Dear brothers and sisters,
Greetings to you all after another busy weekend, with Liturgies in Cheltenham and Cardiff, the joy of sharing the celebration of Faith with so many people, and the unexpected arrival of geographically distant parishioners and friends not seen for a while. It’s also wonderful that recent visitors are now clearly new parishioners, looking very much at home in the parish. Praise God!
Before the busy week ahead, I’m happy to be soaking up the sun on a bus wending its way over the Mendips for a quiet, prayerful day in Glastonbury – having just glimpsed the Tor rising above the Somerset Levels – before a house blessing and time with our Wessex parishioners, the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in Llanelli, then confessions and pastoral time in Cardiff before another weekend.
Our third week back in St John’s was blessed with another well-attended Liturgy (which constantly sustains forty adults or more, plus the children every week), with parishioners from across Wessex joining us for our celebration, which ended with the admission of young Maximilian to the catechumenate after around six months of dedicated participation. We are very grateful to his dad for driving him the considerable distance from Monmouth week by week.
Thanks to our choir, who sang a linguistically well balanced Liturgy, with English alongside the Slavonic, reflecting the developing dynamic of the parish, and thanks to all who contributed to trapeza by bringing food and so warmly and generously looking after everyone.
Parishioners are clearly enjoying being in St John’s, though we are still getting used to things, with a rather minimal set up. However, without the rather stark interior of Nazareth House, even the minimal Orthodox setting feels much warmer. We are very pleased that the large shrines for our iconostasis now flank the high altar when not in situ for Liturgy, and look forward to the frontals that Georgina will be making for them (as well as new analoy covers) after her current Walsingham visit.
The return of weekly trapeza has made a great difference to parish life, and it was heartening to hear my nephew say what a welcome change it was to be surrounded by so many kind and generous people. This is a prime way in which we can touch those who come through our doors with God’s love working in us and through us.
As clarified on messenger, our LOCAL pilgrimage will involve venerating St Alban’s relics in SPLOTT, not Hertfordshire. I have emailed Fr Sebastian to check the availability of the hall for a bring-and-share lunch, as this could make things more straightforward.
We shall celebrate the moleben to St Alban in the Oratory Church in Swinton St, at 10:30, venerating a portion of the protomartyr’s sacred relics, and then have lunch if the hall is free. We shall then head to Caerleon, weather permitting, to visit the amphitheatre and remains of the garrison where Saints Julius and Aaron would have lived. Notification of your intention to attend would be appreciated, so that we can endeavour to match places in cars with non-drivers for the journey to Caerleon. Lifts will be greatly appreciated for those of you with spare places in your vehicle.
The lack of availability of St John’s on Thursdays means our Liturgy for the Meeting of the Lord will be in the little chapel of St David and St Nicholas, at 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli SA14 8LS.
The Hours and Liturgy will commence at 10:00. I will travel to Cardiff after the Liturgy so that confessions may be heard in Nazareth House in the late afternoon and early evening. Please contact me by 18:00 on Wednesday, though I have already received some verbal requests at Liturgy. Notification of those intending to confess on Sunday is also greatly appreciated, so that we know how many people are expected within our limited time-frame.
Thanks to all who have started contributing to St John’s food bank, and also to all who contributed to the extra collection for leprosy Sunday, a few weeks ago, raising over two hundred pounds, before any offerings from further west.
I look forward to the celebration of the after-feast of the Meeting of the Lord and feast of St Agatha, on Sunday, for which the variables may be found at “orthodoxaustin”:
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark