Dear brothers and sisters,
As all who participated in today’s Liturgy were well aware, changes in our circumstances certainly posed new challenges, as did the intense heat in the convent church, particularly for those vested in the sanctuary. In priests vestments, I must admit that today was a real trial – especially after the same challenge in Cheltenham, yesterday, where Deacon Mark and I struggled through Liturgy and on the homeward journey.
With one of the new Catholic chaplains celebrating, the Mass was close to double its usual length, making for a very late and pressurised set up for Liturgy.
However, quietly hearing confessions at the back of the church during the service alleviated some of the pressure, but our deacons and servers still had a rather short time in which to ready the church for our Orthodox service.
I will repeat today’s confession arrangement next week, having walked round to the back of the church at 10:15, with parishioners already waiting for confessions – which continued in a steady and smooth progression until towards the end of the Sixth Hour.
Looking ahead, I hope that I will have already been able to her the majority of local confessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons. See below.
Despite the pressure and the rush, today’s Hours began only five minutes late, at 11:05, though I hope it will begin at 11:00 as scheduled, next week – even if the Church set-up continues after that time. However, I will put out everything needed in the nave, so that things simply have to be moved a few metres.
From the choir’s initial amen, the Liturgy was a joyous celebration, with our singers chanting harmoniously and confidently, showing sympathy and sensitivity to one another, and supporting and helping one another. Thanks to our regent Olga, and to our two young basses, who acquitted themselves very well.
Yet again, the flowers adorning our icons, and vases of late summer blooms added so much to the makeshift setting for our Orthodox worship, tangibly showing parishioners’ love for God and the saints.
It was lovely to leave the church, at teatime, today, seeing the flowers on the shrines ready for the morning Liturgy for the Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John. The Liturgy will commence at 11:00, as I will pray the Hours after the proskomedia before church set-up.
On Thursday, our Liturgy for the Church New Year will be celebrated at 11:00, and I will be available to hear confessions as needed in the afternoon, after lunch. However, due to a choir practice in church, there will be no service on Wednesday evening, as previously hoped.
Friday sees the resumption of our discussion group on prayer, at 19:00, in Nazareth House, and I will hear confessions beforehand, and after, if – again according to demand.
I will celebrate Great Vespers at 16:00 on Saturday, and any confessions will need to be BEFORE the service, as I have a potentially long journey home afterwards.
Please email regarding confessions on any of these days, so that I can plan, accordingly, and do so by 18:00 on Wednesday.
Tomorrow: Monday 11 September, New Style, Beheading of St John the Forerunner – Liturgy, Nazareth House 11:00.
Thursday 1/14 September – Church New Year – Liturgy, Nazareth House 11:00. Afternoon confessions by arrangement.
Friday 2/15 September – Church discussion group 19:00. Afternoon/evening confessions by arrangement.
Saturday 3/16 – Great Vespers, 16:00. Afternoon confessions by arrangement.
Sunday 4/17 September. Hours and Liturgy 11:00. Confessions from 10:10
Please email me regarding weekday confessions by Wednesday, 18:00.
In Christ – Fr Mark