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The feast of the icon of the Mother of God, ‘Axion Estin’.On this day, we not only celebrate the Axion Estin (It is Truly Meet - Достóйно éсть) icon of the Mother of God, but also the angelic revelation of the hymn to the Mother of God, that we sing at most Liturgies outside Great Lent:

It is truly meet to bless thee, the Theotokos, / ever blessed and most blameless, and Mother of our God. / More honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, / who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, the very Theotokos: thee do we magnify.

The core of this hymn, ‘More honourable than the Cherubim...’, by St Cosmas the Hymnographer († 773), was already part of the services, with its most striking use being between the verses of the Magnificat (My soul magnifies the Lord... / Величитъ душе моя Господа...) in matins, and it was in the 10th century that the initial words of the hymn was revealed to an Athonite monk.

The elder and his disciple lived near the Athonite capital, Karyes, and the elder decided to go there to attend the vigil on Saturday night - Sunday morning. However, his disciple was left behind to pray the service in their kellion.

When there was a knock at the door, he answered and saw another monk, who called himself the Monk Gabriel, standing on the threshold. The disciple invited the visitor to join him for the vigil.

During matins, when they came to the ninth ode of the canon, the disciple began to sing “My soul magnifies the Lord...” , as usual, and then chanted St Cosmas’s irmos used as a refrain, “More honourable than the Cherubim....”

The visiting Monk Gabriel sang the next verse, “For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden....” but he then chanted unfamiliar words that the disciple had never heard before. “It is truly meet to bless Thee, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God...”

He then continued with the usual refrain, “More honourable than the Cherubim....”

Whilst the visitor was chanting, the icon before which the two of them stood in prayer began to shine with unearthly light.

Having witnessed this miracle during the chanting of these previously unheard of words, the disciple asked the visitor to write the words down for him, but there was no parchment and ink in the cell.

It was when the stranger took a roof tile and wrote the words of the hymn on its surface with his finger that the disciple realised that the Monk Gabriel was no human being, but the Great Taxiarch: the Archangel Gabriel.

Before disappearing, the archangel counselled, “Sing in this manner, and all the Orthodox as well.”

The cell-icon of the Mother of God continued to shine with heavenly light for some time after the departure of the heavenly visitor.

The icon was translated to the Church of the Protaton in the Athonite capital, Karyes, where it remains enshrined as one of the holiest treasure of Mount Athos.
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Wednesday, June 11/24: The Holy Chinese Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion.Orthodox Christianity has often been described as the faith of the martyrs. Without doubt, the centuries have shown among the Orthodox an unparalleled degree of suffering for the sake of Christ's name. Yet despite the dramatic increase in Orthodox martyrdom in the last century, Orthodox believers living in the comforts of North America remain largely isolated from the suffering of the saints.

Ironically, the Western world has become a more potent—and indeed, more subtle—enemy of Christian Orthodoxy than any regime of the past. Cut off from the struggles of our Christian forebears, we have too readily accepted materialism and hedonism. To be a Christian, especially an Orthodox Christian, has become a fundamentally countercultural calling.

Orthodoxy's Beginnings in China

With the Chinese recapture of Albazin, the Chinese Imperial Court looked with curiosity and tolerance upon the Russians in their territories, allowing them a surprising level of religious freedom. A former Buddhist temple near Beijing was converted into a church dedicated to Saint Nicholas, and church vestments and holy objects were sent from the Imperial Court in Russia. The Chinese and Russian governments proceeded to establish diplomatic relations, a move facilitated by the presence and work of the Albazin Chinese Orthodox. Since the Russian soldiers were viewed as a loose equivalent of the warrior class of Chinese society, they moved easily among the Chinese aristocracy, with many marrying Chinese noblewomen. Just as many of the first converts at Rome were noble patrons of the Church, Orthodox Christianity in China was to see a similar beginning.

In the years following, Orthodoxy made significant inroads among the Albazin Chinese population, becoming a kind of ethnic religion of the people. Emperor Kangxi was favorable toward these Christians, and for a time it was hoped the emperor might become a kind of Saint Constantine of the Orient. When the Chinese court later discovered that local Roman Catholic missionaries followed orders from Western masters, however, Emperor Kangxi and his successors began persecutions against Christians. Because of their position at court and their foothold among the Albazin Chinese faithful, the Orthodox were spared much of this persecution for a time.

Orthodox missions in China were cautious from the beginning. Emperor Peter the Great observed: "This is a very important enterprise. But, for God's sake, let us be cautious and circumspect, not to provoke either the Chinese authorities or the Jesuits whose den is there since long ago. To this end, the clergymen are needed not so much as scholarly, but rather reasonable and amicable, lest this holy effort suffers a painful defeat because of a certain kind of arrogance."

While the growth of the Orthodox Chinese mission was modest, its faithful were solid witnesses for their faith in Christ. Just as pagan Rome saw Christian devotion to Christ as a rival to imperial loyalty, so too did the Imperial Chinese of the late nineteenth century see Christians as enemies of the Emperor. While some in China were embracing Western modernist ideas, others including the Dowager Empress, nationalists, and those who practiced martial arts'sought to eliminate any challenges to tradition, including foreign influences. This conservative movement was dubbed by foreigners the "Boxer movement."

A Courageous Witness

By June 1900, placards calling for the death of foreigners and Christians covered the walls around Beijing. Armed bands combed the streets of the city, setting fire to homes and "with imperial blessing" killing Chinese Christians and foreigners. Faced with torture or death, some of the Chinese Christians did deny Christ, while others, emboldened by the faith of the martyrs and the prayers of the saints, declared boldly the Name of the Lord. Among these were Priest Mitrophan Tsi-Chung, his Matushka Tatiana, and their children, Isaiah, Serge, and John.

Baptized by Saint Nicholas of Japan, Saint Mitrophan was a shy and retiring priest, who avoided honors and labored continually for the building of new churches, for the translation of spiritual books, and for the care of his flock. Yet in Christ, who gives more than we can ask or imagine, Saint Mitrophan and his flock became lions in the face of marauding wolves.

It was with this reassurance that Saint Mitrophan met his martyrdom on June 10, 1900. About seventy faithful had gathered in his home for consolation when the Boxers surrounded the house. While some of the faithful managed to escape, most—including Saint Mitrophan—were stabbed or burned to death. Like the priests of old slaughtered in the sight of Elijah, Saint Mitrophan's holy body fell beneath the date tree in the yard of his home, his family witnesses to his suffering.

His youngest son, Saint John, an eight-year-old child, was disfigured by the Boxers the same day. Although the mob cut off his ears, nose, and toes, Saint John did not seem to feel any pain, and walked steadily. Crowds mocked the young confessor, as they mocked his Lord before him, calling him a demon for his unwillingness to bend to make sacrifice to the idols. To the amazement of onlookers, although he was mutilated, mocked, and alone, young Saint John declared that it did not hurt to suffer for Christ.

Saint Isaiah, 23, the elder brother of Saint John, had been martyred several days earlier. Despite repeated urging, his nineteen-year-old bride, Saint Mary, refused to leave and hide, declaring that she had been born near the church of the Mother of God, and would die there as well.

Saint Ia (Wang), a mission school teacher also among the martyrs, was slashed repeatedly by the Boxers and buried, half-dead. In an attempt to save her, a sympathetic non-Christian bystander unearthed her, carrying her to his home in the hope of safety. There, however, the Boxers seized her again, torturing her at length until she died, a bold confession of Christ on her lips. Thereby did Saint Ia the teacher gain the crown of martyrdom not once, but twice.

Among those who died for Christ were Albazinians whose ancestors had first carried the light of Holy Orthodoxy to Beijing in 1685. The faith of these pioneers has now been crowned with the glory of martyrdom conferred upon their descendants. Albazinians Clement Kui Lin, Matthew Chai Tsuang, his brother Witt, Anna Chui, and many more, fearless of those who kill the body but cannot harm the soul (Matthew 10:28), met agony and death with courage, praying to the Savior for their tormentors.

Honoring the Martyrs

When the feast of the Holy Chinese Martyrs was first commemorated in 1903, the bodies of Saint Mitrophan and others were placed under the altar of the Church of the All Holy Orthodox Martyrs (built in 1901—1916). A cross was later erected on the site of their martyrdom, standing as a testimony of the first sufferings of Orthodox faithful in a century of such great suffering. The church, along with others, was destroyed by the communists in 1954; the condition and whereabouts of the relics are not known.

In 1996, the first Greek Metropolitan of Hong Kong was consecrated, just prior to the reunification of the city-state with mainland China. There began the first attempt in decades to reach the remnant Orthodox community on the mainland. Many of the Orthodox faithful had fled the country years before. Knowledge of the only remaining Orthodox church in China—the Protection of the Mother of God, located in Harbin—is sketchy, and attempts by Greek authorities in Hong Kong to contact the parish have seen little success. The Church of the Annunciation was converted into a circus; it was closed only when an acrobat fell to his death there. The Shanghai Cathedral of Saint John Maximovich (+1966)—a great champion and shepherd of Orthodox Christians of non-Orthodox ancestry—was turned into a stock exchange.

In the late 1990s—a century after the martyrdoms at Harbin and elsewhere—a new flowering of zeal for Orthodox Christian missions to the people of China began. A Chinese prayerbook and catechesis was published by Holy Trinity Monastery of Jordanville, New York. Several short histories of the martyrs have been written, and an akathist in their memory was recently composed. In the pattern of Saint Paul, who used the great highways of pagan Rome to spread the gospel, a network of Orthodox Christians dedicated to the spread of the Orthodox faith among the peoples of the Far East has taken to the Internet to make available prayers and church materials in Chinese.

On the occasion of the centenary of the Holy Chinese Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion (this article was writeen in 2000), let us as Orthodox faithful ask their prayers that we may have the courage of their witness in our own time and place, and like them live out the call of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ to go and make disciples of all nations.

Source: Contributed by Father Geoffrey Korz.
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TONIGHT at 7pm London Time: Live talk with Bishop Irenei on the theme: “What is truth? Keeping true faith in a world or forgetting.” The talk will stream live here on the Diocesan Facebook page. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less

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‘Live for others, and you yourself will be saved…’ The ministry of St Alexey Mechev (1860-1923)."Live for others, and you yourself will be saved…To be with people, to live their life, rejoice in their joys, sorrow over their misfortunes ... herein lies the meaning and way of life for a Christian, and especially for a pastor."

Following yesterday’s celebration of All Saints of the Russian lands, today is the feast of a remarkable representative of Holy Russia, whose life encapsulated the meaning of Christian service and Orthodox priesthood: true holiness in action.

St Alexey Mechev was not only a saint, but also the father of a saint, and as a pastor he fed and nurtured his flock, that they also might labour for holiness, and realise it in their lives.

Though a married priest with a family, through his ministry in the church of St. Nicholas on Maroseyka Street, in Moscow, St Alexey brought eldership to the streets and became a spiritual physician to the people who flocked to him with the complexities their lives in a disintegrating society.

His clairvoyance allowed him to see into the souls and lives of those who came in need, to guide them and heal them, setting them on the way of salvation and the path of Truth. Like the startzy in the monasteries and hermitages, he was able to do this only because he understood the hearts of those who came to him, a gift which the Church Fathers call kardiognosia : the knowledge of the heart.

His busy and active ministry was only after a seemingly fruitless time, in which he faithfully and diligently laboured in the church, even though hardly anyone came to services for the first eight years, after which the trickle became a torrent, so that queues of people were to be seen in the street, waiting for St Alexey’s counsel and simple wisdom.

In the book ‘Otets Aleksei Mechev’, a spiritual child of St Alexey recounted, "It happened that one would come to Father Alexey with some complex dogmatic problem. He would say with a smile: 'Why are you asking me; I'm an ignoramus' ... You're forever wanting to live through your mind; you should try to live as I do--through the heart.' ”

This is a warning against the trap of intellectualising Orthodoxy, something from which we have greatly suffered in the ‘Russian diaspora’, where a gulf has opened between the intellect and the heart and the ‘educated’ have looked down upon the simplicity of the ‘uneducated, deriding traditional piety as though blagochstie were a dirty word. St Alexey’s life reminds us that the true theologian is not one who knows about God, but one who knows God. This is the way of the heart in which the Holy Spirit dwells. His was such a heart.

In relation to this seemingly hopeless start, his guidance for us, whether in Cardiff or in any other ‘frontier’ is pray. We can only build a Christian community on the foundation of prayer, and as Orthodox Christians we have such solid material for that foundation, which can be dug and laid deep and immoveable.

So, let those of us with small communities - sometimes with poorly attended services - take courage from this, realising that the edifice will be built on what a few of us are doing: praying and celebrating the services as often as we are able, even though we may struggling with the singing, lacking servers and even material resources, worshipping in limited circumstances. Pray!

There is one thing that St Alexey said that I would particularly like to share with the flock here in Cardiff, and which relates to discomfort at waiting during unexpectedly long confessions, particularly on major feasts when the congregation has been large and confessions have undesirably resumed before Holy Communion. On these occasions the choir exhausts its communion repertoire, readers turn to the prayers before communion and the faithful wait. This is also addressed to the members of our parish who have complained at confessions being heard, and Holy Communion being administered, after Liturgy - in an act of economia: ironically now the established practice during lockdown.

'How can I possibly refuse someone confession? Perhaps this confession is the person's last hope, perhaps by turning him away I may cause the ruin of his soul. Christ didn't refuse anyone. He said to everyone: "Come unto Me ..." You say, What about the law? But where there is no love, the law does not work unto salvation; true love, however, is the fulfilment of the law (Rom. 13:8-10).'"

Yes, it may be that a person’s confession is inconvenient and even a physical burden for all of us who are tired and weak through prayer and fasting, that we have never even seen his person before, and that person may show a real lack of sense and a disregard for others in coming at an ‘inappropriate’ time or at the last minute. However, this may be their last or only chance to bare their soul to Christ in repentance and receive the Divine medicine of His Body and Blood. I would caution that this is not an invitation for bad confessional habits to return, but it is sobering and worthy of reflection.

Where there is no love, not simply the law, including the ustav, does not work unto salvation. Let us love with the generosity and tolerance of St Alexey.

There is so much in St Alexey’s life and ministry that can teach us and encourage us. He died in 1923, as the persecution of the Church began to gather pace - the persecution in which his son and successor, the Holy New-Martyr Sergei, would give his life for Christ and the Church.

I encourage you all to so some research, and use the resources readily available on the internet to explore the life of this great pastor and inspiring saint, from whom we can learn so much.

Wishing you all a joyous feast of St Alexey, and commending you to his prayers.

In Christ - Hieromonk Mark
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The Sunday of All Saints of Rus’: Holiness can only be founded on Truth!O new house of Ephratha, splendid and elect region, O holy Russia, guard the Orthodox faith, in which is thy confirmation and support.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The last century of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, has been one in which we have understood that the ultimate sign of true spiritual life has been the struggle for holiness in the lives of its people. This is not an abstract, vague, or disembodied spiritual quality, but something that has been demonstrable and tangible in individual lives of Faith.

As we celebrate this Sunday of All Saints who have shone forth in the Russian land, we are mindful of the contribution of the Russian Church Abroad to Orthodox holiness beyond the borders of Russia and the lands of the former empire: not only in our glorified saints, such as St John the Wonderworker and St Jonah of Hankou, but also in great hierarchs, such as Metropolitan Philaret and Archbishop Averky; in monastics such as Archimandrite Panteleimon of Jordanville and Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina; the selfless, martyred servant of the Mother of God, Brother José, the guardian of her wonder-working Montreal Icon; the scholarly Ivan and Elena Kontzevich, who laboured to preserve the legacy of Optina and Holy Russia in the New World.

As we stand before the icon of the feast, we see faces familiar and recognisable to us: the Holy Equals to the Apostles, Vladimir and Olga; the Holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb; our Venerable Fathers Sergius of Radonezh and St Seraphim of Sarov, and the great elders of Optina; the Blessed Fools Vasily of Moscow and Xenia of St Petersburg, whose podvig of holy foolishness so typifies the Russian way of holiness; St John of Kronstadt, ‘the spiritual father of all Russia’; the Holy Hierarchs Peter, Alexis and Jonah and other primates of our Russian Church. In addition, we see the Holy New-Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, whose uncompromising Faith followed a heavenward path of suffering and martyrdom for the sake of Truth and righteousness.

As a window into the Heavenly Kingdom, the icon of the feast calls us to participate in the life of holiness that is the communion of saints, who revealed the Truth of the Gospel and the Grace of God in their earthly lives and actions. Through their examples, Christ charges us to respond to our baptismal vocation and our individual call to holiness. Sanctified and set apart only for God by our initiation into Christ’s death and resurrection, we are all are called to renewed life in God.

But, for us to enter into holiness, our starting point must be the Truth, which is Orthodoxy. Without the foundation of Orthodox Truth, asceticism, so-called ‘spiritual’ labours and even seeming ‘martyrdom’ are meaningless, empty and of no merit. The struggles of the saints only have meaning, and only lead to holiness because they were established in the Truth of Faith.

The sacrificial, self-offering of Saints Boris and Gleb would have no meaning without its foundation in the Gospel and their faithfulness to the Church; the asceticism of Saints Antoniy and Feodosiy Pechersky, would be meaningless and fruitless deprivation without their foundation in Faith; the taunting and persecution of St Vasily the Blessed and St Xenia only have spiritual merit because they were prophetic voices from within Christ’s Church. The Tsar-Martyr and all of the Holy New-Martyrs are only martyrs because they witnessed for Christ as children of His Church. Without the Truth of Faith, without the Church of Christ, they would simply be the victims of genocide and mass-murder.

In the litia of the feast, in speaking of the saints, we chanted that... “They are the pillars and beauty of the Orthodox Faith; they have glorified the Church of God with their ascetic feats and the shedding of their blood, with their teachings and deeds; they have confirmed the Faith of Christ with miracles and signs; they have shone forth from all the regions of our land, and have established the Orthodox Faith therein...”

It was only as spiritual pillars, confirmed in Orthodoxy, living in the fulness of Truth that they were able to authentically teach, work miracles, enlighten their lands, and establish and strengthen the Faith. It was only in the fulness of Truth and Faith that they were able to achieve holiness and without the True-Faith, they would be nothing. This Truth is Orthodoxy accepted in its entirety, not in a pick and mix selection of the bits we like, and which we find palatable, easy and acceptable.

For us, a century after the founding of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, its faithfulness to Holy Tradition, its spiritual witness and noble history confer a great responsibility upon us - to be zealous witnesses of Orthodox Truth; to preserve and emulate the path of holiness that has characterised the life of the Church in the diaspora from the very beginning; to resist the growing pressures from even within the Orthodox world to dilute Orthodoxy, accommodating the demands of the world and the weakness and laziness of people, becoming extensions of the state, bowing to the spirit of the age, even though we are called to be ‘not of this world’.

In exile, far from its motherland, and later settled in new life abroad, our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has shone as a beacon of Orthodox Truth and pure Faith. As a garden of holiness, full of spiritual flowers, it has produced abundant fruits of holiness. Its faithfulness to Truth, the preservation of authentic spiritual life, its ascetism, strictness, prayerfulness, and steadfast defence of Holy Tradition have set it apart.

When others, like the Biblical Esau, sold their Orthodox birth-right for a ‘mess of pottage’, our Church remained strong and refused to accommodate the ways of the world: the rejection of the patristic calendar, Sergianism, renovationism and the falsehood of ecumenism.

If we are to continue to be like Jacob - who was chosen and renamed Israel - we must be courageous, steadfast, and vociferous in defending our Faith and the fulness of Orthodox Tradition. We must be sober and vigilant, ever watching lest we betray the legacy of all of those whom we celebrate on this feast - especially the New-Martyrs, whose steadfastness cost them their earthly lives, but guaranteed them everlasting crowns and thrones in the Kingdom of Heaven.

And what are we to expect for following Christ in the way of holiness, as shown in the lives of the saints - a path on which there can be no compromise if it is to be real?

We cannot be passive or lukewarm in this quest for holiness, “without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Rather, our lives must be filled with spiritual activity, in a constant struggle for righteousness, as we seek to put off the old Adam and acquire the mind of Christ.

St John of Shanghai and San Francisco wrote that “Holiness is reached by him who wears a cross and in the name of Christ wages warfare against the obstacles to holiness, obstacles to becoming akin to Christ. These obstacles are sins, sinful habits, firmly rooted in the soul. Struggle against them is the major work of a Christian, and in so far as he purifies his soul, so far will he receive of the Holy Spirit.”

This life of holiness, which is the way of Faith, is one that is increasingly mocked, belittled, driven to the margins and held up as insane. We will not be loved by society for trying to live holy lives.

Increasingly, our employers will distrust us; the social and educational system will consider us a danger to our own children; the political establishment will label us lunatics, fascists and extremists. But, this is the cost of the path of Christian discipleship in holiness, in which the Lord encourages and comforts us:

Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven!

Let us take up our cross and follow Him!

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TONIGHT at 7pm London Time: Spiritual Talk with Bp Irenei: “How Can We Be ‘Apostolic’ and Missionary in This World?” Here are the LINKS:

This talk will be on ZOOM and all are invited. Follow this direct link at 7pm London time tonight, to open the meeting in your Zoom app:

Alternatively, open your app at 7pm and enter Meeting ID: 836 4541 4321 and Password: 899118.
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This coming weekend: All Saints who have shone forth in the lands of Rus.Dear brothers and sisters,

As we look forward to celebrating the Sunday of All Saints of Russia, would all of those wishing to confess and receive Holy Communion contact Fr Deacon Mark, as usual:

​Please do this as soon as possible to allow us to arrange the morning and parish visiting afterwards.

Anyone wishing to confess on Saturday is welcome to arrange this with me directly: ​

Every person approaching Holy Communion should be keeping the Apostles' Fast faithfully, unless there is good reason. In this case, the matter should be discussed with the priest during confession.

Confession does NOT mean that Holy Communion is automatically blessed. We ask for a blessing to receive Holy Communion after the priest has pronounced the prayer of forgiveness. This gives him the chance to ask if we have prepared properly, by prayer and fasting, by forgiving anyone we have offended and asking their forgiveness.

If Communion is not blessed, this is because the priest believes that there is good reason to wait before you commune and that you have spiritual issues to put right before you receive the Holy Mysteries. This is done in love, not in judgement.

Asking your prayers and wishing you a good struggle in the Fast.

With love in Christ - Fr Mark
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Prayer and Action: celebrating Saints Mary and Martha.Wednesday, June 4/17, 2020. Sts. Mary and Martha, sisters of St. Lazarus.

Troparion of Martha and Mary, Tone 3: Since ye believed in Christ with strong and ardent faith, and ever worshipped His divine and mighty deeds, ye both adorned yourselves with all the splendour of sacred virtues. With your holy brother now, ye are also vouchsafed to dwell with the ranks of Saints on high, O ye sisters of Lazarus; and with him, O wise Mary and Martha, ye pray for us all unto the Master.

Kontakion of Martha and Mary, Tone 3: In the town of Bethany, ye dwelt of old; now in Heaven ye abide in Paradise, where our Lord's countenance shineth. For ye gave your hearts and souls up with fervent longing unto Him that is the Life and the Resurrection; as ye stand on high, O Mary and Martha, pray Him to grant salvation to us.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we celebrate the feast of Saints Mary and Martha of Bethany, the sisters of the Righteous Lazarus, the four-days-dead, and for Russian Orthodox believers, their name will always be synonymous with the Convent of Martha and Mary, in Moscow, founded by the holy new-martyr, Grand Duchess Elizabeth.

In the life of this convent, now restored and active, the balance of Christian duty is realised - so that Mary’s ‘better-part’ of prayer, contemplation and inner spiritual work is realised and demonstrated in Martha’s very necessary activity.

Picking up my old 1916 copy of Stephen Graham’s ‘The Way of Mary and the Way of Martha’ I revisited what he wrote…

The convent combines in its ideals the imitation of both Martha and Mary. Each sister dedicates herself to “God and her neighbour.” She would sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary, and be occupied with many things like Martha. But certainly the idea of Martha and service stands first in their minds… They visit, clothe, comfort, heal the poor, and all but work miracles, flowers springing in their footsteps where they go… In some convents the sisters are divided into Marthas and Marys, and there is a question when in a new one takes her place – a Martha or a Mary? But in the Martha Marinskaya all have to be Marthas.

We all need to be Martha as well as Mary in our Christian lives, and this is sometimes forgotten, and we devalue the Martha factor.

So many people, particularly women come to talk or for confession and express exasperation at not having sufficient time for prayer or being in church, as there is so much for them to do and fit into a day. Sometimes, people are exhausted and feel spiritual failures as they believe they have done nothing and achieved little, such are their responibilities. But, for those of you who sometime struggle with the Martha-ness of your lives, particularly if you are a mother, a childcaring grandparent, a carer for a parent or sick relative, or an overworked key-worker take heart.

When visiting their home in Bethany, when Martha complained that Mary failed to help her in everything that needed doing, our Lord only said that Mary had chosen the better part at that moment: to sit at his feet and listen. In no way did he say that Martha was wrong, and that what she was doing was unnecessary.

All in the ‘world’ have both Mary and Martha aspects in their lives, and for some one is more obvious than the other. However, the balance may change at different times in our lives. Mums, in the years of raising young children may feel almost trapped by the Martha-ness of their lives - something which may pass, when children go to school and free time becomes a rediscovered reality, rather than a luxury: time which may be spent spiritually, ‘sitting at the Lord’s feet’ in prayer, spiritual reading and inner-activity. This of course, applies to all of us to some extent. Life evolves with changes in circumstance, dependents, the demands of work, travel and so many other incidents.

We also need to remember that in both families and parishes, we are not isolated individuals, but complement one another with our various gifts and strengths, working together, united as Christ’s Body, the Church. Within that Church, not everyone is called to be the same. The body needs all of its parts to function, and the Church needs all of its vocations - some very much Mary, other obviously Martha - in order to do Christ’s work.

In the New Testament Church, the commissioning of the first seven deacons - Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicholas - was specifically to do the ‘Martha things’ of the Church community. The local Church judged them to be wise and full of the Holy Spirit, and the Apostles confirmed them in their necessary and important ministry. They complimented the Apostles, balancing their own ministry to make the Church whole in both prayer and action.

Some of you in Cardiff, West Wales and Gloucestershire will have heard me speak often of Vera Vasilievna Mocqaurd (of blessed memory), the starosta of our former ROCOR parish in Birmingham. She was, herself, a woman of remarkable faith, but largely because this was the spiritual way that she had learned in the life of the emigré community in Paris.

Her father, Archpriest Vasily Tikhonovich Timofeev and her mother Elizaveta led hard and exhausting lives ministering to and caring for the poor, hungry, destitute and crushed Russian Orthodox faithful who simply struggled to survive in the French capital between the Revolution the Second World War.

Father Vasily would often be in church till 1 o’clock in the morning, as so many came for confession and advice day by day, whilst matushka was able to have hardly any time in the holy temple or at Church services - such was the weight of work for their flock. Exhausted, matushka prayed in the icon-corner of their apartment when everyone else was sleeping as she snatched her ‘Mary moments’ in a very much Martha life. But, this was a life which made the Church able to respond to human need and show Christ’s love and mercy to the world. Without the Martha-ness of her life, people would have starved or died of their privations.

In the Gospel, activity and service are held up as the necessary living of Faith, and it is both Faith and it’s realisation in works that is the reality of Christian praxis. We cannot receive the beatitude of the merciful without doing works of mercy and charity, for Christ says ‘...whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers, you did for me.’ We read this in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46) each year on the Sunday of the Last Judgement, when Christian action - Martha’s part - is declared necessary for salvation and the promise of the Heavenly Kingdom:

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

In our families, our parishes, our dioceses and local Churches, let us work together to make Christian life a Mary AND Martha reality.

Whatever the non-Othodox may be argue about justification by Faith alone, we cannot have Faith without its realisation in the Martha-like labour of practical Christian activity love and compassion. The Epistle of James expresses this forcefully:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

(James 2:14-18)

Let us struggle to be Martha, as well as Mary and follow their dual example.

Holy and Righteous Mary and Martha, pray to God for us!

Hieromonk Mark - Parish of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, Cardiff.
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June 3/16: St Kevin of Glendalough.Even though our parishioner Kevin was baptised with the name John - in honour of St John Chrysostom - we neverthesless send him our greetings on the feast of St Kevin. Happy feast!

Troparion, Tone 4: With hymns of praise let us all bless the noble Kevin, who by his godly love poureth divine grace into the hearts of those who honor him; for he dwelleth now with the saints and angels in heaven, where he standeth before the throne of the Most High, praying unceasingly for us all.

Kontakion, Tone 5: Forsaking thy noble inheritance, and shunning all the crooked ways of this sin-loving world, thou didst apply thine obedient feet to the straight and narrow path of Christ, eagerly hastening throughout thy life toward the heavenly Sion, where with all the saints and the bodiless hosts thou criest aloud in ecstasy: Let every breath praise the Lord!

Ikos: Ye lofty trees of Ireland, ever move your verdant branches, that with the rustling of your leafs, as with the strings of a multitude of harps, ye may make sweet music for the King of kings; for thus of old did ye delight His faithful servant, the venerable Kevin, with your melodious song, easing the severity of his ascetic life with the beauty of your hymnody, filling his soul with exultation, and causing him to cry aloud: Let every breath praise the Lord!

St. Kevin (also known as Coemgen) is one of the greatest saints of Ireland and founder of the famous and important Glendalough Monastery. He lived in the 6th and early 7th centuries. His Life was written some four hundred years after his repose. The future saint was born in the Irish province of Leinster to a noble family and was related to the royal house. His name, according to the most common interpretation, means “of blessed birth”. It is said that an angel appeared to Kevin’s parents shortly before his baptism and told them to give him precisely this name. It is also said that the Kevin’s mother felt no labor pains when she gave birth to him. Kevin was baptized by St. Cronan of Roscrea and as a boy was raised by St. Petroc of Cornwall, who at that time was living in Ireland. At age twelve the young man already lived with monks. When he was preparing to become a priest his teacher was his saintly relative named Eoghan, or Eugene, of Ardstraw.1

Upon his ordination to the priesthood, Kevin, accompanied by an angel, crossed the mountains of Wicklow and settled at the upper lake in the place called Glendalough, which means “the glen of two lakes”, since it has two lakes, upper and lower, situated close to each other. Here, before establishing his main monastery, the saint lived for seven years in complete isolation and prayer in a very small bronze-age cave, which is now known as “St. Kevin’s bed”.

He walked barefoot, wore very rough clothes and ate only various kinds of herbs and roots, only sometimes allowing himself some fruit and fish. The main activity in his solitude was prayer to God Who bestowed upon His follower the gift of working miracles. Disciples gradually gathered around him and thus the saint founded Glendalough Monastery, which was destined to become one of the largest and most influential monastic centers of the Emerald Isle. Kevin became its first abbot. Soon after, it is said by a late source, Kevin went to Rome on pilgrimage and brought from there holy relics that were placed inside his monastery.

Like other Irish saints, Kevin lived in harmony with nature, especially with wild animals that served him. It was even said that sometimes branches and leaves of trees sang sweet songs to Kevin! We will mention some of the best known stories. The most famous one is that once when Kevin was standing concentrated in quiet prayer with his arms outstretched, a blackbird landed on his palms, built a nest on them, hatched eggs, cared for its nestlings and then flew away (throughout all this period the saint did not move and only prayed, while the blackbird gave him berries as food). Artists for a long time liked to depict this scene from the saint’s life. According to another story, in one of the two lakes there lived an otter that helped the hermit for many years. When he lived alone it sometimes brought him fish, and when Kevin was abbot it delivered salmon to the brethren, particularly in a period of famine. One time, when the man of God was praying in the lake’s cold water, he accidentally dropped his prayer-book in the water. The otter at that very minute emerged holding the prayer-book in its mouth—the book was absolutely undamaged. Once one monk was overcome by greed: he decided to kill the otter and to use its skin to make gloves for himself. But the clever mammal felt his evil intention and quietly left that site forever.

Kevin was so wise that King Colman asked him to be in charge of raising of his younger son (all his other children died in infancy and the King wanted his only heir to be protected by the holy man). The saint kindly agreed. But the monastery had no cow to supply milk for the baby. On the same day the Lord sent them a doe which, at the saint’s command, nursed the child. One day a wolf came to the monastery and killed the doe. Kevin rebuked the cruel animal for this deed and ordered it to give milk to the infant prince instead of the doe—and the wolf obeyed.

The legendary story of the foundation of Glendalough is also interesting. According to tradition, while Kevin was praying in his cave, a cow came to him every day and licked his clothes, sensing his holiness. Whenever it returned to its master it gave as much milk as 50 cows could provide. The farmer once resolved to follow the cow and to know what the mystery was. Thus he saw Kevin, who with his gentle, sweet words converted the farmer to Christ at once. The latter was baptized together with all his family and neighboring inhabitants. Inspired by divine wisdom, the saint decided to leave his hermitage and undertake a large-scale mission across the surrounding district and to build a monastery. At that time Glendalough was ruled by an old pagan king named O’Tool. He had a goose which by that time was also very frail and could not fly. The ruler, hearing about Kevin and his holy life, asked him to make his goose young. The saint promised, but on condition that the king would grant him the land (to found a monastery) over which the goose would fly. The king consented, thinking that the saint would fail, but Kevin touched the bird and it instantly became young. The goose then flew over the whole valley of Glendalough and thus it belonged to the monastery from that time.

The locals say that no skylarks sing above Glendalough to this day. The reason is the following. When they began building the monastery the workers decided to labor so hard that they would rise as early as skylarks and go to sleep as late as lambs. But soon the masons were so exhausted that the quality of their work deteriorated. The saint then found out that larks woke too early and prayed for a solution to this problem. In an instant, all the larks that had lived there vanished; the building was completed successfully and the birds never returned to that spot.

Another time a boar ran up to Kevin, who was praying under a tree, seeking protection—because hunters with hounds were chasing it. The hounds, seeing the saint with the boar, gently lay on the ground. The hunters first wanted to kill the animals all the same, but an immense flock of birds suddenly landed on the tree. The men saw in this a sign from above and retired.

Here are a few more examples of St. Kevin’s miracles. Once a young man who suffered much from fits had a vision in which he was told to come to Kevin and eat an apple in his community. But there were no apple trees at the monastery. Then Kevin ordered a row of willows that grew there to produce apples (against the laws of nature) and the trees immediately obeyed. The sick man was cured and those willows produced apples for a very long time after that.

When Kevin was an infant a mysterious white cow came to his parents’ dwelling every day and gave milk to their son. When Kevin was a bit older he was entrusted with tending the sheep. One day a group of poor men were passing nearby. The boy-saint had pity on them and gave them four sheep. In the evening it turned out that the number of the sheep in the flock remained the same. Another time pilgrims visited the monastery where the young Kevin was being trained. At that time the saint was in the kitchen. The pilgrims were hungry and asked for food. The saint gave them the food and drink that had been intended for the men who were working in the fields at the time. In the evening the superiors were displeased with Kevin’s deed. Then he asked them to fill beer flasks with water and to gather all the bare bones together. It was done and the saint then prayed alone. As a result the flasks were full of fine ale and the bones were covered with meat.

Once a worker was struck by a stone and one of his eyes was blinded. Kevin came up to the man, blessed the eye, and his sight was at once restored. Another time a woman who was seized by impure thoughts came to the monastery hoping to persuade Kevin to break his monastic vows. The saint lightly beat her with nettles and the woman at that moment was filled with repentance: she herself left the world and led an extremely ascetic life for many years.

St. Kevin loved the reclusive life, and after some years as abbot he retired to his beloved solitude again. But four years later the monks persuaded him to return to the monastery and resume his activities as their abbot, teacher and master. The saint saw the will of God in this and gladly returned to the monastery, remaining its head until the end of his life, presiding over the brethren for more than 60 years. The monastic settlement was considerably enlarged, additional churches were built (seven in all) and the famous “round tower” added. More and more monks joined the community and many men, humble and wealthy, young and old, flocked to the monastery seminary to receive training and instruction in Christian and monastic life. Numerous people from various regions of Ireland flocked to the holy abbot Kevin for advice, consolation and healing – and each time received help from him.

It was said of St. Kevin that he had a custom of praying zealously in the cold water of one of the Glendalough lakes for an hour every day. Throughout his life angels were frequent companions and helpers of the holy man, many times rescuing him in times of danger. Thus, assisted by an angel, he once drove away a huge and terrible “monster” which lived in the lake at Glendalough and terrified the local residents and cattle (most probably it was a demon; similar facts can be met in lives of some other early Irish and Scottish saints). Having banished this “dragon”, the saint blessed the lake so its water could be used by the sick.

This wonderful saint of God reposed as a very old man in the year 618; it was believed that he lived until the age of 120. The saint personally knew many other contemporary saints of Ireland, such as Comgall, Columba, Kenneth (Canice) and Kieran of Clonmacnoise. The old tradition relates that Kevin, inspired from above, visited St. Kieran right before his (Kieran’s) repose and gave him communion. As a farewell Kieran gave him his personal bell. Among the disciples of Kevin we can mention the holy hierarch Moling, Bishop of Ferns. After the death of this saint his monastery of Glendalough continued to grow and develop, producing many saints. With time it was transferred closer to the lower lake at Glendalough.

Glendalough became one of the most famous pilgrimage centers in the whole of Ireland. Students and monks of the monastery founded a large number of other monastic communities in Ireland and abroad. In 1111 Glendalough obtained the status of a diocese which was united with the Diocese of Dublin a century later. Unfortunately, in 1398 this splendid holy monastery was destroyed by the English Army but the church on this site continued to function afterwards. Kevin is much venerated as patron saint of Glendalough in County Wicklow and he is one of patrons of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dublin. He is also venerated as “wonderworker of all Ireland” and protector of animals.

Holy Father Kevin of Glendalough, pray to God for us!


1 According to tradition, St. Eugene founded Kilnamanagh Monastery near Dublin and was its abbot for about 15 years. St. Kevin well may have been among his students there. Later Eugene became the first Bishop of Ardstraw, reposing in c. 550. He is the patron-saint of Derry.
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1/14 June: the Sunday of All Saints and our call to holiness.As is meet let us acclaim with sacred songs and laudations the divine assembly of the Apostles, Martyrs, and godly-minded priests, and the women most chaste, who throughout the whole world have contested in unshaken faith. For, though they were of earth, they were all united together with the Bodiless of Heaven's heights, and by their august passion they received most blessed dispassion through Christ God's grace. And now like steadfast stars that shine upon us, they intercede with great boldness for our souls.

Some of our non-Orthodox friends and associates are surprised to learn that we celebrate the memory of All Saints on the Sunday after Pentecost, and not in 1 November, as established in Western Christian tradition.

A subtle spiritual difference lies behind this.

The starting point for the western adoption of 1 November as the feast of All Saints, was the establishment of the Feast of Relics "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world" by Pope Gregory III (731–741). Its observation spread throughout the west by the twelfth century.

There is also a theory that this celebration was linked to the Christianisation of the Celtic tribes, for whom the eve and first day of Winter - Samhain to the Gaels and Calan Gaeaf here in Wales - was an integral part of tribal culture and identity. Thus, it was ‘baptised’ and consecrated as the feast of All Saints, as the old ancestral day of the dead was replaced with the festival of the righteous departed, who had achieved holiness and a place in the Heavenly Kingdom. In the heroic culture of the pagan west, this was pastoral and sensitive to existing cultures on the forefront of the Christian Europe... if we accept this theory, that is.

When we turn to the east, St. John Chrysostom’s 74th homily for the feast of all of the martyrs, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, from the late 4th or early 5th century, indicates an earlier origin of the feast in the Byzantine Church. By the 9th century, the Emperor Leo VI "the Wise" (866–911) had broadened the feast to celebrate all saints, not just the holy martyrs.

In the spiritual maturity of Byzantine culture, the feast was linked to the descent of the Holy Spirit, gaining its meaning from the events of the upper room and the empowerment of those gathered there. The feast of All Saints on the Sunday after Pentecost celebrates the ongoing Pentecost of the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit in life of the Church, sanctifying the righteous in succeeding generations.

During the vigil of Pentecost we sing -

Now, the comforting Spirit hath been poured on all flesh; for, starting with the rank of the Apostles, He extended grace through the communion of believers...

and the celebration of All Saints on the following Sunday attests to this continuum of Grace.

It was natural that this would be first be extended to the martyrs, with the apostles themselves being among their number, before the age of the Church fathers and the greats of Orthodox history and Church life: apostles, prophets, martyrs, hierarchs, monastics and righteous ones.

Day by day we celebrate their lives, some as local commemorations and celebrations, some as saints who unite the whole Orthodox world by their feasts. A few of those saints - St John the Forerunner, St Nicholas, the Holy Apostles, the Mother of God - are celebrated every week, with a day dedicated to their memory.

All of these celebrations are rooted in the operation of the Holy Spirit, shaping and transforming the people of God, generation by generation, century by century.

In the Sundays following All Saints, we will continue to proclaim the ongoing pouring forth of the Holy Spirit, as we celebrate All Saints of Russia, All Saints of the British Isles, All Saints of Mount Athos or of any nation’s righteous.

In doing so, we hold up examples of holiness and models of Christian living, who call us to participation. To simply celebrate these feasts as passive onlookers is to neglect the Christian life and deny the calling of our baptism, through which we are called to put on and live in Christ: not to be observers of holiness, but to live in holiness and die in holiness. This is the path of the saints.

When we sing, “Blessed in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints...” we are called to this blessedness, for we are called to their life.

The icon of the feast shows the great cloud of witnesses around the Divine Throne, and we are called to join this company, and to share in their vision. For this , we are not called to be clever, to be theoreticians and intellectuals. Though unlettered, the fishermen were made supremely wise, and we are called to this wisdom through life participating in and permeated the Holy Spirit, so that sanctified and purified by Grace, we may be found worthy to enter into the cloud and the company of heaven: not by passivity, but by action: by living lives of repentance, godliness and piety, in which we seek to be Christlike and worthy vessels to receive Divine Grace. This is what St Seraphim spoke of when he said that the aim of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit.

“In spite of our sinfulness, in spite of the darkness surrounding our souls, the Grace of the Holy Spirit, conferred by baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, still shines in our hearts with the inextinguishable light of Christ ... and when the sinner turns to the way of repentance the light smooths away every trace of the sins committed, clothing the former sinner in the garments of incorruption, spun of the Grace of the Holy Spirit.

St. Seraphim of Sarov

This feast, eight days after Pentecost calls us to act, responding to the Apostol reading:

‘...we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith...’

Let us take up our spiritual arms and fight.

A good struggle in the Apostles’ Fast ahead!

In Christ - Hieromonk Mark
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Священномученикъ Философъ ОрнатскийДни памяти: 22 января (Новомуч.), 31 мая, 4 июня (Петерб.)


Священномученик протоиерей Философ Николаевич Орнатский родился 21 мая 1860 года на погосте Новая Ерга Череповецкого уезда Новгородской губернии в семье сельского священника. Один из его братьев был женат на племяннице святого праведного Иоанна Кронштадтского. Обучался Философ сначала в Кирилловском Духовном училище, а затем в Новгородской Духовной Семинарии. В 1885 году он со степенью кандидата богословия окончил Санкт-Петербургскую Духовную Академию. Летом 1885 года Философ вступил в брак с Еленой Заозерской, дочерью бывшего иподиакона митрополита Исидора, и вскоре принял священство. Первоначально батюшка служил настоятелем в храме приюта Принца Ольденбургского, где до этого преподавал Закон Божий.

С 1892 по 1912 годы он служит настоятелем храма при Экспедиции заготовления государственных бумаг. Двадцать шесть лет он являлся председателем «Общества распространения религиозно-нравственного просвещения в духе Православной Церкви», успешно противодействуя антицерковным течениям.

В 1893 году Философ был избран гласным Санкт-Петербургской городской Думы от духовенства и нёс свои полномочия до 1917 года. Он принимал участие в устройстве в городе ночлежных домов, сиротских приютов, богаделен, его стараниями в Санкт-Петербурге и окрестностях было возведено 12 храмов, самый большой из них — храм Воскресения Христова у Варшавского вокзала. Кроме того, можно назвать церкви Петра и Павла в Лесном, преподобного Сергия Радонежского на Новосивковской улице, преподобного Серафима Саровского за Нарвской заставой, Предтеченский храм на Выборжской стороне, Герасимовскую церковь, Исидоро-Юрьевский храм.

Сам батюшка, имея большую семью (у него было десять детей), жил очень скромно. Всё множество общественных званий и должностей, которые он нёс во славу Божию, средств к существованию не приносили. Через его руки, как Председателя комитетов по строительству храмов, проходили огромные суммы денег, а он давал частные уроки, чтобы прокормить семью.

Известен был батюшка и как редактор и цензор таких столичных духовных журналов как «Санкт-Петербургский Духовный Вестник» (издавался с 1894 года), «Отдых христианина» (с 1901 года), «Православно-Русское слово» (с 1902 года).

Отец Философ был одним из ближайших сподвижников священномученика митрополита Петроградского и Гдовского Вениамина (Казанского) которого, в бытность того студентом Духовной Академии, батюшка активно привлекал к проповеднической деятельности в рабочей среде Санкт-Петербурга. Узы духовной дружбы связывали его и со Святейшим Патриархом Тихоном.

Почти двадцать лет отец Философ являлся духовным сыном святого праведного Иоанна Кронштадтского, который часто бывал у него дома и благословлял все его начинания во благо Церкви. Святой пастырь доверил отцу Философу быть посредником в своей переписке со святителем Феофаном, Вышенским затворником.

В 1913 году батюшка был назначен на должность настоятеля Казанского кафедрального собора в Санкт-Петербурге. Во время 1-й Мировой войны отец Философ отдал свою квартиру под лазарет для раненых воинов, а сам с семьёй переехал в небольшое казённое помещение. Неоднократно и сам он выезжал районы боевых действий, сопровождая транспорты с необходимыми воинам вещами и продуктами, стремясь всеми силами вдохновить и поддержать защитников Отечества.

Его сын Николай (родился в 1886 году) — военный врач, находился в составе 9-й Русской Армии; сын, Борис (родился в 1887 году), штабс-капитан 23-й артиллерийской бригады, закончивший Константиновское артиллерийское училище, геройски сражался на Австро-Венгерском фронте. Проповеднический дар батюшки привлекал искавших живого слова и он не раз призывал свою паству не принимать разлагающих идей большевизма, понимая, что Православие является основой русской родной жизни, батюшка призывал интеллигенцию знать это: «Нашей интеллигенции надо стать русскою», — не уставал повторять он.

На его глазах во время революции был расстрелян муж сестры его жены, священномученик протоиерей Пётр Скипетров (память 20 января). Батюшка при его отпевании произнёс проповедь, бесстрашно обличив большевиков. Неоднократно выступал он перед паствой с призывами к объединению русичей вокруг храмов для защиты святынь своей земли. В январе 1918 года, когда в Лавре был убит отец Пётр Скипетров, батюшка организовал защиту святынь Александро-Невской Лавры, устроив к ней крестные ходы со всех храмов столицы.

9 августа 1918 года его вместе с двумя старшими сыновьями, Николаем и Борисом, арестовали. Во время ареста он был совершенно невозмутим и спокоен. Прихожане собрались в многотысячную толпу и шли по Невскому проспекту на Гороховую в Ч. К., требуя освободить своего пастыря. Делегацию верующих чекисты приняли, коварно обещая выполнить их требования. Но в ту же ночь (предположительно на 20 июля 1918 года) батюшку перевезли в тюрьму города Кронштадт. Предположительно около 30 октября 1918 года вместе с сыновьями и другими 30 заключёнными офицерами отца Философа повезли на расстрел. По дороге батюшка читал вслух отходную над приговорёнными. Место казни находилось, по одним предположениям в Кронштадте, по другим — неподалёку от Финского залива между Лигово и Ораниенбаумом. Тела расстрелянных, по-видимому, были сброшены в залив.

Причислены к лику святых Новомучеников и Исповедников Российских на Юбилейном Архиерейском Соборе Русской Православной Церкви в августе 2000 года для общецерковного почитания.
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Our live talk with Bishop Irenei is TONIGHT at 7pm London time: “Aquiring the Holy Spirit.” Here is how to access it via Zoom:

Follow this direct-access link:

Or use this meeting ID: 829 1912 3066
And password: 856133
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O chosen hierarch of the Orthodox Church and confessor, who didst shine forth in Russia in the land of Crimea like a radiant beacon, didst labour well and endure persecution for the name of Christ! Glorifying the Lord Who hath glorified thee and given thee to us as a new advocate and helper, we send up to thee hymnody of laudation. As one who hath great boldness before the Master of heaven and earth, free us from every sickness of soul and body, and strengthen us to stand well in Orthodoxy, that in compunction we may all cry out to thee: Rejoice, O Luke, holy hierarch and confessor of Crimea, thou good and merciful physician!Возвестителю пути спасительного, / исповедниче и архипастырю Крымския земли, / истинный хранителю отеческих преданий, / столпе непоколебимый, Православия наставниче, / врачу богомудрый, святителю Луко, / Христа Спаса непрестанно моли / веру непоколебиму православным даровати // и спасение, и велию милость. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less

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For years, Israeli authorities has used every means - and a fair amount of subterfuge - to eliminate the Christian presence in Jerusalem's Old City. The infamous security wall has cut off Bethlehem from the rest of Israel, having severe economic effects on pilgrimage and the Christian community. Now Covid-19, or rather the measures enacted in response to the virus, bring another catastrophic threat to the livelihoods, existence and even the presence of Christians in the Holy Land. Having received information from a friend of the parish, we commend this cause to your charity. Please give and share the message! ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less

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Looking forward to the Sunday of All Saints.As we look forward to celebrating the Sunday of All Saints, would all of those wishing to confess and commune contact Fr Deacon Mark, as usual: ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less

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10 июня 2020 / 28 мая: блаженная Домника Алешковская (1881 - 1967).Блаженная Домника Алешковская (в миру Домна Ивановна Ликвиненко) родилась в 1881 году в православной семье зажиточных крестьян Таврической губернии. После паломничества к святыням Киево-Печерской лавры, в возрасте 15 лет она решила посвятить свою жизнь Богу и жить при монастыре.

В 1896 году Домну приняли в школу для девочек-сирот при Свято-Успенском женском Алешковском монастыре. Здесь она научилась грамоте и рукоделию. По окончании обучения в школе, она осталась в обители. Послушницей, с именем Домника, она была принята в число сестер монастыря.

Начиная с 1900 года, Алешковский монастырь переживал период своего расцвета. Был построен великолепный Успенский собор, обновлен Никольский храм, в новой трапезной устроена церковь в честь равноапостольной Нины. Монастырь оградили крепостным забором с башнями, построили новые корпуса, расширили школу, где уже учились 60 девочек-сирот.

Началась революция, затем гражданская война. Осенью 1920 года в Алешках установилась советская власть. Монастырское хозяйство, земли и здания обители были национализированы. В монастыре устроили культсовхоз «Работница», а в 1921 году трудовую артель «Мелисса».

8 марта 1922 года из монастырских храмов изъяли церковные ценности, монахинь изгнали, а в обители устроили детскую колонию «Красные всходы». Многие монахини нашли прибежище при храмах города Херсона, но часть из них остались жить возле своей любимой обители, поселившись в Алешках. Послушница Домника нашла свой кров в Алешковской слободе, недалеко от монастыря у одной благочестивой старушки.

В голод 1924 года матушка Домника переехала жить в Каховку и часто ходила на богомолье в Берислав. Однажды, на пути вдоль Днепра она предсказала своим спутницам о затоплении этих мест, впоследствии так и случилось, когда построили Каховскую ГЭС.

Вернулась в Алешки матушка в 1928 году. Город переименовали в Цюрупинск, все храмы были закрыты. Недалеко от дома, где жила Домника, жили монахини Агафия и Дария.

Началась Великая Отечественная война. Немцы сильно бомбили Цюрупинск, и обстреливали из артиллерии. К концу войны стали открывать храмы, в том числе и в Цюрупинске. Красивый Введенский собор был разрушен, поэтому храм устроили в простом доме. В Цюрупинске даже было учреждено благочиние. Много молящихся приходило на богослужения. Среди них была и матушка Домника.

Отошла она ко Господу в субботу 10 июня 1967 года. На погребении было большое стечение людей, гроб с телом пронесли от дома к Введенскому храму. По причине гонений на Церковь, в те времена запрещалось проведение погребальных церковных процессий, поэтому весь путь процессия двигалась при полном молчании. Настоятель храма, протоиерей Сергий Мураховский, совершил отпевание.

10 декабря 2008 года, в праздник иконы Божией Матери «Знамение», по благословению Архиепископа Херсонского и Таврического Иоанна были обретены мощи блаженной Домники. Во время их обретения, был найден хорошо сохранившийся деревянный крест от парамана, что подтверждает свидетельства людей о том, что Домника приняла монашеский постриг.

Мощи с благоговением были помещены в раку и перенесены в храм равноапостольной Нины, где они почивают и поныне.

Решением Священного Синода Украинской Православной Церкви от 25 марта 2009 года, блаженная Домника Алешковская была причислена к лику местночтимых святых Херсонской епархии.

15 июля 2009 года в Свято-Духовском кафедральном соборе города Херсона состоялась канонизация блаженной Домники.

16 августа 2009 года мощи блаженной Домники крестным ходом были перенесены из Херсона в храм равноапостольной Нины города Цюрупинска, где они почивают и ныне.
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On the Day of the Holy Spirit: a Canon to the Divine, Worshipful & All-Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.By Saint Maximos the Greek

Канонъ Божественному и поклоняемому Пресвятому Духу Параклиту:

Ode 1, Irmos: He who was slow of speech, having been covered with divine darkness, gave utterance unto the divinely written law; for, having shaken off the mire from his noetic eyes, he beheld the One Who Is and learned the understanding of the Spirit, uttering praise with hymns divine.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

O Master, Who of old didst feed Israel with manna in the desert, fill Thou my soul with the most Holy Spirit, that for such I may continually serve Thee in God-pleasing manner.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Making bold, with Thine incorporeal ministers I sing to Thee the hymn of the thrice-holy cry, though I am earth and ashes, O true Trinity and allgood Unity.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Ever assailed in my soul by the storms of destructive passions and spirits, I set my hope of salvation on Thee, the most good Paraclete, in that Thou art God.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Wretchedly drowning in the depths of ignorance and the slumber of grievous negligence, I cry out to Thee, Who art wholly all-pure: Deliver me from this corruption of soul!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O thou who didst conceive in Thy virgin womb Him Whom the Father begat from within before time began, by thy mighty power free me who am enslaved by the pleasures of the belly.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

Thou alone art truly the holy ground, in that thou gavest birth to the divine Life of all. O Theotokos, unto thy Son show my soul forth as fertile ground.

Ode 3, Irmos: Of old, the mere prayer to the mighty God of understandings by Hannah the Prophetess, who bore a contrite spirit, broke the bonds of her barren womb and the reproach of the childbearing, which was hard to bear.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Great is the knowledge of Thy goodness, O Holy Trinity: it is the restoration of that which was created according to Thy divine image, which Thou didst ineffably show forth by the all-wondrous incarnation of One of Thee, as a divine habitation.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

O Master, adorn my mind with Thy holy gifts and thoughts of sacred reverence, that in tranquility and holy disposition of soul I also may glorify Thee, 0 divine Paraclete.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

I pray Thee, O Master: Let not the hidden movements of the flesh destroy me, which are produced within me by the passion of pride, for they most vilely defile my wretched soul.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

With the bit and bridle of the fear of God curb Thou the onrushings of my shameless soul, that I may hymn and glorify Thee with great reverence and sober thought, 0 divine Comforter.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Utterly corrupted by many lusts, I hasten with faith to Thee, the all-radiant Sun. With Thy divine light deign Thou to enlighten the eyes of my soul, O divine Paraclete.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As the one who fed the Life of all, O pure Mistress, with thy divine visitation deign thou to give life to my soul, which hath been slain by vile passions.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

O all-pure one, show me to be an eager and speedy doer of the life-creating commandments of thy Son, ridding my soul of grievous division and deep slumber.

Then say these verses: Save Thy servant from misfortunes, O good Comforter, for the unclean demons greatly and constantly assail me with vile thoughts and illusions.

In thy compassion look down upon the grievous hardness of my heart, O most hymned Theotokos, and enlighten the darkness of my soul.

Kontakion in Tone 1: In hymns let us reverently praise and magnify the Life of all, the ever-flowing Well-spring of divine gifts, the most Holy Spirit, as of one essence with the Father and equally eternal with the Son; and with faith let us worship Him as God.

Another verse: I worship Thee, O Master, Comforter and God. Have mercy and save those who worship Thee, confessing Thee to be God!

Ode 4, Irmos: O Word, Thou King of kings, Who alone issued forth from such a One as Thou wast Thyself - from the Father Who is without cause and Thy Spirit, Who is equal to Thee in might: As our Benefactor, Thou didst truly send forth the apostles, who chant: Glory to Thy dominion, O Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

0 Lord, vouchsafe that I may hear Thy much desired invitation, which will then summon all Thy saints to the heavenly bridal-chamber.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Man who was condemned through the deception of the author of evil didst Thou seek out and save, O Holy Trinity, and Thou hast glorified him. My heart, which hast grown weak through grief, do thou strengthen with Thy might from on high, and rouse Thou my thoughts.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Pierce Thou mine accursed carnal-mindedness with the fear of God, as with a nail, and afright Thou my soul with the thought of the torments which are to come.

O most holy Theotokos, save us!

O most hymned Theotokos, enrich thou my lowly soul with divine gifts, bringing low the height of greatness.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Theotokos, show thou my soul to be the sacred dwelling-place of thy Son, dispelling its countless defilements.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

By thy supplications, O most hymned one, make me steadfast in the fear of God and love, for I am grievously perishing in confusion of soul.

Ode 5, Irmos: O radiant children of the Church, receive ye the fiery dew of the Spirit, the cleansing of sins which bringeth deliverance; for now from Sion hath the law gone forth: the grace of the Spirit in tongues of fire.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Direct my life to Thy saving commandments, O transcendent Trinity, and enlighten my soul with Thy life, I pray Thee.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Be Thou well-pleased to loose me from the bonds of grievous transgressions which gird me about, O All-good One, and furnish me with wings through love of chastity.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

With Thy divine grace, O Paraclete, enlighten my soul, which hath been darkened by the passions, and drive away from it the deep darkness of ignorance.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Utterly undaunted, all the days of my life I anger Thee with vile deeds and words, O All-good One. Deliver me from this ungodliness.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O most hymned one who alone gavest birth to the Well-spring of all wisdom, recall to reason my soul which hath become foolish through violating the divine commandments.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

O pure one, repel from my soul the evil thoughts which continually afflict it, and enrich me with God-pleasing instructions.

Ode 6, Irmos: O Christ Master, our purification and salvation, Thou didst shine forth from the Virgin, that Thou mightest rescue from corruption Adam, in whose fall our whole race fell, as Thou didst save the Prophet Jonah from the belly of the sea monster.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Embittered in mine accursed soul by bitter carnal passions, and drowning in them as in the uttermost depths, I pray to Thee, O Savior: Through the streams of the fountain which is in Thee impart life unto me!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

All Thy mysteries are truly worthy of great silence, for Thou art three Persons in one Essence, and, united, Thou remainest without confusion. O unoriginate Trinity, save me, the creature of day [fashioned by] Thy hands!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The Son is believed to be wholly, completely and essentially in the Father, as is the Spirit; for from [the Father], as from a single principle, are they both emitted co-eternally, yet they remain themselves, in their life-creating hypostases.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Having armed himself against me in every way with the abominable goads of youth, the vile one hath thereby defiled my soul and my whole life. O all-good Paraclete, heal me with the fruits of repentance!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

In mind have I fallen into grievous perils, and I am wholly beset by perplexity, and am falling into divers misfortunes; and like a boat upon the waves of the sea am I bestormed. O all-good Comforter, quickly rescue me from this grievous battering, I pray Thee!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

I have stumbled into a grievous fall, breaking my vows to thy Son; yet do I entreat thee, O immaculate one, as the well-spring of compassions and the abyss of loving kindness: Render Him merciful unto me!

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

With thine invincible and divine power ever repel from my soul the destructive assaults made against me by mine invisible enemies, O Virgin, and grant me spiritual weaponry and a strategy [to use] against them.

Kontakion in Tone 2: O Most Holy Spirit, Thou life, light and consolation, hope and delight of all:Vouchsafe Thy gifts unto those who acknowledge Thee to be God, equally enthroned with the Father and the Son; and grant them remission of sins.

Ode 7, Irmos: The melodious music of instruments sounded forth, calling men to worship the inanimate idol wrought of gold; but the radiant grace of the Comforter preferreth that they cry: O Holy Trinity, Who art equal in power and equally without beginning, blessed art Thou!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Having rid me of all wickedness and evil morals, O Savior, with the most holy gifts of the divine Paraclete enrich me who chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Soften my heart, which is harder than any iron or stone, O Savior, that, saved, I may cry out with true compunction: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Theologizing, let us hymn the Son, the Spirit and the unoriginate Father in a single Essence and three Persons, [crying]: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Slavishly overcome by wicked and sinful habits, I pray, falling down before Thee, the Master of all: Deliver me from this vile bondage!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

With Thy mighty power be Thou well-pleased to make steadfast my soul, which hath been weakened by sin, that, saved, I may cry out: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

With divine reason and fervent repentance deign thou to enlighten my mind and my soul, which hast been grievously darkened by sin, O thou who art full of the grace of God, that with the archangel I may sing unto thee: Rejoice, 0 Mistress!

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

Since the iniquitous and passion-fraught movements of my flesh have utterly done me to death, O Theotokos, plant thou the grace of the Paraclete in my soul, that in sacred manner I may ever glorify thee, the All-holy One.

Ode 8, Irmos: The thrice-radiant image of the - Godhead looseth bonds and bedeweth the flame; and all of fashioned creation blesseth as is Benefactor the one Savior and Accomplisher of all.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Release me from the destructive burning of iniquitous thoughts, O my Jesus, that I may glorify Thee with a pure heart.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

With Thine incorporeal ministers we hymn Thee, the most high and all-accomplishing Trinity; and we, Thy servants [made] of dust, exalt Thee supremely.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Staving off from my soul the destructive assaults of mine invisible foes, 0 Paraclete, be Thou well-pleased for Thy grace to dwell therein.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The petitions which in prayer I vigilantly ask of Thee in deed and with fear and love, O Comforter, do Thou vouchsafe unto me.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

O Master, in ways that Thou knowest, heal Thou my soul, which is ever bedeviled by prideful satanic thoughts.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Having sinned more than the harlot and Esau, I flee to Thy compassions: Turn not Thy grace away from me, O All-holy Paraclete!

We bless the Father, the Son and the Spirit: the Lord.

Loving sin far more than all other men, O most hymned one, I flee unto thee. Save me, thine unworthy servant!

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

O most hymned one, show me to be a lover of the divine philosophy of the Truth, setting me aright with fear and love.

Ode 9, Irmos: Rejoice, O Queen, thou glory of mothers and virgins! For even the most skillful and divinely eloquent mouth is able to hymn thee as is meet; and every mind is at a loss to understand thy birth-giving. Wherefore, together we glorify thee.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

O my Savior, Enlightenment and Defender: At the holy supplications of Thine all-pure Mother turn me not away from Thy divine joy.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Falling prostrate with fear, I who am dust worship Thee with the heavenly hosts, and cry out to Thee with love: 0 Most Holy Trinity, glory to Thee!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Save me who hymn, worship and glorify the dominion of Thine unapproachable glory.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Teach me goodly morals, the instruction of the law and the understanding of the divine dogmas, that I may hymn thee in pleasing manner, O divine Paraclete.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Deign Thou to vouchsafe unto me the joyful festivity of all the righteous who have been well-pleasing to Thee, that with them I may hymn Thee, O all-holy Comforter.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Blotting out the terror of my soul and all its diverse evils and badness, O holy Paraclete, adorn it with the crown of the virtues.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O most immaculate Virgin, by thy holy supplications heal my wretched soul, which hath been corrupted by all manner of fornication.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

O divine Mediatress between God and man, convey this, my poor supplication, to the divine Paraclete, I pray thee, O most holy Theotokos.

Then again: Save Thy servant from misfortunes, O good Comforter, for the unclean demons greatly and constantly assail me with vile thoughts and illusions.

In thy compassion look down upon the grievous hardness of my heart, O most hymned Theotokos, and enlighten the darkness of my soul.

And these troparia: It is truly meet to magnify Thee, the Word of God, before Whom the cherubim tremble and are filled with awe, and Whom the hosts of heaven glorify: Christ the Bestower of life, Who without change became incarnate of the Virgin.

It is truly meet to magnify with glorifications and to glorify with fear Thee, the most Good and Most Holy One, the Preserver of our life, the Great and Awesome One, Who with the Father and the Son dost reign as God over all things visible and invisible, the Spirit of God Who proceedest from the Father.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

With divine hymns we all hymn Thee as God: the Father, the Son and the divine Spirit, the tripartite Might, the single Kingship and Dominion.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen

O Mistress, Mother of the Deliverer, accept the supplications of thine unprofitable servants, and thereby grant deliverance of sins and the acceptable correction of a God-pleasing life.


O Master, all-good Paraclete, Who art One of the holy and worshipful, consubstantial and indivisible Trinity, accept this poor entreaty which Thou hast allowed to be offered unto Thee by a man sinful and condemned; and forgive me mine offenses, voluntary and involuntary. Cleanse me of my hidden [sins], and take pity on Thy servant [in the face of the sins] of others. Extend Thy favor to me, the sinful and unworthy, visit the infirmity of my soul with Thy grace, and heal its broken state.

Have mercy on me, O Master, Paraclete and God! Have mercy on me, sanctify my soul and body, enlighten my mind and reason, and cleanse the conscience of my soul from all defilement. And from impure thoughts, from the plottings of the wicked and the intentions of the bad, from all vainglory, pride and self-aggrandizement, from arrogance and audacity, from satanic insolence, and from all pharisaical hypocrisy and mine every evil habit, do Thou utterly deliver me for the sake of the glory of Thy name. And grant me sincere repentance, contrition and humility of heart, meekness and serenity, and all Christian reverence, understanding and spiritual skill, with all nobility, thankfulness and perfect patience.

