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Saturday vespers cancelled.Due to clergy illness, vespers on Saturday evening (29 February) is cancelled. However, assistance with setting up the church at 17:30 will be appreciated and confessions will be heard.

Confessions before Sunday Liturgy will end at 09:55.

May I also remind you that there will be no refreshments or meal after Sunday's Liturgy and Vespers of Forgiveness.
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People, receive Lent with gladness!
The beginning of spiritual warfare arrives!
Forsake the indulgence of your flesh, that the gifts of the spirit may be increased in you!
Embrace your share of suffering, soldiers of Christ!
Prove yourselves to be children of God!
The Holy Spirit will take up his abode in you, // and your souls will be filled with his light!

Tuesday of Cheesefare Week
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The Hieromartyr Blaise (Blasius), Bishop of Sebaste, was known for his righteous and devout life. Unanimously chosen by the people, he was consecrated Bishop of Sebaste. This occurred during the reign of the Roman emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Licinius (307-324), fierce persecutors of Christians. Saint Blaise encouraged his flock, visited the imprisoned, and gave support to the martyrs.

Many hid themselves from the persecutors by going off to desolate and solitary places. Saint Blaise also hid himself away on Mount Argeos, where he lived in a cave. Wild beasts came up to him and meekly waited until the saint finished his prayer and blessed them. The saint also healed sick animals by laying his hands upon them.

The refuge of the saint was discovered by servants of the governor Agrilaus, who had come to capture wild beasts to loose on the Christian martyrs. The servants reported to their master that Christians were hiding on the mountain, and he gave orders to arrest them. But those sent out found there only the Bishop of Sebaste. Glorifying God Who had summoned him to this exploit, Saint Blaise followed the soldiers.

Along the way the saint healed the sick and worked other miracles. Thus, a destitute widow complained to him of her misfortune. A wolf had carried off a small pig, her only possession. The bishop smiled and said to her, “Do not weep, your pig will be returned to you...” To the astonishment of everyone, the wolf came running back and returned his prey unharmed.

Agrilaus, greeting the bishop with words of deceit, called him a companion of the gods. The saint answered the greeting, but he called the gods devils. Then they beat him and led him off to prison.

On the next day, they subjected the saint to tortures again. When they led him back to the prison, seven women followed behind and gathered up the drops of blood. They arrested them and tried to compel them to worship the idols. The women pretended to consent to this and said that first they needed to wash the idols in the waters of a lake. They took the idols and threw them in a very deep part of the lake, and after this the Christians were fiercely tortured. The saints stoically endured the torments, strengthened by the grace of God, their bodies were transformed and became white as snow. One of the women had two young sons, who implored their mother to help them attain the Kingdom of Heaven, and she entrusted them to the care of Saint Blaise. The seven holy women were beheaded.

Saint Blaise was again brought before Agrilaus, and again he unflinchingly confessed his faith in Christ. The governor ordered that the martyr be thrown into a lake. The saint, going down to the water, signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and he walked on it as though on dry land.

Addressing the pagans standing about on shore, he challenged them to come to him while calling on the help of their gods. Sixty-eight men of the governor’s retinue entered the water, and immediately drowned. The saint, however, heeding the angel who had appeared to him, returned to shore.

Agrilaus was in a rage over losing his finest servants, and he gave orders to behead Saint Blaise, and the two sons of the woman martyr entrusted to him. Before his death, the martyr prayed for the whole world, and especially for those honoring his memory. This occurred in about the year 316.

The relics of the Hieromartyr Blaise were brought to the West during the time of the Crusades, and portions of the relics are preserved in many of the lands of Europe [and his memory traditionally honored there on February 3].

We pray to Saint Blaise for the health of domestic animals, and for protection from wild beasts.Holy Hieromartyr Blaise pray to God for us!
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Services at the University Church: 29 February - 1 March.All are most welcome to our services, which are celebrated in Church Slavonic and English, according to the Julian Calendar.

As Newman Hall is hosting a student conference over the coming weekend, there will be no refreshments or meal following Saturday and Sunday services.

After next Sunday’s Liturgy, we will celebrate the vespers of forgiveness.

Once again, there will be no Friday evening service this week, due to the rector’s work commitments.

Saturday 29 February. The University Church.


Sunday 1 March. The Sunday of Forgiveness. Tone 4.
Cheesefare Sunday. Meat is excluded.

The University Church.

Confession: 09:00 / Hours: 09:30 / Divine Liturgy: 10:00 followed by the vespers of forgiveness.


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The parish’s weekend in Cardiff: reflections, thoughts, ideas.This weekend seemed a little odd, as my new day-time work hours curtailed our established routine, limiting our parish life to only two days. I very much hope that parishioners will gain the confidence to maintain Friday compline as a reader’s service when I am unable to be at the chaplaincy.

It a sad sign of the times that so many people consider Church services of no significance and not worth attending if there is no priest. This is a very un-Orthodox approach.

The great Russian work of household rules, Domostroy/Домострой, printed in the reign of Tsar Ivan IV counselled all that had the education and means to maintain the cycle of daily services in their homes. Thus, in Rus’ a culture of household services developed and became a special feature of spiritual life, with a portion of the population becoming knowledgeable and experienced at serving liturgically according to lay rules - Богослужение мирянским чином - even maintaining oratories / prayer-rooms in their houses.

This is a skill and knowledge that we must regain, through study, training and learning. In the past, members of our community have gathered together to sing akathists, and whilst this is good, it would be even better to maintain the liturgical life of the Church through meeting to celebrate services together. Compline is an ideal starting point, as so much of the service remains fixed, with only the troparia and canons varying. Our sister parish in Cheltenham maintains a mid-week celebration with Reader Philip leading the service and Lora leading the chanting. The same happens in the parish of St John the Wonderworker, in Belfast, week by week: giving a spiritual framework to a small, but spiritually fervent community who, like Cheltenham, have Liturgy only once a month. This willingness to celebrate reader’s services is something which I hope to see mirrored in Cardiff and wherever the faithful in South Wales are able to gather for common liturgical prayer.

Until Fr Luke’s ordination, the Llanelli community, like Cheltenham, maintained reader’s services, with weekly celebrations in Fr Luke and Presbytera Cäcilia’s home, with the icon corner as the place of worship. Parishioners learned the form of the services, how to chant and how to use the liturgical books, setting a foundation for priestly services when Fr Luke was ordained.

The on-line reader horolgion is a precious source of worship materials and one which I hope we can explore together:

In addition, our prayer-books have contained instructions on how to mark the hours by saying the Jesus Prayer and reading the Psalter. Our Russian Orthodox editions of the Psalter (in Slavonic or English) contains the Service of the Twelve Psalms: an ancient desert rule of liturgical prayer inherited form Mount Athos, via the Kiev Caves, similar to the order still used by the Copts, and the rule of common prayer which St Seraphim gave to the mill community at Diveyevo.

Returning to the events of the weekend, Saturday as a Memorial Day, saw the celebration of a litia in the University Church. It is was good to be able to commemorate so many of the departed, but the confusion and multiplication of commemoration lists was a source of disappointment.

On Memorial Saturdays we try to commemorate every member of the departed named in the parish commemoration books and on the lists provided by the faithful. However, this Memorial Saturday saw virtually no-one bother to arrange for their departed loved ones to be commemorated, with a clear list of names. Only one list was received by email and only two or three lists specifically submitted for the service. Ironically, the clearest and most priest-friendly one was in Greek. Some of the Russian lists were illegible, not simply because the names were written in the wrong case, but because the writing was unreadable. During memorial services we do not have time to study names and ask if anyone else present can decipher spidery inscriptions on a piece of paper.

It is not only our Tradition, but our Christian duty to commemorate the departed and I hope that the next Memorial Saturday will see the members and friends of our community make a greater effort to ensure that the hundreds of people we commemorate may be remembered in a less challenging service. Clear lists please, whether in Russian Greek or English.

After our Sunday Liturgy Fr Deacon Mark and I went to bless the beehives in the garden of Nazareth House, as is an Orthodox custom on the feast of St Haralampos in some Slavic countries. The bees were busy, despite the dramatic weather and it was good to see so much activity after the death of several hives the winter before last. It was interesting that on the return from the hives a member of staff asked us why we bless bee-hives. Our obvious answer was why would we NOT bless bee-hives, when we bless fields, orchards and gardens? But.. of course, the problem is that in the West, particularly outside Orthodoxy, Christians do NOT do this. It is our Orthodox culture to seek a blessing for all things and we need to ensure that we do not lose this aspect of spiritual culture as secular and heterodox habits and mindset creep into the lives of the faithful.

After trapeza, during which the parish met Magnus, the feline successor of the much-missed and much loved Mr Cat, we made our way to Llandaff Cathedral to honour St Teilo, whose feast fell on Saturday.

Before his sacred relics and the parish icon of St Teilo, we prayed for his intercession and blessing before blessing a fragrant and delicious festal loaf, kindly made by Georgina and Amelia in St Teilo’s honour - even inscribed with his name. Many thanks to grandmother and grand-daughter for working so hard to honour the holy hierarch. After the post-moleben sharing of our ‘Teilopita’, the Bulashov family went in search of St Teilo’s Well and we look forward to visiting together.

In the week to come there will be a midweek service in Llanelli, in the Chapel of St David and Nicholas at 19:00 on Wednesday, and we will no doubt observe maslenitsa with obligatory pancakes after the service. I encourage the Cardiff faithful to support our mission-parish in Llanelli and West Wales as we prepare for the resumption of Sunday services, with the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Irenei.

Again, there will be no celebration of compline on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday services will be celebrated as usual, with the addition of Forgiveness vespers after Sunday Liturgy. During the service we liturgically mark our passage into the Great Fast and I encourage all parishioners to prepare for confession, to begin the fast with mutual forgiveness, repentance and preparation for the reception of the Holy Mysteries, so that we may begin the spiritual struggle of Lent nourished at peace with one another and strengthened with the Lord’s Body and Blood.

As there is a conference at Newman Hall next weekend, there will be no meal after Liturgy and Vespers, so our next trapeza will be on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, when we will eat Lenten food with oil, and be permitted wine.

In the meantime, we should use the week ahead to prepare for the fast - not simply by using up our dairy foods and eggs (meat is already past!!!), but by practically planning the Fast. We need to prepare for our Lenten diet, but not simply physically. What will be our spiritual food? What will we read? What increased prayers will we pray? How will we follow the Sunday Gospel in responding to the needs of our brothers and sister in need and want? Let us not leave the Great Fast until the last minute, but plan ahead... even if only a week ahead!

Get ready for Lent: ‘it is later than you think!’

With love in Christ - Hieromonk Mark
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Venerable father, Seraphim, pray to God for us.

St Seraphim more or less as he would have really looked, as seen in the Novo-Diveyovo portrait. Saint Seraphim only agreed to the painting of this portrait with the greatest reluctance.
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Акафист Пресвятой Богородице пред иконой «Троеручица»Кондак 1: Взбранной Воеводе, Богообрадованной Приснодеве Богородице, посетившей Гору Афонскую явлением чудотворныя иконы Своея и многия милости ею дарующей роду христианскому, похвальное возглашаем ныне пение; Ты же, о Богомати, яко имущая державу непобедимую и Матернее о нас попечение, предвари на помощь к нам и от всяких бед избави зовущих Ти: Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Икос 1: Ангел земный и человек небесный преподобный Иоанн Дамаскин от любве теплыя к Тебе, Богомати Владычице, икону Твою святую соорудити потщася и сию в келлии своей благоговейно поставив, пред нею сице Тебе в молитвах усердных глаголаше:

Радуйся, Радость вечную, Спасителя миру рождшая; радуйся, всегубительнаго ада силу Рождеством Твоим поправшая.
Радуйся, пророческих глаголов исполнение принесшая; радуйся Адама и Евы преступление загладившая.
Радуйся, Единаго от Троицы на руку Твоею нетрудно носившая; радуйся, Огнь Божества неопально во чреве Твоем вместившая.
Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 2: Видя преподобный Иоанн Дамаскин десницу свою, много писавшую в защиту чести и поклонения святых икон, по навету царя иконоборца немилостиво отсеченную, испроси ю от невернаго мучителя и, приложив к усеченному ея составу, пред честною иконою Твоею, Пречистая Дево, слезно моляшеся Ти, о еже исцелитися ей. Ты же, Всеблагая и Всемощная рода нашего Заступнице, молитву его скоро услышала еси и, во сне представши ему, исцеление усеченной руце его даровала еси, да благодарственно поет Богу: Аллилуиа.

Икос 2: Разум человеческий не может постигнути силу исцелений благодатных, иконою Твоею, о Богомати, чудесно являемых, не может изъяснити и чудо велие, како отсеченная десница преподобнаго во едину нощь цела и здрава обретеся, на нейже токмо червленный знак бывшия язвы оставлен бысть Врачебницею Благою, слышащею от нас сия похвалы:

Радуйся, скоро являющаяся утешительнице скорбящих душ; радуйся, радостотворная посетительнице болезнующих сердец. Радуйся, безнадежных страдальцев надеждою исцеления ободряющая; радуйся, врачми оставленных болезнующих на Свои руце приемлющая.
Радуйся, усеченную десницу Божия избранника целу и здраву вышеестественно соделавшая; радуйся, яко ничтоже невозможно Тебе, Милосердая Предстательнице, нам всегда заступление показующая. Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 3: Силу десницы Всевышняго в исцелении усеченный десницы своея познав богоглаголивый Иоанн, песньми красными воспе Тя, Владычице Всеблагая, и подобие усеченныя руки своея приложи к целебному Твоему образу ради памяти всегдашния о великом чудеси. Тем ныне видима есть и именуется сия святая икона Твоя Троеручица, тремя руками, на ней написанными, проявляющая таинство Святыя Троицы, чудесы же, от нея бывающими, всех приводящая хвалебно взывати ко Господу: Аллилуиа.

Икос 3: Имеяй велию ревность по Бозе, духоносный песнописец Святыя Церкве и Божественный славитель ея, сладкий преподобный Иоанн, хвалебными пеньми до конца жизни своея прославляше Твою к нему дивную милость, Богородительнице, в память же бывшаго чудесе плат, имже усеченная рука его обязана бе, на главе своей ношаше, икону же Твою многоцелебную, яко наследие богатое, святей Лавре преподобнаго Саввы Освященнаго по себе остави, да вси вернии зовут к изображенней на ней Целительнице душ и телес сице:

Радуйся, врагов святыя православныя веры крепкая поборнице; радуйся, проповедников Евангельскаго учения покровительнице. Радуйся, благочестивых христиан защито и похвало; радуйся, боголюбивых иноков утешение.
Радуйся, ведущим брань противу мира, плоти и диавола добрая споспешнице; радуйся, ревнующим о целомудрии и чистоте изрядная пособнице. Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 4: Буря недоумения смущает ми ум, како возмогу недостойными усты воспети славу Твою, Пречистая Дево, юже во иконе Твоей святей явила еси, даровавши ю нам в помощь и защиту от враг видимых и невидимых. Темже, величая неисчетныя милости Твоя к роду христианскому, исповедую чудеса Твоя и смиренномудренно пою Вседержителю: Аллилуиа.

Икос 4: Слышавше иноцы святыя Лавры Саввы Освященнаго о великих добродетелех пришедшаго в Лавру на поклонение первосвятителя сербскаго Саввы, по внушению Твоему, Богомати, дароваша ему на благословение святую икону Твою Троеручицу, юже он со благоговением, яко дар многоценен, в страну Сербскую принесе, поучая паству свою звати Тебе:

Радуйся, от востока и до запада силу всемогущества Христова иконою Твоею возвещающая; радуйся, болезни душевныя и телесныя иконою Твоею скоро врачующая. Радуйся, Сербстей стране икону Твою в залог благоволения даровавшая; радуйся, чудесы Твоими Православие в ней крепко утвердившая.
Радуйся, Симеона Мироточиваго область благодатно посетившая; радуйся, Саввы первопрестольнаго паству Матерним покровом Твоим приосенившая.
Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 5: Боготечней звезде подобна явися икона Твоя, Богородительнице, по воли Твоей святей на осля поставленная и отпущенная из Сербии: осляти, никимже водиму, принесеся им на Гору Афонскую ко вратом обители Хиландарския, юже яко дар небесный восприимше иноцы, поставиша в алтаре соборныя церкве обители, зовуще во умилении глубоцем благих Подателю Богу: Аллилуиа.

Икос 5: Видевше иноцы хиландарстии Твое к ним благоволение, Преблагословенная Дево, в чудеснем пришествии к ним святыя иконы Твоея Троеручицы явленное, с радостию и любовию ей поклоняхуся, целующе и песненно возглашающе Ти благохваления сицевая:

Радуйся, путеводительнице подвижников благочестия к горнему Сиону; радуйся, пустыннолюбивых иноков приводящая к небесному Иерусалиму. Радуйся, безсловесное осля воли Твоей святей чудесно покорившая; радуйся, на осляти икону Твою благодатную от Сербии на Афон дивно принесшая.
Радуйся, пустыню Афона благоуханием святыни исполнившая; радуйся, Хиландарскую обитель благоволением Твоим облагодатствовавшая.
Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 6: Проповедует обитель Хиландарская на Афоне богатство милостей и щедрот Твоих, Богородице Дево, и светло красуется, имущи святую икону Твою Троеручицу во игумена себе, ибо таковая бысть воля Твоя, еже пребывати иконе Твоей тамо на игуменстем месте во храме Божием и в душах братии, от Тебе Единыя благословение на всякое послушание приемлющей и хвалебно зовущей тако благоволившему о них Творцу: Аллилуиа.

Икос 6: Возвестила еси волю Твою, Богомати, иноком хиландарским, разногласием во избрании игумена смущенным, чудесно поставивши святую икону Твою на игуменстем месте во храме Божием и открывши единому от них в видении, яко Сама Ты хощеши пребывати настоятельствующею в обители их иконою Твоею честною, и да прочее не избирают себе игумена. Они же во умилении душ и сердец, обрадованнии возопиша к Тебе:

Радуйся, иноков благоподвизаюшихся известная и всемощная Покровительнице; радуйся, к Сыну Твоему и Богу теплая о них Предстательнице.
Радуйся, жезл игуменский в Хиландарстей обители невидимо приемшая; радуйся, обитель сию доселе целу и благоустроену сохраняющая.
Радуйся, страхом и благоговением сердца братии, благословение от иконы Твоея приемлющих, исполняющая; радуйся, неблагоговейныя и дерзостныя грозно наказующая. Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 7: Хотя соделати не токмо Афон, но и вся иныя страны православныя причастны благодати великих чудес, иконою Твоею Троеручною изливаемых и бываемых, Пречистая Владычице, сию во всех градех, весех, церквах и обителех иноческих распространила и дивными чудесы прославила еси. Темже вся верная чада святую икону Твою Троеручицу любовию чествуют и на ней вкупе с Тобою изображенному Христу усердно зовут: Аллилуиа.

Икос 7: Дивно являеши, Преблагословенная Дево, милости верным людем и святою иконою Твоею Троеручицею преславныя чудеса содеваеши силою Благодати Христовы: слепыя просвещаеши, разслабленныя укрепляеши, недужныя врачуеши и всем прибегающим к целебному Твоему образу скорую помощь Твою присно являеши, подвизающи звати к Тебе:

Радуйся, Святую Гору Афонскую в жребий Себе избравшая; радуйся, и вся страны православныя покровом милости Твоея осенившая.
Радуйся, Хиландарския обители настоятельнице неизменная; радуйся, многих мест и пустынь сокровище исцелений неоскудное. Радуйся, на Афоне, в России, Сербии и иных странах иконою Твоею преславно чудодействующая; радуйся, любящия и чтущия Тя от всяких бед избавляющая. Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 8: Странно есть видети иноки хиландарския, к иконе Твоей, яко к игумену приходящия и от Нея благословение на послушания своя приемлющия. Но, о Всеблагая, якоже приемлеши их милостивно и благословляеши, тако и нас, недостойных, не лиши Матерняго Твоего милосердия и попечения, приими благоутробно молитвы наша пред святою иконою Твоею возносимыя, осени нас благословением Твоим благодатным, избави от всяких бед и скорбей и научи богоугодно пети Триединому Богу: Аллилуиа.

Икос 8: Весь мир преисполнен, яко звездами богосветлыми, чудотворными иконами Твоими, Богородице Дево, в нихже, яко денница лучезарная, икона Твоя Троеручица предивными чудесы благодатно сияет и согревает хладныя сердца наша знаменьми Твоего к нам милостиваго призрения. Сего ради чествуем пречистаго лика Твоего святое изображение и Тебе пред ним вопием:

Радуйся, Богообрадованная и Пренепорочная Приснодево; радуйся, Едина Чистая и Благословенная в женах.
Радуйся, нетленная и неискусобрачная Агнца и Пастыря Мати; радуйся, прекрасная и светоносная палато святых святейшаго Слова.
Радуйся, крине белоснежный и благовонный девства и чистоты; радуйся, Царице и Владычице Небесе и земли. Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 9: Всяк возраст верных благопользуется Твоим Матерним попечением, Всеблагая Владычице: младенцы милосердно окормляеши, отроки невидимо руководствуеши, мужи во благочестии утверждаеши, старцы в немощех укрепляеши, всем же вся благая и душеполезная даруеши всесильным ходатайством Твоим у Престола Пресвятыя Троицы, Ейже благодарно поем: Аллилуиа.

Икос 9: Витии человечестии не могут достойно восхвалити Тя, Богородице, честнейшую Херувим и славнейшую Серафим, рождшую Единаго от Троицы Христа Жизнодавца. Мы же, любовию к Тебе воодушевленнии, смиренномудренно дерзаем приносити Тебе песни таковыя:

Радуйся, державная заступнице рода христианскаго; радуйся, благосердая Мати всех скорбящих и обремененных.
Радуйся, кротким сиянием Твоим мрак грехов и страстей наших разгоняющая; радуйся, на стези покаяния нас премудро наставляющая. Радуйся, в грозный час смерти всем нам крепкая защитнице; радуйся, добраго ответа нам пред Судиею Праведным усердная ходатаице. Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 10: Спасения залог даровася нам святая и всечестная икона Твоя, Богородительнице Дево, ибо, якоже древле прорекла еси божественному евангелисту Луце, с нею и доныне сила Твоя благодатно пребывает, чудесы преславными веру в нас утверждает, недужныя безмездно врачует и на путь спасения души наша приводит, да зовем прославльшему имя Твое во вселенней Царю Небесе и земли: Аллилуиа.

Икос 10: Стена еси девам и ликом иноческим, Богоневестная Дево, всем усердно к Тебе прибегающим, икону же Твою святую благоговейно чествующим, ибо сию дарова нам благих податель Господь в помощь и врачевство недугом душевным и телесным и сим внушает пети Тебе:

Радуйся, добрая младопитательнице дев и безматерних сирот; радуйся, иноков и инокинь благоскорбящих предводительнице к наградам небесным. Радуйся, в узах и темнице седящих посещающая утешением благодатным; радуйся, благословение домов и супружеств благочестивых.
Радуйся, юных наставнице целомудрия и воздержания; радуйся, старцев приводящая к благому житию и мирней кончине.
Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 11: Пение молебное наше, Тебе пред пречистым образом Твоим с верою и любовию возносимое, милостивно услыши, Госпоже Всемилостивая, и сохрани нас от тлетворных учений, неверия и суеверия, имиже наветуется в нас святоотеческая православная вера, избави нас от лукавых совращений, сохрани нас и Отечество наше от всяких крамол и от всяких нестроений и злых развращений, врагами веры и Отечества нашего воздвизаемых, и сподоби в любви и единомыслии со всеми верными чадами Святыя Христовы Церкве богоприятно пети Создателю нашему: Аллилуиа.

Икос 11: Светоприемлемая свеща икона Твоя святая, Богородице Дево, мир весь сиянием чудес просвещает, сердца же наша любовию воспламеняет к Тебе, Пречистей и Преблагословенней Матери Сладчайшаго Господа нашего Иисуса Христа, даровавшаго нам Тебе в покров и защиту противу полчищ сатанинских, иже боятся и трепещут самаго имене Твоего, ведающе силу Твою, юже величаем и Тебе зовем:

Радуйся, враги наша видимыя и невидимыя премудро запинающая; радуйся, хулителей святыя православныя веры невидимо карающая.
Радуйся, духов злобы от нас державно отгоняющая; радуйся, преовладети им над нами не попускающая.
Радуйся, любовию к Богу и ближним нас воодушевляющая; радуйся, вся благая прошения наша скоро исполняющая. Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 12: Благодать свыше даровася святей иконе Твоей Троеручице, Владычице Преблагая: скорбящия утешати, болящия исцеляти, слепыя просвещати, разслабленныя укрепляти, верныя во благочестии утверждати, неверныя к познанию истины приводити, знаменьми и чудесы от нея бываемыми, яже воистину превосходят разумение человеческое и токмо верою постигаются, приводяще верныя души к немолчному славословию Творца богокрасною песнию: Аллилуиа.

Икос 12: Поем чудеса Твоя, благодатная Богородительнице, не таим щедрот Твоих, исповедуем благодеяния Твоя, прославляем неисчетную милость Твою к роду христианскому, юже ведят вси концы земли, ибо от востока до запада хвально имя Твое святое, благословляемое от всех родов и в молитвах призываемое во всех странах. Тебе убо, сице прославленней и превознесенней Сыном Твоим и Богом, и мы хвалебно вопием:

Радуйся, тихое пристанище плавающих в пучине житейскаго моря; радуйся, треволнение страстей умиротворяющая Своим сердобольным участием.
Радуйся, во уныние и отчаяние впадших подъемлющая надеждою спасения; радуйся, сомнениями в вере колеблющихся вразумляющая знаменьми и чудесы.
Радуйся, в обителех иноческих подвизающимся богоугодно подательнице блаженнаго упокоения; радуйся, и в мире благочестно живущия не лишающая Твоего заступления. Радуйся, Помощнице наша, Троеручною иконою Твоею нам помогающая.

Кондак 13: О Всепетая Мати Сладчайшаго Искупителя нашего Господа Иисуса Христа! Вонми гласу молебному, Тебе пред святою иконою Твоею нами смиренно возносимому, и Матернею молитвою Твоею к рождшемуся от Тебе святых святейшему Слову от всякия избави напасти и вечныя муки всех имя Твое молитвенно призывающих и о Тебе благодарно зовущих Богу: Аллилуиа

Этот кондак читается трижды, затем икос 1-й «Ангел земный…» и кондак 1-й «Взбранной Воеводе…».

Молитва 1-я:О Пресвятая и Преблагословенная Дево Богородице Марие! Припадаем и покланяемся Ти пред святою Троеручною иконою Твоею, воспоминающе преславное чудо Твое исцелением усеченныя десницы преподобнаго Иоанна Дамаскина, от иконы сея явленное, егоже знамение доныне видимо есть на ней, во образе третия руки, к изображению Твоему приложенныя. Молимся Ти и просим Тя, Всеблагую и Всещедрую рода нашего Заступницу: услыши нас, молящих Ти ся, и якоже блаженнаго Иоанна, в скорби и болезни к Тебе возопившаго, услышала еси, так и нас не презри, скорбящих и болезнующих ранами страстей многоразличных и к Тебе от души сокрушенныя и смиренныя усердно прибегающих. Ты зриши, Госпоже Всемилостивая, немощи наша, озлобление наше, нужду, потребу нашу в Твоей помощи и заступлении, яко отвсюду враги окружени есмы, и несть помогающего, ниже заступающего, аще не Ты умилосердишися о нас, Владычице. Ей, молим Ти ся, вонми гласу болезненному нашему и помози нам святоотеческую Православную веру до конца дней наших непорочно сохранити, во всех заповедех Господних неуклонно ходити, покаяние истинное о гресех наших всегда Богу приносити и сподобитися мирныя христианския кончины и добраго ответа на Страшнем Суде Сына Твоего и Бога нашего, Егоже умоли за нас Матернею молитвою Твоею, да не осудит нас по беззаконием нашим, но да помилует нас по велицей и неизреченней милости Своей. О Всеблагая! Услыши нас и не лиши нас помощи Твоея державныя, да, Тобою спасение получивше, воспоем и прославим Тя на земли живых и рождшагося от Тебе Искупителя нашего, Господа Иисуса Христа, Емуже подобает слава и держава, честь и поклонение, купно со Отцем и Святым Духом, всегда, ныне и присно, и во веки веков. Аминь.

Молитва 2-я: О Пресвятая Госпоже Владычице Богородице, велие чудо святому Иоанну Дамаскину явившая, яко веру истинную и надежду несумненную показавшему! Услыши нас, грешных, пред чудотворною Твоею иконою усердно молящихся и просящих Твоея помощи: не отрини моления сего многих ради прегрешений наших, но, яко Мати милосердия и щедрот, избави нас от болезней, скорбей и печалей, прости содеянныя нами грехи, исполни радости и веселия всех, чтущих святую икону Твою, да радостно воспоем и любовию прославим имя Твое, яко Ты еси от всех родов избранная и благословенная во веки веков. Аминь.
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Llandaff pilgrimage: Sunday 23 February.The feast of St Teilo is this coming Saturday - 9/22 February.

The Cardiff Russian Orthodox parish will honour St Teilo the following day with a moleben in Llandaff cathedral, before his sacred relics and the parish icon of the saint.

Last year’s pilgrimage was a great success and was followed by a second moleben at Newman Hall, where those who had been at work during the day joined us to celebrate the feast. We hope that making our pilgrimage on Sunday this year will make it possible for more parishioners and friends of the parish to attend.

We will be holding a moleben (service of supplication) in the chapel of St Teilo, at the far end of the south (right) aisle at 14:45 prompt. It is imperative that we start on time, in order to fit in with the cathefral’s busy schedule of services. We are most grateful to the Dean of Llandaff for allowing this visit.

So who was St Teilo?

St Teilo was a 6th century monk and bishop, and an early Welsh saint. A patron saint of fruit trees and horses, his feast day is celebrated on 9th/22nd February.

Although a largely forgotten saint today, there are more than 25 churches in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany dedicated to Teilo, showing us the importance of this early Welsh saint. Only the patron saint of Wales, St David, has more churches dedicated to him.

So who was St Teilo? According to tradition, Teilo (also known as Elios, Eliau, Teliarus, Teliau or Télo), was born at Penally near Tenby in South Pembrokeshire around 480-500AD. He went on to study under St Paulinus at the monastic school at Whitland, Carmarthenshire. Here he met and became firm friends with Dewi (St David), who may have been his cousin. Teilo subsequently travelled with him to Mynyw, now known as St David’s, where Dewi set up his religious community.

In about 518 AD the friends, along with St Padarn, are said to have set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where all three were consecrated bishops by John III, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Bishop Teilo went on to found the episcopal church of Llandeilo Fawr (the Great Church or Abbey of St Teilo) in Carmarthenshire. However, the outbreak of Yellow Fever in Wales around 549 AD forced Teilo and his religious community to flee to Cornwall and from there, over to Dol in Brittany where they stayed for seven years.

Teilo and his followers would not have felt too out of place in northern France. Driven out of southern Britain by invading Germanic tribes, Celtic people had begun to settle there since the 5th and 6th centuries.

There are several legends about Teilo during his time in Brittany. According to one, he saved the local people from a winged dragon that he tamed and then kept tied to a rock in the sea. In another, when a local lord offered him all the land he could encircle between sunset and sunrise, Teilo chose to ride on a stag to cover as much ground as possible in the time available.

Several churches in Brittany are dedicated to St Teilo, including the church at Plogonnec, Finistére, and the Chapel of Our Lady in Kerdévot. In both cases he is shown wearing bishop’s robes and mitre, and is seated on a stag, no doubt in reference to the legend.

Whilst in France, Teilo, St Samson and his followers are also said to have planted three miles of fruit trees. Even today the fruit groves they planted are known as the groves of Teilo and Samson.

In around 554 Teilo and his followers returned from Brittany to Llandeilo Fawr. After the death of St. David, Teilo became revered as one of the most holy men in Wales. He was joined at Llandeilo by many disciples including Cynfwr, Teulyddog and Llywel. He died at the abbey of Llandeilo Fawr on February 9th, probably around the year 560.
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Invitation to the Orthodox pilgrimage in Birmingham: Saturday 22nd February.Liturgy in the Russian Orthodox Parish of All Saints of Great Britain and Ireland, Birmingham (Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh):

10am - 1pm (including trapeza):

The Orthodox Community of All Saints of Britain and Ireland in Birmingham The Oratory Church of the Immaculate Conception 141 Hagley Road
Birmingham B16 8UE

2pm-4pm: Akathist and Veneration of the Three-Handed Icon of the Mother of God -

Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Prince Lazar 92 Griffins Brook Lane
Birmingham B30 1QG
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Saturday 22 February: the commemoration of the departed.This coming Saturday is a memorial day for the departed and a litia will be chanted before vespers.

Please email any names of the Orthodox-departed for commemoration to by Friday, to ensure that they can be printed. I will be working on Saturday morning with no opportunity to print emails.

Those in attendance should have their names written clearly, in Russian or in Latin script. The names must be legible and easy to read, as there are always many commemorations and no time to try and figure out illegible writing.

There will be a blessing of koliva, according to need.

Parishioners should also consider donating food to the parish food-bank as an offering in memory of their departed loved ones and friends. An act of love and mercy in the name of the departed is a prayer for the repose of their souls. The food-bank seems to have been forgotten, of late.

In Christ - Fr Mark
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Dear brothers and sisters, sharing this information that has just become available: it will be possible to venerate the Icon of the Mother of God "Trojeruchitsa" form Hilandar, Mt Athos, this coming Saturday in Birmingham. Thank you Albertas Glazauskas for sharing this with us. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less

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Russian Orthodox services at Newman Hall and the University Church: 22-23 February 2020.All are most welcome to our services, which are celebrated in Church Slavonic and English, according to the Julian Calendar. We enjoy a shared lunch in Newman Hall after Sunday Liturgy and hope that all of our worshippers will stay and take part, if only to have a chat and a cup of tea.

After next Sunday’s lunch, parishioners will make their way to Llandaff Cathedral for a moleben (service of supplication) in honour of St Teilo, whose feast is on Saturday.

There will be no Friday evening service this week, due to the rector’s work commitments.

Saturday 22 February. St Teilo’s Day, Saturday of the Departed. The University Church.

Litia for the departed and vespers: 18:00:

Sunday 23 February. Sunday of the Last Judgment (Meatfare). Tone 3.

The University Church.

Confession: 09:00 / Hours: 09:30 / Divine Liturgy: 10:00 followed by the blessing of the beehives.

Post lunch pilgrimage to Llandaff Cathedral in honour of St Teilo: chapel of St Teilo at the far end of the south aisle (right hand aisle as you enter through the west door).

Moleben 14:45 prompt.
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A busy weekend in Cardiff and Cheltenham.Despite the effects of Storm Dennis on South Wales and the borders, our parishes managed to maintain their liturgical time tables, with three days of services in the chaplaincy in Cardiff and the celebration of the Meeting of the Lord in Cheltenham.

On Friday evening, we gathered in the Little Oratory of Newman Hall for the celebration of Great Vespers and a festal moleben with the canon and Gospel of the feast. Thank you to Misha and Despina for chanting and making it possible to integrate English into the service.

The following morning, Norman and I traveled to Cheltenham for the celebration of the Meeting of the Lord. Our core parishioners work so hard to arrange not only our monthly Liturgies, but also mid-week compline, led by Reader Philip and Lora, and we now have Xenia coordinating children’s activities. Our festal celebration was made all the more meaningful by the blessing of the candles that the children had made, when we gathered for a moleben at the end of the Liturgy, talking about the events shown in the icon of the feast and of the Saviour as the Light of the world: ‘A light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of thy people Israel’.

The service also marked little Marko’s first Holy Communion after his baptism in Serbia - adding to the joy of the occasion. We now look forward to baptisms in the parish with a number children awaiting baptism in the next few months.

After a cautious journey back to Cardiff, though wind, rain and flood water, we set up the University Church and celebrated our usual Saturday evening vespers, followed by our customary social supper in the refectory. Many thanks to Natasha for feeding the faithful with delicious pirozhky.

The weather impacted upon attendance at Sunday services in Cardiff, as some parishioners struggled to cope with flood-water or the threat of flooding, but we celebrated Liturgy as usual in the University Church - though only twenty of us were able to be there. After lunch - which turned out to be a soupfest - the parish’s stock of candles was blessed in the refectory.

Thank you to all who laboured for the celebration: singers, servers, bakers and cooks, setter-uppers, washer-uppers and cleaner-uppers... and thanks to parishioners for newly-donated icons of St Olga and the synaxis of the saints of the Kiev Caves.

In the coming week, there will be no celebration of Friday compline, due to my work commitments. However, there will a mid-week service in the Chapel of St David and St Nicholas in Llanelli on Wednesday at 19:00.

As Saturday is a Memorial Saturday, there will be a Litia for the departed before Vespers, so please have your commemorations ready and clearly written, whether in English or Russian.

Saturday is also the feast of St Teilo, though we will celebrate on Sunday with a pilgrimage to Llandaff Cathedral following the lunch after Sunday Liturgy. The Dean of Llandaff has kindly given permission for us to gather in the chapel of St Teilo at 14:45, where we will celebrate a moleben before the icon and relics of the saint. Our pilgrimage and St Teilo services last year were a source of joy and grace, and we look forward to this year’s celebration.

Hierarch of Christ, Teilo, pray to God for us!

With love in Christ, and greetings for the feast -

Hieromonk Mark
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Суббота 2/15 февраля - Saturday 2/15 FebruarySaturday 2/15 February 2020:

The Divine Liturgy and a festal moleben will be celebrated in the Church of All Saints, Pittville, in Cheltenham.

All are encouraged to support our Gloucestershire mission and join us for our festal service, which will be followed by a bring and share lunch (fast-free).

All Saints Church, All Saints Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 2HG

Tel: 07467 510339

Confession: 09:30
Reading of the Hours: 10:00
Divine Liturgy: 10:30

Начало исповеди: 09:30
Начало чтения часов: 10:00
Начало Божественной Литургии: 10:30
Сплошная седмица.
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Gospel reflections from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Luke 18:10-14

The parable we hear in the Gospel on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee is familiar to us, with its two very different characters: one religious and respectable and a pillar of Jewish society; the other - like Zacchaeus - an outcast and collaborator with the Romans, despised by the Jewish society and the individuals he exploited on behalf of the foreign occupiers and himself. It is a parable about the upside-down nature of the Gospel, in which ideas of seeming correctness and virtue are dashed to pieces when held against Christ’s message of real Godliness, holiness and virtue.

The pharisee was a man who was respected and expected to be respected; who knew his place in the social and religious hierarchy of his world and disdained others who were beneath him. He lived in a self-satisfied social and religious bubble and despite his important place in the religious establishment, he failed to even recognise the lesser human-being next to him as having any value or significance in the eyes of God. In the eyes of the pharisee, the tax-collector was someone to be despised; who stood for everything that was wrong and unclean in Jewish society.

This pharisee followed the religious practices that should have ticked all of the religious boxes: praying at the appointed times, fasting and paying the tithe (the tenth) of his capital and his goods to the Temple. He was an A star pupil in the eyes of the Jewish religious establishment and a superficial glance at the two men in the parable would draw us to him as the righteous one. But, of course, we would be wrong.

Though his first words were full of promise: “God, I thank Thee…,” what starts as a prayer immediately becomes a self-justifying ego trip that moves on to judgement and condemnation. St John Climacus, whose memory we celebrate during the Fast wrote, “I have seen people, who thank God with their mouth, but mentally magnify themselves.”

Here we have an example of this from the mouth of Lord, Himself, with none of the pharisee’s ritualistic charade being about God, but only about self-absorbed religious correctness, self-congratulation, self-assurance and pride and his mouth was not connected to his heart or soul, only to his ego.

This boastful pride negates any seemingly righteous act. As the same St John wrote, “Pride is the annihilation of virtue” and the pharisee annihilates every virtue with his calculating legalism, based on how much he prays, how much he fasts, how much he donates to the Temple. The details of his correctness are meaningless ritual footnotes to a life in which God has no real place.

The important thing in this pharisee’s life is not really God and a living relationship with Him and only an idea of God appears in his speech, which is not a prayer at all.

Where is God in all of this? To whom is he actually even speaking? To God; to a distorted idea of God; or simply to his own ego? He is certainly not talking to the living God.

God hardly comes into the equation and the boastful religious expert does not stop in his lecture to reflect that GOD is the focus and the centre of prayer. After the first few words, God has no place in what follows.

Then, as the parable moves on, we have the dramatic contrast as we meet the tax-collector

We know virtually nothing about him, but from the lack of spiritual credits in the parable we conclude that he was very different and failed in the religious duties listed by the self-congratulating pharisee.

Like Zacchaeus in last Sunday’s Gospel, he profited through extorting others’ money in the act of taxing them and would have been a cause of hardship and misery. We do not hear a promise to repay everyone, as we did last in last weeks Gospel, but we hear a simple confession and expression of self-realisation which speaks of shame that even stopped this man drawing near or looking up as he prayed.

This self-realisation is one in which a man sees his own wretchedness, worthlessness, sinfulness, insufficiency and brokenness. It is a spiritual state which can be the beginning of change as he opens himself the possibility of the living God mending what is broken, healing what is diseased and putting right everything that is wrong and dysfunctional.

Had the pharisee looked on those around him with spiritual eyes, he may have seen that the tax-collector, though sinful and flawed could change; that his life could be redirected and turned around; that he could become a shining example of piety and faith; that in every sinner is the potential for repentance and the growth of faith and holiness. However, we see a caste-like attitude which seems to presume that people like the tax-collector are somehow fixed in their strata and cannot spiritually move or change. This is a warning to us, when we judge and condemn. Saul became Paul, despite his past; St Dismas, the repentant thief was saved, even as he suffered and died on the cross on the Lord’s right hand; St Mary of Egypt’s life of fornication became the life of an earthly angel. The tax-collector’s confession moves him forward towards the embrace of God.

Whilst the pharisee is going nowhere, this tax-collector is on a spiritual journey, perhaps barely moving and only at the beginning, but on a journey, nonetheless. His heart is open to the possibility that is Christ.

It is with this openness that we must approach the coming season of the Fast, turning our eyes inward on ourselves; accusing ourselves and not others; recognising everything that needs to be healed and mended in us, instead of judging those around us and listing their faults; talking to God about what we need to do and how we need to change, instead of gossiping about other people and their failures - and praying for their repentance and conversion, allowing for the possibility that like us, they can change.

We need to begin with honest self-examination – not just a quick look – but a detailed search inside ourselves, finding everything that comes between us and God, between us and our neighbours and which disfigures and hides the image of Christ in whom we were clothed in our baptism.

We do not do this in some sort of self-flagellation, beating ourselves up and spiritually and emotionally self-harming, but because we want to allow God to work in us, to restore us and transform us into sons and daughters of the Resurrection. We need to bare our spiritual and mental wounds and injuries, so that they may be cleaned, treated and healed, but to do so we must face our own spiritual injuries and sickness, honestly and openly.

Like the tax-collector, we need to sincerely open ourselves up to the possibility of Christ, in the honest realisation of our own spiritual state. We will then be better equipped to show mercy, patience and love to those around us and to live the Gospel in a true and real relationship with the Living-God: not with an idea of God and not through a legalistic box-ticking religion, but with true Faith that is God-centred, and in being God-centred sees Him in friend and enemy and sees everyone as our neighbour, created in His image and likeness and the possibility for them to become co-heirs of the Kingdom of God and sharers in the victory of the Cross and the power of the Resurrection.

In his First General Epistle, St John the Theologian wrote that

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As we approach the Fast, let our honest, heartfelt confession be the beginning of our journey into the Light and love of Christ, like the tax-collector let us say, from the depths of our hearts and very being, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'
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Russian Orthodox services at Newman Hall and the University Church: 14-16 February 2020.All are most welcome to our services, which are celebrated in Church Slavonic and English, according to the Julian Calendar. We enjoy a shared lunch in Newman Hall after Sunday Liturgy and hope that all of our worshippers will stay and take part, if only to have a chat and a cup of tea.

Friday 14 February. The Little Oratory.

Vespers and festal moleben for the Meeting of the Lord: 18:00

Saturday 15 February. The Meeting of the Lord.

(Hours / Liturgy in Cheltenham: 10:00 )

Saturday 15 February. The Meeting of the Lord. The University Church.

Vespers: 18:00:

Sunday 16 February. Sunday of the Prodigal Son. Tone 2. Holy and Righteous Symeon the God-receiver and Anna the Prophetess.

The University Church.

Confession: 09:00 / Hours: 09:30 / Divine Liturgy: 10:00
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The feast of this wonder-working icon was yesterday, and we chanted its beautiful akathist in the Little Oratory at Newman Hall.

Having just read the following artice on, I thought it well worth sharing.

In Christ - Fr Mark

In Moscow, in the Church of St. Nicholas in Kuznetskaya Sloboda, there is a wonderworking icon, “Assuage My Sorrows,” which heals from infirmities!

How did the “Assuage My Sorrows” Icon appear?

The woman had it all: A position in society, noble family roots, wealth, well-being—only one thing she lacked: health. What doctor didn’t come to see her? What funds did her family not spend to alleviate her suffering? Nothing helped; she was completely debilitated, losing strength and losing hope. She lived far from Moscow, and her earthly days were numbered. Suddenly, losing consciousness, she heard a voice, quiet, but very insistent:
“Tell them to take you to Moscow—there, in the Zamoskovreche region is a church, and in it is the icon “Assuage My Sorrows.”

They took the ill woman to the capital. There, in Zamoskvoreche, in the Church of St. Nicholas in Kunzetskaya Sloboda, among the old icons piled up in the bell tower, unused, they found the very “Assuage My Sorrows.”

And—a miracle occurred. The woman’s hand, not raised for many years due to her weakness, rose for the first time to make the Sign of the Cross. Then the sick woman stood up on her feet, and without any assistance, walked herself out of the church.

This was at the end of the seventeenth century, and even the exact date of the occurrence is preserved in the chronicles—January 25 [February 7]. However, the woman’s name has not been preserved, unfortunately.

I love to go the Church or St. Nicholas in Kuznetskaya Sloboda on Thursdays when they pray an akathist to the wonderworking icon. On one of these Thursdays I met Antonina Vsevolodovna Krupenkova, a retiree, a Muscovite, who, like many of us, came to the church with a serious illness.

“I had such attacks, I would scream at the top of my lungs. I had kidney stones; doctors had already prescribed surgery. One day, I accompanied my nephew to the Paveletsky train station—they have a dacha along that route. I accompanied him, then decided to walk to the Novokuznetskaya metro station; it was a really nice day.1 My legs themselves led me to the church. It was Thursday and they were reading the akathist. I stood off to the side and wept. I was very afraid of the coming operation. A woman nearby whispered, ‘Don’t cry, but pray.’ But how to pray? I began, ‘Mother of God, deliver me from this operation, I won’t make it through, I’m old…’”

The tears were flowing… I wept, went home, and I felt a little better. Then I noticed that I didn’t have any pulling pain in my lower abdomen. I went to “Assuage My Sorrows” again. I asked for some oil from the lampada before the icon and started adding a drop of it to my food.

I went for my referral for an operation. The doctor did a examination and looked at me with amazement: “I don’t understand something here—I don’t see any stones.”

I began to weep again: “Doctor, the Mother of God healed me.”

I started to advise him: “If you get sick, doctor, go to the Church of St. Nicholas in Kuznetskaya Sloboda.”

He got angry. “I don’t believe in any icons,” he said. He was wringing the empty paper in his hands. He was supposed to write a referral for an operation, but I had no kidney stones…

Let it be unto you according to your faith.

We believe Antonina Krupenkova. We also believe Lyudmila Anatolievna Sirotkina from Khimki, in the Moscow Province. I told her about the situation with Antonina. She had the same story—kidney stones. She quickly got ready and went to the icon. She asked for oil from the lampada and began to gradually add it to her food. Before she had attacks every week, but now three months have passed without pain.

Besides adding the oil to her food, she also read the akathist to the “Assuage My Sorrows” Icon of the Mother of God at home every day, and, when it worked out she would go to the akathist at church.

Indeed, the miraculous “Assuage My Sorrows” Icon helps us in our infirmities and misfortunes. She assuages our many sorrows, although she looks at us from her icon with constant sorrow. The “Assuage My Sorrows” Icon is greatly venerated in Russia, and not just in the Church of St. Nicholas in Kuznetskaya Sloboda, but many other churches also have this icon. They have it at the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra in the Church of St. Sergius with the trapeza.

One time I was standing near the icon during a service and heard a young girl ask her grandmother, “Why is auntie2 holding her head? Does her head hurt?”

“You can’t talk that way. She’s not an auntie, but the Most Holy Theotokos.”

And I thought, truly our patroness’s head hurts for our sins and our unrepentant hearts. And, sending relief to us in our infirmities, the Mother of God calls us to unlock our hearts for faith and pure prayer. Perhaps this is healing from all kinds of sicknesses and sorrowful lamentations?

The icon was located in the Church of St. Nicholas on Pupishev in Sadovniki from the seventeenth century. Eventually, probably due to the fire and the repeated rebuilding of the church, the icon was forgotten; it went neglected, located in the bell tower. The miraculous healing of the sick woman occurred in 1760, after which the feast of the icon was established on January 25/February 7 and the people began to venerate it. The Church of St. Nicholas on Pupishev was destroyed in the 1930s, but the icon was moved to the Church of St. Nicholas in Kuznetskaya Sloboda. Since then, it has been located in the north chapel, consecrated by Metropolitan Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow to the Entrance of the Theotokos. St. Philaret of Moscow himself celebrated molebens before this miraculous icon. Tsarinas prayed before it—the wives of Emperors Paul I, Nicholas I, and Alexander II.

The icon depicts the Mother of God holding the Christ Child in her right hand, her left hand pressed to her cheek. The Christ Child is holding out before Himself an unrolled scroll with the words, “Execute true judgment and show mercy and compassion to all.”

Ekaterina Lavrova
Translated by Jesse Dominick

Православие и мир

2/7/2018Most Holy Lady Mother of God save us!
Feast of the Icon “Assuage my Sorrows”
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+ Saint Sergius of Radonezh

“If you want to serve God, prepare your heart not for food, not for drink, not for rest, not for ease, but for suffering, so that you may endure all temptations, trouble and sorrow. Prepare for severities, fasts, spiritual struggles and many afflictions, for “by many afflictions is it appointed to us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Acts 14,22); ‘The Heavenly Kingdom is taken by force, and the who use force seize it.’ (Matt 11:12)
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HOW TO BECOME A HOLY FOOL: HOMILY ON SAINT XENIA OF ST. PETERSBURG, FOOL FOR CHRISTJanuary 24 / February 6: St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, fool-for-Christ

It is easy to forget that our ways are not God’s ways, that there is usually a stark difference between what is popular and what is holy. He has given us some pretty unusual people to make that point clear through the example of their own lives. They are known in the Orthodox Church as “Fools for Christ” who, though perfectly sane, acted and spoke in ways that made them appear crazy in the eyes of many and went against the grain of their societies. Through their unique witness, they called their neighbors to the life of a Kingdom not of this world.

If that seems strange, remember how St. Paul said that the cross of Christ is foolishness according to conventional human ways of thinking. (1 Cor. 1:18) Recall how absurd it seemed to the Jews and the Gentiles to claim that the Son of God was born of a Virgin Mother, died on a cross, rose from the tomb, and ascended into heaven. We often forget that even the most basic teachings of our faith seemed at first like nonsense to most people.

Today we commemorate Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg, Fool for Christ, who in the early 18th century in Russia became a widow when her husband, a military officer, died suddenly. A young widow with no children, she gave away all her possessions to the poor and vanished from society for several years, devoting herself to spiritual struggle in monastic settings. When she returned to St. Petersburg, she took up the life of a homeless wanderer, wearing her late husband’s military uniform and answering only to his name Andrew. She prayed alone at night in open fields, endured the extreme cold with inadequate clothing, lived among beggars, and suffered abuse from many for appearing insane. She secretly carried heavy stones at night to help with the building of a church and gave the alms she received to the poor. But she embraced her struggles with patience, abandoning pride in all its forms and praying for the soul of her departed husband. In Xenia’s humility, God gave her great gifts of prayer and prophecy, and she foretold future events such as the death of a Russian empress.

During her lifetime, some recognized her holiness and sought out her blessing and guidance. After Xenia’s own death at age 71, her grave became a source of miracles with many people taking dirt, and even pieces of a stone slab, from it as a blessing. (If it seems odd that a grave could be a source of blessing, recall how the bones of prophet Elisha brought a dead man back to life in 2 Kings 13:21.) St. Xenia is a well-known and much-loved saint whose prayers are sought especially for employment, housing, or finding a spouse.

Across the centuries, the Lord has raised up such unusual saints in order to shock us out of our complacency, in order to remind us that there is far more to becoming a partaker of the divine nature (2. Peter 1:14) than leading a conventionally respectable life. St. John the Baptist and Forerunner anticipated the fools for Christ, for he lived in strict asceticism in the desert on a diet of locusts and honey, spoke judgment upon the established religious leaders of the Jews, and dared even to tell the royal family to repent of their sins, which ultimately cost him his head. Our Lord’s disciples and apostles were no less bold and unconventional as they followed a path to martyrdom in sharp contrast to what Jews and Gentiles thought of as a good life in that time and place. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the apostles were truly “fools for Christ’s sake…” ( 1 Cor. 4:10)

When Christianity became legal and popular in the early 4th century, monks and nuns headed to the desert to bear witness by their life of prayer and self-denial to a Kingdom that stands in judgment of even the best human culture or society. And especially when people are tempted to water down what it means to take up their crosses and follow Christ, He gives us the witness of holy fools who mock the pride and presumption of the world and embody in their own lives a humility that brings to their knees all who have the eyes to behold the spiritual meaning of their shocking example.

St. Paul called himself the chief of sinners in his first letter to St. Timothy. After all, he had been a highly respected Pharisee and persecutor of Christians before the Risen Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus. We can be sure that everyone who knew Paul at that point in his life thought that he had totally lost his mind and was a complete fool for becoming a follower of Christ. He wrote that he “received mercy for this reason that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Tim. 1:15-16) If the Lord’s mercy extended even to such an enthusiastic persecutor of Christians, then there is hope for us all.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy for us to be blind to our need for the Savior’s mercy. We may pat ourselves on the back for having the wisdom to become Orthodox Christians. We may take credit for not committing obvious crimes that we see other people doing. We may rejoice that we think we have all the solutions to the problems of our nation and world, if only our opponents and enemies would start to think like we do. The only relevant question as we stand before God, however, is very different, for it concerns whether we have the eyes to see clearly who we are, Who He is, and then to live accordingly. In other words, we must know in the depths of our souls that we are in constant need of divine grace, mercy, and blessing which we do not deserve and cannot produce ourselves. Our life in the world must become an icon of the heavenly Kingdom, not an end in itself. That is why Christ sent, and still sends, His holy fools to wake us up, to shake us out of our complacency in assuming that all is well and that it is only others who need to change their ways. No, repentance always begins with us and easily makes us appear somewhat foolish in the eyes of the world.

Unfortunately, faithful Christians today do not have to try very hard in order to look like fools. When we forgive those who have offended us, refuse to hold grudges, and do good to our enemies, some will not know what to make of us. When we give sacrificially to help those in need, whether members of our own parish, victims of war and persecution in the Middle East, or pregnant women in our own city looking for an alternative to the horror of abortion, many will think we are wasting our money. When we see and serve Christ in our neighbors, regardless of their race, nationality, wealth, social standing, or any other human characteristic, some will think that we are naïve and dangerous. When we reserve sexual intimacy only for the uniquely blessed union of husband and wife and turn away from entertainment that inflames our passions and fills our souls with temptation, we may be laughed at or insulted. When we make prayer, fasting, and attendance at church services more important in our lives than laziness, self-indulgence, or our obsessive routines and preoccupations, we will be out of the mainstream. And when we live out our ultimate loyalty to Christ and His Kingdom in contrast to the usual politics and social expectations of this world, we should expect to be called fools.

If we live this way, we will put ourselves in the place of the blind beggar in today’s gospel reading who called out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” even when others told him to be quiet. When they did so, that blessed man cried out all the more for the Lord’s mercy. Like the blind beggar, we will receive our sight when we persist in falling before Him in humility with every ounce of our being, no matter what anyone else may think or what they may say. That is what all the Fools for Christ have done by their actions and their words. They gained the spiritual clarity to see that the nonsense around which we usually order our lives is a terrible distortion of the truth that so easily becomes a false god.

If we live this way, we will put ourselves in the place of the blind beggar in today’s gospel reading who called out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” even when others told him to be quiet. When they did so, that blessed man cried out all the more for the Lord’s mercy. Like the blind beggar, we will receive our sight when we persist in falling before Him in humility with every ounce of our being, no matter what anyone else may think or what they may say. That is what all the Fools for Christ have done by their actions and their words. They gained the spiritual clarity to see that the nonsense around which we usually order our lives is a terrible distortion of the truth that so easily becomes a false god.

Fr. Philip LeMasters

Eastern Christian Insights

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23 января /5 февраля: Собор Костромских святыхисточник:

Со­бор­ный празд­ник свя­тых Ко­стром­ской зем­ли был уста­нов­лен в 1981 го­ду, по ини­ци­а­ти­ве ар­хи­епи­ско­па Ко­стром­ско­го и Га­лич­ско­го Кас­си­а­на (Яро­слав­ско­го) и по бла­го­сло­ве­нию пат­ри­ар­ха Мос­ков­ско­го и всея Ру­си Пи­ме­на. Празд­но­ва­ние бы­ло опре­де­ле­но на 23 ян­ва­ря – день па­мя­ти пре­по­доб­но­го Ген­на­дия Ко­стром­ско­го. Бо­лее 30 угод­ни­ков Бо­жи­их под­ви­за­лись в мо­на­ше­ском по­дви­ге на Ко­стром­ской зем­ле. Они при­нес­ли они в край Ко­стром­ской стро­гое мо­на­ше­ское об­ще­жи­тие и утвер­ди­ли здесь хри­сти­ан­ство; по­стро­и­ли 18 мо­на­сты­рей, ко­то­рые ста­ли цен­тра­ми ду­хов­ной куль­ту­ры края. Сре­ди ко­стро­ми­чей бы­ли ши­ро­ко рас­про­стра­не­ны ико­ны этих свя­тых.

В Со­бор Ко­стром­ских свя­тых вхо­дят:

Авра́мий (Авраа́мий) Галичский, Чухломской, Городецкий, прп.
Адриа́н Монзенский, прп.
Алекса́ндр Вочский, Галичский, прп.
Александра Романова, императрица Российская, страст.
Варна́ва Ветлужский, прп.
Влади́мир Ильинский, сщмч.
Генна́дий Костромской, Любимоградский, прп.
Гера́сим Луховской, прп.
Григо́рий Пе́льшемский, Вологодский, прп.
Дими́трий Галичский, блгв. кн.
Дими́трий (Добросердов), Можайский, сщмч.
Дими́трий Донской, блгв. кн.
Елисавета Феодоровна, Алапаевская, прмц.
Иа́ков Брылеевский, прп.
Иа́ков Галичский, прп.
Иа́ков Железноборовский, прп.
Игна́тий (Брянчанинов), епископ Кавказский, свт.
Иоа́нн Касторский, сщмч.
Иоа́нн Перебаскин, мч.
Ио́на, митрополит Московский и всея Руси, свт.
Ио́сиф Смирнов, сщмч.
Кирилл Белоезерский, прп.
Кирилл Белый, Новоезерский (Новгородский), прп.
Макарий (Глухарев), Алтайский, прп.
Макарий Желтоводский, Унженский, прп.
Макарий Писемский, прп.
Митрофа́н (в схиме Мака́рий), епископ Воронежский, свт.
Никита Костромской, Боровский, Серпуховской, прп.
Никоди́м (Кротков), Костромской, сщмч.
Николай II Романов, император Российский, страст.
Павел Комельский (Обнорский), прп.
Паи́сий Галичский, прп.
Пахо́мий Нерехтский, Сыпановский, Костромской, прп.
Си́мон Юрьевецкий, Христа ради юродивый, блж.
Тимо́н Надеевский, старец, прп.
Ти́хон Луховской, Костромской, прп.
Фадде́й Луховской, прп.
Феодори́т, архиепископ Рязанский, свт.
Феодо́сий Монзенский, прп.
Ферапо́нт Монзенский, Галичский, прп.
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Russian Orthodox services at Newman Hall and the University Church: 7-9 February 2020.All are most welcome to our services, which are celebrated in Church Slavonic and English, according to the Julian Calendar. We enjoy a shared lunch in Newman Hall after Sunday Liturgy and hope that all of our worshippers will stay and take part, if only to have a chat and a cup of tea.

Friday 7 February. The Little Oratory.

Compline: 18:00

Saturday 8 February. The University Church.

Vespers: 18:00:

Sunday 9 February. Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. Tone 1. New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church.

The University Church.

Confession: 09:00 / Hours: 09:30 / Divine Liturgy: 10:00
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Saint Maximus the Greek was the son of a rich Greek dignitary in the city of Arta (Epiros), and he received a splendid education. In his youth he travelled widely and he studied languages and sciences (i.e. intellectual disciplines) in Europe, spending time in Paris, Florence, and Venice.

Upon returning to his native land, he went to Athos and became a monk at the Vatopedi monastery. And with enthusiasm he studied ancient manuscripts left on Athos by the Byzantine Emperors Andronicus Paleologos and John Kantakuzenos (who became monks).

During this period the Moscow Great Prince Basil III (1505-1533) wanted to make an inventory of the Greek manuscripts and books of his mother, Sophia Paleologina, and he asked the Protos of the Holy Mountain, Igumen Simeon, to send him a translator. Saint Maximus was chosen to go to Moscow, for he had been brought up on secular and ecclesiastical books from his youth. Upon his arrival, he was asked to translate patristic and liturgical books into Slavonic, starting with the Annotated Psalter.

Saint Maximus tried to fulfill his task, but since Slavonic was not his native language, there were certain imprecisions in the translations.

Metropolitan Barlaam of Moscow highly valued the work of Saint Maximus, but when the See of Moscow was occupied by Metropolitan Daniel, the situation changed.

The new Metropolitan ordered Saint Maximus to translate the Church History of Theodoritus of Cyrrhus into Slavonic. Saint Maximus absolutely refused this commission, pointing out that “in this history are included letters of the heretic Arius, and this might present danger for the semi-literate.” This refusal caused a rift between Maximus and the Metropolitan. Despite their differences, Saint Maximus continued to labor for the spiritual enlightenment of Rus. He wrote letters against Moslems, Roman Catholics, and pagans. He translated Saint John Chrysostom’s Commentaries on the Gospels of Matthew and John, and he also wrote several works of his own.

When the Great Prince wished to divorce his wife Solomonia because of her infertility, the dauntless confessor Maximus sent the Prince his “Instructive Chapters on Initiating Right Belief,” in which he persuasively demonstrated that the Prince was obliged not to yield to bestial passions. The Prince never forgave Maximus for his audacity, and locked Saint Maximus in prison. From that moment a new period began in the life of the monk, filled with much suffering.

Mistakes in his translations were regarded as deliberate and intentional corruptions of the text by Saint Maximus. It was difficult for him in prison, but in his sufferings the saint also gained the great mercy of God. An angel appeared to him and said, “Endure, Abba! Through this temporary pain you will be delivered from eternal torments.”

In prison the Elder wrote a Canon to the Holy Spirit in charcoal upon a wall, which even at present is read in the Church: “Just as Israel was nourished with manna in the wilderness of old, so Master, fill my soul with the All-Holy Spirit, that through Him I may serve Thee always....”

After six years, Saint Maximus was set free from prison and sent to Tver. There he lived under the supervision of the good-natured Bishop Acacius, who dealt kindly with guiltless sufferer. The saint then wrote in his autobiography: “While I was locked in prison and grieving, I consoled and strengthened myself with patience.” Here are some more words from this vivid text: “Neither grieve, nor be sad, beloved soul, that you have suffered unjustly, for it behooves you to accept all for your benefit.”

Only after twenty years at Tver did they decide to let Maximus live freely, and remove the church excommunication. Saint Maximus, now about seventy years of age, spent the final years of his life at the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. Oppression and work took their toil on his health, but his spirit remained vigorous, and he continued with his work. Together with his cell-attendant and disciple Nilus, the saint translated the Psalter from Greek into Slavonic.

Saint Maximus reposed on January 21, 1556. He was buried at the northwest wall of the Holy Spirit church of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. Many manifestations of grace took place at the grave of Saint Maximus, and a Troparion and Kontakion were composed in his honor. Saint Maximus is depicted on the icon of the Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh (July 6).
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Our Holy Father St. Maximos the ConfessorFebruary 3 (January 21, Old Calendar)


A mighty spiritual giant who was broken by nothing and no one, and whose image does not fade with time, Venerable Maximos the Confessor is a faithful indicator, even till now, of how one may follow after Christ by that path by which he himself so faithfully followed the Lord.

St. Maximos the Confessor was born in 580, a citizen of Constantinople and a nobleman. He became a high-ranking courtier at the court of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, and later became a monk and the abbot of a monastery not far from the capital. He was the greatest defender of Orthodoxy against what was called the Monothelite heresy, which developed from the heresy of Eutyches, i.e., as Eutyches asserted that there is only one nature in Christ, so the Monothelites asserted that there is only one will in Him - the Divine. This heresy was diametrically opposed to the long accepted Orthodox doctrine that Christ had two wills - the Divine and the human. St. Maximos resisted this assertion and found himself in opposition to both the Emperor and the Patriarch. Emperor Constans II, the successor to the Emperor Heraclius, issued his infamous "Typus" Declaration, formally accepting the Monothelite teaching as official dogma.

But St. Maximos was fearless and persevered to the end in proving that there are in the Lord two wills and also two natures. By his efforts, one Council in Carthage and one in Rome stood firm, and both these Councils anathematized the Monothelite teaching. St. Maximos' sufferings for Orthodoxy went beyond description: he was tortured by hierarchs, spat upon by the masses, beaten by soldiers, persecuted, imprisoned, until finally, with his tongue cut out and one hand cut off, to keep him from speaking or writing, he was condemned to exile for life in Skhimaris. But his faithful assistant, St. Anastasios, continued his work of writing in defense of Orthodoxy after these events.

A profound theologian of his time and a strict defender of Orthodoxy, Maximos successfully demonstrated the incorrectness of the Monothelite heresy, for the enemies of the church persecuted him many times.

Venerable Maximos' arguments in behalf of Orthodoxy were so powerful that, after a public debate on the faith with Pyrrhus, the Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople, the latter renounced the heresy in 645.

The heretics often went from urging and appealing Maximos, to threatening, abusing and beating him. Venerable Maximos was sent into exile several times and called back to Constantinople each time. On one occasion, St. Maximos was called back, and the imperial grandees, Troilus and Sergius, subjected him yet again to interrogation. They began to accuse St. Maximos of pride for esteeming himself as the only Orthodox who would be saved and for considering all others to be heretics who would perish.

To this the saint replied, "When all the people in Babylon were worshipping the golden idol, the Three Holy Youths did not condemn anyone to perdition. They did not concern themselves with what others were doing, but took care only for themselves, so as not to fall away from true piety. In precisely the same way, Daniel also, when cast into the den, did not condemn any of those who, in fulfilling the law of Darius, did not want to pray to God; but he bore in mind his duty, and desired rather to die than to sin and be tormented by his conscience for transgressing God's Law. God forbid that I, too, should condemn anyone, or say that I alone am being saved. However, I would sooner agree to die than, having apostatized in any way from the right faith, endure the torments of my conscience."

Then Troilus and Sergius pointed out to St. Maximos that the whole Christian world recognized the Monothelite Patriarch of Constantinople as legitimate, that all the Eastern Patriarchs and their locum tenentes were in communion with him, and that the plenipotentiary representatives of the Roman Pope would serve with the Patriarch and commune with him. Thus, he was the only one remaining in the whole world who did not recognize the Patriarch.

The St. answered, "If even the whole universe should begin to commune with the Patriarch, I will not commune with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul that the Holy Spirit will give over to anathema even the angels, if they should begin to preach any other gospel, introducing anything new."

Venerable Maximos remained unshaken in his religious convictions. Finally, they cut off his right hand and tongue, so that he could not proclaim or defend the truth, either by word or pen. They then dispatched him to confinement in Lazov, a region of Mingrelia in the Caucasus. Here his faithful assistant St. Anastasios continued his work of writing in defense of Orthodoxy. Venerable Maximos died on August 13, 662, foreknowing his approaching death.

Venerable Maximos wrote many theological works in defense of Orthodoxy. Especially valuable are his instructions on the spiritual and contemplative life, some of which are included in The Philokalia, a collection of patristic instructions on prayer and the ascetic life. In these ascetic instructions, the spiritual profundity and perceptiveness of St. Maximos' thought is revealed. Also, an explanation of the Liturgy that has a great theological significance has come down to us from him.

In 680, 18 years after St. Maximos gave his soul into God's hands, the sixth Ecumenical Council outlawed the heresy Monothelitism. In addition to his theological and apologetic writings, St. Maximos left many wonderful writings on the Christian life and spiritual counsel for believers, which are of great spiritual profit to those who read them. The second volume of The Philokalia, compiled by Sts. Nektarios of the Holy Mountain and Makarios of Corinth, contains many writings of St. Maximos, including two hundred texts on Theology and the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, texts on the nature of Christian love, a treatise on the Lord's Prayer, and various other teachings. This book is currently in print and highly recommended.

The example of Venerable Maximos' courageous stand shows how an Orthodox Christian must behave in the face of apostasy - general deviation from Christ's Truth. Venerable Father Maximos, entreat God for us!

Troparion, Tone 3: Through thee the Spirit poured forth/ streams of teaching for the Church;/ thou didst expound God the Word's self emptying,/ and shine forth in thy struggles as a true Confessor of the Faith;/ holy Father Maximos, pray to Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion, Tone 8: O faithful, let us acclaim the lover of the Trinity,/ great Maximos who taught the God-inspired Faith,/ that Christ is to be glorified in two natures, wills and energies:/ and let us cry to him: Rejoice, O herald of the Faith.
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ST. MARK THE ARCHBISHOP OF EPHESUS Commemorated on January 19/February 1Today is the name day of our Parish Rector Father Mark, whom as with his name saint is a firm defender of our Orthodox faith. We are blessed as a parish to have such a caring, loving and generous caretaker of our spiritual life. May our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ grant you Many Years ! Многая лета !

Saint Mark Eugenikos, Archbishop of Ephesus, was a stalwart defender of Orthodoxy at the Council of Florence. He would not agree to a union with Rome which was based on theological compromise and political expediency (the Byzantine Emperor was seeking military assistance from the West against the Moslems who were drawing ever closer to Constantinople). Saint Mark countered the arguments of his opponents, drawing from the well of pure theology, and the teachings of the holy Fathers. When the members of his own delegation tried to pressure him into accepting the Union he replied, “There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith.”

Although the members of the Orthodox delegation signed the Tomos of Union, Saint Mark was the only one who refused to do so. When he returned from Florence, Saint Mark urged the inhabitants of Constantinople to repudiate the dishonorable document of union. He died in 1457 at the age of fifty-two, admired and honored by all.

Troparion — Tone 4

By your profession of faith, O all-praised Mark / The Church has found you to be a zealot for truth. / You fought for the teaching of the Fathers; / You cast down the darkness of boastful pride. / Intercede with Christ God to grant forgiveness to those who honor you!

Kontakion — Tone 3

Clothed with invincible armor, O blessed one, / You cast down rebellious pride, / You served as the instrument of the Comforter, / and shone forth as the champion of Orthodoxy. / Therefore we cry to you: “Rejoice, Mark, the boast of the Orthodox!”

Source : Orthochristian
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JANUARY 14/27: ST. NINO, ENLIGHTENER OF GEORGIAAccording to pious tradition, Iberia, also called Georgia, is the particular province of the Immaculate Mother of God. Saint Stefan of the Holy Mountain relates that after our Lord's Ascension, as the Apostles and His most Holy Mother remained in Jerusalem awaiting the promised Comforter, they cast lots to determine in which country God desired each of them to preach the Gospel.

When, with fear and reverence, they cast for the holy Mother of God, the destiny of the most Pure One fell on the Iberian land. After the day of Pentecost She meant to set out for Iberia at once, but an Angel of God restrained Her, saying that She must remain in Jerusalem, for Her land would be enlightened with the light of Christ at a later time. These words were fulfilled three centuries later when the most Blessed Virgin Mother of God sent, the holy virgin Nina to preach in Iberia, promising Her blessing and help.

St. Nina was born in Cappadocia and was the only daughter of pious and noble parents—the Roman general Zabulon, a relative of the great martyr St. George, and Susanna, sister of the patriarch of Jerusalem. When St. Nina was twelve years old, she traveled with her parents to the holy city of Jerusalem. Here her father Zabulon obtained the patriarch's blessing and departed into the Jordan wilderness to serve God as a monk. Susanna was appointed by her brother the patriarch at a church to serve the poor and the sick, and Nina was given to a certain pious old woman, Nianfora, for upbringing.

The holy young girl had such outstanding abilities that in the course of two years, with the help of the grace of God, she had firmly assimilated the rules of faith and piety. Every day she prayerfully read the Holy Scripture, and her heart blazed with love for Christ, Who had endured the suffering of the Cross and death for the salvation of all. When, with tears, she would read the Gospel story of the Crucifixion of our Savior, her thoughts often rested on the fate of the Lord's robe. She asked her teacher about its present location, for she felt sure that such a holy object could not have been lost. Nianfora told St. Nina that to the northeast of Jerusalem was the country of Iberia, and in it the city Mtskheta, and that there, according to tradition, the Lord's robe had been taken by the soldier who had won it by lot at Christ's crucifixion. Nianfora added that the inhabitants of that country, the Kartlians, and also their neighbors the Armenians and many mountain tribes still remained enveloped in the darkness of pagan error and godlessness.

The old woman's words went deep into the heart of St. Nina, and many days and nights she spent in ardent prayer to the Most Holy Virgin Mother of God that she might be found worthy to see Iberia; to find and reverence the robe of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to preach the holy name of Christ to those peoples who did not know Him. And the most Blessed Mother of God heard the prayer of Her servant. She appeared to St. Nina in a dream and said:

"Go to Iberia and tell there the Good Tidings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will find favor before the Lord; and I will be for you a shield against all visible and invisible enemies. By the strength of this cross, you will erect in that land the saving banner of faith in My beloved Son and Lord."

When St. Nina awoke and saw in her hands the miraculous cross, she kissed it with tears of joy. Then, tying it in her hair, she went to see her uncle the patriarch. When the blessed patriarch heard that the Mother of God had appeared to St. Nina and had commanded her to go to Iberia to preach the Gospel of eternal salvation, he saw in this a clear expression of the will of God and did not hesitate to give the girl his blessing. When the time arrived for her departure, the patriarch led Nina into the church and up to the holy altar, and placing his hand on her head, he prayed in the following words:

Lord God, our Savior! As I let this young girl depart to preach Your Divinity, I commit her into Your hands: Condescend, O Christ God, to be her Companion and Teacher everywhere that she proclaims Your Good Tidings, and give her words such force and wisdom that no one will be able to oppose or refute them. And You, most Holy Virgin Mother of God, Helper and Intercessor for all Christians, clothe with Your strength against all enemies, visible and invisible, this girl whom You have chosen to preach the Gospel of Your Son and our God among the pagan nations. Be always for her a shield and an invincible protection, and do not deprive her of Your favor until she has fulfilled Your holy will!

St. Nina left Jerusalem with the princess Ripsimia, the princess’s teacher Gaiana, and a group of fifty-three virgins who were fleeing the persecutions of the Emperor, Diocletian. Diocletian wanted to marry Ripsimia, even though she had taken a vow of chastity to Christ, so she and her virgins fled to Vagarshapat the capital of Armenia. Diocletian soon learned that Ripsimia was hiding in Armenia and told the Armenian king Tiridat to take her for his own wife, for she was very beautiful. When Ripsimia remained faithful to her Heavenly Bridegroom, the enraged Tiridat, at that time still a pagan, had her and her companions cruelly tortured and put to death.

Only St. Nina was miraculously saved. Led by an unseen hand, she took refuge among some wild rose bushes that had not yet blossomed. Shaken by fear at the sight of her friends' fate, the Saint lifted up her hands to heaven in prayer for them and saw a radiant angel girded with a shining stole. With sweet-smelling incense in his hands and accompanied by a multitude of heavenly host, he came down from the celestial heights, and as if to meet him, the souls of the holy martyrs ascended from the earth, joined the throng of heavenly host, and rose together with them into Heaven.

On seeing this, St. Nina exclaimed, "O Lord, Lord! Why do You leave me alone among these vipers and serpents?

"In answer to this the angel said: "Do not grieve, but wait a little, for you also will be received into the Kingdom of the Lord of glory. This will occur when the prickly, wild rose that now surrounds you is covered with fragrant blossoms like a rose planted and cultivated in a garden. But now rise and go north, where a great harvest is ripening, but where there are no harvesters.

"In accordance with this command, St. Nina set out on a long journey and finally arrived at the bank of an unfamiliar river near the village of Khertvisi. This river was the Kura, which flows west to southeast, to the Caspian Sea, and waters all of central Georgia. On the riverbank St. Nina met some shepherds who gave her food to refresh her after the long and tiring journey. These people spoke Armenian, but St. Nina had learned this language from her teacher Nianfora. She asked one of the shepherds where the city of Mtskheta was located and if it was very far. He answered, "Do you see this river? On its banks a great distance down stands the great city of Mtskheta, where our gods hold power and our kings reign.

"Continuing on her way, on one occasion the holy pilgrim was overcome with fatigue, sat down on a rock, and began to wonder: where was the Lord leading her? What would be the fruits of her labors? And might not such a long and such a difficult pilgrimage be in vain? As she was considering these things, she fell asleep and had a dream: there appeared to her a man majestic in appearance. His hair fell to his shoulders, and in his hands he held scroll. He unrolled the scroll and gave it to Nina, commanding her to read it, and then suddenly became visible. On awakening from sleep and seeing in her hand the miraculous scroll, St. Nina read in it the following Gospel verses:

Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. (Matt.26:13).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal.3:28).

Then said Jesus unto them (the women), Be not afraid: go tell my brethren... (Matt.28:10).

He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives him that sent me (Matt.10:40).

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist (Luke 21:15).

And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take no thought how or what thing you shall answer, or what you shall say: for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say (Luke 12:11-12).

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul... (Matt.10:28).
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matt.28:19-20).

Strengthened by this divine vision and consolation, St. Nina continued her journey with renewed fervor. Having overcome difficult labors, hunger, thirst, and fear of the wild animals, she reached the ancient Kartlian city of Urbnisi where she remained about a month, living in Jewish homes and studying the manners, customs, and language of a people new and unfamiliar to her.On one occasion, when all the men of that city as well as many from the surrounding areas were planning to go to the capital city of Mtskheta to worship their false gods, St. Nina decided to go with them. As they were approaching the city, they met the entourage of King Mirian and Queen Nana. Accompanied by a great crowd of people, they were making their way to a mountaintop opposite the city where they intended to worship the lifeless idol Armazi.

Till noon the weather remained clear. But this day, the first day of St. Nina's arrival at the city, which was the goal of her mission to save Iberia, was the last day of power for the pagan idol. Borne along by the crowd, St. Nina made her way to the place where the idol's altar was located. She caught sight of the chief idol Armazi. In appearance he resembled a man of unusually great height; cast of gilded copper, he was clad in a gold coat of mail with a gold helmet on his head. One eye was a ruby, the other an emerald, both of uncommon size and brilliance. To the right of Armazi stood another smaller gold idol by the name of Katsi, and to the left, a silver idol called Gaim.

The entire crowd of people together with their king stood in senseless reverence and trembling before their gods while the priests made preparations for the offering of blood sacrifices. And when finally the incense was burned, the sacrificial blood flowed, and trumpets and cymbals resounded, the king and his people prostrated themselves before the lifeless statues; then the heart of the holy young girl burned with the zeal of the prophet Elias. Sighing from the depths of her soul and in tears lifting up her eyes to heaven, she began to pray:

Almighty God! By Your great mercy, bring this people to the knowledge of Yourself, the One, True God. Scatter these idols as the wind blows dust and ashes from the face of the earth. Look down with mercy upon this people, whom You have created with Your almighty hand and whom You have honored with Your divine Image! And You, O Lord and Master, did so love Your creation that You gave even Your Only-begotten Son for the salvation of fallen humankind; deliver the souls also of these Your people from the destructive power of the prince of darkness, who has blinded the eyes of their understanding so that they do not see the true path to salvation. O Lord, grant me to see the final destruction of the idols standing here so proudly. So act that this nation and all the ends of the earth might comprehend the salvation given by You, that the North and the South together might rejoice in You, and that all nations might worship You, the One Eternal God, and Your Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom belongs glory forever.

The Saint had not yet finished this prayer when storm clouds suddenly arose from the west and rushed rapidly along over the river Kura. Realizing the danger, the king and his people turned to flight, and Nina hid herself in the cleft of a rock. A storm cloud burst with thunder and lightning over that place where the idol's altar stood. The idols, which had formerly stood lofty and proud, were beaten into dust, the walls of the temple were also reduced to dust, and then the floods of water plunged them over the precipice, and the river carried them away. Thus there remained not even a trace of the idols and the temple dedicated to them. And St. Nina, protected by God, stood unharmed in the cleft of the rock and quietly watched as the elements raged about her, and then once again the brilliant sun began to shine. All this took place on the day of the Lord's most glorious Transfiguration, when the true Light that shone on Tabor transformed for the first time on the mountains of Iberia the darkness of paganism into the light of Christ.

The next day the king and his people searched in vain for their gods, and when they could not find them, they were filled with dread and said:

The god Armazi is great; but there exists some other God, greater than he Who has overcome him. Is this not perhaps the Christian God Who disgraced the ancient Armenian gods and caused the lying Tiridat to become a Christian? But in Georgia no one has heard anything about Christ. What then will happen in the future?

Some time after this, St. Nina entered the city of Mtskheta as a pilgrim. As she was approaching the royal garden, the gardener's wife, Anastasia, rushed out to meet her as if she were a long awaited friend. She bowed down to the Saint and led her into her home. Having washed her feet and anointed her head with oil, she offered her bread and wine. Anastasia and her husband asked Nina to remain with them in their home as a sister because they were childless and were distressed by their loneliness. Later, at the desire of St. Nina, Anastasia's husband built her a small hut in the corner of the garden where to this day there stands a chapel in honor of St. Nina within the enclosure of the Samtauri's Convent. In this hut St. Nina placed the cross given her by the Mother of God, and spent days and nights there in prayer and the singing of psalms.

From this hut there spread abroad word of the deeds and miracles performed by St. Nina to the glory of Christ's Name. The very first converts to Christianity in Iberia were the upright couple who gave shelter to Christ's servant, St. Nina. Through St. Nina's prayers Anastasia was released from her childlessness and later became the mother of a large and happy family just as she also became the first woman in Iberia to believe in Christ, before any of the men. On one occasion a certain woman was carrying her dying child about the streets of the city with loud wailing and appealing to all for help. St. Nina took the sick child and laid him on her bed of leaves. Having prayed, she placed her cross of grapevines on the little one and then returned him to his mother alive and well. From that time on St. Nina began openly to preach the Gospel and to call the Iberian pagans and Jews to repentance and faith in Christ. Her pious, righteous, and chaste life was known to all and attracted the eyes, ears, and hearts of the people. Many, and especially the Jewish women began to come to Nina often to hear from her lips the new teaching about the Kingdom of God and eternal salvation, and they began secretly believing in Christ. Such were: Sidonia, the daughter of Abiathar, the high priest of the Kartlian Jews, and six other women, also Jews. Soon Abiathar himself believed in Christ after he had heard St. Nina's explanations of the ancient prophets about Jesus and how they were fulfilled in Him as the Messiah. Conversing frequently with this Abiathar, St. Nina heard from him the Following tale about the Lord's Robe:

I heard from my parents, and they heard from their fathers and grandfathers, that when Herod ruled in Jerusalem, the Jews living in Mtskheta and all Kartli received the news that Persian kings had come to Jerusalem seeking a newly-born male child of the lineage of David, born of a mother, but having no father, and they called him the King of the Jews. They found Him in the city of David called Bethlehem in a humble cave and brought Him gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. Having worshipped Him, they returned to their own country.

Thirty years passed, and then my great-grandfather Elioz received from the high priest in Jerusalem, Annas, a letter which read as follows: “He Whom the Persian kings came to worship and offer their gifts, has reached a mature age and has begun to preach that He the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. Come to Jerusalem see His death, to which He will be delivered according to the law Moses.”

When Elioz, along with many others, was about to set out for Jerusalem, his mother, a pious old woman of the lineage of the high priest Elias, said to him: “Answer the king's call, my son, but I beg you, do not ally yourself with the impious against Him, Who they intend to kill; He is the One foretold by the prophets, a Riddle for the wise, s Secret hidden from the beginning of the ages, a Light for the nations and Eternal Life.”

Elioz, together with the Karenian Longinus, arrived in Jerusalem and was present at Christ's Crucifixion. His mother remained in Mtskheta. On the eve of Passover she suddenly felt in her heart something like the strokes of a hammer driving in nails, and she cried out: “Today the kingdom of Israel has perished, because it has condemned to death its Savior and Redeemer; from now on this people will be guilty of the blood of its Creator and Lord. It is my misfortune that I have not died before now, for then I would not have heard these terrifying blows! No more will I see on the earth the glory of Israel!”

And uttering these words, she died. Elioz, who was present at Christ's Crucifixion, obtained the Robe from the Roman soldier to whose lot it had fallen, and brought it to Mtskheta. Elioz's sister Sidonia, on greeting her brother with his safe return, told him of the wondrous and sudden death of their mother and of the words she had uttered just before she died. Then when Elioz, in confirmation of their mother's foreboding regarding the crucifying of Christ, showed his sister the Lord's Robe, Sidonia took it and began to weep and kiss it; then she pressed it to her breast and instantly fell down dead. And no human strength was able to wrest this holy garment from the arms of the dead girl. Elioz committed his sister's body to the earth and buried her with Christ's Robe, and he did this in secret so that even to this day no one knows Sidonia's burial place. Some surmise that it is located in the center of the royal garden, where from that time there grew up of its own accord and still stands a shady cedar. Believers flock to it from all directions, considering it to possess great power; and there beneath the cedar's roots, according to tradition, is Sidonia's grave.

Having heard about this tradition, St. Nina began to go at night to pray beneath the cedar tree; but she doubted whether the Lord's robe was actually concealed beneath its roots. However, mysterious visions which she had at that spot convinced her that the place was holy and in the future would be glorified. Thus, on one occasion, on the completion of her midnight prayers, St. Nina saw how from all the surrounding lands flocks of black birds flew down into the royal garden, and from there they flew to bathe in the river Aragvi. After a short time they rose into the air, but were as white as snow, and then, alighting on the cedar's branches, they filled the garden with their paradisiacal songs. This was a sign that the neighboring nations would be enlightened by the waters of Holy Baptism, and on the spot where the cedar stood would be built a church in honor of the True God, and in this church the Name of the Lord would be praised forever.

Assured by such signs that the Kingdom of God and the salvation of the Georgian nation was near, St. Nina unceasingly preached to the people the word of God. In telling the good news of Christ her disciples labored with her, especially Sidonia and her father Abiathar. The latter so zealously and insistently argued with his former co-religionists, the Jews, about Jesus Christ, that he suffered persecution from them and was condemned to be stoned; only King Mirian saved him from death. And the king himself began to ponder the Christian faith in his heart, for he knew not only that this faith was wide-spread in neighboring Armenia, but also that in the Roman Empire the Emperor Constantine, having conquered all his enemies by the Name of Christ and by the sign of His Cross, had become a Christian and the protector of Christians. Iberia was under Roman rule, and Mirian's son Bakar was at that time a hostage in Rome; therefore Mirian did not hinder St. Nina's preaching of Christ in his city. Only Mirian's wife, Queen Nana, harbored malice toward the Christians. A cruel woman, she fervently revered the lifeless idols and had placed a statue of the goddess Venus in Iberia. But the grace of God, "which heals all diseases and meets all needs," soon healed the sick soul of this woman also. The queen became extremely ill, and the greater the efforts of her doctors, the worse the illness grew. She was at death's door. The women who were intimate with her, recognizing the great danger, began to entreat her to summon the pilgrim Nina, who by means of prayer to the God she preached, healed all kinds of infirmities and diseases. The queen ordered this pilgrim to be brought to her. As a test of the queen's faith and humility, St. Nina said to the messenger, "If the queen wants to be well, let her come here to me in this hut, and I believe that she will receive healing here by the power of Christ, my God.

"The queen complied and ordered that she be carried on a litter to the Saint's hut. A multitude of people followed. St. Nina arranged for the sick queen to be placed on her own bed of leaves, knelt down and fervently prayed to the Lord, the Healer of souls and bodies. Then she took her cross and touched it to the sick woman's head, feet, and shoulders, thus making the sign of the cross on her. As soon as she had done this, the queen immediately arose completely well. Having given thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ, there before St. Nina and the people, and afterwards at home before her husband King Mirian, the queen confessed aloud that Christ is the true God. She made St. Nina her intimate friend and constant companion in conversation, nourishing her soul with her holy instruction. Then the queen brought close to herself the wise elder Abiathar and his daughter Sidonia, and learned from them much concerning faith and piety.

But King Mirian still delayed in openly confessing Christ as God and strove, instead, to be a zealous idolater. On one occasion he even conceived the idea of exterminating the Christian confessors, and St. Nina along with them. This happened as follows: A close relative of the Persian king, a scholar and fervent follower of the Zoroastrian teaching, came to visit Mirian, and after some time fell prey to the serious malady of demon possession. Fearing the anger of the Persian king, Miriam sent envoys to plead with St. Nina to come and heal the prince. She had the sick man brought to the cedar tree that grew in the center of the royal garden, placed him facing the East with his hands raised, and instructed him to repeat three times: "I renounce you, Satan, and commit myself to Christ, the Son of God!

"When the possessed man said this, the demon at once, having shaken him threw him to the ground as if dead; but not having the power to resist the prayers of the holy virgin, he came out of the sick man. On his recovery, the prince believed in Christ and returned to his own country a Christian. This frightened Mirian even more than if the prince had died, for he feared that the Persian king, a fire-worshipper, would be extremely angry that his kinsman had been converted to Christ in the home of Mirian. He threatened to have St. Nina put to death for this and to annihilate all the Christians in the city.

Agitated in spirit by such hostile thoughts against the Christians, King Mirian set out for the Mukhrani forest to divert himself with hunting. While conversing with his companions, he said:

We have brought upon ourselves the terrible anger of our gods because we have allowed the sorcerer-Christians to preach their faith in our land. But soon I will destroy by the sword all those who bow down to the Cross and to Him Who was crucified on it. The queen, also, I will command to renounce Christ; and if she does not obey me, I will destroy her along with the rest of the Christians.

With these words, the king reached the summit of the steep mountain, Tkhoti (To this day on the summit of Mt. Tkhoti there stands a church built by King Mirian). Suddenly there arose a storm like the one that had cast down the idol Armazi. The gleam of lightning blinded the eyes of the king, and the thunder dispersed his companions. In despair the king began to appeal to his gods for help, but they were silent and did not hear. Then sensing above him the chastising hand of the Living God, the king cried out,

"O God of Nina! Dispel the gloom before my eyes, and I will confess and praise Your Name!"At once it grew light, and the storm died down. Marveling at the power of the Name of Christ alone, the king turned toward the East, lifted his arms to the heavens, and cried in tears:

O God, Whom Nina preaches! You alone are the true God above all gods. And now I see Your great mercy towards me, and my heart feels joy, consolation, and Your nearness to me, O blessed God! On this spot I shall erect a cross so that the sign which You have shown me today may be remembered for all time!

The king returned to the capital city and walked along the streets, loudly exclaiming, "Glorify, all my people, Nina's God, Christ, for He is the eternal God, and to Him alone belongs all glory forever!" The king was seeking St. Nina and asking, "Where is that pilgrim, whose God is my Redeemer?

"The Saint was at that time saying her evening prayers in her hut. The king and the queen, who had come to meet him accompanied by a throng of people, came to the hut. When they saw the Saint, they fell down at her feet, and the king exclaimed, "O my mother! Teach me and make one worthy to invoke the name of your great God, my Savior!"

In answer unrestrained tears of joy flowed from the eyes of St. Nina. On seeing her tears, the king and queen also began to weep, and after them all the people who had gathered there. A witness, who later described this occurrence, says: "Whenever I remember those sacred moments, tears of spiritual joy involuntarily flow from my eyes."

Karen Keck

The Saint Nina Quarterly

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The Divine Liturgy at Nazareth House: 2 February.All are most welcome to our services, which are celebrated in Church Slavonic and English, according to the Julian Calendar. We enjoy a shared lunch in Newman Hall after Sunday Liturgy and hope that all of our worshippers will stay and take part, if only to have a chat and a cup of tea.

As Fr Mark will be out of the country in the coming week due to family circumstances, there will be no services on Friday and Saturday.

However, confession, the Hours and Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at the usual time on Sunday.

Sunday 2 February: 33rd Sunday after Pentecost. Venerable Euthymius the Great (473). Tone 8.

Confession: 09:00 Hours: 09:30 Divine Liturgy: 10:00

Воскресенье 2 февраля 2020: Неделя 33-я по Пятидесятнице. Прп. Евфимия Великого (473). Глас 8-й.

Исповедь: 09:00 Часы: 09:30 Божественная Литургия: 10:00
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Congratulations to our community’s Tatianas on the feast of their name-saint. May the Lord bless you and protect you, granting you many blessed years!

The Holy Virgin Martyr Tatiana was born into an illustrious Roman family, and her father was elected consul three times. He was secretly a Christian and raised his daughter to be devoted to God and the Church. When she reached the age of maturity, Tatiana decided to remain a virgin, betrothing herself to Christ. Disdaining earthly riches, she sought instead the imperishable wealth of Heaven. She was made a deaconess in one of the Roman churches and served God in fasting and prayer, tending the sick and helping the needy.

When Rome was ruled by the sixteen-year-old Alexander Severus (222-235), all power was concentrated in the hands of the regent Ulpian, an evil enemy and persecutor of Christians. Christian blood flowed like water. Tatiana was also arrested, and they brought her into the temple of Apollo to force her to offer sacrifice to the idol. The saint began praying, and suddenly there was an earthquake. The idol was smashed into pieces, and part of the temple collapsed and fell down on the pagan priests and many pagans. The demon inhabiting the idol fled screeching from that place. Those present saw its shadow flying through the air.

Then they tore holy virgin’s eyes out with hooks, but she bravely endured everything, praying for her tormentors that the Lord would open their spiritual eyes. And the Lord heard the prayer of His servant. The executioners saw four angels encircle the saint and beat her tormentors. A voice was heard from the heavens speaking to the holy virgin. Eight men believed in Christ and fell on their knees before Saint Tatiana, begging them to forgive them their sin against her. For confessing themselves Christians they were tortured and executed, receiving Baptism by blood.

The next day Saint Tatiana was brought before the wicked judge. Seeing her completely healed of all her wounds, they stripped her and beat her, and slashed her body with razors. A wondrous fragrance then filled the air. Then she was stretched out on the ground and beaten for so long that the servants had to be replaced several times. The torturers became exhausted and said that an invisible power was beating them with iron rods. Indeed, the angels warded off the blows directed at her and turned them upon the tormentors, causing nine of them to fall dead. They then threw the saint in prison, where she prayed all night and sang praises to the Lord with the angels.

A new morning began, and they took Saint Tatiana to the tribunal once more. The torturers beheld with astonishment that after such terrible torments she appeared completely healthy and even more radiant and beautiful than before. They began to urge her to offer sacrifice to the goddess Diana. The saint seemed agreeable, and they took her to the heathen temple. Saint Tatiana made the Sign of the Cross and began to pray. Suddenly, there was a crash of deafening thunder, and lightning struck the idol, the sacrificial offerings and the pagan priests.

Once again, the martyr was fiercely tortured. She was hung up and scraped with iron claws, and her breasts were cut off. That night, angels appeared to her in prison and healed her wounds as before. On the following day, they took Saint Tatiana to the circus and loosed a hungry lion on her. The beast did not harm the saint, but meekly licked her feet.

As they were taking the lion back to its cage, it killed one of the torturers. They threw Tatiana into a fire, but the fire did not harm the martyr. The pagans, thinking that she was a sorceress, cut her hair to take away her magical powers, then locked her up in the temple of Jupiter.

On the third day, pagan priests came to the temple intending to offer sacrifice to Jupiter. They beheld the idol on the floor, shattered to pieces, and the holy martyr Tatiana joyously praising the Lord Jesus Christ. The judge then condemned the valiant sufferer to be beheaded with a sword. Her father was also executed with her, because he had raised her to love Christ.

Troparion, tone 4: Thy lamb Tatiana, / calls out to Thee, O Jesus, in a loud voice: / “I love Thee, my Bridegroom, / and in seeking Thee, I endure suffering. / In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in Thee, / and I died so that I might live with Thee. / Accept me as a pure sacrifice, / for I have offered myself in love.” / Through her prayers save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion, tone 4: Thou didst shine forth radiantly in thy suffering,/ O passion-bearer, adorned with thy blood,/ and like a beautiful turtle-dove hast thou soared aloft/ to the heavens, O Tatiana.// Wherefore, pray thou ever for those who honour thee.

The Orthodox Church in America

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In the 8th century a Saracen army tyrannized Kartli as a first step towards overturning the Georgian nation. The invaders were certain that the best way to conquer Georgia was to uproot the Christian Faith. The Georgian people were alarmed, and the clergy and the best sons of Kartli sought desperately for a resolution to this calamity. Much blood was shed in 766 when the Muslim invaders crushed an uprising in the eastern region of Kakheti.

In 772, Caliph Al Mansur (754-775), dissatisfied with the provincial governor of Kartli, Duke Nerse, summoned him to Baghdad. Nerse spent the following three years in captivity. During that time he became acquainted with a seventeen-year-old perfumer named Abo, and when he was released he brought Abo back with him to Georgia. Abo was amazed at the great piety of the Georgian people, and he began to learn the Georgian language, attend the divine services, and speak with local priests. Abo sought with all his heart to become a Christian, and he was eventually baptized in Khazaria, while in the company of Duke Nerse. Later, Abo accompanied the duke to Abkhazeti, to escape the Saracen raids. Discovering an entire population of Christians praising Jesus Christ with one heart and mouth, Abo gave great thanks to God for the opportunity to visit this area. Nerse later returned to Kartli, but Abo remained at the request of the Abkhaz king, who feared that the Saracens would torture Abo for his devout faith in Christ. Soon, however, Abo became restless and told the king, “Let me go, and I will freely declare my Christian Faith to those who hate Christ!”Abo labored in Tbilisi for three years, preaching the Christian Faith. Then his own former countrymen betrayed and captured him, but he was released soon after at the request of the duke Stepanoz.A new emir was appointed to rule in Tbilisi, and when the Christians heard that he was plotting to capture Abo, they begged him to conceal his identity. But Abo simply rejoiced and told them, “I am prepared not only to be tortured for Christ, but to die for His sake as well.” As predicted, the emir’s servants captured Abo and brought him before a judge. The judge tried in vain to entice Abo to return to the faith of his ancestors. Then, in a rage, he ordered that Abo be cast into prison and that his hands and feet be fettered in chains. But his suffering for Christ filled the blessed Abo with even greater love, and he asked his Christian brothers and sisters to sell his clothes and use the money earned to buy candles and incense for local churches.On the day of his execution Abo washed his face, anointed it with holy oil, partook of the Holy Gifts, and prepared for his death as though preparing for a feast. “Weep not, but rejoice, for I am going to my Lord. Pray for me, and may the peace of God protect you,” he cheerfully told the faithful Christians who surrounded him in his last hours.When his time had come, Saint Abo placed his arms on his breast in the form of a cross and joyously bowed his head beneath the sword. The executioners swung their swords three times in hopes of frightening Abo into denying Christ, but the blessed Abo stood unyielding until his last breath. Finally, convinced that all their efforts and cunning were in vain, the executioners were given a sign and they beheaded the holy Abo. Defeated and ashamed, Abo’s godless executioners tossed his body, his garments, and the earth that had been soaked with his blood into a sack, dragged it outside the city, and burned it near the Mtkvari River. Then they wrapped his ashes in sheepskin and cast them into the river.In the evening a sign was given from above. Next to the Metekhi Cliff, by the bridge, a shining star hung over the river with its bright light reflecting in the water where the remains of the saint rested. Later, a chapel was built in honor of Saint Abo on the left bank of the Mtkvari.

The Orthodox Church in America

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Saint Isidore was priest of Saint Nicholas church in the city of Yuriev (Dorpat, at present Tartu in Estonia). According to the terms of a treaty concluded in 1463 between the Moscow Great Prince Ivan III and the Livonian knights, the latter were obligated to extend every protection to the Orthodox at Dorpat. But the Livonian knights (who were German Catholics) broke the treaty and tried to force the Orthodox to become Roman Catholics.

The priest Isidore bravely stood forth in defense of Orthodoxy, preferring to accept a martyr’s crown rather than submit to the Catholics. The Latin bishop and the Roman Catholic nobles of Yuriev had been told that Saint Isidore and the Orthodox population of the city had spoken against the faith and customs of the Germans.

When Saint Isidore and seventy-two of his parishioners went to bless the waters of the River Omovzha (or Emaiyga, now Emajogi) for the Feast of Theophany, they were arrested and brought before the Latin bishop Andrew and the civil judges of the city. Pressure was brought on them to convert to Catholicism, but the saint and his flock refused to renounce Christ or the Orthodox Faith. Enraged by this, the authorities had them thrown into prison.

Saint Isidore encouraged his flock to prepare themselves for death, and not to fear torture. He partook of the reserved Gifts he carried with him, then communed all the men, women, and children with the Holy and Life-Giving Mysteries of Christ.

Then the bishop and the judges summoned the Orthodox to appear before them once more, demanding that they convert to Catholicism. When they refused to do so, they were dragged back to the river and pushed through the hole in the ice that they had cut to bless the water. So they all suffered and died for Christ, Who bestowed on them crowns of unfading glory.

During the spring floods, the incorrupt bodies of the holy martyrs, including the fully-vested body of the hieromartyr Isidore, were found by Russian merchants journeying along the river bank. They buried the saints around the church of Saint Nicholas.
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