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Prayer station 1: Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name…

An invitation to connect with God as the perfect father.

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In the St Joseph Chapel, a space dedicated to the one God chose to be his earthly foster-father and guardian. Before you is the image of Jesse, father of David, Joseph’s ancestor and the tree that tells us who Jesus really is, foretold by patriarchs and prophets.

Fatherhood is a relationship that is unique to us all. Perhaps you have or had a good relationship with your father….perhaps you don’t or didn’t. Maybe you are a father, or parent yourself, or perhaps you are not. All of these factors affect the way we understand God as the perfect Father.

Jesse

 

 

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Between Our Lord’s Ascension in to heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit the disciples along with Our Lord’s mother the Blessed Virgin Mary s spent much time in the Upper Room praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

With Christains of all denomonations we will be spending the 10 days between Ascension (May 10th) and Pentecost (May 20th) praying for the coming of the Spirit in our own day.

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Join us in this Priory Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary to be part of the “Thy Kingdom come initiative.

As well as materials there will be a prayer trail based on the Lord’s Prayer around St Mary’s from Ascension Day to Pentecost for people to pray at their own speed and in their own time.
The Holy Hour of prayer in the St Benedict Chapelat St Mary’s on Friday, May 11, at 4.30pm will be focused on the theme of Mission and Evangelism in the spirit of Thy Kingdom Come.

 

The Holywell Community was joined by Anglican monks of Mucknell Abbey at Vespers at St Mary’s Priory Church on May Bank Holiday Monday as the former Herbert Chapel was dedicated to St Benedict  and an Icon of St Benedict was received and hallowed.

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The Icon  was written by Br Michäel of Mucknell who describes himself as   “still a novice in the art and this icon is only (my) seventh to date”. Icons are said to be a Sacred Art. By this, we mean that icons are not supposed to be displayed in a corridor or on a staircase wall and admired for the sake of it, but have very much a liturgical function. As part of the liturgy, Icons are there to help us to draw closer to God.

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The Herbert Chapel was named after the Herbert family who are buried there, but like all the Chapels  in the Priory it is being renamed after a Saint. The Prior, Canon Mark Soady said:

“AS St Benedict’s Rule has been followed here on and off for nearly 1,000 years it seemed right to have a Chapel set aside to remember  him. In addition to being the founder of Western Monasticism St Benedict is also the Patron Saint of Europe; and though we may have voted to leave the EU we are still part of the Continent of Europe, so under his patronage.”

One of those buried in the Chapel is Sir Richard Herbert. Sir Richard was brought up at Raglan Castle with the young Henry VII and fought alongside him when he claimed the crown off Richard III at Bosworth. Sir Richard was the illegitimate son of the the 1st Earl of Pembroke , William Herbert.

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Fr Mark receives the Icon from Br Michäel

Five monks from Mucknell Abbey travelled to the Priory for the day:

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Abbot Thomas OSB ,Br Michäel, Br Adrian (a novice  who was previously a member of the Holywell Community), Br Aiden & Sr Sally

Preaching at Evensong on Sunday the NSM Curate Fr Jeff Pearce likened chapters 2 & 3 of the Book Of Revelation as like an Audit Report on the Churches, and reflected on what that means for us , for church today in this place.

 

He said:

When I was in my employment in the National Health Service, one of the things to which I did not look forward was a visit from the Auditor’s Department. I hasten to add, at this point, that this was not because I was carrying out something that I did not want to be discovered. It was because I knew that the subsequent report, when it came, despite the efforts of myself and my staff, would make comments on things that were felt to be unsatisfactory and which needed to be changed.

I mention this because it occurs to me that chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation are in some ways a series of audit reports. These two chapters are addressed to the seven Christian churches which were in Asia at that time, commenting on their strengths when appropriate, their weaknesses and commenting on actions which need to be taken. Our Second Lesson this evening (Revelation 3: 1 – 13) covered the fifth and sixth of these, namely to the churches at Sardis and Philadelphia.