Yea, O God, for the sake of the glory of Thy name hearken unto me, the sinful one who prayeth to Thee, and vouchsafe that for the remainder of my wretched life I may sincerely repent of mine iniquities with all humbleness of mind, chastity and true temperance, having put away all doubt, double-mindedness and insensitivity; and fully preserve me in a pious and Orthodox confession of the Christian Faith, O Master, that I may be vouchsafed all the days of my life to hymn thee without doubting, to bless and glorify Thee, and to say: O holy God, unoriginate Father! O holy Mighty One, His Son Who is equally without beginning! O holy Immortal One, Holy Spirit Who proceedest from the Father and abidest and restest in the Son! O most Holy Trinity, glory be to Thee! Glory to Thee, O Holy Trinity, Who art consubstantial, life-creating and indivisible!

Glory to Thee for all things!

Glory to thee, O Mother of God, refuge of the faithful, deliverance for those beset by evils, and divine consolation of my soul! O thou who art full of the grace of God, my most wretched soul, which hast been wounded by the arrows of the enemy, do I entrust to thine almighty intercession; and protect and save it unharmed by the wiles of the demons, that I may cry out to thee: Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!
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Festal greetings for Pentecost-Trinity.Dear brothers, sisters, and friends - greetings on this great feast of Pentecost-Trinity.

It was a great joy to celebrate Troitsa with an early Liturgy at the chaplaincy, with the support of Fr Deacon Mark, and those assisting with serving and singing. Twenty-three members of the parish - including our youngest parishioners - as well as friends from the wider Orthodox community communed during the course of the morning, surrounded by the traditional flowers and greenery which decorated the Little Oratory for the feast.

Peter celebrated the sixth anniversary of his baptism, so we send our warmest congratulations to him, thanking him for his great support for the parish and its clergy, especially since our move to the chaplaincy.

After a much-needed lunch, vespers was celebrated, as we held birch and flowers in our hands, kneeling for the special prayers which mark the eve of the Day of the Holy Spirit. Despite there being few present, the quiet, harmonious singing made vespers a beautiful and prayerful service.

It was a long day, as Sundays always are at the moment, but one which was filled with joy.

We look forward to celebrating the Feast of All Saints next weekend, and then the local Sunday celebrations of the saints of Russia, of Great Britain, and the other Orthodox countries of the world.

We pray that the Holy Spirit will nurture and strengthen our community and the life of our diocese here in the British Isles and Western Europe.

In Christ - Hieromonk Mark
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The feast of St Euphrosyne of Polotsk.As we celebrate the feast of St Euphrosyne of Polotsk, protectress of the Belorussian lands, we send our greetings to our Belorussian parishioners, and to our friends, the sisters of the Convent of St Elizabeth in Minsk.

Поздравления с праздником!

Преподобная мати наша Евфросиние, моли Бога о нас.

Saint Euphrosyne was born between 1101 and 1104 and named Predslava in the world. She was the daughter of Prince George Vseslavich, second son of Vseslav the Sorcerer, of the Rurik noble family, members of which were the dukes of the principality of Polotsk, in what is modern day Belarus.

From her childhood she was noted for her love of prayer and book learning. She refused all proposals of marriage and, without her parents' knowledge, ran away to the convent at the age of twelve where her aunt was the abbess. She first critically reacted to the decision of the girl and, fearing her father's anger, discouraged her niece. However, after the requests of Predislava, she blessed her. The father did not approve of the choice of his daughter, and her whole family was grieved.

Predslava received monastic tonsure with the name Euphrosyne. With the blessing of Bishop Elias of Polotsk, she began to live in the basement of the Sophia Cathedral, where she occupied herself by the copying of books. The money she thus earned she distributed amongst the poor.

The process of copying books was extremely difficult and slow, it was hard physical work, and it was exclusively for men. The scribe did not write on a table, but on the palm of his left hand, with his elbow resting on his knee. He wrote on the parchment according to the rule - large and straight, without a slope, each letter was separated from the next one. The scribe should not only have a good knowledge of grammar, but also have artistic abilities, since the initial letters and headings of sections had to be decorated with animal or vegetable patterns. In addition, books were often decorated with specially written capital letters. During the day, it was possible to write off no more than four pages.

One day an angel took Euphrosyne in a dream and brought her to Seltso, two miles from Polotsk, on the bank of the Polota, and said: "Here you must be!" The dream was repeated three times. Around the year 1128 Bishop Elias entrusted the nun with the task of organizing a women’s monastery. Setting out for Seltso, the site of the future monastery, the ascetic took only her holy books. At the newly constructed Savior-Transfiguration Monastery the Saint taught the girls to copy books, singing, sewing and other handicrafts. Construction was completed in 1133.

Through her efforts, the Church of the Holy Savior was built in 1161, which still stands today and is considered to be the most precious monument of early Belarusian architecture. Saint Euphrosyne also founded a men’s monastery dedicated to the Mother of God. Patriarch Luke of Constantinople sent a copy of the wonderworking Ephesus Icon of the Mother of God, also known as the Korsun Icon, at her request. Shortly before her death, Saint Euphrosyne journeyed on pilgrimage to Constantinople and the Holy Land with her nephew David and sister Eupraxia.

On the way to Constantinople in 1167 she met Emperor Manuel, who at that time was going to war with the Hungarians. After venerating the holy places in Constantinople, she departed for Jerusalem. The Crusader king, Amalric I of Jerusalem, received her in the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, Euphrosyne went to the Holy Sepulchre. A few days later, she fell ill and sent her nephew and sister for holy water to the Jordan. After the appearance of an angel, Euphrosyne began preparing for her death. She sent a petition to be buried at the Lavra of Saint Savvas, but her request was denied due to it being a monastery for men only where women were forbidden. Having received the refusal, she sent a servant to buy a coffin and arrange for her to be buried at the Russian Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos, which was at the Monastery of Saint Theodosios the Great. The Lord granted her a peaceful end after 23 days of illness on May 24, 1167.

Her body, after the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, was carried by the monks to Kiev and deposited there in the Kiev Caves Monastery, and the relics were transferred to Polotsk in 1910 to the monastery she founded.

Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk was glorified in the Russian Church as a patroness of women’s monasticism. She is the only virgin saint of East Slav origin. Euphrosyne (or Efrosinia) of Polotsk is a patron saint of Belarus. In Belarus there is a Convent of Saint Euphrosyne in Polotsk and a Saint Euphrosyne Orthodox Church in Minsk.

The Cross of Saint Euphrosyne was a splendid gem-studded cross created at her behest by a local master, Lazar Bohsa. The famous six-armed golden cross was decorated with enamels and precious stones and presented by her to the church of the Holy Saviour in 1161. Of exquisite beauty, the relic survived centuries of turbulence until World War II, when it mysteriously disappeared during the evacuation of the museum in 1941. For the last time, the cross was seen in Mogilev. Despite some efforts of the Belarusian government to trace in the early 1990s the whereabouts of this treasure, which included even searching in private collections in the United States, nothing has been found.

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Intercessory prayers for the parish this evening.Yesterday marked the feasts of the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, and the Holy Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helena, and though these celebrations seem very different – historically, geographically, and culturally – they are spiritually linked by the Imperial City of Constantinople: Константиноградъ.

Earlier this month, on 11 May, the Church celebrated the dedication of the City, the New Rome on the Bosphorus, after the conversion of St Constantine to the Christian Faith.

In this new capital, Christianity gained an imperial centre in the east, in which the traditions of Byzantine Christianity developed into our rich, precious and cherished Orthodox Tradition: different to the outlook, theological temperament and liturgy of the Old Rome, even before the schism and the divergence of East and West.

In the Second Rome, ecclesiastical arts, Liturgy and theology developed and flowered, and it was from Constantine’s imperial city that the Vladimirskaya icon arrived as a gift from the Ecumenical Patriarch to Prince Yuriy Dolgorukiy, Great Prince of Kiev, around 1131 - later transferred to Vladimir in 1155, and to Moscow in 1395, escaping the destruction, spoliation and violence of the Tartar yolk.

This beautiful, Constantinopolitan image of the Mother of God, was to become the palladium of Russia: a wonderworking icon which embodied the protection of the Mother of God over Rus’. Just as Holy Russia had received its Byzantine Christian Tradition from East Rome, so too did it receive it’s most precious and sacred possession: the Vladimirskaya icon, which was to be placed in the Moscow Kremlin at the centre of national life and its sacred consciousness.

The three feasts of the icon are each linked to the defence of Holy Rus’ from the Islamic Yolk: 21 May - Old Style - to celebrate Moscow's protection from Crimean Khan Mehmed Giray in 1521; 23 June, for to celebrate the victory against Khan Ahmed during the Great Stand on the Ugra River in 1480; and 26 August to commemorate the Muscovite deliverance from invasion by Tamerlane.

However, it is not primarily on a dramatic national level that this icon became part of the spiritual identity of the faithful, but on a deeply human and individual level, for through its numerous copies and reproductions, this icon has been a consolation and strength to all who have been touched by the tenderness of the Mother of God in her maternal relationship to the Child in her arms, as mother and intercessor.

Her loving and compassionate heart is captured and expressed so eloquently in the tiny portion of the original icon, which includes the facial features of the Heavenly Queen and her Divine Child, and her contemplative eyes, gaze not at her child or the icon’s viewer, but inwardly, into the depths of her own soul.

This icon, like Saints Constantine and Helena, has transcended the boundaries of race, culture and ethnicity, as we are called to the Theotokos as the Mother and Consolatrix of Christians and in venerating her Vladimirskaya icon, or the Holy Equals to the Apostles, we do not do so as subjects of the First Rome, the Second, or even the Third Rome. We are called only to be citizens of Heaven, with no abiding city here on earth. We simply come to them as Christians, needing their help, bringing our joys and sorrows, hopes and uncertainties.

When we come to these clebrations, we must be careful that we do not fall into the falsehood of territorially laying claim to saints and their relics, to sacred places, to Holy Icons and jealously guarding them as our national possession and legacy, to the exclusion and detriment of others who approach with Faith and the fear of God. We are to celebrate their memory with openess and hospitality with all who join us in our veneration and supplication.

At the end of the present month on the patristic Church calendar, we commemorate the fall of the Imperial City, and the death of the last Roman Emperor, Constantine XI Dragases Palaiologos on 29 May 1453. This tragedy in our shared Orthodox history reminds us that kingdoms rise and fall, the fortunes of empires wax and wain, and that even the great are as grass upon the rooftops. Imperial Rome is dead and gone, the Second Rome is now at the national centre of an increasingly Islamic Society, and Imperial Russia was consumed in the Revolution over a hundred years ago.

Yet, the Mother of God remains our intercessor, protecting and interceding for the faithful and blessing the world through her wonder-working icons through which she reaches out to all nations and peoples.

Long after the fall of Byzantium, Saints Constantine and Helena are loved and venerated in every Orthodox society, interceding for the whole world, not worrying about the language and nationality of those who turn to them in Faith and hope.

As I worked for the whole of yesterday and was deprived of the chance to serve a moleben to the Mother of God and Saints Constantine and Helena, a few of the faithful came to the Little Oratory this evening, so that we could pray for the Church and land, for the parishioners and friends of the parish, with the commemorations taking a long time during the litanies, as this triple ‘Lord, have mercy’ was chanted again and again.

The last public service in the parish, before lockdown, was small compline in the refectory. At the end of that service, we commended the parishioners and their families to the care of the Mother of God as we knelt and chanted, ‘Under thy merciful care, we hasten in our sorrow…’ Today we continued to take consolation in the Protection of the Mother of God, chanting before the Vladimirskaya icon, placed beside the icons of the Ascension and Saints Constantine and Helena, and then being annointed with myron from the myrhh-weeping Hawaian Icon, the phsical sign of the compassion and intercession of the Mother of God, herself.

May the Mother of God protect us, and the Holy Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helena intercede for us, uniting us in Faith and love.
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Празднество Владимирской иконе Божией Матери.Дни памяти: 21 мая, 23 июня и 26 августа

Празднество Владимирской иконе Божией Матери установлено в память спасения Москвы в 1521 году от нашествия татар под предводительством хана Махмет-Гирея. Татарские полчища приближались к Москве, предавая огню и разрушению русские города и селения, истребляя их жителей. Великий князь Василий собирал войско против татар, а Московский митрополит Варлаам вместе с жителями Москвы усердно молился об избавлении от гибели. В это грозное время одна благочестивая слепая инокиня имела видение: из Спасских ворот Кремля выходили московские святители, покидая город и унося с собой Владимирскую икону Божией Матери - главную святыню Москвы, - в наказание Божие за грехи ее жителей. У Спасских ворот святителей встретили преподобные Сергий Радонежский и Варлаам Хутынский, слезно умоляя их не оставлять Москвы. Все они вместе принесли Господу пламенную молитву о прощении согрешивших и избавлении Москвы от врагов. После этой молитвы святители возвратились в Кремль и внесли обратно Владимирскую святую икону. Подобное же видение было и московскому святому, блаженному Василию, которому было открыто, что заступлением Божией Матери и молитвами святых Москва будет спасена. Татарскому хану было видение Божией Матери, окруженной грозным войском, устремившимся на их полки. Татары в страхе бежали, столица Русского государства была спасена.

Празднование иконе Божией Матери Владимирской совершается также 23 июня и 26 августа.
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As the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Equals to the Apostles, Constantine and Helena, we greet our starosta Alyona on her nameday. She always brings sunshine and a smile, finding a kind word, and gives encouragement to those who need her help and support. We thank her for all that she does, and for the way in which she brings people together to share in the day to day life of the parish. She is a positive inspiration for us all.

Поздравления с Днемъ ангела! Mногая и благая лѣта!
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May 20/June 2: the Uncovering of the relics of St Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow.As we celebrate the feast of the uncovering of the relics of our holy father, St Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow (1431), we send our greetings to our parishioner Alexey in Swansea, and to the great friend of our parish, Alexey, in London. Congratulations and best wishes to you both. May the Lord grant you many, blessed years!

