Dear brothers and sisters,
Greetings for the Church New Year!
I have just come through the front door and set the kettle to boil after a busy week in the parish, having spent the more than twenty six hours travelling to and fro across South Wales, but having used the time for prayer and reading, as well as keeping touch with our scattered parishioners.
Monday saw the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Beheading of St John the Forerunner, with one of our young brothers chanting Demestvenny melodies at the kliros, contrasting with the harmonised singing of the previous day’s Liturgy, and bringing a very different liturgical aesthetic to our worship.
A community choir practice in church precluded the celebration of vespers and the Lesser Blessing of Water on Wednesday evening, though I still returned to Cardiff ready for an early start on Thursday, arranging the church for Divine Liturgy for the Church New Year, and to perform the proskomedia before confessions and the expectation that I would chant. Unfortunately, a motorway puncture prevented Fr Luke and one of his parishioners from being with us, so I combined roles during the Liturgy, though there was some welcome help from the kliros. Confessions after a break for refreshment, then putting things away in church made for a long day, but a very blessed and productive one.
Friday teatime saw confessions for those working and studying in the daytime, before our evening study group met in the nuns’ choir, and the following afternoon a group of us arranged the church for worship before we had our Saturday evening service.
I’m not sure that everyone realises the great amount of effort that goes into arranging the church for worship and putting everything away. This can easily takes three hours each day, and sometimes more, when clergy are doing this without assistance, and on a Sunday our servers have much to do after Liturgy. We are very grateful to them.
Despite Saturday’s church set-up, today saw even greater pressure on our final arrangements, as mass became even longer, and this situation will be closely monitored. Hearing confessions at the back of the church (from 10:15) makes a great difference, but not being able to set up the church until 10:45 makes the time before our service extremely pressurised. Mercifully, we were able to commence the Hours at 11:05.
We were blessed with another lovely Liturgy today, with a slightly smaller choir than the last few weeks and only a few servers. Once again, the icons looked lovely with the flowers adorning them and I am glad to hear that our sisterhood have a flower rota in place for the next few months.
It was lovely to see parishioners who have been away in Greece and Ukraine and to welcome them home, and we are always glad to be joined by parishioners from Llanelli, who are now with us regularly on the Sundays of the month when there is no Llanelli Liturgy.
The coming week will see Deacon Mark and I go to the cathedral for the altar-feast, together with several of the young brothers of our parish, and we will be away on Wednesday and Thursday, looking forward to seeing other parishioners there.
I will be able to hear daytime confessions in church on Friday, and anyone only able to confess on Saturday should let me know, and arrangements will be made to do so after our visit to Llantwit Major and its ancient church of St Illtyd (see below).
Again, on Sunday, I will her confessions from 10:15 until the end of the Hours.
As announced at today’s Liturgy, despite assurances that we were welcome to visit Llancarfan once again, our communication regarding celebrating the Divine Liturgy received no response. Therefore, there is a change of plan next Saturday, and rather then heading to Llancarfan, we will visit St Illtyd’s Church at Llantwit Major, meeting at the church at 11:00.
Having visited the church with its museum of ancient Christian carved stones, and prayers to honour St Illtyd, we will have lunch in one of the local hostelries and enjoy time together. Given that Father Luke’s background is in archeology and medieval history, we will be glad to have him with us in a place so central to Christianity in South Wales.
We look forward to returning to Llancarfan in the near future, when our previous guide has returned from his travels.
Would anyone requiring confessions on Friday or Saturday please email by Wednesday evening?
Looking ahead to the end of the month, may I remind you that the feast of the Exultation of the Cross falls on Wednesday 27th September (14th September on the Church Calendar), on which day the Hours and Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 11:00.
Finally, we congratulate Adam, on his reception to the catechumenate, and thank our outgoing starosta, Norman John, for his generous support for the parish. I personally would be lost without the immense support and help from both Norman and Georgina. We pray that God will grant them and our brother Adam “Many, blessed years!”
Asking your prayers.
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark