Twelve Apostles' Church Eastleigh

The Holy Spirit’s descent

In this email

Message from Fr Alexander — The Holy Spirit’s descent
The Icon of a New Saint: Sophrony the Athonite
The Apostles’ Fast
Create an online forum?
Covid-19 Response
Live stream information
News of Future Services
Patron
Resources
Saints and Feasts — 10th–18th June
Offer of help

Dear Friends

Happy feast!  May the blessing of the coming of the Holy Spirit enlighten you.

We have waited.  We waited with expectation and joy for the coming of the Holy Spirit, for the Pentecost of joy, the Pentecost which fulfils the Lord’s promise.

How many of us have, though, continued to wait beyond the great feast?  How many of us resist the descent of the Holy Spirit?  We resist him entering into our hearts, because to let him in means to let go of ourselves.  It means “it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20); it means I must deny myself, take up my cross daily and follow him (Luke 9:23); it means I must go through the narrow gate and follow the difficult path (Matthew 7:13-14).

The Holy Spirit’s descent is no mere blessing — it is a call to arms, a challenge to become the human I was created to be, a blessing for action.

The world is renewed, it is full of life.  We see this is the flowers in bloom in our gardens and parks, the trees with bright and vibrant green leaves.  Our religious life, too, is transformed and transfigured by the early summer.  When we see nature full of life we can see the Spirit who vivifies it and we ourselves can come to life in praise of the triune God.

Be alive to the Holy Spirit.  Make the sign of the Cross, now, and say this prayer aloud:

O heavenly King
The Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
Who art in all places,
and fillest all things.
Treasury of blessings
and giver of life
Come and abide in us
Cleanse us from impurity
And of thy goodness
Save our souls.

May you continue to have a joyous feast of Pentecost.


The Icon of a New Saint: Sophrony the Athonite

An article has recently been published on the Orthodox Arts Journal website written by Sister Gabriela, on painting the icon St Sophrony, the founder of the Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex: it is well worth reading and seeing the beautiful icons.

Holy Father Sophrony, pray to God for us!

On the 27th of November 2019, Father Sophrony, founder of the Community of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England; monk, spiritual father, theologian, and iconographer, was numbered among the saints with the name St. Sophrony the Athonite. This was not unexpected as there had been rumors earlier, but still, it changed my life.

I joined Father Sophrony’s monastery in 1983 just before the start of a major painting project: the murals of the chapel of St. Silouan the Athonite.  I worked with Father Sophrony on the murals and also on several icons, mosaics and projects. One project was to paint his own Elder, St. Silouan, when he was entered into the list of saints. Then, as happened now, there had been strong rumors of his canonization so we dared to start the icon but left it without a name. We added the name the evening we received confirmation and put the icon in the iconostasis of the chapel.

Father Sophrony used to tell how his Elder was a constantly praying person and that his facial expression changed continuously, reflecting his inner life. He also said that no photograph gave him justice as the photograph is taken in a split second and does not reflect or represent the full person. On the other hand, an icon has to be a portrait of the inner and outer man. Little did I know that thirty years later I would find myself in the same position of painting my Elder.

From reading his life, it is clear that he was one of God’s elect who was deemed worthy to see the Glory of the Lord, and as such, his face was continually “transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” For this reason, it is very difficult to depict his face as an icon.


Click here for the article.


The Apostles’ Fast

The Apostles’ Fast always starts the Monday after All Saints (this year, Monday 15th June) and is ended by the feast of the Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul (always 29th June).

Fasting periods are given to us as a time where we can put our own needs after others.  If you would like to enter more into the beautiful tradition of fasting for this short fast, this year only two weeks, but you don’ know where to start, then get in contact.  Email webenquiry@orthodoxeastleigh.uk.


Create an online forum?

Would you be interested in meeting online?  One-to-one or as a group?  We could make use of technology to create an online community, ask questions, read together, pray together?

Let me know! Email webenquiry@orthodoxeastleigh.uk


Covid-19 Response

We should follow government advice whenever we can.  We are not being asked to give up or deny our Faith, but many are being told to stay socially isolated and this will last, perhaps, for many months.

How can you respond?  Pray.  We pray because we love and because we know the power of prayer.  We pray not as a last resort but as a first response.

Is there anything you need or anything you can offer?  Let me know — my telephone number and email address are on each of the emails: please get in contact if you are feeling isolated: I am here for you.

Are you willing to contact isolated people via email or phone?  Let me know!  It would be good to match up those who need help with those who can offer it.

Live stream

The Monastery of Saints Antony and Cuthbert, Shropshire, is live-streaming its services for all who are unable to go to their own churches.  These are over YouTube and can be accessed here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfWMaefJYqFEZkYiK2WmeEw

Usually Vespers on Saturday evenings at 5 pm and Matins and Liturgy on Sunday mornings from 7.30 am.


News of Future Services

Given the current situation in the UK, and throughout the world, about the Covid-19 (Corona) virus it would be prudent to wait for our plans to meet together as a worshipping community.  I hope and pray this will pass soon.

This is an invitation for us to repent and to pray.

Patron

We need to be praying, too, that the patron of our new community will identify himself, herself or themselves to us.  I believe it will not be so much that we choose, rather we need to pray that the choice be revealed to us.


Resources

Have a look at our website —  orthodoxeastleigh.uk
If you click on the “Blog” link, or directly here, you will see all past emails as well as sermons etc.

Our Facebook Page, facebook.com/orthodoxeastleigh, too, has daily additions during the week as well as on feast days.  Please do like and share our page and content so we may reach a wider group of people.

Do you receive the weekly (on Fridays) text message?  If not, then let me know.


Saints and Feasts

Wednesday 10th June — After-feast of Pentecost.  Martyr Alexander and Virgin-martyr Antonina at Constantinople (c 313).

Thursday 11th — After-feast of Pentecost.  Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabus (1st).  Mitrophan Chi Sung and the Martyrs of the Boxer Rising (1900).  Commemoration of the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to a monk on Mt Athos, and the revelation of the hymn It is truly meet (Axion Estin) (982).

Friday 12th —After-feast of Pentecost.  St Onouphrios the Great (4th).

Saturday 13th — Leavetaking of Pentecost.  Martyr Aquilina of Byblos in Syria (293).

Sunday 14th — All Saints.  Prophet Elisha (9th BC).  St Justin (Popovich) of Celije (1979).

Monday 15th — Beginning of the Apostles’ Fast.  Prophet Amos (8th BC).  St Jerome (420).

Tuesday 16th — St Tychon, Bishop of Amathous in Cyprus (4th–5th).

Wednesday 17th — Martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ismael of Persia (362).  St Nectan of Hartland, Martyr (Devon 6th).  St Botolph (East Anglia 7th).

Thusday 18th — Martyrs Leontios, Hypatios and Theodoulos, at Tripolis in Syria (70–79).


Can I help you?

I am here for you, you need only ask.  Is there a way I can support your life of faith?  Get in touch.

Can you help the mission?

Yes, absolutely.  Offer yourselves to the Lord: pray!  Make available to him all your talents and ask him how he would like you to use them — listen for his reply.

I ask your prayers for me.

With love in Christ

Fr Alexander
webenquiry@orthodoxeastleigh.uk