Да сохранитъ Васъ Господь на многая и благая лѣта!

Saint Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia the Wonderworker (in the world Eleutherius), was born in the year 1292 (or according to another source, 1304) at Moscow into the family of the noble Theodore Byakont, a descendant of the Chernigov princely line.

The Lord revealed to the future saint his lofty destiny from early childhood. At twelve years of age Eleutherius went to a field and set nets to ensnare birds. He dozed off and suddenly he heard a voice: “Alexis! Why do you toil in vain? You are to be a catcher of people.”

From this day on the boy abandoned childish games and spent much time in solitude. He frequently visited church, and when he was fifteen he decided to become a monk.

In 1320, he entered Moscow’s Theophany monastery, where he spent more than twelve years in strict monastic struggles. The renowned ascetics of the monastery, the Elders Gerontius and Saint Stephen (July 14), brother of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, were guides for him and his companions.

Metropolitan Theognostus, who had taken notice of the virtuous life and spiritual gifts of Saint Alexis, bade the future saint to leave the monastery and manage the ecclesiastical courts. The saint fulfilled this office for twelve years. Towards the end of 1350, Metropolitan Theognostus had Alexis consecrated as Bishop of Vladimir. After the death of the metropolitan, he became his successor in the year 1354.

During this period the Russian Church was torn by great rifts and quarrels, in part because of the pretensions of Metropolitan Romanus of Lithuania and Volhynia. In 1356, in order to put an end to the troubles and disturbances, the saint went to Constantinople to the Ecumenical Patriarch. Patriarch Callistus gave Saint Alexis the right to both be called and to consider himself Archbishop of Kiev and Great Russia with the title, “All-Venerable Metropolitan and Exarch.”

On the return journey, during a storm at sea, the ship was in danger of shipwreck. Saint Alexis prayed and vowed to build a temple to the saint of that day on which the ship should come to shore. The storm subsided, and the ship arrived on August 16. Moscow delightedly came out to meet the saint.

In spite of problems on every side, Saint Alexis devoted himself to his flock: he appointed bishops, he established cenobitic monasteries (on the model of the Trinity Lavra, founded by Saint Sergius), and he brought order to Russian relations with the Khans of the Horde. The saint journeyed more than once to the Golden Horde. In 1357 the Khan told the Great Prince that the saint should come to him and heal the blindness of Taidulla, his wife.

“This is beyond my powers,” said Saint Alexis, “but I believe that God, Who gave sight to the blind, will also aid me.” Through his prayer, and after being sprinkled with holy water, the wife of the Khan was healed.

When Great Prince Ioann died, his young son Demetrius (the future saint), still a minor, was taken under the saint’s guardianship. The holy bishop had much toil in reconciling and appeasing princes obstinately refusing to accept the authority of Moscow. Nor did the metropolitan neglect the work of organizing new monasteries.

In 1361 he founded the Icon of the Savior Not-Made-by-Hands monastery at the Yauza in Moscow (Andronikov, the disciple of Saint Sergius, was the first igumen of the monastery), fulfilling the vow he had made on his return journey from Constantinople, when the ship was in danger.

He also founded the Chudov monastery in the Moscow Kremlin. Ancient monasteries were restored: the Annunciation monastery at Nizhni-Novgorod, and Saints Constantine and Helen at Vladimir. In 1361 a women’s cenobitic monastery was named for him (the Alekseev).

Saint Alexis reached the advanced age of seventy-eight, having spent twenty-four years upon the metropolitan cathedra. He reposed on February 12, 1378 and was buried in accord with his last wishes at the Chudov monastery. His relics were uncovered in a miraculous manner fifty years later, after which the memory of the great holy hierarch and man of prayer began to be celebrated.

Saint Alexis is also commemorated on May 20 (Uncovering of his relics) and on October 5.

Troparion, tone 4: The fervent protector of Apostolic dogmas, / The pastor and teacher of the Russian Church: / By celebrating the memory of the blessed bishop Alexis / We glorify with our songs Christ our God. / He has given us a faithful worker / And a fountain of healing grace, / The praise and confirmation of Orthodox Christians!

Source: The Orthodox Church in America
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Preparing for Pentecost-Trinity.“O what gifts that surpass understanding! O dread mystery! For He Who reigneth over all hath risen from earth to the Heavens, and unto the disciples hath He sent the Holy Spirit, Who enlightened their minds and made them fiery with grace.”

From Ode 9 of the canon of the matins of Ascension.

Dear brothers and sisters, here we are in these ‘waiting days’ between the Ascension and Pentecost-Trinity, when we no longer sing ‘Christ is Risen, but are yet to sing ‘O Heavenly King’ at the beginning of our services.

Mindful of the Lord’s words to His disciples, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever...” we look forward to the feast, which we celebrate not only as a past event, but with the feast as a sign of the continual gift of the Holy Spirit, in a pouring-forth that is a continually unfolding reality in the life of the Church.

St. Justin Popovich writes:

“This holy mystery is realized continually in the Church of Christ and because of this the Church is really a continuous Pentecost.... From Holy Pentecost, the day of the Holy Spirit, every God-like soul in the Church of Christ is an incombustible bush which continuously burns and is inflamed with God and has a fiery tongue within it.”

In every saint, we see the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the experience of Pentecost, in men and women transformed by the action of Grace, as living temples of the Holy Spirit, which burns as a pure, spiritual flame within them. In the saints we experience Pentecost every day.

But, their lives show us, that this operation of the Holy Spirit - poured forth on the individual disciples on the first Pentecost - is only possible if we strive to make ourselves acceptable and worthy of Grace, rather than being unwashed and dirty vessels: unworthy and incapable of holding something pure and precious.

After Saturday vespers, we will begin our services - until Pascha, next year - with the prayer: O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere and fillest all things; Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life - come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

During the kneeling prayers, in Sunday afternoon’s vespers, we will ask God to be merciful, that the Holy Spirit may come upon us; delivering us from all evil and temptation; unifying us; granting peace, concord and reconciliation; purifying us and freeing us from sin and evil; granting us wisdom and the fear of God; renewing, strengthening and guiding us in lives of obedience, piety, Godliness and virtue.

But... how can we possibly ask any of these things, unless we heed the lives and teachings of the saints, struggling to make ourselves worthy dwellings for the Holy Spirit, through prayer and repentance? How can we even have the audacity to respond “Lord, have mercy” to the extra litany petitions for the gift of the Holy Spirit, or say “Amen” to the kneeling prayers, if we refuse to make any effort to labour and cooperate in the ongoing Pentecost of the spiritual life?

This is something upon which we should reflect in the coming week, using it as a time to prepare for the feast; preparing for confession; preparing for Holy Communion; preparing to approach the Lord with joy and gladness, with hearts that long for Him; mourning, lamenting, and regretting everything that mars the image of God in us, and that comes between us and the Lord. We shouldn’t simply arrive at the feast of Pentecost with no forethought, no preparation, no consciousness of the immensity and meaning of the feast, and insensitivity to the necessity of the Life-Giving Spirit in our lives.

In his work, “Field Flowers", St. Paisius Velichkovsky wrote that -

"...One must clean the royal house from every impurity and adorn it with every beauty, then the king may enter into it. In a similar way one must first cleanse the earth of the heart and uproot the weeds of sin and the passionate deeds and soften it with sorrows and the narrow way of life, sow in it the seed of virtue, water it with lamentation and tears, and only then does the fruit of dispassion and eternal life grow. For the Holy Spirit does not dwell in a man until he has been cleansed from passions of the soul and body.”

Let us be heedful, listening to St Paisius, and use this week to prepare for the “Heavenly King”, that He may come and abide in us, cleanse us from every impurity and save our souls.

Wishing you fruitful and blessed days of prayer and preparation.

Congratulations to all who confessed and communed of the Lord’s Most Holy Body and Blood in the past day. Поздравление съ причастиемъ!

As throughout lockdown, all wishing to confess and commune next weekend should contact Father Deacon Mark. We are aware of communicants who have already been in touch. Thank you.

As our parish Deacon is the coordinator and organiser arranging pastoral provision (not the rector, Hieromonk Mark), please respect his requests and instructions. Contact:

In Christ - Hieromonk Mark
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A beautiful icon of the feast, which looks like the work of the iconographer Ivan Mikhailov of the Vilnius School of Old Believers' icon painting.Glory to Thine Ascension, O Lord! ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less

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Greetings for the Lord’s Ascension: Съ праздникомъ!Neither an angel nor a man, but the Incarnate Lord Himself came and saved us, being made like us for our sake while remaining unchanged as God. In the same way as He came down, without changing place but condescending to us, so He returns once more, without moving as God, but enthroning on high our human nature which He had assumed.

St. Gregory Palamas: Homily Twenty-One: On the Ascension

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings for the feast of the Lord’s Ascension. Съ праздникомъ!

I write this after travelling from Llanelli to Cardiff to visit parishioners, at the end of a day that began with a beautiful Liturgy celebrated by Archpriest Luke in the Chapel of St David and St Nicholas. Thanks are due to Fr Luke for his hospitality, and to Fr Deacon Mark who drove me to the cathedral to collect the antimins (altar cloth), which made today’s celebration possible.

After Liturgy, Fr Luke spoke of how this feast points to the reality that the faithful will not simply experience the Kingdom of God, spiritually, but physically, in the flesh. Though broken and disfunctional, our humanity is called through the askesis and repentance of our life in Christ to a place at the right hand of the Father. By His incarnation, the Creator calls our humanity, both physical and spiritual, to its proper place, in communion with God in the Heavenly Kingdom. He did this by not simply being instantly clothed in flesh, in a moment, even though He is the Creator, but through assuming this flesh through the course of human growth by which every person becomes human and enters the world: by nine months of pre-natal development, cell by cell.

The second canon in the matins of the feast says, ‘Our nature, which fell of old, hath been raised up higher than the Angels, and hath been placed on the throne of God in a manner surpassing understanding.’

In this we see the defeat of the lie of gnosticism, with its rejection of the physical and fleshly as the work of a demiurge, having no part in spiritual-being or the future life. No, this flesh, created in Adam and Eve, is put on as a garment, by the very Creator Himself, through the womb of the Mother of God.

Reflecting on the Dormition of that self-same Mother, and the physical Assumption of her body and soul into heaven, we see that Christ calls all into this wonderful translation in the totality of our being, but only in as much as we follow in her footsteps in a life of sacrificial love, obedience and openness to the Grace of the Holy Spirit, treading the path of the Gospel.

St Gregory Palamas reminds us that ‘all the heirs of everlasting life follow as far as possible the pattern of His saving work on earth. Those who live according to Christ imitate what He did in the flesh.’ We are called to the Ascension through a life of active Faith founded upon the Christ’s teaching; struggling for purification and perfection in a life-long labour to become Christ-like; abandoning our fallen nature to live in Him.

Fallen Adam, has no part in this Ascension, but Adam restored in and through Christ, baptised into His death and Resurrection, which find their fulfilment in the Saviour’s Ascension.

If we have made no effort to live an active and dedicated spiritual life in Christ, we will be unable to simply say that we are ‘card-holding’ members of the Orthodox Church, with the mysteriological stamps of membership on our documents. Thinking that ethnic identity and cultural identification as Orthodox, baptism, chrismation, and the occasional visit to church somehow grant us a passport to the Kingdom is self-delusion, which will be shattered when we face the Divine Judgement, ‘When the books shall be open, and all hidden things revealed.’

For, whereas all shall rise from the dead - the righteous who love and obey God, and the sinners, who ignore and reject Him and His Law - this Ascension which we celebrate is a calling only to those who struggle to follow Christ and to attain holiness through repentance and spiritual living, founded upon living and active Faith.

Let us take up our cross and follow Him.

Wishing you a happy feast.

With love in Christ - Hieromonk Mark
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The Leave-Taking of Pascha.It is the Day of Resurrection! Let us be radiant, O people! Pascha! The Lord's Pascha! For Christ our God has brought us from death to life, and from earth unto heaven, as we sing triumphant hymns!

Dear brothers and sisters: Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе! Atgyfododd Crist!

It seems quite unbelievable that we are already at the Leave-Taking of Pascha, and that the Easter season is behind us. Every Lent and Paschal season seem to pass quickly, but this year has been quite different in the speed with which the days of Pascha seem to have sped by.

Others may, of course, have a different experience, and one would imagine that lockdown would have quite the opposite effect. Had I been at home rather than working, then my experience may have been different. However, work in social-care, as well as work in the parish has continued.

In many ways, clergy-life has been busier and more demanding, as we have been travelling much, to and from Cardiff, as well as around the city and surrounding areas, visiting and supporting the faithful at this trying time. Services have, of course, continued in our ROCOR diocese, and in Cardiff the Liturgy has been celebrated at least once a week (in addition to other horologion services) and the faithful have confessed and communed in their homes. This has been demanding, generally requiring an eleven hour stretch on most Sundays, before the journey home and the prospect of work in the morning, but it has brought an especially intense joy, as members of our community show great determination and spiritual zeal in maintaining a life of Faith and prayer.

Our journeys have brought us to icon-corners that are clearly places of prayer and devotion, with piles of prayer-books, akafists and spiritual reading materials; candles and lamps; and decorated with flowers and the greenery of spring. Each home has shown us that Orthodox spiritual life continues in our corner of Wales and that whatever Covid-19 does outside, the homes of parishioners have continued to be centred on the Risen Christ and living the Faith.

