, and after spending some pastoral time with a few parishioners, it was my great joy to admit student, Joe, as a catechumen – so that his friend and fellow student, Kyle, is no longer the only one for whom we are praying in the Litany of the Catechemens! We look forward to the day when they will enter the fulness of Orthodoxy, through the Mystery of Holy Baptism.

Our three clergy and a group of Bridge-crossing parishioners relaxed in our nearby café after finishing the packing away and car-loading, and it was a welcome change for all three clergy to be part of the weekly café visit. I look forward to this social relaxation every week: a valuable time with our students and young people, as well as those needing coffee before their return to England.

The coming week is, of course, Holy Week for the Nazareth House community, so the chapel is very much in use at the end of the week, necessitating the hearing of confessions before 17:00 on Thursday, as the Mass of Maundy Thursday will be celebrated at 18:00. It will also be possible for us to hear confessions (if necessary) in Deacon Mark’s office in Morganstown at Saturday tea-time, on our return journey from celebrating Liturgy in Cheltenham for Lazarus Saturday.

Will those requiring confession please email me by noon on Wednesday?

Good Friday services in Nazareth House preclude the Orthodox celebration of the feast of the Annunciation, so our Divine Liturgy will now be celebrated in Llanelli in the Chapel of St David and St Nicholas at 10:30. I will post details separately.

Our Lazarus Saturday Liturgy will be celebrated in Cheltenham, in Prestbury United Reformed Church, where confessions will be heard from 09:15. The Hours will be chanted at 10:00 and the Liturgy will be celebrated at 10:30. We eagerly look forward to the celebration of this wonderful feast before Holy Week.

The Catholic Easter Vigil, next Saturday, will make it impossible for us to set up in the evening – hence confessions in Morganstown – and the Easter Sunday Mass will not commence until 10:00. Therefore, we will not have access to the chapel until around 10:35/10:40.

The Hours will be read during the proskomedia, and we will begin our celebration of the Palm Sunday Liturgy – the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem – as close to 11:00 as possible. There will be very little chance to hear confessions before the Liturgy, so it may be necessary to confess and commune parishioners AFTER the Liturgy. This is unfortunate, but unavoidable.

Finally, for those who do not use Facebook, yesterday, we sadly announced the repose of Eileen, mother of our dear friend Father Sebastian of the Oratory of St Philip Neri, and ask you to remember her in your prayers, together with the newly departed Ronald, father of Father Alexander.

Our deepest sympathy is extended to Father Sebastian and his sisters, Alison and Helen, and – of course – to Father Alexander. May the Lord remember the souls of the newly-departed in His Kingdom. Memory Eternal!

I hope that, if your spiritual labours have flagged during the latter part of the Great Fast, the week ahead may be one of refocussing and regaining momentum before Holy Week!

Please continue to keep Metropolitan Pavel, the Abbot of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Caves Lavra, and all of its persecuted Brotherhood in your prayers.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Fr Mark

Posted in Newsletter.