The celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Portsmouth on Saturday 12th May included the latest baptism, that of young Alexander Bahy Eladham Ramsay Mahrous. He was beautifully behaved throughout the service and beamed wonderfully when he was dressed in the miniature priest’s garments at the conclusion. This is not just a ‘nice touch’ or a good ‘photo opportunity’ but is in fact an important symbol emphasising that all the baptised are members of the “royal priesthood” (1Peter 2:9). The ordained priest does not celebrate the Liturgy on behalf of the congregation who are merely spectators – no, the ordained priest leads the celebration in which all present participate, offering the eucharist together and he may no more offer it without a congregation than the congregation may dare to offer it without an ordained priest.
Following the death of Lyndsey Clare Pratt on 26 April at the age of 48, following a long battle with cancer, her funeral was held at Sacred Heart Church in Waterlooville, Portsmouth, on 9 May. Lyndsey’s husband, David, and her two children, Hannah and Samuel are members of the British Orthodox Church and, although a Catholic, she was always very supportive of their church membership and often attended services with them. The Church was full for her Funeral Mass, which was celebrated by the parish priest, Father Kevin Bidgood. Abba Seraphim and Father Simon Smyth and several members of the BOC congregations in Bournemouth and Portsmouth also attended because of the high regard in which she was held. In his homily, Father Kevin emphasised that throughout her long illness she had shown great Christian fortitude and was determined to live her life to the full, undertaking several strenuous sponsored activities to raise funds for cancer charities and demonstrating her strong Christian Faith.
At the end of the service, Abba Seraphim was invited to intone an Orthodox Prayer of Commendation whilst at the graveside in Catherington Cemetery he led the Orthodox mourners in singing the Paschal Troparion.
On 5 May, during the regular monthly celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the British Orthodox London Mission of SS. George & Paul the Hermit at St. George-in-the-East, Shadwell, Abba Seraphim ordained Daniel Malyon as a Subdeacon. Daniel is a member of the BOC Portsmouth Parish but whilst teaching near St. Albans, has been serving as a Reader attached to the Secretariat staff, so has been serving with Abba Seraphim at Babingley, Charlton and Shadwell. A graduate in theology, he is currently studying for his Master’s degree in Orthodox Theology at the University of Winchester.
Assisting Abba Seraphim at the Liturgy were Fathers Simon Smyth and Peter Farrington as well as Deacon Theodore de Quincey. They were joined by two of Daniel’s fellow Readers from Portsmouth, James Kelly and Anthony-Paul Holland.
To mark the end of Bright Week, Abba Seraphim celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Glastonbury Abbey on 21 April. This was held in St. Patrick’s Chapel, which was built in 1512 by Abbot Richard Bere as a chapel for the women’s almshouses contiguous to the abbey. The Chapel underwent restoration in 2009-2010 with a new stained glass window by Wayne Ricketts and murals designed by Fleur Kelly, a local artist. This was made possible by a grant of £49,200 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Abba Seraphim was assisted by Father Simon Smyth, who preached, Subdeacon Wulfric Ashdown and Reader Daniel Malyon and those attending represented British Orthodox members from the South Coast and West Country (Bristol, Glastonbury, Portsmouth and Southampton). At the conclusion of the Liturgy Subdeacon Wulfric conducted the worshippers round the Abbey ruins briefly highlighting some of the most significant historical and architectural features.
Abba Seraphim will be the celebrant at the Orthodox Liturgy on the morning of the Anglican Pilgrimage to Glastonbury on Saturday, 16 June. This will be held in the crypt of the Lady Chapel at 9.45 a.m.
The traditional services of Holy Week and Pascha were observed by the British Orthodox churches and missions during the past week and reports indicate that they were all well supported. Father Simon Smyth reported that services were held in the three South Coast communities of Southampton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth from Palm Sunday evening to Holy Wednesday but thereafter came together at the Church in Bournemouth for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Pascha Eve. Representing the local ‘Churches Together’ Father Robin Nash, priest in charge of St. Luke Winton, joined the local congregation for the Paschal Liturgy when he read the Pauline Epistle. On Holy Pascha, Father Simon held a forenoon service and administered Holy Communion to those who had been unable to attend the late night Liturgy, before conducting the usual Memorial prayers around the Orthodox graves in Winton Cemetery.
Abba Seraphim visited the Chatham Church on Holy Thursday, where he performed the Laquan Footwashing and celebrated the Liturgy before travelling to Babingley to preside at the Good Friday prayer and the Paschal Vigil and Liturgy, which took place at sunset, earlier than at Bournemouth, Chatham and Cusworth, which all began at 10.00 p.m. Before the Paschal Vigil Abba Seraphim baptised and chrismated Richard Tawn at St. Felix Church and, dressed in his white chrisom robe and having been given the new name of George, he was joyfully able to receive his first communion and warmly welcomed to fellowship. Abba Seraphim returned to London early on Pascha morning where he took the sacrament to Father Michael Robson at Morden College and to other elderly and sick members who had been unable to attend a liturgy the previous night.
Abba Seraphim, Father Simon Smyth, Father David Seeds and Father Peter all preached on the Resurrection during their respective liturgies but in Bournemouth and Portsmouth the local deacons also took responsibility for preaching during Holy Week. Always popular is the Good Friday Burial Service, where rose petals, herbs and spices are reverently offered by the women, who assist the clergy in preparing the cross for ‘burial’ and its transfer into the sanctuary.
The services at Chatham and Cusworth were also well supported by their local congregations and all churches reported that they were joined by other ethnic Orthodox who were unable to attend their own churches. Although refreshments were provided in all churches following the Paschal Liturgy, many also brought baskets with traditional paschal dishes to have them blessed before returning with them to their homes. Dyed and chocolate eggs were distributed among all the worshippers and always prove very popular with the children.
The fact that Holy Pascha falls within the forty days of mourning for the death of Pope Shenouda undoubtedly contributed to a reflective spirit in all the churches, and the prayers which are normally made for his life were now changed to those for his repose, but also for many this highlighted the common hope of the Resurrection which we all share and the deep joy we feel in proclaiming that Christ is Risen.
Raising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
10.30am Morning Prayer
9.30 am Raising of Incense
10.00 am Liturgy of St. James
11.45 am Refreshments
Raising of Incense – 9:45am
Divine Liturgy – 10:30am
10.30am Morning Prayer