This is vitally important. The principal message of the last forty days should not have been ‘Coronavirus kills’, but ‘Christ is Risen!’ The focus of the last forty days should have been the Life-Giving Resurrection of Christ. This is not to deny the urgency and demands of the present pandemic, but EVERYTHING be experienced through the empty tomb, Christ’s Life-Giving victory and the wondrous events of Easter morning.

Yet, so much of our Paschal season has been overshadowed by the constant bombardment of information that besets us throughout our waking hours. It is interesting that His Grace, Bishop Artemije of Raška and Prizren and of Kosovo-Metochia in Exile, focussed on this in his Paschal messgage, writing:

"In addition to the officially announced pandemic, Brothers and Sisters, another unofficial pandemic has been ravaging the world for many years now. And not only does this pandemic not subside, but is constantly growing in strength, especially in times of crisis, such as the times in which we now live. This is a pandemic of information.

We are flooded with information every day, both real and false. Thanks to modern technologies, billions of people possess a window on the world in the palm of their hands. Through this window, we cannot only observe the world, hearing and seeing what others are saying, but through it, we can also speak something that will be heard by a multitude of others. And unfortunately, this is a trap that many of us fall into today. Because in just one single day, we are flooded with so much information from every part of the world, that even a whole lifetime would not suffice to comprehend it even briefly.

Our Holy Fathers, like St Basil the Great, warned us not to be occupied with the news that comes to us every day. Because there is so much news flowing around us today, that if we immerse ourselves in this river carrying all sorts of debris, it will carry us away and we will become like this debris ourselves. We have a commandment first and foremost, to take care of our soul, and that will not be possible if every day we only listen to what everybody else is saying, and look at what is happening and where.

An abundance of unnecessary information will weaken the immune system of our soul, and we will no longer be able to think reasonably and properly. Then, we will be held captive by fear, we will fall into uncertainty, and we will easily lose our soul.

Instead, let our attention be focused on the most important news – that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Incarnate Logos, suffered for our sins and was resurrected. We should spread this Good News throughout the world. But for our efforts to be successful, we must first of all rise from the graves of our sins, as did all our Holy Fathers before us. For when they were cleansed, they proclaimed chastity, and when they were enlightened by the blessed Holy Spirit, they enlightened others. This is the sacred task that lies before us all, for which we do not have unlimited time. And because this world is immersed in sin and iniquity, it desperately needs a Risen Christ like never before."

We started the season with the sharing life-giving information of the event that changed the world, when the angel sitting by the Tomb said to the myrrh-bearing women, ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.’

This is the joyous message that sped and spread throughout the ancient world, without telephone, internet, email, Twitter, Zoom or Skype. ‘He is not here, but is risen.’

This message of Christ’s Victory over hell and death should fill us with the strength, the resilience and hope to experience every difficulty of the present time in the power of the Resurrection. We are not to shake in fear and trembling, like the disciples, behind locked doors. They did so because they were yet to experience the Risen Christ.

Since that morning when the Saviour appeared to them, since the absent Thomas placed his fingers in Christ’s wounds and his hand in the spear-wound in His side, the Church has proclaimed the Resurrection of Christ for more than two millennia; the Paschal Fire has miraculously descended upon the Holy Sepulchre; and the faithful have greeted one another with the cosmic message: Christ is Risen!

For us, as children of the Russian Orthodox Church, some of those years were in great splendour, with an empire-wide celebration during which the Tsar-Martyr stood and kissed thousands of his subjects and greeted them with the words ‘Христосъ Воскресе!’; some were during the difficult and uncertain years of the Tartar yolk and in the Time of the Troubles; some were in the dark years of the God-hating Soviets, in which some Paschal celebrations happened in the secluded corners of the gulag, deep in the forest or in apartments with blacked out windows and a designated knock to gain entry.

This year has been a shock for us, with churches closed for public worship, with an increasingly clear disdain for faith on the part of government, and a loss of the spiritual freedoms we take for granted. However, In the scope of the life of our Church, this is nothing compared to some of the desperate and harsh years in which the faithful still celebrated and entered into the joy of Christ’s resurrection, despite being denied any open services, risking everything to attend Liturgy and commune on Christ’s Holy mysteries where it was possible.

Our celebration of the Paschal Liturgy in the Little Oratory was strange and disconcerting without the excitement of the faithful awaiting the proclamation of the resurrection and their jubilant response, but we were still able to celebrate; we were still able to visit the faithful – some of whom fasted till 16:00 in the afternoon; we were still able to confess, to have Holy Communion, to have Paschal food blessed and exchange the Paschal greeting: Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе!

We fasted through lockdown, we celebrated Pascha through lockdown, we have maintained our spiritual life, and we have hopefully come to treasure and appreciate what we have taken for granted.

What happens next is uncertain, not simply due to government diktats, but because we are very generously granted the use of a borrowed places of worship in Cardiff and Cheltenham.

Given the vulnerability of the residents of Nazareth House – who should be remembered in our prayers – the University Church is likely to be out of use for considerably longer than other places of worship.

The Little Oratory, which has been the centre of liturgical life throughout lockdown is small, to say the least, and not suitable for more than a handful of people. However, together as a parish and as a diocese, we will explore possibilities as we look forward to resuming parish worship - including worshipping outside.

I would like to thank all who have been so supportive during the Lenten and Paschal periods: baking, sewing, washing and ironing Church linen, providing meals for clergy, flowers for the Little Oratory, wine for Liturgy, food for the foodbank, and so many other things.

And so, as we come to the last day of Pascha, I send you all my love-in-Christ and heartfelt greetings: Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе! Atgyfododd Crist! Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christus Resurrexit!

May the Lord bless you and protect you!

Hieromonk Mark
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A joyful day in Walsingham seventy five years ago: 21 May 1945.Seventy-five years today, the feast of St John the Theologian, something deeply meaningful and spiritually significant happened in a quiet corner of England. Unlike VE Day, the week before, this event touched few, apart from the Orthodox faithful who had discovered the restored devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham between the wars, or who found themselves in Norfolk, as Free Polish service-men or Prisoners of War.

In the restricted zone of North Norfolk, beyond the reach of most pilgrims, His Grace, Archbishop Savva of Grodno accompanied the great friend and benefactor of Orthodoxy, Father Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, rector of the celebrated Anglican-Papalist church of St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge on the CatholicLeague Whitsun pilgrimage.

In the Summer edition of the shrine newsletter, ‘Our Lady’s Mirror’, Father Hope Patten, Master of the Guardians of the Anglican Shrine, wrote of the events of Monday 21 May 1945:

Father Fynes-Clinton, that untiring and most devoted of all the friends of Walsingham, led the annual Catholic League Pilgrimage to the Shrine at Whitsun. Among the pilgrims was Bishop Savva, the Orthodox Chaplain General of the Polish forces in this country. The Bishop was at one time Assistant Bishop to the Diocesan of Warsaw, and is now the Diocesan of Grodno. With him came a small Orthodox Choir who sang at the dedication of the Chapel in the Pilgrimage Church, which was placed under the patronage of our Lady of Perpetual Succour – as we know it in the West. After the dedication the Liturgy was sung for the first time in this Chapel, the Eastern Mass having been celebrated in the past at the High Altar of the Shrine Church. The Chapel was packed to overflowing, as too were the stairs approaching it. At the end of the Liturgy all received the blessed Bread from the hands of the Bishop. On Whit-Sunday his Lordship preached at the High Mass in the Parish Church, and in the afternoon they offered the Moleben in the Holy House.

The Orthodox pilgrims from our Welsh parishes and the local faithful will no doubt smile at the description of the faithful overflowing down the stairs. Not only are we glad to be still celebrating in the little chapel, but also to be able to overflow in the same way!

To return to 1945 - as an Anglo-Catholic in the Papalist tradition, Father Fynes-Clinton, was unusual in having such a love for the Orthodox Church. From 1906 to 1920 he had been the General Secretary of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union and its successor, the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association. He also served as Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Eastern Churches Committee in the 1920’s. Those who are familiar with his splendid Baroque church of St Magnus in the city will know of the beautiful icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour – i.e. the Mother of God of the Passion – which he brought back from Russia before the Revolution, and which is enshrined in the North Aisle. It is interesting that his love of this icon of the Mother of God should be reflected in Walsingham, where he held great influence, especially due to his financial support for the shrine. Interestingly, the Slavonic and English charter from the dedication of the chapel uses the title of ‘the Mother of God of Perpetual Succour’, rather than ‘of the Passion’. I often wonder whether Father Fynes-Clinton had any part in the choice of dedication. Given his great support for the Russian Orthodox in exile in England, after the Civil War, I rather hope he did!

Before the Second World War, Archbishop Seraphim of Paris had blessed a plot of land adjoining the Anglican shrine, with the intention of building a Russian Orthodox Church, but this never came to fruition. The ‘temporary’ chapel had been in use since 1942, judging by a photograph in ‘Our Lady’s Mirror’ from Winter of that year. Having been originally used by used by Polish soldiers and airmen and Eastern European prisoners of war, this little sanctuary has been used by the local Orthodox faithful and pilgrims ever since its dedication just after the allied victory in Europe. St Nikolai Velimirović, who lived in the College for a few months after his release from the Dachau concentration camp celebrated here. We continue to worship in the diminutive chapel today, though it is now the chapel of the ‘Life-Giving Spring’, having been renamed rather late in its history.

An early photograph shows a very bare chapel, but today it is full of colour, with the high iconstasis covered in icons from top to bottom, and lamps and candles bear witness to the many visitors who pray there and meet the Orthodox Church on a little upstairs landing in Norfolk. We miss being able to be there at the moment, but today we give thanks for over three quarters of a century of the Orthodox dimension in Walsingham’s restored spiritual life.

We give thanks for the friendships of the past; the kindness of Father Hope Patten; the energetic support of Father Fynes-Clinton; the generosity of generations of Guardians and clergy.

And today, we express our gratitude and thanks to the present Guardians, to Father Kevin the Priest Administrator, to the sacristy team, the wonderful administrative, catering and domestic staff who continue to show such warm and gracious hospitality… the same hospitality the Orthodox have received since the day in 1938, when Archbishop Nestor celebrated the Liturgy at the high altar, after which (to quote ‘Our Lady’s Mirror) ‘some of the Orthodox visitors to the Shrine on Whit-Monday said it was the happiest day they had had since leaving Russia’.

Walsingham continues to be our joy and consolation and on this anniversary, we look forward to returning, following in the footsteps of Archbishop Savva, St Nikolai, Archimandrite Nicholas - the former tutor to the Tsarevich-Martyr Alexei, the clergy who have served in the shrine, the local monastics and parishioners, and the many Orthodox pilgrims who have worshipped and celebrated the Liturgy in the tiny upstairs sanctuary for over seven decades.

On this anniversary day, we send our greetings to our fellow Orthodox pilgrims and the Walsingham faithful - especially to Archpriest Philip, Matushka Philippa, and Mother Melangell.

May the Mother of God preserve Walsingham and its pilgrims, and all who love England’s Nazareth beneath her most pure veil, and may the Orthodox who love the shrine offer thanks to God and to the Theotokos on this joyful anniversary.
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Celebrating St John and the translation of the relics of St Nicholas.Dear brothers and sisters: Христосъ Воскресе!

As in previous weeks, may I ask those who would like a pastoral home-visit at the weekend to contact Father Deacon Mark with their request: email

The next two days celebrate two great saints.

Today we celebrate the memory of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist, St John the Theologian, and on Friday we celebrate the translation of the relics of St Nicholas the Wonder-worker from Myra to Bari, in 1087.

The second feast, not generally celebrated on Greek calendars, is a contentious one, in as much as the ‘translation’ - according to Byzantine accounts - was a forced removal of the sacred relics from Myra by the Normans, who had raided captured and held the Byzantine province of Southern Italy - to which the relics were taken - from the beginning of the previous decade.

However, the great zealot of Orthodoxy, St Nicodemos the Hagiorite, was adamant that the removal of the relics to Bari was the will of God, so that the glory of St Nicholas could be spread for the east to the west. The service written by him makes reference to the passage of the relics on their passage to Italy, bringing miracles and signs of grace to the Greek Ionian islands through which they sailed on their sea-journey. Although Bari had been conquered by the Normans, the Barians still held to their Orthodoxy, despite their Latin overlords. St Nicholas’s province of Lycia would subsequently fall to the infidels with the disintegration of the Byzantine empire. Yet, despite its loss, St Nicholas still holds our devotion.

St Nicodemus wrote a troparion/apolytikion for the feast:

Tone 1: Come, let us all praise with hymns the veneration of the divine relics of our Blessed Shepherd, as we cry out to him in joy: Help us, who are in all kinds of dangers, and who hymn thee with faith, O Hierarch Nicholas. Glory to Christ Who glorified Thee, magnifying thee with praise, for thou wast shown to be our radiant pride, and an image of holiness.

However, not only do we celebrate the coming feast, as well as the nativity and falling asleep of St Nicholas, but the Church has given St Nicholas a feast every week, as each Thursday is dedicated to him, together the holy apostles. In our service books, we find a service to the saint in whatever tone we are celebrating each particular week, and this weekly observance testifies to the love that Orthodox Christians have for St Nicholas and the Church’s great faith in his authority and spiritual power.

Protect unharmed those who hymn you in faith, O divine Nicholas, from every assault of enemies, and strengthen the flock of the Orthodox, for we proclaim you to be our most-fervent protector against the foes who war against us, and cast away their boldness against us with evil.

Wishing you a joyful celebration of the feasts.

In Christ - Hieromonk Mark
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