Weekly News

Dear brothers and sisters,

What a busy three days we have had, and how nice it is to finally sit down to supper after a long and busy day.

Even though our gatherings are very much reduced by the academic/school holiday, with our pilgrims in the Holy Land, Ukrainian scouts at the Orthodox scout gathering in Germany, Deacon Mark and family in Turkey, and others in Serbia and Diveyevo, the parish remains busy and active.

Friday saw confessions in Nazareth House and our prayer talk; Saturday our visit to the Forest of Dean and our parishioners there; and today was blessed by our Liturgy for the feast of Saints Boris and Gleb, time and fellowship with parishioners, an overdue catch up with former Newman Hall scholars and Magnus the cat, and an evening sort out of our ever-expanding church requisites.

Many thanks to all who made all of these activities possible, and with such enthusiasm and energy, and thanks to all who have given such warm hospitality.

I am so happy to have such positive feedback about the homiletic introduction to Saints Boris and Gleb from our British parishioners and I hope they will come to share my enthusiasm for these first-canonised saints of our Church. 

Saints Boris and Gleb are worthy examples of the realisation of Christ’s sacrificial, kenotic and self-abasing love, which places neighbour above self-interest and self-concern, seeing us embrace whatever may be required to avoid harm and suffering for others if we can prevent it by our conscious spiritual and moral choices, placing others above our own welfare and wellbeing for the sake of fulfilling the Gospel. 

In an age of self-promotion, personal ‘empowerment’ and the idolisation of ambition and success, the example of their lives is a violent and radical challenge, with the violence being their seeming passivity and surrender like Christ the Man of Sorrows, going like a lamb to the slaughter and being silent like the sheep before his shearer. 

By treading the way of the Cross, imitating the Saviour and sparing their retinue the violence and death of sword and battle, preferring to rather be innocent victims for the sake of their loyal host they were chosen by God.

In the Epistle (from Romans), we heard that,

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

We see all of this accomplished in the meek and humble sons of St Vladimir murdered at the behest of their brother: Boris and Gleb called to the life of the Gospel by Holy Baptism; conformed the Saviour’s Cross and Passion; accepting their cross as the Lord accepted His Cross; embracing suffering with humility and willingness; imitating the Saviour in laying down their lives; placing the Kingdom of Heaven above the intrigues and jealousies of earthly royal rivalries; not justifying themselves or trying to prove themselves, but rather being justified by the Gospel and glorified by God.

They have made an indelible and deep impression on the spirituality of our Church and should challenge us and invite us to explore the deep theological meaning and spiritual significance of their short earthly lives.

I encourage you to read ‘The Narrative, Passion, and Encomium of Boris and Gleb’http://macedonia.kroraina.com/en/kmsl/kmsl_4.htm

As we look to the latter part of the week, confessions will be heard in Nazareth House on Thursday afternoon, with emailed requests for confessions before noon on Wednesday. Before Thursday, I look forward to catching up with various parishioners.

May I remind you that (as announced), our next Cheltenham Liturgy will not be on the second weekend of the month in August, but in the feast of the Transfiguration – Saturday 6/19th August. It will be in Prestbury URC Church, as usual in Deep St, Cheltenham GL52 3AW.

Confessions will be heard from 09:15, with the Hours at 10:00, followed by the Divine Liturgy and the Blessing of Fruit and Honey (belatedly for the feast of the All-Merciful Saviour).

Next Sunday will see the celebration of the Forefeast of the Procession of the Life-Giving Cross and the All-Merciful Saviour, with the Hours at 10:45, followed by the Liturgy, and I will celebrate a festal Liturgy the following morning (Monday at 11:00) for the first of the August feasts of the Saviour, with the blessing of honey after Liturgy.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Posted in Newsletter, Uncategorized.