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At the time that John, the author of the Book of Revelation, wrote these words Sardis was a place which was recognised as being wealthy but degenerate. There was a general lethargy and lack of energy throughout society there and this was mirrored in the local Christian church. John, writing as Jesus, tells the church that it has the reputation of being alive, but that it is in fact spiritually dead. He warns them of the need to wake up from their lethargy and to be on the watch. Watchfulness is an essential part of the Christian life, and John is telling the members of the church at Sardis that they must be on the watch – for sin, temptation and false teachings, all of which were issues for the early church. In addition, they must be on the watch for the Second Coming of Christ, which at that time was thought to be imminent.

As a positive, John mentions that the church at Sardis does have a few faithful members, whom he refers to as those “who have not soiled their garments”. They will set the example for others and will find favour with God.

Philadelphia was a border town, and the Christians there would have been very much in a minority. Again writing as Jesus, John recognises this, saying “you have but little power” but he also recognises that the church has remained true to its faith. There is a reference to the open door – the task to spread the Christian faith across the border, and the statement that this door cannot be shut. There is the statement that they will be spared the coming judgement because of their faith. And there is the statement that Christ will come soon – a warning to those who have lapsed, but a comfort to those who are being persecuted and oppressed. Our reading finishes with a list of the promises made to those who are faithful. These words would have created vivid and real pictures in the minds of those church members at Philadelphia.

I wonder how the members of the respective churches responded to the words they received. Hopefully, the church at Sardis was jolted out of its lethargy and complacency, though, if we are honest, when things are nice and cosy and have jogged along comfortably for a long period it is not always easy to accept the need for change and the disruption to routine. The church at Philadelphia, one thinks, would have appreciated the recognition given to its efforts and would have been encouraged to an even greater effort.

The topic of audit had been very much on the agenda of the Anglican church in this Diocese. I refer, of course, to the audits which have been carried out by Bishop Richard and his team. As you will have read in the April Four Churches Magazine this Incumbency was to have been visited in July, but in this month’s edition you will see that this has been delayed.

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The thought of these audits have raised fears, one of which is that they are being carried out with the purpose of closing churches. This has occurred following some audits, but we must remember that churches have closed before this in this Diocese and throughout Great Britain, in particular those belonging to the Nonconformist denominations. The way to respond is not to think that this is the end, or the beginning of the end, or to think that in ten years time the church will not exist. Rather, we should be looking honestly and realistically at why it has proved necessary for these churches to close and to learn from this.

John wrote to the churches in Asia to make them fit for purpose in the world of that time. As chief pastor of this Diocese, Bishop Richard is seeking to ensure that the Anglican church within it is fit for purpose in the world of today. You have heard me mention previously of the need to engage with the world around us, because if we do not, we exist for ourselves only, and the end may indeed come. We need to connect with communities outside our churches, which may mean developing new forms of church, as we have started to do here in Abergavenny.

When our audit takes place, we will be told what we are doing well, be told where we need to change and will be given guidance and support so that we can look at the challenges which face us – and also the opportunities – and put a plan in place. As Father Mark has said, it will be about what we do and how we do it.

If all this sounds a bit depressing, we have some words of hope. I refer to our First Lesson from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 60: 1 – 14). This book falls into three parts; the first dealing with a period where the Jewish nation had closed their minds to God and identifying faults and failings (a bit like an audit report!); the second providing consolation to a nation which was now in exile as a result of having closed minds; and the third part following the return from exile and providing words of encouragement. The optimistic words of our First Lesson are taken from that third section and foretell a glorious future for the Jewish nation. Our Psalm this evening (96) reminds of the need to recognise the authority of God . The words from Isaiah and the Psalm remind us that, if we open our minds to God, He will give us His help to be His servants.

So, as we look to the future, as we await the Bishop’s audit, let us pray that we will not be frightened of the future but that we will keep our minds open to God, so that we will face up to the challenges which lie ahead, but also seize the opportunities to spread the Good News of Christ Crucified and grow God’s kingdom in this place.

