Weekly News: 17 June 2024

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is Risen!

I must start with an apology for the fact that last week’s news was sent to nobody other than me, as I hit the wrong button when it came to sending and I only noticed this at the end of the week!

With Pascha behind us, we are now in the after-feast of the Ascension, having celebrated a quiet and prayerful feast day Liturgy in the Oratory Church, the Saturday Liturgy in Cheltenham, and Sunday’s Liturgy in Canton. 

Many thanks to all who contributed to our celebration of Ascension, which affirms our All-Merciful and All-Loving Lord’s heavenly translation as God-Man to the glory of heaven, where He awaits the raising of the faithful, body and soul, flesh and spirit into the unending glory of the Kingdom, “where the delight of those who behold the ineffable beauty of [His] countenance shall not cease.”

Our Ascension Day service in the Oratory Church was a long-awaited first Divine Liturgy in St Alban’s – Father Sebastian having offered use of an altar of the church from the time of the Oratorian arrival in Splott in 2019.

The Sacred Heart chapel, with its narrow archway and 19th century gates, made an excellent sanctuary, with our small congregation occupying the south aisle. It was a joy to concelebrate with Archpriest Luke, and we are grateful to those who were able to join us for the Liturgy and the leisurely lunch that followed. The afternoon ended with two litia services to St Alban, before his sacred relics: the first for our travellers before their homeward journeys, and the second for Romanian friends, who did not even realise we were in the Oratory Church, but came to pray before the Protomartyr’s relics.

It was a joy to be able to share Ascensiontide with the faithful in Cheltenham, where we gathered in Prestbury for our June Saturday Divine Liturgy and our customary bring and share lunch, reflecting on the fact that when we next return, Deacon Mark will have been ordained to the sacred priesthood and will – hopefully – celebrate the Liturgy for us.

Fathers’ Day dented our usual Sunday attendance, but our Cardiff celebration was blessed with beautiful singing by our kliros, and we are very grateful to our singers for their labours. 

We benefited from the ministrations of Father Luke once more, and I know that some of our parishioners appreciated his reflections, advice and wisdom regarding the tensions, challenges and pressures of Orthodox parish life. Having served as a parish-priest for over a quarter of a century, he has not always had an easy time, and his community has faced various difficulties and trials over the years, learning valuable lessons  –  shared with us in Cardiff.

Father Luke encouraged us to slow down in challenging situations, praying and reflecting, and not judging or condemning when others may have different views and opinions from our own – rather seeking to understand those who think and feel differently from ourselves. If we are seeking the same spiritual vision and goals, our labours and our journey should bring us together, despite these differences. 

The important thing is that differences are never allowed to undermine communities in which there must always be room for a range of views and opinions, but in which the Gospel and Faith are able to over-ride them, with the Eucharistic offering as the source and bond of unity in Christ, our High Priest and Eternal Sacrifice.

This coming week, I had originally intended to follow our pilgrimage pattern for Saturday, but as this is the eve of Trinity Sunday, I will celebrate Great Vespers at 15:00 in the Oratory Church, as is intended on the eve of the Great Feasts.

The following day, Trinity Sunday, the Liturgy will be followed by vespers with the “kneeling prayers” for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Greenery with which to decorate the church will be most welcome, especially birch.

We were sad to hear the news of the repose of Aleksandra Kenenova’s father, Anatoliy, and pray that the Lord grants him eternal rest, in a place of refreshment, light and peace. Memory Eternal. Please keep Sasha and her family in your prayers, as well as praying for the repose of Anatoliy’s soul.

During this time for prayer and reflection,  I urge parishioners to ask the intercession of St John the Wonderworker, our bishop’s holy predecessor, as some of our sisters are doing. The akathist may be found online…

English: https://www.saintjohnwonderworker.org/akathist

Slavonic: https://azbyka.ru/molitvoslov/akafist-svjatitelju-ioannu-arhiepiskopu-shanhajskomu-i-san-francisskomu-chudotvorcu.html

In addition to Vespers in St Alban’s on Saturday, I will keep the now usual pattern of prayers at 14:30 on Tuesday (akathist) and Thursday (9th Hour and Vespers. I will hear confessions after services on each of these days, and will be available for confessions on Thursday evening if required. Please email me if this is needed by Wednesday evening.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Posted in Newsletter.