Archive for April, 2019

Writing in the May Parish Magazine, Fr Tom Bates says:

Thy Kingdom Come

 Words from the Lord’s Prayer. Simple words which in the midst of an ever faster paced, increasingly complex world resonate deep in the heart, and can draw us no only back to the wellsprings of our own faith, perhaps our childhood, but back to the fundamental roots of 2000 years of Christian heritage. Simple words that have hung upon the lips of so many people each day, in every kind of situation and condition of human need. When we consider that, even these very simple words can blow us away with their awesome power and far reaching influence.


Those simple words can blow us away, because by their simple eloquence we can come to know the Father as the Son, and in those simple words we, mere dust and shadows, can become children of God as we dare to call him ‘Our Father’.

In the gospels, we learn about prayer as a participation in the life of the Trinity from the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. We witness not only what he taught his followers about prayer, but most importantly we have the example of how he himself prayed. We are granted a glimpse into the inner, family life of the Most Holy Trinity, and in glimpsing we are caught up in, and incorporated into that life.

A prayer initiative, started by the Church of England, is marking out the period of time between Ascension and Pentecost: that period of ten days when we read that the disciples themselves were gathered together in ‘constant prayer’ with Mary the mother of Jesus, waiting for the promised ‘Comforter’, the Holy Spirit.

The ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative was started in recent years by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and it has spread to become and ecumenical period of prayer all over the world. During these ten days between Ascension and Pentecost, from 30th  May – 9thth  June we are invited to pray with special fervour for the ushering in of Christs kingdom here on earth.

There are many ways for everyone to be involved, and we will be doing things as a church. I hope that you will commit to setting aside a short time each day for those ten days to pray for the Church’s mission here in this place and worldwide as we prepare to celebrate her birthday at Pentecost.

I pray that this period of ten days will be a blessed and holy time for you, and that you will have confidence and faith in the vital work in which you are participating;


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May 3rd, the Flower Arranging National Day will see us hosting the National Association of Flower Arranging Societies  (Three Counties & South Wales Area) Diamond Year Thanksgiving  Evensong.

The service will open with a hymn of praise for all creation: All Things Bright & Beautiful reputedly written locally at Llanwenarth House by Mrs C F Alexander, the wife of the then Archbishop of Armagh.
The OT Reading from the Book of Genesis will be read by the outgoing Area  Treasurer Trish Tucker. Also present will be the Area President Mrs Katherine Year, who said this service was  a way of giving thanks to all those volunteers who work hard in their local flower arranging clubs.
NAFAS Members regularly give out or leave for collection small bouquets of flowers for the public on this day.
Flower arranging clubs and societies joined together as the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies in 1959. The Association has since been a unifying and guiding mainstay to thousands of men, women and juniors whose love of flowers has opened up a whole new world of creativity. In 1984 NAFAS was granted charitable status in recognition of its education activities. With about 50,000 members, it ranks among the most notable specialised National Associations.

Three Counties and South Wales Area of NAFAS covers principally Worcestershire, Gloucstershire and Herefordshire and that area of South Wales up to Aberporth. The Area was formed in 1959 and currently consists of 72 Clubs, with over 4,000 members. It also is a registered charity and uses all surpluses to further its aims of education, promotion and improving the standards of flower arranging in the Area.

The NAFAS Area have held two Area Festival’s of Flowers here at the Priory Church in recent years.

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Preaching  at the Paschal Vigil on the Eve of Easter Day, Canon Mark Soady reflects on what we can learn about the resurrection from fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, as we host visitors from our Twin Town of Beaupréau, France.


He said:

It is always easier to knock down then to build up. On last Monday night  we saw the Cathedral at Notre Dame burn down in a matter of hours and yet we are told by architectural experts that that there is no way it can be rebuilt in five years time, in time for the Olympics, what ever President Macron says.

Our Lord  and Saviour said “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” – no   wonder  the Jewish authorities  thought he was talking nonsense. What of course he was talking about was his own crucifixion and resurrection, but even that seems impossible but with God all things are possible.

Of course there is another  aspect to this: it is easier to bring down a person, than to build up a person, but that is not a reason to do so. Our God loves us so much that he was prepared to bring himself down to raise us up,  therefore we are called to forgive and by so doing bring ourselves down so that we may bring others up.


Easter Garden in the morning light

May we forgive as we are forgiven by the Risen Christ


Light the Paschal candles


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Canon Mark Soady Secretary of the Greater Churches Network and Vicar of St Mary’s Priory, Abergavenny said:

While the church is the people not buildings we know how important church buildings are as a place to go at a time of joy and of loss.  Our thoughts are with the people of Paris who have lost their ‘go to place’ as  a result of the devastating fire.

