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Archive for December, 2012

2013-a jam packed year

We have a full and varied programme of activities planned for St Mary’s Priory in 2013, in addition to the usual services related to the Christian Festivals.

In June we will hold another Medieval Fayre on Saturday,1st (To book your stall email:enquires@stmarys-priory.org) and on June 29th we will join in the Green Book for Monmouth – do visit our Abbott’s Garden on that day.

Among the Concerts planned for the year are:

Only Boys Aloud at the Borough Theatre on May 11th, in aid of the Winston Memorial Fund

Elvis -impersonated by Keith Davies  sings Gospel in Church on February 9th

Gwent Bach Choir return on April 20th & July 6th

We will mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday,February 1st  and host the Archbishop of Wales Award for Church Music Service & Awards on April 27th.

In April we hope to display some works from the Methodist Art Exhibition as part of a trail of paintings in the area.

We will again play host to part of the Abergavenny Food Festival in September (21st & 22nd) and the Winter Festival in December.

The year will end with a spectacular Festival of Flowers: Advent to Candlemas  on November 21st -26th, arranged inconjunction with the Abergavenny & District  Flower  Arrangement Club.

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St John the Evangelist ( December 27th)

9am Holy Eucharist

Holy Innocents (December 28th)

8am Holy Eucharist

Thomas Beckett (December 29th)

9am Holy Eucharist

1st Sunday of Christmas  ( December 30th)

8am Holy Eucharist

10.30am Parish Eucharist

Sunday Evening’s Service at 6pm will be at Christchurch, North Street

New Year’s Eve (December 31st)

9am Holy Eucharist

 

A Blessed Christmas from us all at St Mary’s Priory.

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Preaching at St Mary’s Priory Church at the First Mass of Christmas on Christmas Eve the Vicar, Fr Mark Soady said:

Each year I get a Christmas card from a young lad who I baptised when he was 11 and is now a first year student in University at Aberystwyth. Each year the card has a joke and a message. This year’s shows the Angel Gabriel about to tell the Shepherds that  Jesus has been born, when they stop him and announce they know already – the news has already been tweeted!

We now live in an age when stories can quickly go viral. Sometimes such stories can get one in to trouble, as some people report gossip as fact. We’ve sadly seen examples of that in recent months. As with all things, used correctly they can be for the good, used badly they can cause nothing, but harm. We here at St Mary’s Priory communicate frequently with large numbers of people- and I hope in doing so we are spreading the Good News of Jesus.

The Congregation in candle light

The Congregation in candle light

 

People regularly complain to me that the news is full of bad stories, but that doesn’t stop us from buying the newspapers or viewing the stories. I wonder how many people looked at the naked photos of Prince Harri or the Duchess of Cambridge – yet were among those that complained about their press invasion.

As Christians we have a great story to tell. Our God loves us so much that he was prepared to become a baby born in a manger and die the most horrid death of all on the cross for us, so that we may have Eternal Life. My Challenge to you this Christmas is to go out and spread that good news.

It is only  when people are told of Jesus that they can know about the wonderful things he does for us. When he walked this earth many came to him to be healed, only when they had heard that he was a great healer.

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Our Ordinand, Philip Godsell concludes our Advent series of sermons on the sacraments.

Its good to be home after a term in theological college, well Father Mark asked me preach this morning on the sacraments of Marriage and Ordination, so be patient with me, “as patience is a virtue and virtue is a grace and grace is a little girl who wouldn’t wash her face”

What do I mean by grace, well a sacrament, as we know, is an outward sign that confers an inner grace.

And the Sacrament of Marriage is no exception, as each one of us has something that we want to do with our lives: something we want to become. It may take us a while to find out what that “something” is, but eventually idea’s and goals form, either consciously or unconsciously.

And it seems to me that as people pursue these goals, whatever they may be—to be a Priest, or Dentist, Care worker, or to be the best School Teacher that ever lived, to own a Rolls Royce or whatever else we may see our lives to be about, however sometimes we encounter another human being to whom we are so attracted that the love of this other person supersedes all other life goals and ambitions.

Whether gradually, or in a whirlwind, we decide that the first person on the agenda, is now going to be the life, the happiness, the holiness of this other person. The good of this other, takes precedence, even over the desires and dreams that we had for ourselves. And when that other person makes the same decision, together the two embark on a whole new adventure.

It seems to me that this is the basic meaning of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Perhaps then the sacrament reveals the religious dimension of marriage. Besides the human, social and legal dimensions of marriage, the public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person, sacramental marriage is also a public statement about God. The celebration of each of the sacraments reveals something of this ultimate reality: who God is and who God is for us.

In the Scriptures the relationship between God and God’s people is often described in terms of a marriage. The early Christians, reflecting on Christ’s love for us, also used this image.

Christ and the Church embrace in mutual love and self-giving, even as do husband and wife (Ephesians 5:21-33). “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).

In each of the sacraments, a window opens and we can glimpse the mystery of God and God’s plan for the salvation of the world. In Christian marriage we see that God was not content to be alone, but embarked on a whole new life project.

For it was out of love God created us, and all that is. God is faithful no matter what. Whether we are faithful or faithless, God is faithful; whether we wander away in sin or remain in the embrace of love, God is always there and is ever ready to embrace us.

The sacramental sign, which the husband and wife give to each other, they also give that sign to the whole community of witnesses. I too have made commitments to God and I’d like to think that God has made commitments to me, as I progress through Ordination training.

There has been many times when I wonder if God will be faithful. I have never seen God, but I can see the faithfulness of Christian husbands and wives. Their love for each other is a sacramental sign and witness of God’s love for me.