 

More details have been released about the Festival of Flowers taking place from June 29th  to July 3rd  being held to mark this years various Anniversaries.

On the Eve of the Festival (June 28th )  there will be  a Preview Evening, attended by the Lord Lieutenant and other Civic and Church Leaders. Tickets for the Preview evening including Canape Reception are £10 and are available from the Tithe Barn.

The Festival will be closed on Saturday afternoon, but open again during the evening.  At 6pm an Informal Concert  will be given by Simon Pratt, our former Concentor and  post graduate Student at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

On Saturday morning at 10.30am the 5th Abergavenny Brownies will re-enact the demonstrations that were seen prior to Women getting the vote 100 years ago. The brownies will show off the Banners they have been working on. They along with Gwent WI have each created  the Festival displays to mark the Suffragette  Centenary.

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The Sunday Sung Eucharist at 11am on Sunday, July 1st will include a Sermon by the Dean of St Asaph, The Very Reverend Nigel Williams . On Sunday Evening at 6pm there will be a Service which gives us an opportunity to mark in prayer and readings the Anniversaries the Festival acknowledges.

Among the Anniversaries to be marked are:

  • Our Royal Patron the Prince of Wales’ 70th Birthday
  • The Centenary of the ending of Hostilities in World War 1 and the creation of the Royal Air Force
  • The Centenary of Women’s suffrage
  • Centenary of the founding of the Order of St John Priory for Wales
  • The 65th Anniversary of HM The Queen’s Coronation and 70th Anniversary of HM’s wedding to The Duke of Edinburgh

and the local Anniversaries  included are:

  • 20th Anniversary of Abergavenny Food Festival
  • 30th and 50th Anniversaries respectively of the twinning with Beaupreau in France and Ostringen in Germany
  • 15th Anniversary of Diocesan Link between Monmouth and The Highveld

 

Prior tot he Festival there will be an evening Flower Demonstration, when the three designers will reflect on Moments to Remember. Tickets for the Demonstration by Janet Davies, Sheila Davies & Linda Garret  at the Priory Centre on June 8th are available from the Tithe Barn priced £8.

On the Queen’s Official Birthday – 65 years after her Coronation an event at the Vicarage:  Canon, Cake & Coffee. Join us on June 9th from 10am.

 

Launching a new prayer initiative our Sub Prior Fr Tom Bates quotes  the following words which led Jesus to teach  the Lord’s Prayer

 “Lord, teach us to pray…”

Simple words which, in the midst of an ever faster paced, increasingly complex world, resonate deep in the heart and can draw us not 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.

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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 do that, 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 prays. 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 new prayer initiative 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 a global and ecumenical period of prayer.

During these ten days between Ascension and Pentecost, from May 10- 20, we are invited to pray with special fervour for the ushering in of Christ’s kingdom here on earth.

There are many ways for everyone to be involved, and 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.

More Information 

 

ON The Feast of the Blessed Virgin May, our Patron Saint we are re-launching our Church Guidebook to include the amazing developments that have happened in the church over the last decade.

The previous Guidebook was acclaimed as the Best Church Guidebook by the Church Monuments Society in 2013, following judging by Sir Simon Jenkins.

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The Guidebook is produced by RJL Smith of Much Wenlock and costs £3.50.

The Guidebook opens with a message from our Royal Patron , HRH The Prince  of Wales.

In his welcome to the book the Vicar & Prior, Canon Mark Soady reminds the reader that the Priory has ” evolved to meet the needs of the community it is called to serve, moving from enclosed monastic community to a Parish Church”. He also makes mention of the creation of the Holywell New Monastic Community reflecting, “Many have commented on the sense of prayerfulness that the rejuvenation of the Benedictine lifestyle….has enabled”.

  • As Lady Day (The Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary) could not fall on Palm Sunday it has this year been translated to the first available date after Easter Week, ie Monday, April 9th.