I am sure that  as we prepare to celebrate  Jesus’s Resurrection on  Easter Day so we l hope in the face of adversity


Fr Mark takes his turn tolling the Priory Bell in solidarity, as requested by the Rector of Notre Dame Cathedral 

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Preaching at St Mary’s Priory this morning the Sub Prior Fr Tom Bates reminded us that processions are symbolic of our faith journey. 


Easter Garden prepared by the children on Palm Sunday 

He said:

I have recently returned from Lenten retreat on which I read some of the works of the late bishop of Gloucester and liturgist, Michael Perham. He writes of Palm Sunday: I am persuaded that following on the coat tails of the Passion ‘extempore interpolation’ will add nothing to the set text’, and so I promise to be brief.

Palm Sunday is a day that stands out in our church calendar as being different. We receive Palm crosses, we hear two passages from Our Lord’s life in the gospel as we hear the passion orated, and we participate in a procession just as Christian’s have been from the earliest times.

But I wonder what the one thing you will take away is as to why today is different or important? Are you one of those people who takes their palm away and treasures it all year to faithfully bring it back to be turned into ash for Ash Wednesday? Is it the hymns that get you in the mood for Easter making this an important turning point in the year? Is it the reading of the Passion?

Today, as every year, we have shared in a procession.

Processions in church are symbolic of our journey of faith as we journey together on the Christian path towards our goal. However today, in this procession, we remember very powerfully and importantly that Jesus is in our midst, and that he comes as our saviour, and we are accompanying him into Jerusalem today in triumph.We do so, of course, remembering that we will also accompany him out of the city on Friday to his crucifixion. We remember that thanks to the events of this week Jesus is always present with us and accompanies us not only in our triumphs but also in our falls.

Jesus is in our midst, we accompany him celebrating his coming to save us.

The second thing to remember is that the liturgy quite literally moves us on. We may keep our palm cross all year, but we cannot linger here on the threshold of Holy Week with the palms and the triumph and the shouts of hosanna. The Passion reading reminds us of that. We are moved on. Holy Week has begun. Rather like a great symphony it is in several movements: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the grand finale of the Easter Vigil.

Now we call it Holy Week but Holy Week doesn’t just happen by itself. It requires you to make it Holy and to keep it as a Holy time, set apart for God.

There will be many people who come to church this morning who will not come again until next Sunday. They will go from the ‘hosanna’s and the triumph straight into the glory of Easter, without having marked any of the powerful events which mark out the working out of our salvation as we journey with Jesus this week to the upper room, to Calvary and to the tomb.  As Jesus went to the grave to make it holy, so we too are called to make this time holy, dying to ourselves to make room for God.

It is like the gospel episode, after Lazarus has been raised and Jesus sets his face to go up to Jerusalem and Thomas says to his fellow disciples ‘Let us also go with him, that we may die with him’. That is the invitation for us all today. Christ is with us. He moves us on from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem into our commemoration of his passion and his long awaited ‘hour’. Let us walk in his footsteps as faithful followers, each another Christ as we experience his Passion for ourselves, and in sharing in his Passion and his cross may we attain the grace to joyfully celebrate the true triumph next week at Easter.


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The St Mary's Choir Blog

There’s a wonderful programme of music on offer at St Mary’s Priory over Holy Week.  For the first time, we will be hosting a service of Tenebrae on Wednesday at 8.00 pm, to be sung by our old friends, the Ethelbert Consort.  This most dramatic of services, (held in candle-light) will feature a wide range of musical styles and is not to be missed.  At the Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday the Priory Choir will sing Ola Gjeilo’s reflective setting of the traditional Ubi caritas text. On Good Friday for their annual Sacred Concert, the Priory Choir will perform a setting of the “Stabat Mater” by Sir Charles Stanford; this is a wonderfully lyrical and deeply moving work that is, sadly, rarely performed.  The culmination of months of work, we look forward to welcoming many visitors along with our regular congregation at these services.

Wednesday 17th

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Last weekend we launch a new prayer Guild- the Guild of Simeon and Anna.

     Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law,

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child

Extract from LUKE Chapter 2       


Canon Mark Soady said;

“As we look at ways of Proclaiming afresh the Gospel some in the congregation feel that due to age or infirmity they can not be part of the work of the body of Christ. With the launch of this Guild we are encouraging them commit to spend time in prayer  for the work of the church and the world.

Both Anna and Simeon got to meet Jesus because they devoted themselves to prayer, so joining the Guild brings a personal blessing as well as  helping to build the kingdom of God”.


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