I believe that our human lives are interconnected, like a fabric, woven together by many commitments. The faithfulness of their commitment ultimately strengthens my own commitments.

This indeed is a great mystery. It is something that touches me deeply each time I experience a Christian wedding and each time I experience the sacramental love of husband and wife, and I am reminded of my own commitments, plus the commitments which I made to my Wife, because she has allowed me to surrender our secular trappings and follow more fully a life in Christ as an Ordinand.

I pray daily, for the strength, both physically and mentally to complete my time at Theological college, but I have learnt that God only ever gives three answers to prayers….1. Yes! 2. Not Yet. 3. I have something else better in mind.

Many of you here today, have seen me move from the Pew to Postulancy, and latterly into Ordination training, and to be honest, Ordination had never really been a life goal! , Ambition to train as a Priest had never even appeared on my radar! , but I feel that I have been directed by a higher power, directed down a rather rocky and emblematically most painful path along which I have been dragged kicking and screaming by some wonderful encounters love and support which surpass any explanation.

As I prepare to receive the sacrament of Ordination, once again a window opens, and I can see more fully the mystery of God, and Gods plan for the salvation of the world.

Every day I awake and have doubts, doubts that I will ever be worthy of this sacrament.

But I have received a tremendous gift of faith from God, so I cannot just sit and do nothing with it, as by accepting Ordination, I am told it leaves and indelible mark on your soul and change’s a person forever.

But let me remind you all, that through our Baptism, each of us is called to share in Christ’s mission, as Priest, Profit and King.

Jesus Christ became man and lived amongst us, and while he was here on earth, he fulfilled a particular mission given to him by his father, he taught, and shepherded the people, he healed bodily and spiritual illnesses, and most importantly he offered himself on the cross in sacrifice for the salvation of the world.

He was and is our eternal high priest, after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, he left behind his apostles who where to continue his mission on earth.

The apostles in turn selected certain men to be there successors, these men became Bishop’s, they ordained these bishops by the laying on of hands in the invocation of the Holy Spirit, which is called the Sacrament of Ordination, or Holy Orders.

Over time the Church has come to a deeper understanding of Holy Orders, but we see from the very beginning that Christ intended that his church be ordered according to a certain hierarchy.

We see that in the Scriptures that Christ established three degrees of Holy Orders, Bishops, Priests and Deacons.

Bishops share in the fullness of Holy Orders and serve as the head of the local Diocese.

Priests are the Bishops co workers in his ministry and serve in the local community.

Deacons are ordained to help the Bishop and Priest.

At Ordination, The Bishop, Priest or Deacons receives special gifts of the Holy Spirit, which strengthen and bring to life their particular ministry.

Ordination occurs as part of the Eucharist, where part of the rite is when the bishop lays his hands on the head of the Ordinand and invokes the Holy Spirit in the prayer of concretion.

Each degree of ordination confers different grace and privileges, from the ability to preach, given to deacons, from the power to act in the Person of Christ in offering the Eucharist and forgiving sins, granted to Priest, to a special grace of strength granted to Bishops, which allow them to lead and teach and sanctify their flock.

The Sacrament of Ordination is ultimately considered as a gift, given by Christ for the service of his people so that his mission of salvation may be carried on until the end of time.

So no pressure then, in a very real way I have experienced a great sense of reverence and awe about my priestly vocation as my time in theological college.  I always have, of course, but lately I have been truly rejoicing because I recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ has done amazing things in my life. The Lord can never be outdone in his generosity. I have experienced the most amazing love of Christ and I can do nothing but rejoice.

So by the help of God, if I make the grade and receive the Sacrament of Ordination from My Lord Monmouth, I pray that this Sacrament with be the outward sign that confers an inner grace.

 

 

 

 

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At the age of 21 HM The Queen made a promise to serve the whole the Commonwealth. Sixty years ago that promise became a reality when she ascended  to the throne, we have MS Priory Crib-8179spent this last year giving thanks for her 60 years of fulfilling that promise of service.

Sadly we are not all so good at keeping our promises. How many of us have said ‘Do come for coffee/ lunch’, when we don’t really mean it, let alone not keeping more fundamental promises.

Christmas is a time when we remember that God did keep his promise to send a Messiah – a Saviour. Throughout  the Old Testament God was promising to send his Son to save the world. Christmas is the fulfilment of that promise, but the promise does not end there God promises to come again in glory to save the world.

So as we celebrate Christmas let us promise to keep our promises to others.

Blessed Christmas!

Mark
Fr Mark Soady, Vicar of Abergavenny

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Gwyn Jones Remembered

It is with sadness that we announce the Death of Gwyn Jones, a leading figure in the restoration of our Monuments. His Memorial Service will be held at St Mary’s Priory Church on January 7th at 12noon.

On hearing the news Chris Cotteril, Secretary of the Monuments Restoration Fund said,

We owe  a tremendous debt to Gwyn, who had the knowledge to recognise the
historical significance of the Jesse Tree and mediaeval monuments at St Mary’s
Priory Church,  the enthusiasm to convince others of the need to conserve them
and the persistence and commitment to see such  a significant undertaking to
completion

 

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The Anglican Churches in Abergavenny have this week been taking the message of Christmas out to the town.

Fr Bernard loads the keyboard in to his car

Fr Bernard loads the keyboard in to his car

 

On Tuesday night we sang carols in the Farmers Arms, the first of the town’s pubs we will be visiting over the next 10 days.

Then on Wednesday we visited the Old People’s Homes of the town with the Christmas message in words and music.

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