Dear brothers and sisters,
The last few days have certainly been busy, and I hope that those who made the journey to Birmingham to venerate the Trojeručica-Hilandarska icon of the Mother of God, in Bournville, have been spiritually buoyed and encouraged in their Faith by a wonderful day, with a moleben with the akathist before the icon.
Our pilgrimages over the last ten months have been such an encouragement and a common celebration of our Faith, bringing the different generations of our parish together for prayer, Liturgy and social time. I hope and pray that we will continue in these pilgrim endeavours, especially now that we have an active and energetic core of young people.
With so many things going on in December, our plan is to make a local pilgrimage to the Cardiff Oratory, to venerate their portion of the relics of St Alban, enshrined in the church of St Alban-on-the-Moors. Given that this is so local, I wonder whether we may do this on a mutually convenient weekday evening, and we will discuss this over the next week or so. Father Sebastian and his confreres are very keen that we avail ourselves of the shrine and church for devotions to the Protomartyr of Britain, having welcomed us so many times in the past. I will approach him with our request.
For anyone who may be interested in travelling further afield, the ‘Midlands Orthodox Christians’ group (of which we met some members in Bournville), will be making a December pilgrimage to Stoke St Milborough, near Ludlow on Saturday 16th December, and I hope to join them, possibly blessing St Milburgha’s Well. They would be delighted for any of our parishioners to join them!
We were happy to welcome past visitors to yesterday’s Liturgy, as well as welcoming new people to our worship, and welcoming home those who have been away. We are grateful for those who helped set up the church in such a short time, not to mention packing things away.
In future, we will start chanting the Hours before the Roman Catholic service, as the more than doubling of the length of the mass makes it impossible for us to set up, chant the Hours and celebrate the Liturgy at such a late hour, though the confession situation continues to work extremely well.
Tomorrow sees the beginning of the Nativity Fast. There are some variations in local practice, but the common foundation is that food is vegan, without wine and oil, though with wine/oil or fish as permitted additions on certain days.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are essentially ‘dry days’, Tuesdays and Thursdays ‘oil days’, and Saturdays and Sundays ‘fish days’. Whenever fish is permitted, so is wine and oil.
I know that many of our parishioners follow the St Herman Calendar, which has some differences in the fasting rules, but we will be publishing rules according to ROCOR’s printed calendars, and encourage you to follow these guidelines.
Tuesday 28 (15) November: Holy Martyrs and Confessors Gurias (299), Samonas (306), and Abibus (322), of Edessa. St. Paisiy (Velichkovsky) of Moldavia and Mt. Athos (1794). Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits etc)
Wednesday 29 (16) November: Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew (60). Wine and oil allowed.
Thursday 30 (17) November: Venerable Nikon, abbot of Radonezh, disciple of St. Sergius (1426). Wine and oil allowed.
Friday 1 December (18 November): Martyr Platon of Ancyra (266). Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits etc)
Saturday 2 December (19 November): St. Philaret, metropolitan of Moscow (1867). Fish, wine and oil allowed.
Sunday 3 December (20 November): Forefeast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Venerable Gregory Decapolites (816). Fish, wine and oil allowed.
I hope that we will all add to our prayer-life and spiritual reading, to focus Advent and our preparation for the Lord’s Nativity.
This Friday would usually be our discussion group, but as there is a rail-strike, I will not be venturing beyond Llanelli – already having such a regrettable time using the railways for travel to and from Cardiff. So, I will hear confessions on Thursday, and will offer an Advent moleben at 16:00, as well as hearing confessions before celebrating vespers at 16:00, on Saturday.
As announced by Marina on Sunday, the next deadline for blanket collection for children in Ukraine is 8th December, and new fleece blankets will be greatly appreciated.
Another charitable focus over the next few weeks will be the concert in St John’s, Canton, on Wednesday 13thDecember at 19:30, with all proceeds supporting suffering Christians in the Holy Land, where the Bethany Christian School is suffering immense hardship
Please endeavour to support these worthy causes!
Next Sunday will be the forefeast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple, and the following morning the Liturgy for the feast will be in Llanelli, with the Hours starting at 10:00. Given the challenges we face before every morning service in Cardiff, our weekday Liturgies will be in Llanelli for the foreseeable future.
May I ask for confession requests for Thursday to get to me by noon on Wednesday, please?
May God bless you all. Good strength for the fast!
In Christ – Fr Mark