Dear brothers and sisters,
After the forbidding weather of the last few days, I’m very happy for a sunny (and smooth) journey back to Wales from a visit to Cheltenham, for the funeral of the newly-departed handmaiden of God, Galina, asking your prayers for the repose of her soul: memory eternal!
After a quieter week than usual, Deacon Mark and I were, of course, in Cheltenham on Saturday as well, celebrating the December Liturgy for our mission.
We were pleased to welcome visitors from Oxford, and despite extremely unpleasant driving conditions between Llanelli and Cardiff, we were blessed with our usual Cheltenham weather, with the sun coming out during confessions and filling the chapel with sunlight. By the time we left, the sun and primulas outside the chapel made it feel more like spring than winter. Thanks to mama Galina and mama Liuba for taking the reins and overseeing things in Natalya’s absence. Our next Cheltenham Liturgy will be on the Sunday after Nativity: 13 January, new-style.
The weather certainly impacted upon Cardiff attendance on Sunday, with a smaller than usual congregation of around thirty adults. With the last university lectures of the term this week, our students will be leaving for the Christmas vacation, so things will be quiet in the weeks ahead. I have greatly enjoyed spending time with the students and young people over the current term, and hearing their discussion on theology, history, the arts, culture and politics has been an antidote to the consumerist-mindlessness of much of the world around us. We pray for safe journeys for them – as well as parishioners from eastern Europe – as they rejoin family, both a home and abroad. May God bless them, and the holy angels guard them and guide their steps.
Sunday brought the contrast of our Cheltenham Liturgy in our very humble non-conformist setting with Nazareth House, in which our depleted congregation on such a windy and rainy day seemed somewhat swamped in the vastness of the chapel.
Our choir was also reduced, but what particularly struck me was how a quartet singing with confidence and focus can lead the Liturgy so effectively. In the absence of our usual basses, Hierodeacon Avraamy moved to the choir, which always sings with great confidence when he moves from the sanctuary to the kliros. Thank you, Father, and thanks to Olga for her direction of the choir during such a lovely Liturgy for the feast of the Kursk-Root Icon.
It was good to hear from Marina about the shipments of blankets, bedding and clothes to Ukraine, with the hope that the next collection will start being arranged after Nativity, when I hope that we will be able to contribute towards the costs of transportation as well as much needed donations.
On Wednesday (13th December), Masha will sing in a charity concert in St John’s Church, Canton, CF5 1NX at 19:30, with accompaniment by Edmund and an original piece for organ and electronics by Aldhelm, our Royal College master’s composition student. Money raised by charitable giving will be used for the support and relief of our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Israel’s West Bank and Gaza. Please endeavour to bring a friend and show your appreciation for the musical offerings in the evening’s collection.
As I have made known, during this period of rail disruption and overcrowded trains I will be limiting my journeys, and will be in Cardiff on Wednesday and Thursday, this week, with the availability of confessions on Thursday after the catholic morning mass, and in the afternoon and early evening. Please email requests by Thursday. As on the last two Thursdays, an Advent Moleben will be chanted at 16:00. As many of you will be in St John’s for Wednesday’s Concert, I will also be happy to hear some confessions there, if it helps.
Given the severe overcrowding of trains on Saturdays at this time of year, invariably resulting in a ninety minute homebound journey standing up – often with inebriated and anti-social company – I will not be in Cardiff on any of the remaining Saturdays in December – though we look forward to Steve’s baptism in St Nicholas on Saturday 30th!
Our remaining December dates follow:
Wednesday 13th December: 19:30 – Holy Land Charity Concert, St John’s Church, Canton, CF5 1NX. Confessions in St John’s by arrangement.
Thursday 14th December: 16:00 – Advent Moleben. Confessions will be heard before and after service.
Sunday 17th December: 11:00 Hours and Liturgy in Nazareth House, Cardiff. Confessions from 10:15.
Monday 18th December: Great Vespers for the Eve of St Nicholas Day, Nazareth House, Cardiff.
Tuesday 19th December: 10:00 Hours and Liturgy for St Nicholas Day, Llanelli.
Wednesday 20th December: 19:00 Compline in Llanelli.
Thursday 21 December: 16:00, Vespers for the Conception by St. Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos, Nazareth House, Cardiff. Confessions will be heard before and after the service.
Sunday 24th December: 11:00 Hours and Liturgy in Nazareth House, Cardiff. Confessions from 10:15.
Friday 29th December: 16:00 – Advent Moleben, Nazareth House, Cardiff. Confessions will be heard before and after service.
Saturday 30th December: Steve’s baptism in St Nicholas in the Vale. Details from clergy.
Sunday 31st December: 11:00 Hours and Liturgy in Nazareth House, Cardiff. Confessions from 10:15.
May God bless you all, and give you strength as we continue our preparation for the Nativity, during this Advent Fast.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark