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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May the Lord bless you and protect you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next two days celebrate two great saints.

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

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

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

St Nicodemus wrote a troparion/apolytikion for the feast:

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

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

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

Wishing you a joyful celebration of the feasts.

In Christ - Hieromonk Mark
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5/18 May: the Holy Great Martyr Irene.Христосъ Воскресе! Christ is Risen! Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christus Resurrexit! Atgyfododd Crist!

As we celebrate the memory of the Holy Great Martyr Irene, we congratulate the Irinas in our community, and amongst the friends of our Facebook page, as they celebrate their name day.

Поздравления с Днемъ ангела! Да сохранитъ Васъ Господь на многая и благая лета!

The holy Great Martyr Irene was born in the city of Magedon in Persia during the fourth century. She was the daughter of the pagan king Licinius, and her parents named her Penelope.

Penelope was very beautiful, and her father kept her isolated in a high tower from the time she was six so that she would not be exposed to Christianity. He also placed thirteen young maidens in the tower with her. An old tutor by the name of Apellian was assigned to give her the best possible education. Apellian was a Christian, and during her lessons, he told the girl about Christ the Savior and taught her the Christian Faith and the Christian virtues.

When Penelope reached adolescence, her parents began to think about her marriage. One day, a dove flew through the window carrying an olive branch in its beak, depositing it upon a table. Then an eagle swooped in with a wreath of flowers in its beak, and also placed it upon the table. Finally, a raven flew in carrying a snake, which it dropped on the table. Penelope was puzzled by these events and wondered what they meant.

Apellian explained that the dove signified her education, and the olive branch stood for the grace of God which is received in Baptism. The eagle with the wreath of flowers represented success in her future life. The raven and the snake foretold her future suffering and sorrow.

At the end of the conversation Apellianus said that the Lord wished to betroth her to Himself and that Penelope would undergo much suffering for her heavenly Bridegroom. After this Penelope refused marriage, was baptized by the priest Timothy, and she was named Irene (peace). She even urged her own parents to become Christians. Shortly after this, she destroyed all her father’s idols.

Since Saint Irene had dedicated herself to Christ, she refused to marry any of the suitors her father had chosen for her. When Licinius learned that his daughter refused to worship the pagan gods, he was furious. He attempted to turn her from Christ by having her tortured. She was tied up and thrown beneath the hooves of wild horses so that they might trample her to death, but he horses remained motionless. Instead of harming the saint, one of the horses charged Licinius, seized his right hand and tore it from his arm. Then it knocked Licinius down and began to trample him. They untied the holy virgin, and through her prayers Licinius rose unharmed in the presence of eyewitnesses with his hand intact.

Seeing such a miracle, Licinius and his wife, and many of the people, (about 3000 men) believed in Christ and turned from the pagan gods. Resigning his administrative duties, Licinius devoted himself to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Irene lived in the house of her teacher Apellian, and she began to preach Christ among the pagans, converting them to the path of salvation.

When Sedecius, the new prefect of the city, heard of this miracle he summoned Apellian and questioned him about Irene’s manner of life. Apellian replied that Irene, like other Christians, lived in strict temperance, devoting herself to constant prayer and reading holy books. Sedecius summoned the saint to him and urged her to stop preaching about Christ. He also attempted to force her to sacrifice to the idols. Saint Irene staunchly confessed her faith before the prefect, not fearing his wrath, and prepared to undergo suffering for Christ. By order of Sedecius she was thrown into a pit filled with vipers and serpents. The saint spent ten days in the pit and remained unharmed, for an angel of the Lord protected her and brought her food. Sedecius ascribed this miracle to sorcery, and he subjected Saint Irene to many other tortures, but she remained unharmed. Under the influence of her preaching and miracles even more people were converted to Christ, and turned away from the worship of inanimate idols.

Sedecius was deposed by his son Savorus, who persecuted Christians with an even greater zeal than his father had done. Saint Irene went to her home town of Magedon in Persia to meet Savorus and his army, and ask him to end the persecution. When he refused, Saint Irene prayed and his entire army was blinded. She prayed again and they received their sight once more. In spite of this, Savorus refused to recognize the power of God. Because of his insolence, he was struck and killed by a bolt of lightning.

After this, Saint Irene walked into the city and performed many miracles. She returned to the tower built by her father, accompanied by the priest Timothy. Through her teaching, she converted five thousand people to Christ.

Next, the saint went to the city of Callinicus, or Callinicum (possibly on the Euphrates River in Syria). The ruler of that place was King Numerian, the son of Sebastian. When she began to teach about Christ, she was arrested and tortured by the pagan authorities. She was placed into three bronze oxen which were heated by fire. She was transferred from one to another, but miraculously she remained uninjured. Thousands of idolaters embraced Christianity as a result of this wondrous event.

Sensing the approach of death, Numerian instructed his eparch Babdonus to continue torturing the saint in order to force her to sacrifice to idols. Once again, the tortures were ineffective, and many people turned to Christ.

Christ’s holy martyr then traveled to the city of Constantina, forty miles northeast of Edessa. By 330, the Persian king Sapor II (309-379) had heard of Saint Irene’s great miracles. To prevent her from winning more people to Christ, she was arrested, beheaded, and then buried. However, God sent an angel to raise her up again, and she went into the city of Mesembria. After seeing her alive and hearing her preach, the local king was baptized with many of his subjects.

Wishing to convert even more pagans to Christianity, Saint Irene went to Ephesus, where she taught the people and performed many miracles. The Lord revealed to her that the end of her life was approaching. Then Saint Irene left the city accompanied by six people, including her former teacher Apellian. On the outskirts of the town, she found a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried. After making the Sign of the Cross, she went inside, directing her companions to close the entrance to the cave with a large stone, which they did. When Christians visited the cave four days later, they did not find the body of the saint.

Apellian returned after only two days, and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Thus did God glorify Saint Irene, who loved Him and devoted her life to serving Him. Although many of these miracles may seem improbable to those who are skeptical, nothing is impossible with God.

Saint Irene led thousands of people to Christ through her preaching, and by her example. The Church continues to honor her memory and to seek her heavenly intercession.

The holy, glorious Great Martyr Irene is invoked by those wishing to effect a swift and happy marriage. In Greece, she is also the patron saint of policemen. Saint Irene is also one of the twelve Virgin Martyrs who appeared to Saint Seraphim of Sarov (January 2) and the Diveyevo nun Eupraxia on the Feast of the Annunciation in 1831. By her holy prayers, may the Lord have mercy upon us and save us.

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Greetings for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman and the feast of St Alvian.Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе! Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christus Resurrexit! Atgyfododd Crist!

Having celebrated Liturgy and made home visits on this Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, we send our greetings to our parishioner Svetlana named in honour of St Photini/Svetlana, whom our Lord encountered at Jacob’s Well at Sychem.

We also send name-day greetings to our brother Alvian, in Cheltenham, a dear friend and supporter of our Cardiff parish, as well as being a dedicated member of our mission in Cheltenham.

May the Lord grant both of you many, blessed years.

Многая и благая лѣта!

Saint Alvian was bishop of the city of Aneium in the Aseian district, and suffered for Christ about the year 304 in a persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian and his co-ruler Maximian. Saint Albian was ordered to offer sacrifice to idols under the threat of death, but he confessed his faith in Christ and refused to serve idols. They tortured him with red-hot irons and beat him mercilessly, but he remained unyielding.

They tortured his disciple with him, and he also remained faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. Both holy martyrs were sentenced to death and thrown into a red-hot oven, in which they died, receiving the crowns of martyrdom.

Through his holy prayers, may the Lord have mercy upon us. Amen.
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The Akathist to the Mother of God ‘The Giver of Reason-Прибавление ума’We invite parishioners and friends of the parish to join in prayer each Friday, offering the following akathist for our parish, for the Nazareth House - Newman Hall community, for the Church and for the world - especially for the sick and those who care for them.

If not praying the akathist in Compline, please see today’s earlier posts for the the opening and closing prayers.

Церковнославянский текст: akafistnik.ru/akafisty-ko-presvyatoj-bogoroditse/akafist-presvyatoj-bogoroditse-pred-ikonoj-priba...

Kontakion 1: To the Mother of God, chosen from all generations, the Queen of Heaven and earth, who grantest a spiritual remedy to the whole world, we offer a hymn of thanksgiving for receiving the divine treasure, her wonder-working icon ‘The Giver of Reason’. Guarded by it we feel radiant joy and lovingly call: Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady who dost grant wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Oikos 1: The angelic messenger was sent to the town of Nazareth to the pure Virgin Mary to say to her, ‘Rejoice’, when the divine Word was made flesh in her womb. Having heard the annunciation, the Most Pure Virgin spoke from the humility of her heart, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy word.’ Wherefore, we sinful ones reverently honour the Mother of Christ our God, and taught by the Archangel we cry out with compunction:

Rejoice, thou who art blessed among women.
Rejoice, thou who art favoured by God. Rejoice, thou who art shielded by God’s strength. Rejoice, thou who art sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Rejoice, thou who art God’s faithful handmaiden.
Rejoice, thou who art chosen by God. Rejoice, thou who hast given birth to the Saviour of the world. Rejoice, thou Mother of the Light, which illuminest all. Rejoice, thou who surpassest the wisdom of the wise. Rejoice, thou who grantest wisdom to thy faithful.
Rejoice, Queen of heaven and earth. Rejoice, for all generations shall call thee blessed. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 2: Knowing the desire of the newly-enlightened, O Most Pure, thou hast blessed the herald of the Gospel’s mysteries, the Apostle Luke, to paint an image of thy Most Pure countenance. Looking upon this image, thou hast said regally: ‘My grace and strength will be with this image.’ Wherefore, reverently honouring thy holy icons, with which thou hast adorned the entire Christian commonwealth, we cry to God in thanksgiving for thee: alleluia.

Oikos 2: Opening heavenly reason for us, O Most Pure Virgin, thou dost grant all of thy faithful to learn of God’s will, which is good, pleasing and perfect; excelling all reason. O All-Praised Theotokos, grant us thy care; vouchsafe us the light of truth; comfort us as a mother and teach us the path of truth, that we may cry to thee, in prayer:

Rejoice, thou who hast given birth to Christ, God’s Power and Wisdom.
Rejoice, thou who hast united God and Man.Rejoice, thou who hast enlightened our souls with the light of reason. Rejoice, thou who hast held the ineffable glory of God. Rejoice, thou who dost sanctify the honour given to the holy icons.Rejoice, giver of spiritual treasures. Rejoice, thou who hast granted grace to thy glorious icons. Rejoice, for looking upon thy icons, we venerate thee. Rejoice, thou who through thy holy icons grantest healing throughout the world. Rejoice, thou who liftest our minds and hearts to heaven. Rejoice, thou who hast enlightened the entire universe by thy rays of grace. Rejoice, thou who reignest eternally with thy Son and God. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 3: Shielded by the power of God’s grace, the pious came to the town of Nazareth, finding there the house of the Mother of God, wherein the Most Pure Virgin was born and received the glad tidings: translated thence to the Italian lands, to the town of Loreto, where, on high, is an icon of the Mother of God, painted upon wood and surrounded by the invisible angelic powers, praising it magnificently and joyfully singing to God: alleluia.

Oikos 3: Having maternal mercy for Christians, O Most Pure, thou callest all lands on earth to salvation. Therefore, people of diverse nations visit thy house and confess their sins before thine icon, and its glory shineth in the East and in the West and people delivered from sicknesses, sorrow and misfortune give thee thanks, crying:

Rejoice, House, created by God’s Wisdom for Himself. Rejoice, City of God, from the small town of Nazareth. Rejoice, thou who hast sanctified the house of God by thy presentation. Rejoice, thou who art greater than the Holy of the Holies. Rejoice, thou who hast come to Nazareth with the pre-eternal Infant. Rejoice, thou who served the mystery of salvation of mankind. Rejoice, thou ladder by which we ascend from earth to heaven. Rejoice, wondrous protecting veil for the whole world. Rejoice, for we faithfully honour the image of thy Most Pure. Rejoice, for we receive from thee the blessed gifts for our salvation. Rejoice, thou who dost manifest miraculous signs through thine icons. Rejoice, powerful Protector of Christians. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 4: An iconographer seized by a storm of sorrow, whose reason was darkened, could find no help from earthly physicians. Then the Most Pure Mother of God appeared to him and commanded him to paint her icon, which sanctifies her house in Loreto. Having done this, the painter was healed and from thence he called the newly painted icon ‘The Giver of Reason’, singing before it God’s praise: alleluia.

Oikos 4: When the people of Russia came to know that the most holy Theotokos gave them, for their joy and consolation, her icon, called ‘The Giver of Reason’ they adorned their temples and houses with many copies. A multitude of wondrous signs and miracles happen for those who faithfully come before them and sing to the most blessed one:

Rejoice, thou who hast granted us thy glorious image to sanctify and comfort us. Rejoice, thou who quickly curest bodily and spiritual illnesses. Rejoice, thou who hast shielded the Russian land with the veil of thy favour. Rejoice, thou who hast delivered those who love and honour thine image, from all misfortunes. Rejoice, thou who dost enter invisibly our houses through thine intercession. Rejoice, thou who bringest us blessing and joy. Rejoice, thou who takest in thine all-mighty hands those abandoned by physicians. Rejoice, thou who healest those who lost their mind through illness. Rejoice, hope of the hopeless. Rejoice, enlightener of our minds. Rejoice, pure mirror which reflects the truth. Rejoice, thou whose name is praised in East and West. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 5: Thine icon, O Theotokos, hath appeared as a divine star, for it sanctifies our land and its cities; it enlightens those darkened by ignorance with the light of theology; illumining our reason, darkened by sin, it sets the lost on the path following the commandments of thy Son and God, and we cry to Him thankfully: alleluia.

Oikos 5: Having seen the divine treasure, the wondrous icon of the Mother of God, we pray to her diligently, finding therein the cure of our ailments, relief from our sorrows and salvation from our misfortunes; wherefore we sing to our Lady and protector:

Rejoice, thou who hast enlightene the faithful by the appearance of thine icon. Rejoice, thou through whom the Sun of Truth, Christ, our God, began to shine in the darkness. Rejoice, Mother of the Light of Reason, that enlightened by its grace the whole universe. Rejoice, thou who enlightenest us by thy blessing. Rejoice, thou who dispellest the gloom of our ignorance by thy light. Rejoice, O Virgin, for through thee the light of theology began to shine for all. Rejoice, inextinguishable candle, which kindlest the light of faith. Rejoice, thou who illuminest the path of virtue. Rejoice, thou who art the source of all that is holy. Rejoice, thou who powerfully guardest us from adversities and misfortune. Rejoice, light of divine love. Rejoice, thou who proclaimest to us the spring of salvation by the light of thy miracles.Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 6: Thy favours are known in the entire world, O Mother of our Lord; for in many cities and villages of the Russian land, thy icon ‘The Giver of Reason’ shines with the rays of miracles; enlightening our souls by the light of God’s Grace and prompting us to sing to God, Who honoured thee: alleluia.

Oikos 6: There appeared the light of salvation in thy glorious icon, O Theotokos, for all who stray in the darkness of sins and passions, and swift help is rendered to all who pray before it with reverence and faith. Remove the darkness from our minds, O all-praised, by thy light and show the True Light to all who lovingly cry to thee:

Rejoice, inextinguishable star, that hast given to the world, the Sun of Truth. Rejoice, thou Mother of True Light, which enlightenest the souls of the faithful. Rejoice, mentor of blessed instruction. Rejoice, thou who dost shield our darkened mind with a light veil. Rejoice, thou who art the dawn which dispellest the fog of our sins. Rejoice, thou who dost deliver us from darkness and eternal torment. Rejoice, thou who dost free us from the snares of the enemy. Rejoice, thou who gainest a victory over the madness of the world. Rejoice, thou who expellest teachings harmful for the soul. Rejoice, giver of knowledge beneficial for the soul. Rejoice, thou who comfortest us with thine icon. Rejoice, thou who encouragest souls with the light of joy. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 7: Wishing all men to be saved and to realise the truth, our most merciful Lord and Creator hath granted us the image of His Most Pure Mother, called ‘The Giver of Reason’, that those praying before it, having received strength in word, reason and wisdom, freed from wandering thoughts, may sing to our King and God: alleluia.

Oikos 7: O Mother of God, who dost manifest new and even more glorious wonders through thy holy icon; by the power of Christ’s grace thou enlightenest those with darkened minds, deterring men from madness, strengthening the weak, and swiftly helping all who turn to thy healing image, inspiring them to sing to thee:

Rejoice, thou who pullest us from the depth of ignorance. Rejoice, thou who enlightenest minds. Rejoice, thou who grantest wise words to those who ask. Rejoice, thou who makest fools to reason clearly. Rejoice, thou who drivest away sinful designs. Rejoice, thou who softenest embittered hearts. Rejoice, thou who raisest the mind to God. Rejoice, thou who makest the unwise to be wise. Rejoice, thou who encouragest us to strive for piety. Rejoice, thou who clothest us with eternal joy. Rejoice, thou who bringest the prayers of the faithful to thy Son and God. Rejoice, thou who prayest ceaselessly for all before the throne of the Almighty. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 8: It is wondrous to see, O Most Pure Theotokos, thine icon painted upon wood, drive away the spirits of darkness by thy divine power, giving reason to those seized by feebleness of mind and by trouble in learning. Therefore, we, perishing because of our sins, plead with thee tearfully: deliver us from our visible and invisible enemies, from the darkness of ignorance, so that we may always sing to our Saviour and God: alleluia.

Oikos 8: The whole Russian land hath an abundance of thy wonder-working icons, O Virgin Theotokos, shining like God’s bright stars. Amongst them also the grace of thine icon ‘The Giver of Reason’ shines and warms our frozen hearts by the signs of thy favour to us sinful ones. Therefore, kneeling before thy holy countenance, we praise thee, our Most Pure Mother:

Rejoice, thou who transformest our sorrows into joy. Rejoice, thou who defendest us from the burning arrows of the Evil One. Rejoice, thou who dost bring up children and shield them with thy grace. Rejoice, thou who art the wise protector and mentor of the young. Rejoice, thou who grantest reason to children poor of learning. Rejoice, thou who destroyest the traps of the enemy. Rejoice, thou who enlightenest the minds of the faithful. Rejoice, thou who dost disgrace those without faith. Rejoice, thou who healest those seized by madness. Rejoice, thou whose blessed icon drives away demons. Rejoice, Mother of mercy and benevolence. Rejoice, hope of our salvation. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 9: All the angels serve thee reverently, O Queen of heaven and earth, whilst mankind praises thee and honours thy holy icon that thou hast granted to comfort us and give us joy. Teach us, O most good Lady, to praise thee worthily and to sing to the Saviour of the world, who was born from thee: alleluia.

Oikos 9: The eloquent orators of mankind can neither grasp the mystery of thy service to Christians nor explain the miraculous power of thine icons, which benefit in every way the soul and body of man. We, Orthodox, standing with tears of joy before thy holy icons praise thee, O grace-giving one, and say:

Rejoice, thou who art the joy of the angels. Rejoice, thou who art adored by the archangels. Rejoice, thou whom the cherubim receive in the air. Rejoice, thou who art praised by the seraphim. Rejoice, bright adornment of both the Churches of heaven and earth. Rejoice, thou who art above all the powers of the heaven. Rejoice, thou who art honoured by the heavenly host. Rejoice, thou who art the glory of all who live on earth. Rejoice, thou who dost elevate our minds to the Highest by thine example. Rejoice, guide to our homeland in the heavens. Rejoice, thou who enlightenest the whole earth by the radiance of thy soul. Rejoice, thou who hast adopted us all at the cross of thy Son. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 10: Having wished to save the world from insanity and the delusions of the enemy, the Lord, the lover of mankind, has granted us thy wondrous icon, O Mother of God. Praying before it the insane are cured, the possessed are freed from demons, the sorrowful find joy and comfort. Praising God, Who is so merciful to us, with thanksgiving we cry to Him: alleluia.

Oikos 10: Be for us an impregnable wall and protecting veil, all-pure Mother of God, from the armies of enemies, visible and invisible and guard us from misfortune and disease. Wherefore, kneeling before thine icon ‘The Giver of Reason’ and firmly believing in thy blessed help and cure from all spiritual and bodily illness, we joyfully cry to thee:

Rejoice, thou who dost deter us from the ways of perdition. Rejoice, thou who guidest the faithful on the path of truth. Rejoice, thou who drivest away the spirit of sickness and despair. Rejoice, thou who helpest us to obtain the spirit of reason and strength. Rejoice, thou who dost disgrace the enemies by God’s might. Rejoice, thou who bringest to ruin the assemblies of the impious. Rejoice, thou cure of the possessed. Rejoice, thou who healest all aggressive diseases. Rejoice, thou who deliverest us from spiritual death. Rejoice, thou who washest away our sins with thy tears. Rejoice, thou who dost satisfy us miraculously with spiritual joy. Rejoice, thou who grantest us eternal joy, also in the age to come. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 11: We sing in thanksgiving before thy Most Pure image, O Most Pure, beseeching thine ineffable mercy, and we pray to thee who art full of divine grace: guard our minds and hearts against pernicious teaching, disbelief and superstitions; keep our land free from all manner of disorders, stirred up by the enemies of faith, and let us praise our Creator with a pure heart, singing: alleluia.

Oikos 11: We see thine icon, O Theotokos, like a burning candle, which enlightenest our land with the light of thy miracles, sets us on the path of salvation and kindles our hearts with love for thee, Most Pure Mother of our God. Therefore, knowing the power of thy grace, we glorify thee with hymns of joy:

Rejoice, thou whose wisdom is immeasurably higher than the wisdom of Solomon. Rejoice, thou who revealest God’s most secret mysteries to thy faithful. Rejoice, thou who transformest the dull-witted into lovers of wisdom. Rejoice, thou light which enlightenest our souls. Rejoice, thou who dost disgrace the vain wisdom of this age. Rejoice, thou who settest on the right path those blinded by vain wisdom. Rejoice, thou who renewest the minds of those who pray with conviction. Rejoice, thou who placest a joyful thought in the heart in times of confusion. Rejoice, thou who art the revelation of God’s Wisdom and Goodness. Rejoice, thou who art the beauty of the heavens. Rejoice, thou who hast given us a heavenly gift, thy wonder-working icon. Rejoice, source of incessant joy. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 12: Obtain for us divine grace from thy Son and God, O all-good one; extend to us thy helping hand, that we may not perish without repentance; shield us with thy love; cleanse our minds of sinful designs; clear the eyes of our heart that we may see the path of salvation and grant us to sing to our Creator and God in this life and in the Heavenly Kingdom: alleluia.

Oikos 12: Singing the miracles, which have been manifested through thine icon, O Lady, we praise, glorify and honour thee, who art more honourable than the cherubim, and more glorious, beyond compare, than the seraphim. Look upon us, standing before thy holy icon, O Theotokos, who art now in the heavens, and send us thy blessing; deliver us from all misfortune and the enemy’s temptations, for we honour thee with songs as our protector and keeper:

Rejoice, thou who dost save the entire universe by thy prayers. Rejoice, thou who art the comfort of this sorrowful age. Rejoice, Mother of Light, who enlightenest all with the light of thy purity. Rejoice, thou who revealest to us the mysteries of God’s will. Rejoice, thou who hast chosen Russia as thy portion and thy domain. Rejoice, thou who by thy wonder-working icons hast blessed this land. Rejoice, thou who raisest us to the Light of Truth through thine image. Rejoice, thou who shieldest us invisibly with its divine grace. Rejoice, thou who pourest blessed joy into God-loving hearts. Rejoice, thou who by thine entreaties openest the doors of God’s mercy. Rejoice, thou who helpest us to court the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Rejoice, thou who art the only pure and blessed one amongst women. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 13: O all-praised Mother of the pre-eternal Light and Wisdom of the Father, who art the light of th darkened, the increase of intelligence and the joy of our hearts; hear and accept the pleading of us sinful ones; make us, who are unwise, wiser and teach us to sing and pray before thine icon, called ‘The Giver of Reason’. Cease not to pray for us, thine unworthy servants, who glorify thee and sing to thy Son and God: alleluia. (x3)

Oikos 1: The angelic messenger was sent to the town of Nazareth to the pure Virgin Mary to say to her, ‘Rejoice’, when the divine Word was made flesh in her womb. Having heard the annunciation, the Most Pure Virgin spoke from the humility of her heart, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy word.’ Wherefore, we sinful ones reverently honour the Mother of Christ our God, and taught by the Archangel we cry out with compunction:

Rejoice, thou who art blessed among women. Rejoice, thou who art favoured by God. Rejoice, thou who art shielded by God’s strength. Rejoice, thou who art sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Rejoice, thou who art God’s faithful handmaiden. Rejoice, thou who art chosen by God. Rejoice, thou who hast given birth to the Saviour of the world. Rejoice, thou Mother of the Light, which illuminest all. Rejoice, thou who surpassest the wisdom of the wise. Rejoice, thou who grantest wisdom to thy faithful. Rejoice, Queen of heaven and earth. Rejoice, for all generations shall call thee blessed. Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady, who grantest wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Kontakion 1: To the Mother of God, chosen from all generations, the Queen of Heaven and earth, who grantest a spiritual remedy to the whole world, we offer a hymn of thanksgiving for receiving the divine treasure, her wonder-working icon ‘The Giver of Reason’. Guarded by it we feel radiant joy and lovingly call: Rejoice, All-Merciful Lady who dost grant wisdom and reason to all thy faithful people.

Prayers to the most holy Theotokos before her icon, called ‘The Giver of Reason’

O most holy Virgin, thou art the Bride of God the Father and the Mother of His Divine Son Jesus Christ! Thou art the Queen of Angels and the salvation of mankind, thou who dost unmask sinners and punish apostates. Have mercy upon us, who have sinned greatly and not fulfilled God’s commandments; who have broken the vows of baptism and of the monastic life and many other vows that we had promised to keep. When the Holy Spirit abandoned King Saul, fear and despondency seized him and the darkness of despair and a joyless soul tortured him. And now we also, because of our sins, are deprived of the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Our mind is corrupted by idle thoughts, our soul is darkened since we have forgotten God, and now our hearts are crowded with all manner of sorrows, grievances, illnesses, hatred, malice, hostility, vindictiveness, pleasure at another’s misfortune, and other sins. And, having no joy or consolation, we call to thee, the Mother of our God Jesus Christ, to move thy Son by thine entreaties to forgive us our transgressions and to send us the Spirit the Comforter, as He sent Him to the apostles so that we, being comforted and enlightened by Him, would sing to thee a song of thanksgiving: rejoice, most holy Theotokos who hast increased our intelligence so that we may find our salvation. Amen.

O Most Pure Theotokos, the House that God’s Wisdom has created for Himself, Giver of spiritual gifts, who dost elevate our minds from the world to the spiritual spheres and teach us reason! Accept the prayerful singing of thine unworthy servants, who venerate thee with faith and compunction before thy Most Pure image. Entreat thy Son and our God that He may grant our authorities wisdom and power; our judges truth and justice; our pastors spiritual wisdom, zeal and vigilant guarding of our souls; our mentors humble wisdom; our children obedience, and to all of us the spirit of reason and piety, the spirit of humility and meekness, the spirit of purity and truth. And now, our all-praised and all-loved Mother, increase our intelligence, pacify and unite those in hostility and separation, and give them an unbreakable bond of love; direct all those who have strayed through lack of reason, to the light of Christ’s truth and edify them in fear of God, abstention and love of work; give words of wisdom and knowledge, useful for the souls of those pleading with thee, who art more radiant than the cherubim and more honourable than the seraphim; that we, seeing God’s glorious works and His unfathomable wisdom, in the world and in our lives, shall abandon all earthly vanity and needless earthly concerns, raising our minds and our hearts to the heavens, and with thy protection and help shall glorify, thank and praise God, One in three and Creator of all, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen

O my most blessed Queen, O Theotokos my hope, guardian of orphans and intercessor for strangers, Joy of the sorrowful, Protectress of the oppressed; Thou beholdest my misfortune, Thou seest my sorrow. Help me, for I am infirm; feed me, for I am a stranger. Thou knowest mine offense: do Thou loose it, as Thou dost will, for I have none other help but Thee, nor any other intercessor save Thee, O Mother of God. Do Thou preserve and protect me unto the ages of ages. Amen.
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The order to pray a canon or akathist hymn in the monastic cell or at home.Back in the days when our parish had only one monthly Liturgy and was served from the cathedral, a small group of the faithful would gather in parishioners’ homes, week by week, to sing akathist hymns and pray for the community.

One of the most widely used akathists chanted by the parishioners, was to the Mother of God ‘Pribavlenie Uma - the Giver of Reason’, and veneration and love for this icon has remained in the parish over the years.

As parish life developed after our move to the chaplaincy, we were able to gather in the Little Oratory on Fridays, where an akathist has been chanted during Little Compline, and this has often been before the ‘Pribavlenie Uma’ icon painted by our friend Feodor, from the Bristol parish. We have also chanted the same akathist and prayed before the icon in Llanelli.

Though a small reproduction of the ‘Pribavlenie Uma’ icon remains on an analoy in the Little Oratory, we are not able to gather and sing this akathist together at Newman Hall at the present time, but I hope that members of the community will return to this observance whilst we remain in lockdown.

One of our parishioners has suggested that even though we can’t gather at Newman Hall, we continue to use Friday evenings to unite our prayers, praying the akathist to the Mother of God, ‘The Giver of Reason/Pribavlenie Uma’, and I hope we can make this a reality. Links to the text will be posted later.

We will not obsess about everyone doing so in synchronicity - the sort of pseudo-magical outlook that so many people attach to ‘the prayer by agreement’ - but simply ask parishioners and friends to join one another in prayer as we continue Friday evening parish worship in our homes.

So... How do we chant a canon or akathist at home. The answer is very simple.

If we are accustomed to praying Small Compline, we simply chant the canon/akathist in the customary place, after the creed.

Otherwise, follow the order below. The Slavonic text has been posted separately.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us. Amen. Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

(During the Paschal season we replace this prayer with the triple chanting of the Paschal Troparion, Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life! From Ascenion to Pentecost we start at ‘Holy God...’ - below)

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (Thrice)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name's sake.

Lord have mercy. (Thrice)

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, Who art in the Heavens, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us. Amen.

Lord have mercy. (12 times)

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O come, let us worship God our King. O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God. O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.

Psalm 50: Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of Thy compassions blot out my transgression. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee only have I sinned and done this evil before Thee, that Thou mightest be justified in Thy words, and prevail when Thou art judged. For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me. For behold, Thou hast loved truth; the hidden and secret things of Thy wisdom hast Thou made manifest unto me. Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones that be humbled, they shall rejoice. Turn Thy face away from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and with Thy governing Spirit establish me. I shall teach transgressors Thy ways, and the ungodly shall turn back unto Thee. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; my tongue shall rejoice in Thy righteousness. O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise. For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I had given it; with whole-burnt offerings Thou shalt not be pleased. A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise. Do good, O Lord, in Thy good pleasure unto Zion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be builded. Then shalt Thou be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole-burnt offerings. Then shall they offer bullocks upon Thine altar.

At this point, the canon or akathist is read.

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

During the Paschal season we replace this hymn with the katavasia of the Paschal Canon: Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee; dance now and be glad, O Zion, and do thou exult, O pure Theotokos, in the arising of Him Whom thou didst bear.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Lord have mercy. (Thrice) Lord bless.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through the prayers of Thy most pure Mother (of the saint to whom the akathist/canon was chanted) and of all the saints, have mercy upon us and save us, for Thou art good and the Lover of mankind. Amen.
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Чин келейного (домашнего) чтения канонов и акафистов.Молитвами святых отец наших, Господи Иисусе Христе, Боже наш, помилуй нас. Аминь.

Слава Тебе, Боже наш, слава Тебе.

Царю Небесный, Утешителю, Душе истины, Иже везде сый и вся исполняяй, сокровище благих и жизни подателю, прииди и вселися в ны, и очисти ны от всякия скверны, и спаси, Блаже, души наша.

(От Пасхи до Вознесения вместо этой молитвы читаем: «Христос воскресе из мертвых, смертию смерть поправ, и сущим во гробех живот даровав» (трижды). От Вознесения до Троицы ее не читаем вообще.)

Святый Боже, Святый Крепкий, Святый Безсмертный, помилуй нас. (Читается трижды, с крестным знамением и поясными поклонами.)

Слава Отцу и Сыну и Святому Духу, и ныне и присно и во веки веков. Аминь.

Пресвятая Троице, помилуй нас; Господи, очисти грехи наша; Владыко, прости беззакония наша; Святый, посети и исцели немощи наша, имени Твоего ради.

Господи, помилуй. (Трижды.) Слава, и ныне.

Отче наш, Иже еси на небесех! Да святится имя Твое, да приидет Царствие Твое, да будет воля Твоя, яко на небеси, и на земли. Хлеб наш насущный даждь нам днесь; и остави нам долги наша, якоже и мы оставляем должником нашим; и не введи нас во искушение, но избави нас от лукаваго.

Господи Иисусе Христе, Сыне Божий, помилуй нас, аминь.

Господи, помилуй. (12 раз.) Слава, и ныне.

Приидите, поклонимся Цареви нашему Богу. (поклон.) Приидите, поклонимся и припадем Христу, Цареви нашему Богу. (поклон.)
Приидите, поклонимся и припадем Самому Христу, Цареви и Богу нашему. (поклон.)

Псалом 50: Помилуй мя, Боже, по велицей милости Твоей, и по множеству щедрот Твоих очисти беззаконие мое. Наипаче омый мя от беззакония моего, и от греха моего очисти мя; яко беззаконие мое аз знаю, и грех мой предо мною есть выну. Тебе Единому согреших и лукавое пред Тобою сотворих, яко да оправдишися во словесех Твоих, и победиши внегда судити Ти. Се бо, в беззакониих зачат есмь, и во гресех роди мя мати моя. Се бо, истину возлюбил еси; безвестная и тайная премудрости Твоея явил ми еси. Окропиши мя иссопом, и очищуся; омыеши мя, и паче снега убелюся. Слуху моему даси радость и веселие; возрадуются кости смиренныя. Отврати лице Твое от грех моих и вся беззакония моя очисти. Сердце чисто созижди во мне, Боже, и дух прав обнови во утробе моей. Не отвержи мене от лица Твоего и Духа Твоего Святаго не отыми от мене. Воздаждь ми радость спасения Твоего и Духом Владычним утверди мя. Научу беззаконныя путем Твоим, и нечестивии к Тебе обратятся. Избави мя от кровей, Боже, Боже спасения моего; возрадуется язык мой правде Твоей. Господи, устне мои отверзеши, и уста моя возвестят хвалу Твою. Яко аще бы восхотел еси жертвы, дал бых убо: всесожжения не благоволиши. Жертва Богу дух сокрушен; сердце сокрушенно и смиренно Бог не уничижит. Ублажи, Господи, благоволением Твоим Сиона, и да созиждутся стены Иерусалимския. Тогда благоволиши жертву правды, возношение и всесожегаемая; тогда возложат на oлтарь Твой тельцы.

Символ веры: Верую во единаго Бога Отца Вседержителя, Творца небу и земли, видимым же всем и невидимым. И во единаго Господа Иисуса Христа, Сына Божия, Единороднаго, иже от Отца рожденнаго прежде всех век. Света от Света, Бога истинна от Бога истинна, рожденна, несотворенна, единосущна Отцу, имже вся быша. Нас ради человек и нашего ради спасения сшедшаго с небес и воплотившагося от Духа Свята и Марии Девы и вочеловечшася. Распятаго же за ны при Понтийстем Пилате, и страдавша, и погребенна. И воскресшаго в третий день по Писанием. И возшедшаго на Небеса, и седяща одесную Отца. И паки грядущаго со славою судити живым и мертвым, Егоже Царствию не будет конца. И в Духа Святаго, Господа, Животворящаго, иже от Отца исходящего, иже со Отцем и Сыном спокланяема и сславима, глаголавшаго пророки. Во едину Святую, Соборную и Апостольскую Церковь. Исповедую едино крещение во оставление грехов. Чаю воскресения мертвых, и жизни будущаго века. Аминь.

Посем: Читается акафист или канон.

Окончание молитв:

Достойно есть яко воистину блажити Тя Богородицу, Присноблаженную и Пренепорочную и Матерь Бога нашего. Честнейшую Херувим и славнейшую без сравнения Серафим, без истления Бога Слова рождшую, сущую Богородицу Тя величаем (поклон).

От Пасхи до Вознесения вместо этой молитвы читается припев и ирмос 9-й песни Пасхального канона: Ангел вопияше Благодатней: Чистая Дево, радуйся! И паки реку: радуйся! Твой Сын воскресе тридневен от гроба и мертвыя воздвигнувый; людие, веселитеся! Светися, светися, новый Иерусалиме, слава бо Господня на тебе возсия. Ликуй ныне и веселися, Сионе. Ты же, Чистая, красуйся, Богородице, о востании Рождества Твоего.

Слава, и ныне (поклон). Господи, помилуй (трижды). Господи, благослови. (поклон)

Господи Иисусе Христе Сыне Божий, молитвами Пречистыя Твоея Матере, святыя мученицы (или святых мучениц, или преподобныя, или праведныя), имярек и всех святых, помилуй и спаси нас, яко Благ и Человеколюбец. Аминь. (поклон)
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The Wednesday of Mid-PentecostTroparion, tone 8: Having come to the middle of the Feast, refresh my thirsty soul with the streams of piety; for Thou, O Saviour, didst cry to all: Let him who thirsts come to Me and drink. O Christ our God, Source of Life, glory to Thee.

Kontakion, tone 4: When the Feast of the law was half over, O Lord and Creator of all, Thou didst say to the bystanders, O Christ our God: Come and draw the water of immortality. Therefore we fall down before Thee and cry with faith: Grant us Thy bounties, for Thou art the Source of our Life.

The fifty days following Pascha until the Feast of Pentecost are known as the period of the Pentecostarion in the Orthodox Church. At the mid-point between these great feasts of Pascha and Pentecost, on the twenty-fifth day which is always a Wedneday, is one of the most beloved feasts for the most devout Orthodox Christians known quit simply as Mid-Pentecost. Mid-Pentecost is to the Pentecostarion what the Third Sunday of Great Lent which honors the Holy Cross is to the period of Great Lent. It is a day which helps us focus on the central theme of the entire period. Whereas the mid-point of Great Lent reminds us to bear up the Cross of Christ bravely so that we may daily die with Christ in order to experience the Resurrection of our Lord, so also the mid-point of the Pentecostarion enlightens us regarding the theme of the fifty days following Pascha - which is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit poured out as a gift upon all the faithful who partake of the living water which is Christ Himself.

The central theme woven throughout the period of the Pentecostarion therefore is water. This becomes the central theme of the period because it is the central theme of the Gospel of John which we read in its entirety during the Pentecostarion and which naturally flows into the Acts of the Apostles which is also read during this period in its entirety. This theme appears for the first time on Pascha itself in the joyous Canon of the Feast of Feasts written by Saint John the Damascene when he invites us to "drink a new drink," not "brought forth from a barren rock," as in the Old Testament under Moses, but which rather "springeth forth from the grave of Christ." Then during the Paschal Divine Liturgy the priest processes with the Gospel and chants loudly from Psalm 67:27 saying: "In the congregations bless ye God, the Lord from the well-springs of Israel."

When Renewal or Bright Week is over the Church wisely sets up two Sundays in which to abolish all doubts concerning the Resurrection of Christ, that of the Sunday of Saint Thomas and the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women. This is done in order to ensure that we all partake of the living water that only the risen Lord can give. The following three Sundays, as we approach Pentecost, the theme of water becomes more and more central in the hymns of the Church. Thus we are found one Sunday at the Sheep's Pool with the Paralytic, then at the Well of Jacob with the Samaritan Woman, and finally at the Pool of Siloam with the Blind Man. During this festive period we hear concerning the "living water" which if one partakes of "he will never thirst". We are taught that it is our Savior Himself who is this living water, and we partake of Him through the baptismal waters and the Cup of Life which issued forth from His side at His crucifixion unto remission of sins and life everlasting. Then on Pentecost we have grace rained upon our parched souls and bodies so that we may be fruitful and have a great harvest as we hear from the holy Gospel on that day: "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink". Finally the Pentecostarion concludes with the Feast of All Saints, that is those who partook of the "waters of piety", which is the harvest of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The Fathers teach us that the feast of Mid-Pentecost stands in the middle of the fifty-day period from Pascha to Pentecost as a mighty flowing river of divine grace which have these two great feasts as its source. Pascha and Pentecost are united in Mid-Pentecost. Without Pascha there is no Pentecost and without Pentecost there is no purpose to Pascha.

We read the following entry in The Great Horologion that further explains the details of the feast:

"After the Saviour had miraculously healed the paralytic, the Jews, especially the Pharisees and Scribes, were moved to envy and persecuted Him, and sought to slay Him, using the excuse that He did not keep the Sabbath, since He worked miracles on that day. Jesus then departed to Galilee. About the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles, He went up again to the Temple and taught. The Jews, marveling at the wisdom of His words, said, 'how knoweth this man letters, having never learned?' But Christ first reproached their unbelief and lawlessness, then proved to them by the Law that they sought to slay Him unjustly, supposedly as a despiser of the Law, since He had healed the paralytic on the Sabbath.

"Therefore, since the things spoken of by Christ in the middle of the Feast of the Tabernacles are related to the Sunday of the Paralytic that is just passed, and since we have already reached the midpoint of the fifty days between Pascha and Pentecost, the Church has appointed this present feast as a bond between the two great Feasts, thereby uniting, as it were, the two into one, and partaking of the grace of them both. Therefore today’s feast is called Mid‐Pentecost, and the Gospel Reading, 'At Mid‐feast'—though it refers to the Feast of the Tabernacles—is used.

"It should be noted that there were three great Jewish feasts: the Passover, the Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Passover was celebrated on the 15th of Nissan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, which roughly coincides with our March. This feast commemorated that day on which the Hebrews were commanded to eat the lamb in the evening and anoint the doors of its houses with its blood. Then, having escaped bondage and death at the hands of the Egyptians, they passed through the Red Sea to come to the Promised Land. It is called 'the feast of Unleavened Bread,' because they ate unleavened bread for seven days. Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after Passover, first of all, because the Hebrew tribes had reached Mount Sinai after leaving Egypt, and there received the Law from God; secondly, it was celebrated to commemorate their entry into the Promised Land, where also they ate bread, after having been fed with manna forty years in the desert. Therefore, on this day they offered to God a sacrifice of bread prepared with new wheat. Finally, they also celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles from the 15th to the 22nd of 'the seventh month,' which corresponds roughly to our September. During this time, they lived in booths made of branches in commemoration of the forty years they spent in the desert, living in tabernacles, that is, in tents (Ex. 12:10‐20; Lev. 23 LXX). "

The Feast of Mid-Pentecost is celebrated for an entire week until the following Wednesday, making it an eight day feast. During this entire time the hymns of Mid-Pentecost are joined with that of Pascha. Because of the theme of water, traditionally the Church celebrates the Lesser Blessing of the Waters on this day, preferably with a procession with the Holy Cross to a water spring.

The theme of the feast not only invokes water, but even more central to the Gospel chronology it honors Christ as Teacher and Wisdom as He reveals Himself between the stories of the Paralytic and that of the Blind Man. During this time we are told: "Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught...Jesus answered them, and said, 'My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself'" (John 7:14-30). The icon for this feast depicts the young Jesus teaching the elders in the Temple (Luke 2:46, 47) at which time Jesus first revealed Himself as a teacher or rabbi. Traditional Orthodox icons will depict Jesus as larger than the elders, showing his superior spiritual status.

Since the hymns of the Church invoke and praise our Lord as the Wisdom of God spoken of in the Book of Proverbs, it is traditional that all churches named after Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia celebrate their feast on this day. In fact, Greek scholar Constantine Kalokyre has written a study titled "The Churches of the Wisdom of God and the Date of their Celebration", which appeared in the periodical Saint Gregory Palamas, no. 71 (723) (1988), pp. 538-617. In this study he comes to the conclusion that the Great Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople celebrated its feast day on Mid-Pentecost.

From Mystagogy
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Looking forward: deepening our shared spiritual life.Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе! Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christus Resurrexit! Atgyfododd Crist!

One of the most encouraging aspects of parish life over the last year, or so – until lockdown - has been to see a very small but dedicated group within the parish support services other than the Sunday Liturgy.

(In Cheltenham this has been mirrored with support for weekday reader services, in church or by social media over the last two months.)

A group varying from three to a dozen people has gathered in the Little Oratory for weekday vespers, compline, molebens, panikhidas/litias and festal liturgies, and in the University Church for vespers on Saturday evenings.

Admittedly, attending weekday services is not so easy, given employment demands, childcare, transport etc., yet, the same issues also affect the parish clergy, none of whom live in Cardiff, ordinarily; two having full time employment; one having very erratic and unpredictable work patterns.

To return to the small group supporting weekday worship… it has been interesting to note that virtually all of those requesting home confession and communion during lockdown, are the self-same individuals who worship at Nazareth House and Newman at every opportunity.

Of the depressingly low number of those who requested house blessings after Theophany, most are members of this same weekday congregation.

When our bishop requested a Paschal zoom meeting with the community, of those who responded in South Wales, most – yet again – belong to this ‘weekday group’.

All parishes have those who worship more often, attending on weekdays, meeting outside church to pray and sing akathists, making and baking and more generally sharing their spirital life, but my sincere hope is that after lockdown, there will be far more support for weekday services and activities, as parishioners become more aware of what we have, and of what we have achieved - even though we borrow our places of worship, and despite the fact that clergy have to work secular jobs elsewhere.

When we moved to the chaplaincy two and a half years ago, in October 2018, we had one monthly Saturday Liturgy and one cleric. We now have three clergy, weekly Sunday Liturgies, weekday festal Liturgies in Cardiff and Llanelli, sevices in Cardiff on Friday and Saturdays at every opportunity...

... and yet, for everything apart from Sundays, we return to the small group who gather on weekdays, not only worshipping, but cooking or bringing food for trapeza after every service.

THIS is how communities are made and how parishes are built. The example is not being held up to chide, or gloat, but to say, this is how it is meant to be, and not only once a week!

We have plenty of parishioners who wax lyrical about the need for our own church, yet they do not even support wider parish life in our present setting - apart from coming to Sunday Liturgy weekly or a couple of times a month! They would prefer a nice temple with an onion dome rather than provide an income for a parish priest and the posibilty of services every day.

Now, when we are deprived of normal parish life, is the time to wake up and for each person to question their role in the life of the parish, to assess their support, to ask what more they can do and what they want when we return to some modicum of normality: real parish life, in which they are a part, or a drop-in service providing spiritual props for their personal lives.

The latter attitude is sadly prevalent among some of our Slav parishioners, and some may be upset and offended when we observe this - especially when a ‘convert priest’ has the audacity to make the observation. However, we are not protestant pietists who define Faith as just being between God and me, dipping in and out of Church life to fulfill my personal needs. We confess our belief in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, in which our personal relationship with God is inextricably linked to our life within the community of Faith, in which the God-given Holy Mysteries are celebrated, with the Holy Liturgy and Holy Communion as the expression of our shared life in Christ.

And... when we return to this shared parish existence, the time for individualist spiritual-consumerism should be over!

The Church, the Holy Mysteries, services, blessings and prayers, are not consumables, but Divine Gifts from Christ - and participating in them should be the most precious and defining thing in our lives, whatever the day or the time, however inconvenient in the wider time-scape of our week, however far we may have to journey and however long we may have to wait.

We should be willing to sacrifice everything - comfort, time, hobbies/interests, material resources, energy and even sleep - to make our life in the Church... and indeed the life of the Church a reality.

When we return to shared parish existence - whether in Cardiff, or in any Orthodox parish anywhere - this sharing must grow, deeper and wider, as more and more parishioners come together as often as possible, to pray and share the Faith, to be Orthodox and celebrate Orthodoxy TOGETHER, not simply on Sundays, but at every opportunity.

Let us work towards every individual who is free and able coming to vespers and compline, to memorial services, molebens and festal Liturgies on whatever day they are celebrated: praying together, celebrating together, talking and eating together and joining together to labour for the Heavenly Kingdom.

Christ is Risen!

Asking your prayers - Hieromonk Mark
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The Relevance of Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky): A Life For Our Times.Sunday, April 27/May 10, 2020. 4th Sunday of Pascha. Sunday of the Paralytic. Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion, Bishop of Verey.

These days in Church circles there is more and more talk that the lives of the new martyrs remain irrelevant, and the names of the majority of new martyrs and confessors of Russia are little known even to church people. That is true, and it indicates that Church-related issues are alien to the bulk of modern Russian society. This is why new martyrs’ подвиг[1] is still incomprehensible.

Interestingly, this attitude in our society towards Church issues is a repeat of our fellow-countrymen’s sentiments of more than 100 years ago. It means that the environment in which new martyrs’ worldview concerning the Christian faith was formed is very similar to that of our times. And in many aspects, that formation developed not because of the surrounding reality, but in spite of it.

The Russian tsar Peter the Great and his entourage openly apostatized from the Church during that era, and by the beginning of the twentieth century this apostasy reached the lower class, the most conservative strata of society. The people’s alienation from the Church was often reinforced by the apostasy of the clergy themselves. This is why the new martyrs are truly the salt of the Russian land—the people who were able to remain faithful to Christ and the Church during the period of countrywide religious confusion.

It would seem that the canonization of a host of Russian saints in the post-Soviet period would contradict the above. About 1,500 new martyrs have been canonized; that is an enormous number for the Russian Church. But if we take into consideration that 130,000 representatives of the clergy alone were executed by firing squad in the Soviet period before 1943, then this number is no longer so imposing. The emergence of a militant atheistic state on the ruins of the former Russia is indicative of the nearly total falling away of the Russian people from God and the Church of Christ. The Lord allowed this to happen because He obviously could not find ten righteous people per each Russian “Sodom”. Beyond all doubt, rudiments of religious life tend to continue in people’s everyday life, but a living and conscious faith becomes a great rarity.

The faith of some turned into unbelief, and the faith of others turned to ritualism. Some even managed to combine both. For example, Sergei Iosifovich Fudel [1900-1977, a Russian theologian and memoirist] mentioned a former senior conductor who weekly attended church services and regularly fasted but in reality turned out to be a full-fledged atheist: “Our conversation was gradually switched over to a more serious topic—the death of our loved ones. And as soon as I said that the day would come when we would see all of them again, the old man instantly raised his bushy eyebrows in sincere amazement. ‘Are you serious? Do you really mean it? Those are all priests’ tales! We will die and everything will stop! There will be nothing there’.”[2]

Today many speak of the revival of the Orthodox faith in Russia. If we measure it only by the number of churches and monasteries that have been built or restored over the past twenty-five years, then the revival is obvious. But if we take into account that the overwhelming majority of our fellow-countrymen who identify themselves as Orthodox (between seventy and eighty per cent of Russia’s population) have a very vague idea of church life and go to church only on the days of their personal sorrow, then we see that the picture is not optimistic at all. And if we add that one third of these “statistically Orthodox” people say that they do not believe in God, then we will have to admit that the ideological heirs of the aforementioned senior conductor are spreading across the Russian land and gradually filling it with themselves.

For this reason the idea that it is necessary to study the history of early twentieth century Russia looks very natural. Most precious for us is the evidence of Russian saints of that era who repeatedly warned Russian society of fatal effects of abandoning God and falling away from the Church.

In this sense, the life of Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky; 1886-1929) is very interesting, because the falling away of the Russian people from the Church was one of the main subjects he studied during his days as a student.

By the time Vladimir Troitsky (the secular name of St. Hilarion) studied at the seminary and academy (1900-1910), a considerable part of Russian society had been carried away by revolutionary ideas. And it was the theological schools that often became hotbeds of these ideas. The winds of revolution did not pass by the Moscow Theological Academy either. “Vladimir Alexeyevich joined the academy in 1906, when the fumes of the revolution that had infiltrated into the academy were just beginning to clear away but without disappearing completely. Vladimir Alexeyevich had to endure much. He used to say, ‘Shame on the academy that has changed the white robes of sober and pure science for the bright but dirty multi-colored rags of street politics.’ Shame upon the academy, which he loved ‘as a beloved bride’… But the terror did not disappear without leaving a mark on Vladimir Alexeyevich: His thoroughly analytical mind could not settle down until it determined why that terrible storm had captivated such broad circles. One of the key factors that determined the movement’s large scale was the secular nature of our society, which for the most part had lost its ties with the Church and had forsaken its age-old traditions… As soon as it became clear enough… he devoted his compulsory essays and his spare time to developing the question of the Church and ecclesiasticism.”[3]

In 1909, in his fourth year at the Moscow Theological Academy, Vladimir Troitsky delivered a speech during the celebration of the academy’s ninety-fifth anniversary, which was later published in the Theological Bulletin journal under the heading: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

The young theologian saw the meaning, purpose and justification of life in the Church. Apostasy from the Church cannot remain unpunished and is already a punishment in itself. Worship and service of the true God in Christ are possible only in the Church, and those who drift away from the Church actually abandon God together with Her. As the saying goes: “A holy place is never empty.” A false concept of God comes to replace the real God—which, as a matter of fact, is an idol. “Life is full of idols. We encounter idols and idolaters at every step. True, you will not be able to see idols of stone, gold and silver. But the subtle and often unconscious idolatry, which uses service of the true God as a cover and is therefore more dangerous, has spread over the face of Earth like a dirty wave.”[4]

Idolatry of this kind comes into a Christian’s life unnoticed and by degrees takes control of his heart. “Ask one of our contemporaries: What does he live for? What is the most important thing for him? He will say: family, a position, public activities, or commerce. Very few will mention science and some will state pleasures and personal welfare. But will anybody say that the things he holds dear to his heart are God, the Church, the salvation of soul, and eternal life? No, hardly anyone will ever remember this, the ‘one thing needful’. Christ is totally removed from human life, though many dare not openly drive Him away. People do not want to abandon Christ completely, but they do not love Him enough to prefer Him to all other ‘gods’. And so all efforts are exerted to ensure that all the idols of the world are preserved so that they could worship both Christ and belial simultaneously. People have divided their lives among many gods. The larger part of one’s life is devoted to the service of idols of all sorts, and only an infinitesimal bit of life is devoted to a quick and hasty worship of the true God.”[5]

Church life, which sanctifies human life and gives it purpose, is replaced with religiosity that becomes only an insignificant part of life and serves mainly practical needs. “Now we hear only of the ‘satisfaction of religious needs’ or ‘performance of religious duties’; and both the needs and duties are surprisingly scanty in comparison with other requirements and obligations of various kinds.”[6]

The conciliar character of church life is lost. Idols of non-Church forms of “Christianity” come up to take the Church’s place. “Idols are more and more supplanting Christ in human life… In our days Christianity manifests itself only as a private, hidden piety, while Christian life has completely fallen into decline. Christian life is possible only in the Church; only the Church does the life of Christ live.”[7]

The twenty-three-year-old man became convinced of the truths that were to become the unfailing guiding star in his life: Without the Church there is no life, no salvation, no knowledge of God; that is, no theology, which is inseparable from piety, according to the tradition of the Church and, above all, to the writings of the Holy Fathers, those “spirit-bearing theologians.”[8] And the future hierarch referred only to the Orthodox Church as to the Church with a capital C.

Despite his very young age, as early as 1909 Vladimir Troitsky perfectly understood not only the main trouble of Russia (which later led to a catastrophe) but also the sole way out of this trouble: “Clouds without water, carried about of winds, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever (see Jude 12, 13) have come to our Russian plain from all sides. Their mouths are uttering pompous words… The gates of hell have accumulated all their strength and rushed towards the Holy Church… We believe, firmly believe that no winds, no tempests are capable of drowning the ship of Christ!... To count the empty and dead idols of the vain world but loss, to count all of them but dung (cf. Phil. 3:8) and to serve God alone and His Holy Church—there is not and cannot be anything higher than this!”[9]

And it is not only worldliness, the secular mind, but it is also false ideas of God and the paths of salvation, the distortion and disregard of the truths of faith that tempt man and lead him astray. And it is difficult to say what is worse. “If you flee from a wolf you will run into a bear,” Elder Ambrose of Optina used to say.[10] During the VII Ecumenical Council, Epiphanius, a learned deacon from Catana in Sicily, approached St. Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, with a question on the heresy of iconoclasm. He asked, “Is this heresy more pernicious or less pernicious than those that existed before?” And His Holiness Patriarch Tarasius answered, “Evil is always evil, especially in the Church matters; as for the tenets of faith, either you transgress against a minor one or against a basic one—it makes no difference; because in both cases the law of God has been violated.”[11]

This is precisely how Father Hilarion (in 1913 he became a monk and from 1913 till 1920 was archimandrite and inspector of the Moscow Theological Academy) perceived heterodox denominations. In his view, they are ontologically so alien to Orthodoxy that he did not consider it possible to call them Churches.

“Several Churches have appeared,” he used to say with perplexity. “The Orthodox, Catholic and even Protestant and Anglican Churches and so on, though it should be clear that one Head can have only one body.”[12] For him the antonym to the word “Catholic” was not the word “Orthodox” but “the Church”; thus he stressed “the essential difference between Catholic life and Church life,”[13] since for him there is only one theanthropic community whose proper name is “the Church”.

For Hieromartyr Hilarion, ecclesiology (study of the Church) was not so much a branch of theology as a basic principle, quintessence, the prime pre-requisite of theology, since the Church is a theanthropic organism in which man, who was created in God’s image and likeness, restores his natural integrity, acquires the likeness of the Holy Trinity and becomes God by grace. The Church as “the fullness… that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23), reveals Herself not only as the keeper of the Revelation, the Holy Tradition, but also as the Holy Tradition itself, because She was founded and handed over to us by the Son of God, and as the Revelation itself, because God is revealed to us in His energies only in Her and through Her.

The realization of this meaning of ecclesiology for St. Hilarion was the foundation of his unshakeable steadfastness in the “raging sea” of schisms during the Bolshevist persecutions of the Church.

Archimandrite Hilarion devoted special attention to refuting the errors of Catholicism, Protestantism and humanism—those three rationalist tendencies of religious life outside the Church that had the greatest influence on his contemporaries’ views.

But, in spite of all the efforts of Archimandrite Hilarion and others like him, who called on the Russian people to come to their senses, to return to their roots, to the faith of their fathers, which had once united the scattered tribes into one nation; that is, simply to return to the Church in mind as well as in practice, these appeals were heard only by few people and could not stop the general apostasy.

And in 1914 the premonitions began to come true. War broke out. Archimandrite Hilarion regarded it as a lesson to the straying Russian society, an opportunity for atonement for falling away from the Church through sins and heresies. His sermons became more powerful and inspired. “Russian Orthodox people!... The formidable hour of judgment of the Russian land has come. All of us have sinned very much over the past ten years. We, Russian people, allowed unbelief to spread across our land. We have unprecedented corruption. We, the Russian people, have sinned against our noble history. We have sinned against the memory and precepts of our forefathers. We are sinners before our own shrines. We have begun to lose the fear of God. We have forgotten how to love the tsar and our motherland. We have already grown accustomed to abusing and defaming all that is native to us, and praising and extoling all that is foreign. The hour has come when we must redeem our people’s sins and faults before God.”[14]

As the war went on, the primary hopes for the return of the Russian people (especially of educated people) to the mother Church gave place to disappointment. The majority of Russian people were more interested in the external political structure than in the inner spiritual order, in secular rights rather than Christian duties, benefit rather than the truth. If spiritual things were not exchanged for material ones, then they were definitely exchanged for emotional ones, poetical dreaminess and a revolutionary revolt (sometimes they were combined in a fantastic way, as is seen from the life and works of Alexander Blok). Human will prevailed over divine will, and temporal interests overshadowed eternal ones. There was no mass return of the intelligentsia from the Babylonian captivity of Western culture to the Jerusalem of the Church.

The future hieromartyr’s opening academy lecture, read on August 26, 1916, was the last call to the Russian intelligentsia and the last warning. Its name finely illustrates its main idea: “Sin against the Church.”

Young students from Leonid Andreyev’s novel, The Days of Our Life, who admire the ringing of Moscow bells that call the faithful to the Sunday Vigil, but who instead of going to the service continue their picnic with beer on a precipice of Vorobyevy Hills, are, according to the lecturer, the brightest illustration of the rejection by the Russian intelligentsia of the Church and therefore their national roots. After all, the words “Russian”, “Orthodox” and “of the Church” are almost synonyms. “The Russian people’s character was nurtured for whole centuries under the direction of the Church, and apostasy from the Church for a Russian is equal to rejection of Russia. We can imagine Russia without the Parliament, without universities, but it is impossible to imagine Russia without the Church [15].”

The disregard of this will inevitably lead to deplorable results for Russia. For someone who renounces the Church “renounces Russia also, loses touch with the Russian soil, becomes a cosmopolite… A Jew… who forsakes the law of Moses is an absolute nihilist who is detrimental to his home country along with any country he lives in. And it is the Russian intelligentsia that imported radical sceptics, nihilists and anarchists to European life. Tolstoy and Bakunin are ours. Russian revolutionaries are being driven from one place to another in Western Europe as well. Perhaps no other people has ever gazed into the abyss of denial more than the Russian people.”[16]

In 1917, two revolutions shook the foundations of the Russian state, after which Russian society was plunged into the abyss of revolutionary changes, the lamentable consequences of which have not yet been overcome.

Holy Hierarch Hilarion did not lose himself in the whirlwind of revolutionary perturbations. His love for the Church and submergence into Church Tradition enabled him to retain firm guidelines, to find the right way to relate to the atheist authorities and numerous schisms, and to perform his podvig as a confessor in the appropriate manner. He managed to find the strength not to lose heart under the most hopeless circumstances of life—both in exile and the concentration camp. And the saintly bishop did not separate himself from the Russian people. But his view of the correlation between the Russian man’s attitude towards the Church and our state’s prosperity remained unchanged until his martyrdom. “And do we say that the Soviet authority is not from God?” he answered the sly question of People’s Commissar Anatoly Lunacharsky. “Yes, it is certainly from God! As a punishment for our sins…”

As they say: “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Then how can someone who learns neither from his own nor from others’ mistakes be characterized? Let us hope that we will be able to learn at least from our own mistakes.

Andrei Gorbachev
Translation by Dimitry Lapa

28 декабря 2016 г.

Рейтинг: 9 Голосов: 16 Оценка: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

[1] Ascetic labor; strenuous, pious feat.

[2] Fudel S.I. Reminiscences. Moscow: the Holy Trinity - St. Sergius Lavra, Russky Put’, 2016. – P. 79.

[3] Damascene (Orlovsky), Hieromonk. The Biography of Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) // Hilarion (Troitsky), Archbp. The Church as the Union of Love. Moscow: Orthodox St. Tikhon Theological Institute, 1998. Pp. 5-6.

[4] Hilarion, Archbp. Of Vereya, Hieromartyr. There is No Salvation without the Church. / The introductory article by Nun Sophia: The Life of Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky). — Moscow; St. Petersburg: Sretensky Monastery, Znameniye, 2000. – P. 119.

[5] Ibid. P. 120.

[6] Ibid. Pp. 120-121.

[7] Ibid. P. 122-123..

[8] Ibid. P. 134.

[9] Ibid. Pp. 135, 138.

[10] Agapitus (Belovidov), Schema-Archimandrite. The Biography of the Deceased Optina Elder Schema-Hieromonk Ambrose with His Portrait and Facsimile. In two parts. – Reprint. – [Moscow:] Publishing house of the Holy Trinity – St. Sergius Lavra, 1992. - Part 2. – P. 60.

[11] The Acts of the Oecumenical Councils: in 4 volumes – St. Petersburg: Voskresenye, Palomnik, 1996. – Volume 4: VI Council, VII Council. – P. 358.

[12] Hilarion, Archbp. Of Vereya, Hieromartyr. There is No Salvation without the Church. / The introductory article by Nun Sophia: The Life of Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky). — Moscow; St. Petersburg: Sretensky Monastery, Znameniye, 2000. – P. 141.

[13] Ibid. P. 140.

[14] Hilarion (Troitsky), Hieromartyr. On life in Church and on Church Life// Hilarion (Troitsky), Hieromartyr. Works: in 3 volumes. – Moscow: the Publishing house of Sretensky Monastery, 2004. – V. 3. – P. 318.

[15] Hilarion, Archbp. Of Vereya, Hieromartyr. The Sin against the Church// There is No Salvation without the Church. – Moscow; St. Petersburg: Sretensky Monastery, Znameniye, 2000. – P. 562.

[16] Ibid. P. 562
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Name-day greetings on the feast of St. Mark, the Apostle.As we celebrate the feast the Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist Mark, we greet two of the deacons of our diocese as they celebrate their name-day: our own Father Deacon Mark in Cardiff and Father Deacon Mark Tattum-Smith, in Mettingham.

Those of you who know the fathers, will know that they are very similar in so many ways: studious, precise, hard-working and tireless in their labour for their communities and the Western European Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

We thank God for the blessing of having deacons to assist in the life of the Church, and we greet the two Fathers Mark, wishing them joyful celebrations of the feast, and many, blessed years!

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, also known as John Mark (Acts 12:12), was one of the Seventy Apostles, and was also a nephew of Saint Barnabas (June 11). He was born at Jerusalem. The house of his mother Mary adjoined the Garden of Gethsemane. As Church Tradition relates, on the night that Christ was betrayed he followed after Him, wrapped only in a linen cloth. He was seized by soldiers, and fled away naked, leaving the cloth behind (Mark 14:51-52). After the Ascension of the Lord, the house of his mother Mary became a place where Christians gathered, and a place of lodging for some of the Apostles (Acts 12:12).

Saint Mark was a very close companion of the Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29) and Barnabas. Saint Mark was at Seleucia with Paul and Barnabas, and from there he set off to the island of Cyprus, and he traversed the whole of it from east to west. In the city of Paphos, Saint Mark witnessed the blinding of the sorcerer Elymas by Saint Paul (Acts 13:6-12).

After working with the Apostle Paul, Saint Mark returned to Jerusalem, and then went to Rome with the Apostle Peter. From there, he set out for Egypt, where he established a local Church.

Saint Mark met Saint Paul in Antioch. From there he went with Saint Barnabas to Cyprus, and then he went to Egypt again, where he and Saint Peter founded many churches. Then he went to Babylon. From this city the Apostle Peter sent an Epistle to the Christians of Asia Minor, in which he calls Saint Mark his son (1 Pet 5:13).

When the Apostle Paul came to Rome in chains, Saint Mark was at Ephesus, where Saint Timothy (January 4) was bishop. Saint Mark went with him to Rome. There he also wrote his holy Gospel (ca. 62-63).

From Rome Saint Mark traveled to Egypt. In Alexandria he started a Christian school, which later produced such famous Fathers and teachers of the Church as Clement of Alexandria, Saint Dionysius of Alexandria (October 5), Saint Gregory Thaumatourgos (November 5), and others. Zealous for Church services, Saint Mark composed a Liturgy for the Christians of Alexandria.

Saint Mark preached the Gospel in the inner regions of Africa, and he was in Libya at Nektopolis.

During these journeys, Saint Mark was inspired by the Holy Spirit to go again to Alexandria and confront the pagans. There he visited the home of Ananias, and healed his crippled hand. The dignitary happily took him in, listened to his words, and received Baptism.

Following the example of Ananias, many of the inhabitants of that part of the city where he lived were also baptized. This roused the enmity of the pagans, and they wanted to kill Saint Mark. Having learned of this, Saint Mark made Ananias a bishop, and the three Christians Malchos, Sabinos, and Kerdinos were ordained presbyters to provide the church with leadership after his death.

The pagans seized Saint Mark when he was serving the Liturgy. They beat him, dragged him through the streets and threw him in prison. There Saint Mark was granted a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who strengthened him before his sufferings. On the following day, the angry crowd again dragged the saint through the streets to the courtroom, but along the way Saint Mark died saying, “Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”

The pagans wanted to burn the saint’s body, but when they lit the fire, everything grew dark, thunder crashed, and there was an earthquake. The pagans fled in terror, and Christians took up the body of Saint Mark and buried it in a stone crypt. This was on April 4, 63. The Church celebrates his memory on April 25.

In the year 310, a church was built over the relics of Saint Mark. In 820, when the Moslem Arabs had established their rule in Egypt and oppressed the Christian Church, the relics of Saint Mark were transferred to Venice and placed in the church named for him.

In the ancient iconographic tradition, which adopted symbols for the holy Evangelists borrowed from the vision of Saint John the Theologian (Rev 4:7) and the prophecy of Ezekiel (Ez. 1:10), the holy Evangelist Mark is represented by a lion, symbolizing the might and royal dignity of Christ (Rev 5:5).

Saint Mark wrote his Gospel for Gentile Christians, emphasizing the words and deeds of the Savior which reveal His divine Power. Many aspects of his account can be explained by his closeness to Saint Peter. The ancient writers say that the Gospel of Mark is a concise record of Saint Peter’s preaching.

One of the central theological themes in the Gospel of Saint Mark is the power of God achieving what is humanly impossible. The Apostles performed remarkable miracles with Christ (Mark 16:20) and the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11) working through them. His disciples were told to go into the world and preach the Gospel to all creatures (Mark 13:10, 16:15), and that is what they did.

Troparion, Tone 4: From your childhood the light of truth enlightened you, O Mark, / and you loved the labor of Christ the Savior. / Therefore, you followed Peter with zeal / and served Paul well as a fellow laborer, / and you enlighten the world with your holy Gospel.

Kontakion, Tone 2: When you received the grace of the Spirit from on high, O Apostle, / you broke the snares of the philosophers and gathered all nations into your net, / bringing them to your Lord, O glorious Mark, / by the preaching of the divine Gospel.

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Celebrating St George in Swansea.It was a great joy for us to celebrate the feast of St George in Swansea today, especially as it was little Yuriy’s second name day. We served a moleben before Yuriy’s beautiful Georgian icon of St George, praying for the other Georges who are members of our communities or friends of our parish, as well as our other parishioners who were remembered by name as Deacon Mark and Alla spent a long time repeatedly chanting the triple ‘Lord, have mercy’ of the Litany of Fervent Supplication whilst the commemorations were made.

During the moleben, we chanted the akathist hymn to St George, joining together in chanting the ‘Rejoices’ to the Great-Martyr, and we hope that across South Wales other parishioners did the same, as the faithful did in Cheltenham. It was wonderful for us to join our voices in this simple way, and it is something that every family can do, in the same way we would chant akathist hymns in the Little Oratory in more ‘normal’ times - alternatively taking turns in reading the akathist kontakia and ikosy if unable to join together in melodic chanting.

At home, Little Compline offers us the opportunity to join togther to pray a canon or akathist - though it is a supplicatory canon to the Mother of God that is liturgically appointed. Our Fridays together in Newman Hall have shown the faithful how simple and straight-forward the service is, and how easily it could be celebrated at home.

An easily usable English order of Little Compline for home use can be found in the Reader Horologion at saintjonah.org: www.saintjonah.org/services/compline.htm

... and a Slavonic text here: xn----7sbahbba0chrecjllhdbcuymu3s.xn--p1ai/molitvi/chasoslov/mal_povecher.html

Please take some time to look, and if you have any queries about use, contact the clergy.

Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе! Χριστός ἀνέστη! Atgyfododd Crist!

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The challenge of St George and his witness for Truth.When we celebrate the feasts of saints such as St George, it always strikes me how wonderful it is that the saints can unite us and be a source of unity, common celebration and identification, from Ethiopia to farthest Siberia.

The martyrs in particular - the likes of St George, St Demetrios, St Antipas, St Barbara and St Paraskeva – transcend barriers of nation, race, language and culture, as all of the saints should. However, the martyrs have a particular universality, which continues to reflect the universality of the Romano-Hellenic world to which they belonged.

St George, of course, has a very special appeal to the faithful of all nations, who have taken him into their hearts, so that he has become one of their own without the need to pretend that he was a Greek, a Slav, or even an English knight!

We know that St George was a native of Cappadocia in Asia Minor, that his father was martyred for his faith, and that his mother had familial links to Palestine, where she owned lands to which she moved with her son, raising him in strict piety.

In adulthood, Saint George entered into the service of the Roman army, and gained the reputation of being a good and trustworthy soldier, coming to the attention of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and joining the Praetorian guard with the rank of comes, or military commander.

Diocletian was deeply troubled by the spread and expansion of Christianity and intensified the state persecution of the Christians in the final years of his reign. To streamline and facilitate the anti-Christian campaign, he granted his governors full freedom in court proceedings against Christians.

St George prepared for his suffering in this persecution and distributed his possessions and capital to the poor, freed his servants, and then voluntarily appeared in the Senate, where he spoke against the emperor’s designs and not only confessed himself a Christian, but appealed to all to acknowledge Christ:

“I am a servant of Christ, my God, and trusting in Him, I have come among you voluntarily, to bear witness concerning the Truth.”

To this, one of the senators asked, “What is Truth?” (a clear echo of Pontius Pilate)

The saint replied, “Christ Himself, Whom you persecuted, is Truth.”

I wonder what answers we might hear today in our politically correct, ecumenically deranged and live-and-let-live world. What is Truth? Who is Truth? Conversely, what is falsehood?

Even some Christian leaders (in gatherings where we see Catholic and Orthodox bishops in attendance) squirm at these questions, and whilst writhing in their casuistic attempts to avoid the fact that ONLY Christ, is the Way, the Truth, the Life – not Allah, not Pachamama, not the myriad of mythological-personae who are somehow explained in vague deist terms as expressions of the divine. In the name of world-harmony, peace and stability, many of them are simply pretending that God has many faces and many revelations, in which Christ the God-Man is somehow a local coincidence. Some, sadly believe it.

If Jupiter, Juno and Mercury were not Truth, as St George stood before the Senate, then neither are any of the ‘ideas’ that the compromised and deranged recognise in their search for some universalist spiritual common denominator and message that all religions express the same Eternal Truth.

“Christ Himself, Whom you persecuted, is Truth.”

George refused to sacrifice to the Roman ‘gods’ and yet ‘Christian’ leaders attend and participate in syncretist ceremonies, which are somehow downplayed as expressions of cultural and anthropological expressions of ‘the sacred’ in which WE are ok, because we attend with some theological and philosophical intention and reservation – crossing our fingers and ignoring anything outside our comfort zone or realm of spiritual identity.

What an insult to the great martyrs! It sometimes makes one wonder whether their ‘abolition’ in the West, and relegation to the mythological dustbin, was not because of historical doubt, but because they were uncompromising witnesses to the Truth, which is Christ. This was inconvenient to the ‘spiritual’ inclusivity which emerged from the 1960’s and 1970’s, since which sacred Tradition and its expression in Christianity has been systematically attacked, eroded and undermined, and traditionalists painted as extremists, schismatics and peddlers of hate and intolerance. The uncompromising witness of the martyrs has little place in the neo-liberal religious world - a world which we MUST reject.

However, even now, as Holy Tradition is rediscovered (particularly by our young people), the theological confession of only Christ as Truth by St George, St Demetrios, St Alban, St Catherine, St Barbara and all of the martyrs, reminds us that without the strict and exclusive spiritual and theological witness to Christ as ‘the Head of the Corner’, everything else in our spiritual and ecclesial life is incidental, hollow and meaningless - no matter how traditional and beautiful it may be.

‘The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner...’ and yet the chilling reality for us, is that spokesmen and spokeswomen claiming to represent Christianity in various pseudo-religious forums and symposia, continue to implicitly reject Christ the Corner-Stone every time they indulge in activities in which Christ is simply a localised detail and His divine words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…” become an inconvenient stumbling block in the search for universal brotherhood and sisterhood.

We know that we will be marginalised and despised for opposing this in uncompromising witness to Truth, but we need to remember that the words the Great-Martyr heard - “Fear not, George, for I am with you” – are words which the Saviour addresses to each of us and to the whole Church. “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” But, these words are addressed to the flock who are known by the shepherd, who know Him– Christ, the Truth Incarnate - not to the world which rejects Christ as the Corner-Stone of Truth and Faith.

The sadistic standard series of tortures which the Romans believed would break the resolve and witness of St George were powerless, but only because he was resolute in his confession of the Divine-Truth: Christ.

Pressing him under a stone, trying to break him on the wheel, lacerating him with blades, burying him in caustic-lime, shoeing him with red-hot iron sandals with nails, beating and poisoning were powerless against George as the servant of Truth, who addressed Diocletian: “Do not imagine that it is any human learning which keeps me from being harmed by these torments. I am saved only by calling upon Christ and His Power. Whoever believes in Him has no regard for tortures and is able to do the things that Christ did.”

Before his ultimate beheading, the prayers of St George caused the pagan idols to fall from their shrines, and yet today ‘Christian’ leaders sit in ceremonies in which the idols of the pagans sit before them. What has happened? Have we learned nothing from the martyrs?

May St George give us a voice; may St George make us fearless; may St George’s example make us worthy warriors of Truth, whatever leaders, politicians and religious ‘diplomats’ may do to further their agendas visions and causes.

Let us reject these agendas and make our voices loud, like the voices of the martyrs.

O Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and have received your crowns, Entreat ye the Lord, That He will have mercy on our souls.

Happy feast. Christ is Risen!

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Greetings for the Feast of the Great-Martyr, St George the Trophy-Bearer.Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе! Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christus Resurrexit! Atgyfododd Crist!

As we celebrate the feast of St George, we send our greetings and congratulations to our parishioners Yuriy and George-Germogen in Cardiff, to George in Cheltenham, Reader George in the cathedral, George Tattum-Smith, to Alla's father Georgiy in Feodosiya and - although he has already celebrated his nameday on the new-calendar - we nevertheless also send our greetinsg to George, the iconograher and champion of the British saints in London!

And thank you to Silouana for reminding me that we should be adding Georgina and Georgeta to the greetings list, as well!

Многая и благая лѣта! Many, blessed years!

THE AKATHIST TO ST GEORGE THE TROPHY-BEARER

Церковнославянский текст: akafistnik.ru/akafisty-svyatym/akafist-svyatomu-velikomucheniku-georgiyu-pobedonostsu/

Kontakion 1: Unto thee, O champion leader and victorious Saint George, we offer a hymn of praise as unto our intercessor and speedy helper. Do thou, holy Great Martyr, as one who hath boldness before the Lord, deliver us from dangers of all kinds that we may cry unto thee: Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer.

Ikos 1: The Creator of angels and Maker of all creation hath revealed thee unto His Church as a guardian and passion-bearer for the faith. Thou art an inspiration for us, and we lift up praises unto thee for the ascetic labours of thy sufferings, Saint George, in this manner:

Rejoice, thou who didst love unto the end Jesus, the Son of God.
Rejoice, thou who didst lay down thy life with love for His Name. Rejoice, confessor called forth by God. Rejoice, spiritual athlete glorified by the grace of God. Rejoice, thou who dwellest with the angels.
Rejoice, thou who art the equal of the prophets.
Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 2: Beholding how the wicked idolaters were persecuting the Christians, thou didst not fear their wiles and tortures, divinely wise George. As a good soldier of Christ, thou didst distribute all thy possessions among the poor, and then didst voluntarily run to that ungodly gathering, singing unto Christ, thy commander and God: Alleluia.

Ikos 2: Mentally comprehending the One God divinely worshipped in Three Persons, with a firm mind thou didst confess Him before the assembly of the ungodly. Thus, thou didst expose the unwise king’s foolish worship of creation. In admiration of thy lofty love of wisdom, Saint George, accept from us these fervent praises:

Rejoice, wise preacher of the One True God. Rejoice, faithful advocate of the All-Holy Trinity. Rejoice, thou who didst manifest the great mystery of the True Faith unto the unbelievers. Rejoice, thou who didst expose the deception of idol worship. Rejoice, revelation of holy wisdom. Rejoice, image of divine inspiration. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 3: The power of God, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world, did visit thee also, whilst thou wast suffering in prison, O George wise in humility. Thou didst despise all the corruptible things of this life as chaff. Thou didst faithfully cling unto Christ alone, that after fighting the good fight for His Name, thou mightest be granted eternally to chant with the angels: Alleluia.

Ikos 3: Possessing a mind and heart enlightened by the Holy Ghost, by His inspiration thou wast fervent to struggle for the Name of Christ, even unto blood. Standing courageously in the faith, thou didst expose the puffed-up pride of the ungodly congregation. Let us, then, come to thee, most wonderful George, singing praises unto thee:

Rejoice, shield lifted for preservation of piety. Rejoice, sword raised for the beheading of evil. Rejoice, confirmation of the Christian Church. Rejoice, comfort of those gathered in prayer. Rejoice, encouragement of the faithful. Rejoice, fear and disgrace of the unbelievers. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 4: The mad persecutor, breathing murder against thee, O passion-bearer George, longed for thy blood like a thirsty dog, ordering thy body stretched out on a wheel and giving thee over unto the most evil torments. Wherefore thou, taking strength in the Lord, with hope and trust in God didst cry aloud: Alleluia.

Ikos 4: When Diocletian and the priest of the idols heard words of wisdom from thee, they were enraged with hatred for thee, and even more so when thou didst say: O tormentor king, why dost thou torture me in vain? For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. The faithful therefore humbly cry unto thee, O George of great fame, in this way:

Rejoice, thou who didst shed thy blood upon the wheel for thy courageous confession of the Faith. Rejoice, thou who didst magnify the triumph of the Faith by thy blood. Rejoice, zealot together with the apostles.
Rejoice, imitator of the voluntary Passion of Christ. Rejoice, unshakable champion of the Faith. Rejoice, passion-bearer harder than adamant. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 5: Thou wast as a star sent by God, O Saint George, for with thy miraculous healing and release from the wheel by an angel before the eyes of all, thou didst enlighten the unbelievers to believe in the Trinity in One Essence, and to sing unto Him together with thee: Alleluia.

Ikos 5: The people beheld the miracles of the power of God so clearly taking place in thee, and meekly accepted the teaching of Christ from thee. They cried aloud, saying: Truly great is the God of the Christians. It is fitting that we also sing praises unto thee, George worthy of glory, and so we cry out thus:

Rejoice, thou who didst disperse the darkness of unbelief by the radiant word of salvation. Rejoice, thou who didst convert unbelievers unto Christ by thy martyr’s confession of faith. Rejoice, thou who didst lead legions of earthly soldiers unto the heavenly army. Rejoice, thou who dwellest with the heavenly hosts as a soldier of Christ. Rejoice, glory of courageous soldiers. Rejoice, beauty of the all-radiant choirs of martyrs. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 6: Zealous in faith, like unto those Spirit-bearing preachers, the apostles, thou wast crucified unto the world, O Martyr George. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster, thou wast hurled headlong into the furnace of the lime pit - that through thy life might be manifested the glory of the Lord Who is wondrous in His saints. Henceforth in the lime pit as in a temple of glory, thou didst noetically cry out: Alleluia.

Ikos 6: Having shone forth in His Resurrection from the tomb on the third day, Jesus, the Almighty Conqueror of hades and death, did save thee from corruption, O victorious George. After three days thou wast found alive in the lime pit, with thy hands lifted and singing unto God. The ungodly were sore afraid and stricken with terror, but we rejoice and compose a hymn of victory unto thee:

Rejoice, thou who didst cast down the puffed-up pride of the devil by thy being cast down in disgrace into the lime pit. Rejoice, thou who didst overcome the persecutor’s bestiality by thy miraculous salvation from God. Rejoice, for as one without guile, thou didst pray as for benefactors for those who worked evil against thee. Rejoice, for thou wast zealous for their conversion as Paul was for the Jews.
Rejoice, man of spiritual desires. Rejoice, victor through the power of Christ. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 7: Desiring by any means to ensnare thy heart for service to the idols, the wicked persecutor contrived to mislead thee by magical spells. Therein thou, chosen of God, didst cry out with David: In God is my salvation and my glory, and didst faithfully chant unto Him: Alleluia.

Ikos 7: That evil servant of Satan, Diocletian , revealed a new villainy. In his insane zeal for the idols, he ordered thee to be given poison, Saint George, but thou wast filled with faith and hope. Even though thou didst drink the deadly poison, yet thou didst remain unharmed, O praised-one of God. We marvel at thy holiness and sing unto thee:

Rejoice, for thou wast not disgraced by thy hope in the living God. Rejoice, for thou didst count thy torment as nothing. Rejoice, expeller of soul-destroying demons.
Rejoice, destroyer of the wiles of magicians. Rejoice, through thee God is shewn to be wondrous in His saints. Rejoice, through thee the Name of Christ is piously glorified.
Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 8: There came to the wicked king a strange and terrible counsel from a certain wizard: that he command thee, as proof of the truth of the Christian Faith, by thy word to resurrect a dead man. Thou, Saint George, having no doubt whatsoever, didst sing unto Him Who is not the God of the dead but the God of the living: Alleluia.

Ikos 8: The all-desirable and Sweetest Jesus, Whom thou lovest with all thy soul and heart, most blessed George, attended to the fervent prayer of thy faith and speedily commanded the resurrection of the dead man at thy word. This was to the glorification of His Name and the confirmation of the faithful, so that the unbelievers and the blind might be astounded and thereby gain knowledge of God. For this reason, we dutifully cry unto thee:

Rejoice, through thee the Lord of hosts manifested wonders. Rejoice, through thee He resurrected a dead man from the tomb. Rejoice, thou who didst grant the mental vision of faith unto the blinded wizard. Rejoice, thou who didst shew the way to the Holy of Holies unto many who suffered for Christ.
Rejoice, astonishment of Rome. Rejoice, exaltation of the Christian race. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 9: All the angels rendered praise unto God, Who granted thee such courage, victorious George, that even when locked up in prison thou didst not cease to keep vigil in prayer. As a great communicant of the mystery of divine grace, thou wast vouchsafed to behold the Lord in a vision. He crowned thy head with the crown of incorruption, so that we might cry out with thee: Alleluia.

Ikos 9: The learned orators are unable with their rhetorical tongues to render worthy praises unto thee, Martyr George, for thy labors and sufferings which thou didst assume voluntarily for Christ and the Church. We also, not knowing how to properly praise thee, chant this hymn with faith:

Rejoice, by thy voluntary suffering for Christ and the Church thou didst crucify the old Adam in thyself. Rejoice, by thy courageous suffering thou didst receive a crown of righteousness from the Lord. Rejoice, rule of pious zeal.
Rejoice, model of self-sacrifice. Rejoice, for thou didst please not thyself, but Christ alone. Rejoice, for thou wast prepared for any form of death for the sake of thy Saviour, Christ. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 10: Desiring to save the souls perishing in idolatry, O Saint George, lover of God, thou wast zealous for God like Elijah. Entering into the temple of the idols, by the power of God thou didst drive out the demons, shattering the idols and putting the priests to shame. Thereafter as conqueror, not with men but with angels, thou didst chant unto God: Alleluia.

Ikos 10: More unfeeling than a wall, thy hard-hearted tormentor, O Great Martyr, did not see God, Who so clearly worked miracles through thee, but to the end remained as an asp, stopping his ears. He commanded thee to be executed as a criminal by beheading. Though grieving over the loss of his soul, thou didst joyfully accept thine end, for which we praise thee with love in this manner:

Rejoice, thou who didst keep faith, hope and love unto the end. Rejoice, thou who didst work many great miracles at thy beheading. Rejoice, thou who wast crowned to the glory of God’s goodwill toward those on earth.
Rejoice, thou who wast adorned with majesty in Heaven. Rejoice, man of God. Rejoice, good soldier of Christ. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 11: Thou didst render a hymn unto the Most Holy Trinity exceeding others, holy Saint George, not in word and mind only, but by the living sacrifice of thy whole self. Imitating Him Who was crucified for us, Christ the Lamb without blemish, thou didst voluntarily lay down thy life for thy friends. Even though we are incapable of praising such courage as thine, for no man hath greater love than this, yet being grateful we sing unto Him Who is wondrous in the saints: Alleluia.

Ikos 11: A light-receiving lamp of the True Light art thou to those on earth, Saint George, chosen of God, for thou dost enlighten the hearts of the faithful and dost guide them all unto divine understanding, instructing us also to joyfully cry aloud:

Rejoice, for thou dost dwell in the all-radiant angelic mansions.
Rejoice, for thou dost commune of the never-waning light of the Trinity not in a mirror, but face to face. Rejoice, provider for the needy and defender of the wronged. Rejoice, healer of the infirm and support of kings. Rejoice, champion of Orthodox soldiers in battle. Rejoice, fervent intercessor for the salvation of sinners. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 12: Knowing the grace granted by God, we celebrate thy memory, Great Martyr George. Running with fervent prayer to thy miraculous icon, we are protected by thine all-powerful help in the Lord as by an invincible wall. In praise of thine aid to others, we fervently cry unto God: Alleluia.

Ikos 12: Hymning thy glorious end, by which thou wast magnified as a good soldier of Christ, we pray thee, O passion-bearer and helper in all good for us: Protect us as we earnestly cry unto thee:

Rejoice, by thee the Church of the faithful is enlightened.

Rejoice, for thy name is praised even among the infidels. Rejoice, wondrous glory of the confessors. Rejoice, lofty praise of the martyrs.
Rejoice, protector of those who honour thy memory. Rejoice, deliverer of those who confess Christ God. Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 13: Most blessed and holy Great Martyr George, accept our hymn of praise and deliver us from every evil by thy fervent intercession unto God, so that we may sing with thee: Alleluia.

Kontakion 13 : Most blessed and holy Great Martyr George, accept our hymn of praise and deliver us from every evil by thy fervent intercession unto God, so that we may sing with thee: Alleluia.

This Kontakion is chanted thrice, then Ikos 1 “and Kontakion 1...

Ikos 1: The Creator of angels and Maker of all creation hath revealed thee unto His Church as a guardian and passion-bearer for the faith. Thou art an inspiration for us, and we lift up praises unto thee for the ascetic labours of thy sufferings, Saint George, in this manner:

Rejoice, thou who didst love unto the end Jesus, the Son of God.
Rejoice, thou who didst lay down thy life with love for His Name. Rejoice, confessor called forth by God. Rejoice, spiritual athlete glorified by the grace of God. Rejoice, thou who dwellest with the angels.
Rejoice, thou who art the equal of the prophets.
Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer.

Kontakion 1: Unto thee, O champion leader and victorious Saint George, we offer a hymn of praise as unto our intercessor and speedy helper. Do thou, holy Great Martyr, as one who hath boldness before the Lord, deliver us from dangers of all kinds that we may cry unto thee: Rejoice, Saint George, Great Martyr and Trophy-bearer.

Holy Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer George, pray to God for us.

First Prayer

O most praised and holy Great Martyr and Wonderworker, Saint George! Look down upon us with thy speedy help and implore the man-loving God that He not condemn us sinners according to our offenses, but that He treat us according to His great mercy. Despise not our prayer, but beseech for us of Christ our God a quiet life pleasing to God, health of body and soul, fertility of the earth and abundance in all, and that we not turn to evil purposes the good things granted by thee from the All-Merciful God, but that they may be for the glory of His Holy Name, for the glorification of thy mighty intercession. May He grant God-loving soldiers victory over the enemy, and may He secure our land with unchanging peace and prosperity. Especially may He defend us by His holy angels at our departure from this life from the snares of the evil one and his grievous toll-houses of the air, that we may stand uncondemned before the throne of the Lord of Glory. Hear us, O passion-bearer of Christ, Saint George, and pray for us without ceasing unto the Master of All, God in three Persons, that by His Grace and love for mankind, and by thy help and intercession, we may find mercy and may stand with the angels and archangels before the All-glorious Judge, unceasingly praising Him together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Second Prayer

Holy, glorious and praiseworthy St. George! We who are gathered on thy feast and venerate thy holy icon, beseech thee, as a known intercessor for our longings: pray with us to God, Whose loving kindness we implore, mercifully to hear us entreating His goodness, and not to abandon our requests which are needful unto salvation and life; that He might grant victories over adversaries; and furthermore we pray thee abjectly, thou holy Trophy-Bearer, to strengthen the Orthodox Christians in their battles, by the grace given thee; crush the power of insurgent foes, that they may be disgraced and brought to shame, and their presumption shattered; may they know that we have Divine help, and thy mighty defence made known unto all in sorrow and trouble. Entreat the Lord God and Maker of all creation to deliver us from eternal torment, that we may always glorify the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
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A quiet weekend in the parish...Dear brothers and sisters: Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе! Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christus Resurrexit! Atgyfododd Crist!

This weekend at the chaplaincy and in the parish was rather quieter than any we have had since the beginning of lockdown. Communicants and pastoral visits were few, but Liturgy was celebrated early this morning, as usual, after a week of Radonitsa memorial services, with the final panikhida being celebrated on Saturday afternoon in the Little Oratory, with the blessing of kutia.

Our liturgical setting remains minimalistic, with our icons, vestments and most of our liturgical items under ‘lockdown’ in Nazareth House - making seasonal colours a luxury and making me turn to my travelling Serbian vestments. However, the situation reminds us of how little we need to celebrate Liturgy and the other services of the Church. We make do with the vestments and items we have and the bareness makes us thankful for the few possessions we have in Newman Hall and for the Victorian archangels who form the backdrop for Liturgy in the Little Oratory.

During Liturgy today, it was wonderful to celebrate and pray before the Godenovo cross on the Holy Table - the serene and peaceful face of the Saviour speaking in a way that the showy, thinly gilded and artificially-jewelled church ornaments so loved by many of the faithful fail to do. We first used it in the Fisher-Silkin household during Radonitsa and we were deeply struck by its deeply spiritual quality.

I would like to reassure parishioners that artos will be distributed in the next few weeks, with that needing to go further than Cardiff being packed and sent to local contacts in the communities and chapels served from the chaplaincy in Cardiff. It was a great joy to share one another’s ‘on-line’ company during Bishop Irenei’s zoom-meeting with the parish and its friends on Friday. Seeing faces and reading comments from across Wales and the Marches, Gloucestershire, Walsingham and its environs was a wonderful Paschal consolation. We look forward to seeing you when travel and restrictions are relaxed.

Looking forward to next weekend, may I remind you that YOU need to contact Fr Deacon Mark to arrrange a pastoral visit for confession and Holy Communion. Please do so by Friday, as Deacon Mark needs to arrange the day: email rmfisher@ntlworld.com

Thank you to all who have already made arrangements for confessions. Your proactivity is greatly appreciated.

Christ is Risen - Fr Mark
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The Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearers.Very early the myrrh-bearing women hastened unto Thy tomb lamenting; but the Angel stood before them and said: The time for lamentation is passed; weep not, but tell of the Resurrection to the Apostles.

From the Evlogitaria of the Resurrection

As we celebrate the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearers, we encounter how, when faced with the uncertainty of the events surrounding Christ’s passion and death, the righteous women, together with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus overcame fear by their love for the Saviour.

Their love for Him, and the encounter that they experienced in trying to fulfil their duty to the Master, led them through the grief and pain of the crucifixion, becoming the path by which they approached the tomb as witnesses and sharers in His resurrection, finding it empty and the grave clothes left behind.

At deep dawn, the myrrh-bearing women took sweet-smelling spices and came to the Lord's tomb. And finding that which they had not expected, they stood piously pondering the removal of the stone, and said to one another: Where are the seals of the sepulchre? Where are Pilate's watchmen and the secure sentry? And an Angel, radiant as lightning, proclaimed to the women that whereof they were ignorant, saying to them: Why do ye with lamentation seek Him that liveth and hath given life unto the race of mortals? Christ our God hath risen from the dead, since He is Almighty, granting us all incorruption, life, illumination, and great mercy.

Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing women, at ‘Lord, I have cried’.

Fear of the Jews, fear of the Roman authorities, fear instilled by the events of Holy and Great Friday, could not overcome their devotion and love for the Saviour. But, their sorrow-filled devotion was transformed from its focus on the broken, crucified and dead body of Iēsoun ton estaurōmenon (Jesus the crucified) to immeasurably joyful devotion to Jesus the Risen Lord, who had no need of the myrrh and sweet spices when the myrrh-bearers approached the Life Giving Tomb.

Why do ye mingle tears with the myrrh-oils, O ye women disciples? The stone hath been rolled away, the sepulchre is empty. Behold corruption trodden under by Life, the seals bearing clear witness, the guards of the disobedient fast asleep. Mortal nature is saved by the flesh of God, Hades is lamenting. Hasten ye with joy, and say unto the Apostles: Christ, the First born of the dead, Who caused death to die, goeth before you into Galilee.

Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing women, at ‘Lord, I have cried’.

For the myrrh-bearing women, the funerary expectations of the third day were turned on their head, when they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre and went on to encounter the Lord as the Victor over death and hell.

With their tears turned from tears of lamentation to tears of joy, they were transformed from those who followed in the wake of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa, to those who rushed ahead as the apostles to the apostles, as the bringers of the message, ‘Christ is Risen’, becoming the first preachers of the resurrection and the joy of Pascha.

Rising up early and coming with earnestness unto Thy tomb, the myrrh-bearers sought for Thee so as to anoint Thine immaculate Body, O Christ. And having been informed by the words of the Angel, they preached to the Apostles the tokens of joy: that the Author of our salvation is risen, having despoiled death and granting the world eternal life and great mercy.

Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing women, at ‘Lord, I have cried’.

It was the same Paschal joy and the same power of Christ’s victory that sent the first Christians to the limits of the Empire and beyond, with the message of the Gospel and the Saviour’s resurrection. It was the same Paschal joy that led the martyrs into the arena to face torture and death fortified by the promise of eternal life in the Heavenly Kingdom; it was the same resurrectional certainty that emboldened St Mary Magdalene, the myrrh-bearer and equal-to-the-apostles, as she stood before the Emperor Tiberius, telling him of the actions of Pilate and of the events of the cross and tomb, as the egg that she held in her hand turned red as she spoke of the Saviour’s saving death and resurrection.

Are we like Mary Magdalene in even the remotest or tiniest way? Are we in the least bit like any of the myrrh-bearing women? Does the hope and joy of the resurrection empower and embolden us? In fact, do we even feel anything?

In these days of lockdown, does Pascha change our lives, as it should, filling us with joy that bubbles over like a pure spring of water? Do we have new momentum, zeal and longing in our spiritual lives in this Easter season?

Even though we have been deprived of public services, with churches closed and Liturgies behind closed doors; even though we missed the triumphant liturgical proclamation of Pascha in churches and cathedrals; as those who have been baptised into Christ’s death and resurrection, we should still be joyful, courageous and elated by the message, ‘Christ is Risen!’ The power of the resurrection should not be lessened, diluted or diminished if we believe it to be true.

Though we cannot rush out into the world, or even exchange the triple kiss with the Paschal greetings outside our families, our joy and elation should not be dimmed.

We should be filled with the joy and excitement of the myrrh-bearing women who heard the angelic message: ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen...’

Like them, our love of Christ should lead us from grief to joy, from mourning to celebration, from darkness to light, ‘as we sing the triumphal hymn: Christ is risen from the dead!’

Yet how weak we are - feeling sorry for ourselves and feeling robbed of the Pascha, as though the ringing of bells, the candle-flame from matins, the dyed eggs, the triumphant singing of the Paschal hymns and even confession and Holy Communion are somehow needed to make the resurrection real.

No! The resurrection is real and has happened, once and for all, whether we gather in church, or not. Christ has conquered death and hell and our deprivation of our normal celebrations and liturgical observance cannot and does not change the cosmic and everlasting reality: Christ is Risen!

Even as we struggle with our current circumstances, we must learn from the myrrh-bearers, seeing that our love of Christ will lead us into the reality of the resurrection, into hope, into new life - even though we may feel that we are sinking in the cares, worries and sorrows of the present time. And… when life returns to more normal circumstances, and we return to church, we must do so with the love of the myrrh-bearers, not bringing spices, but by bringing the Lord our gifts, our talents, our time, our resources – turning this myrrh-bearing love into service for Christ our Eternal Pascha, as members of His Body, the Church.

In the meantime, even as we are deprived of normal parish life, nothing can undo the resurrection; nothing can rob us of the risen Lord’s victory over death; nothing can wipe away the message of the empty tomb.

If we find the resurrection and the glory of the Paschal season leaves us empty and unfeeling, this is a reflection of our own weakness and despair; of our reliance on externals when the resurrection should be a mystery and truth that is engraved in our hearts and realised in our lives, every day.

Let us struggle - if we need to - to experience and share in the joy of the resurrection: reading the Gospels, returning to the Easter hymns – particularly the Paschal Canon – asking the Lord to make the resurrection an ever-deepening and ever-brighter spiritual reality in our lives, every hour of every day, translating our love into devotion that rejoices in His glorious resurrection.

O great and holiest Pascha, O Christ! O Wisdom, Word and Power of God! Grant that we may more perfectly partake of Thee in the unending Day of Thy Kingdom.

From the Paschal Canon

... and let us not despair, ‘For Christ our eternal joy has risen!’
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The Holy Womb of Repentance.O mercy, how munificent you are. To us who were dead in sins you have granted the holy womb of repentance, giving birth to new sons for old, pure instead of unclean, enlightened instead of benighted, pleasant and fragrant instead of foul, desirable and comely like their Heavenly Father, instead of hateful and loathsome like their task-master, Satan.

Glory be to You, O Father of all, for giving us repentance as a new mother for a new birth; for though our infancy pollutes us entirely with filthiness, she cleanses, purifies, beautifies, and cherishingly shelters under her wings those who are born of her, until they come through to You enlightened and dearly loved, to be gods and kings, and sons of your possession, to take their delight freely at Your breast, in the breath of the nostrils of Your Holy Spirit, to be made resplendent in Your glory, to see Your likeness, and to be changed through Your Spirit into Your glory.

JOHN THE VENERABLE
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Radonitsa prayers for our departed.Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе! Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christus Resurrexit! Atgyfododd Crist!

Although we associate Radonitsa with the Tuesday of Thomas Week, Paschal memorial services for the departed will continue to be chanted in our parish throughout Thomas Week, ending with a panikhida in the chaplaincy on Saturday. I would encourage you all to use the texts published on our Facebook page, praying for the departed throughout this week.

Tonight was one of great joy, in which little Yuriy, son of Deacon Mark and Alla, encountered the first Radonitsa in which he had any awareness of the goings on, and of the fact that both clergy - papa and papa’s godfather - are called Mark.

We were able to pray not only for the departed members of the family, but also for our departed hierarchs and clergy, the departed commemorated by our parishioners, and all before the copy of the Life-Giving Cross of Godenovo, newly arrived from Serpukhov.

After supper, we were annointed with oil from the the Pereyaslavl-St. Nicholas Convent in Godenovo, kindly given to us by Alexandra the student, who worshipped with us last summer.

Many thanks to my extended family - Father Deacon Mark and Alla for making the celebration possible; for their constant love and support; thanks to Yuriy for the joy he brings and for his willingness to share his caviar with the rector.

As Radonitsa memorials continue, any commemorations may be sent to the parish email address ( russianorthodoxcardiff@gmail.com ) or via messenger.

With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants, where there is neither pain, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.

Though Thou did descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of hell, and did rise again as a conqueror, O Christ our Lord, saying to the myrrh-bearing women, rejoice! And giving peace to Thine Apostles, and offering Resurrection to the fallen.
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Parish Video Conference with Bishop Irenei - Friday 1st May 7pm BSTBrothers and Sisters, Christ Is Risen ! Христос воскресе!

As a means of spreading the joy of Pascha, Bishop Irenei has arranged a video teleconference with each parish individually, to share the Paschal greeting and speak about spiritual things.

The video conference will be held promptly at 7pm on Friday 1st May 2020 using the Zoom video conference platform. To make full use of this unique opportunity please prepare your computer or mobile device in advance so that the conference can start promptly. If you have not used zoom before or do not have zoom installed it can be downloaded for free (see links below). Given the number of conferences that Bishop Irenei will be holding we would expect each to last approximately 30-40 minutes - so please make sure you can join on time.

The connection details are being emailed to those on our mailing list however if you have not received an email by Wednesday this week please contact Father Deacon Mark (rmfisher@ntlworld.com) who will send them to you. Please do not post the meeting ID or password on public pages as this may allow unwanted ‘visitors’ to disrupt the session.

In our current situation this is a unique opportunity to spend time with his Grace Bishop Irenei in your own home, receive spiritual guidance and ask questions. The session will not be recorded so if you want to participate it has to be during the video conference itself.

Video conference etiquette: Please be aware that your microphone will be live when you join the conference room - the microphone is also very sensitive so it is recommended that you mute yourself to ensure background noises do not interfere with the video conference audio - you are able to un-mute when you would like to talk. If you do not wish to be seen on the conference you do not need to activate the camera when you join the meeting and you will join with audio only - you will still be able to see Bishop Irenei on the screen. If you do activate your camera please ensure that you are dressed appropriately, yes we may be in our homes but we will also be in the presence of Bishop Irenei and Father Mark so the usual rules apply as if we were in church.

With love in Christ - Dcn Mark

Download Links

Windows PC - zoom.us/client/latest/ZoomInstaller.exe

Apple Iphone - itunes.apple.com/us/app/id546505307

Android Phone - play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=us.zoom.videomeetings

for all other devices check the appropriate appstore for ‘Zoom Video Conference’
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Radonitsa, 28 April: the Paschal panikhida for use in the home or cell.Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy upon us. Amen.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life (Thrice).

Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Him flee from before His face.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life (Thrice).

As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish, as wax melteth before the fire.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

So let sinners perish at the presence of God, and let the righteous be glad.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

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

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Lord, have mercy. (Twelve times)

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Paschal Canon

Ode 1, Eirmos:It is the Day of Resurrection! Let us be radiant, O ye people! Pascha! The Lord's Pascha! For Christ our God hath brought us from death to life, and from earth unto heaven, as we sing triumphal hymn!

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Let us purify our senses and we shall behold Christ, radiant with inaccessible light of the Resurrection, and shall hear Him saying clearly, "Rejoice!" As we sing the triumphal hymn!

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Let the heavens rejoice in a worthy manner, the earth be glad, and the whole world, visible and the invisible, keep the Feast. For Christ our eternal joy hath arisen!

Katavasia: It is the Day of Resurrection!…

Ode 3, Eirmos: Come, let us drink a new drink, not miraculously drawn from a barren rock, but the fountain of Incorruption springing from the tomb of Christ in Whom we are established.

Refrain:Christ is risen from the dead.

Now all things are filled with light: heaven and earth, and the nethermost regions. So let all creation celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, whereby it is established.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Yesterday, O Christ, I was buried with Thee, and today I arise with thy arising. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee. Glorify me, O Saviour, with Thee in Thy Kingdom.

Katavasia:Come, let us drink…

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life (Thrice).

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Hypakoe, tone 4:When at dawn, the women with Mary came and found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre, they heard from the angel: Why seek ye among the dead (as if He were a mortal man) Him Who lives in everlasting light? Behold the grave-clothes. Run and tell the world that the Lord is risen, and has slain death. For He is the Son of God Who saves mankind.

Ode 4, Eirmos:May the divinely speaking Abbacum now stand watch with us, and show forth a shining Angel saying resoundingly: Today salvation hath come to the world; for Christ is risen as Almighty.

Refrain:Christ is risen from the dead.

Christ revealed Himself as of the male sex when He opened the Virgin's womb, and as a mortal is He called the Lamb. Thus, without blemish also, is our Pascha, for He tasted no corruption, and, since He is truly God, He was proclaimed perfect.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Christ, our blessed Crown, like a yearling Lamb, of His own good will sacrificed Himself for all, a Pascha of purification, and as the glorious Sun of Righteousness, He has shone upon us again from the grave.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

David, the forefather of our divine Lord, leapt and danced before the symbolic Ark of the Covenant. Let us also, the holy people of God, beholding the fulfilment of the symbols, be divinely glad; for Christ hath risen as Almighty.

Katavasia: May divinely speaking Abbacum …

Ode 5, Eirmos: Let us arise in the deep dawn and, instead of myrrh, offer a hymn to the Lord, and we shall behold Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, Who causest life to dawn for all.

Refrain:Christ is risen from the dead.

When they who were held by the chains of hell beheld Thy boundless compassion, O Christ, they hastened to the light with joyful feet, exalting the eternal Pascha.

Refrain:Christ is risen from the dead.

Bearing lights, let us meet Christ, Who cometh forth from the tomb like a bridegroom. And with the ranks of joyfully celebrating Angels, let us celebrate the redeeming Pascha of God.

Katavasia:Let us arise…

Ode 6, Eirmos:Thou didst descend into the nethermost regions of earth, O Christ, and didst shatter the eternal bars which held the prisoners captive; and like Jonah from the sea-monster, after three days Thou didst rise from the grave.

Refrain:Christ is risen from the dead.

Having kept the seals intact, Thou didst rise from the grave, O Christ, Who didst not violate the Virgin's womb by Thy birth, and Thou hast opened to us the gates of Paradise.

Refrain:Christ is risen from the dead.

O my Saviour, while as God Thou didst voluntarily offer Thyself to the Father as an unslain and living sacrifice, Thou didst raise up with Thyself the whole race of Adam, when Thou didst rise from the grave.

Katavasia:Thou didst descend…

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life (Thrice).

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion for the departed, tone 8: With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants, where there is neither pain, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.

Kontakion of the resurrection, tone 8: Though Thou did descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of hell, and did rise again as a conqueror, O Christ our Lord, saying to the myrrh-bearing women, rejoice! And giving peace to Thine Apostles, and offering Resurrection to the fallen.

Eikos:The myrrh-bearing maidens anticipated the dawn and sought, as those who seek the day, their Sun, Who was before the sun and Who had once sat in the grave. And they cried to each other: Friends, come, let us anoint with spices His life-giving and buried body - the Flesh Who raised up fallen Adam, and Who now lies in the tomb. Let us go, let us hasten, and like the Magi, let us worship; and let us bring myrrh as a gift to Him, Who is wrapped, not now in swaddling clothes, but in a shroud. And let us weep and cry: Arise, O Lord, Who dost offer Resurrection to the fallen.

Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and Thy Holy Resurrection we praise and glorify; for Thou art our God, and we know no other than Thee; we call upon Thy name. O come all ye faithful, let us worship Christ's holy Resurrection. For behold, through the Cross joy hath come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, let us praise His Resurrection. For by enduring the Cross for us He destroyed death by death.

Jesus, having risen from the grave as He foretold, hath given us eternal life and great mercy.

Ode 7, Eirmos:He Who delivered the children from the furnace, and became man and suffered as a mortal, through His suffering, He clothes mortality with the grace of incorruption. He is the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

The godly wise women came to Thee with myrrh. But Him Whom they sought with tears as dead, they joyfully adored as the living God. And they told to Thy disciples, O Christ, the glad tidings of the mystical Pascha.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hell, the beginning of eternal life. And leaping for joy, we celebrate the Cause, the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

For a truly holy and a supreme feast is this saving night radiant with Light, the harbinger of the bright day of Resurrection, on which the Eternal Light shone bodily from the grave upon all.

Katavasia:He Who delivered…

Ode 8, Eirmos:This is the chosen and Holy Day, the first of Sabbaths, the Sovereign and Queen, the Feast of Feasts, and Triumph of Triumphs, on which let us bless Christ forever.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

O come, let us partake of the fruit of the new vine of divine joy on the auspicious Day of the Resurrection and Kingdom of Christ, praising Him as God forever.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Cast thine eyes about thee, O Zion, and behold! For lo! Thy children have assembled unto thee from the West and from the North and from the South and from the East, as divinely radiant luminaries, Blessing Christ unto the ages.

Refrain:O Most Holy Trinity, our God, glory to Thee.

Father, Almighty, the Word, and the Spirit, one Nature in three Persons united, transcending essence supremely Divine! In Thee we have been baptized, and Thou wilt bless us throughout all ages.

Katavasia:This is the chosen…

Ode 9, Eirmos: Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee. Dance now for joy and be glad, O Sion! And thou, pure Mother of God, rejoice in the rising of Him Whom thou didst bear.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

O divine, O dear, O sweetest Voice! For Thou, O Christ, hast faithfully promised to be with us to the end of the world. And holding fast this promise as an anchor of hope, we the faithful rejoice.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

O great and holiest Pascha, Christ! O Wisdom, Word and Power of God! Grant that we may more perfectly partake of Thee in the unending Day of Thy Kingdom.

Katavasia:Shine, shine…

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the graves bestowing life (Thrice).

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Troparia, tone 4: With the spirits of the righteous give rest, O Savior, to the souls of Thy departed servants and keep them in the blessed life with Thee, O Lover of man.

In the place of Thy rest, O Lord, where all Thy Saints repose give rest also to the souls of Thy servants, for Thou alone art the Lover of men.

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

Thou art the God Who descended to hell and loosed the chains of the captives. Give rest, O Lord, to the souls of Thy servants.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O only pure and immaculate Virgin, who without seed didst bear God, pray to Him that their souls may be saved.

Lord, have mercy. (Forty times)

Prayer: Remember, O Lord our God, Thy servants, N., who have reposed in the Faith and hope of life eternal, and in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind, Who remittest sins and blottest out iniquities, do Thou loose, remit and pardon all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Deliver them from eternal torment and the fire of Gehenna, and grant unto them the communion and delight of Thine eternal good things prepared for them that love Thee. For though they have sinned, yet have they not forsaken Thee, and they undoubtedly believed in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and even until their last breath did they confess Thee in Orthodox fashion: God glorified in Trinity, Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Wherefore, be Thou merciful unto them and reckon their faith in Thee, rather than their deeds, and in that Thou art compassionate, grant them rest with Thy saints; for there is no man that liveth and doth not sin. But Thou alone art wholly without sin, and Thy truth is forever; and Thou alone art the God of mercies, and compassion, and love for mankind, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

More honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who without defilement gavest birth to God the Word, the true Theotokos, thee do we magnify.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Lord, have mercy. (Thrice) Lord, bless.

Christ our True God, Who art risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the graves bestowing life, through the prayers of Thy most pure Mother and all Thy saints, grant the souls of Thy departed servants, N to dwell in the abode of all Thy saints, and number them among the righteous, and have mercy on us, for Thou art good and the Lover of mankind. Amen

Give rest eternal, O Lord, in blessed repose, to the souls of Thy departed servants, our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters N., and make their memory eternal.

MEMORY ETERNAL. (Thrice)

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the graves bestowing life (Thrice).

And has bestowed on us life eternal, we worship His resurrection on the third day.
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Радоница-28 апреля: Последование панихиды пасхальным чином для домашнего (келейного) совершенияБогослужебный текст:

www.patriarchia.ru/data/2020/04/26/1237573712/panihida-radonica.docx
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Any commemorations for Liturgy may be sent to russianorthodoxcardiff@gmail.com

Some parishioners have commemoration-books in church, and the faithful listed in them are remembered in the proskomedia at Liturgy. However, the loose commemoration lists are duplicated, some many times over, and it is impossible to know which are the most recent. All commemorations, whether in pomianiky or on lists need to be current and up-to-date.
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Friday 11/24 April: celebrating the Mother of God, the Life-Giving Spring, at Newman Hall.

Most Holy Lady, Mother of God, pray for us!
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Celebrating the Mother of God, the Life-Giving Spring.Dear brother, sisters and friends: Christ is Risen! Христосъ Воскресе! Χριστός ἀνέστη! Christus Resurrexit!

On this Friday of Bright week, we celebrate the feast of the Mother of God, the Life-Giving Spring and in more ordinary times I would be with Norman and Georgina in Walsingham, where we would be celebrating the altar-feast of the little Orthodox chapel in the Anglican shrine church with our brothers and sisters from Norfolk and Suffolk.

Although the Orthodox shrine-chapel was originally consecrated in honour of the Mother of God of Perpetual Succour - as shown in the foundation documents – its more recent rededication to the Life-Giving Spring is beautiful and apt, both for the Mother of God and her sanctuary of Walsingham.

Over the holy doors of the diminutive iconstasis, the Mother of God is shown as the Life-Giving Spring from which flows the stream of living water that is Christ.

For Father Luke and I, and others who remember the three-day Whitsuntide walking pilgrimage to Penrhys, the Mother of God as the Life-Giving Spring was part of this spiritual journey for the Orthodox participants, with the icon accompanying us to Ffynon Fair, her ancient well.

The icon of the Mother of God accompanied us from Llantarnam Abbey, through Old Cwmbran, to the old pilgrim stopping point of Capel Derfel, and on via Twmbarlwm to Risca.

The following day Our Lady accompanied us to on the journey to Pontypridd, even entering Capel Groeswen – probably the only time she ‘entered’ this great sanctuary of Calvinistic Methodism (let alone any other Calvinistic Methodist chapel), and the only place where I have ever entered a chapel pulpit. This was also the occasion that we discovered that the Trisagion hymn in Slavonic sounds solemnly beautiful sung to the melody of Bryn Calfaria!

After a station at Eglwsysilan we spent the night in Pontypridd and in the morning – fortified by a sickly surfeit of pick-and mix from Woolworth’s - we progressed from the White Bridge to Ynysybwl and Llanwonno before descending to Stanley Town and the climb to the site of Our Lady’s ancient shrine of Penrhys and, as we ascended the hill to Our Lady’s statue, we carried the icon of the Life-Giving Spring at the head of the pilgrims. After prayers at the statue and ruins of the grange, the icon was carried to the coolness of the well-chapel where we chanted the supplication to Mother of God, commended ourselves to her protection and blessed ourselves with the spring-water.

Penrhys and even Walsingham are a far cry from the Zoodochos Pigi – the Life-Giving Spring – in the once glorious imperial capital of Constantinople, where there was once was a beautiful church dedicated to the Mother of God ‘The Life-Giving Spring’, built in the fifth century by the Emperor St Leo the Great.

The synaxarion of the feast tells the story of the spring, before enumerating many miracles and the great and lowly who were healed through its miraculous waters.

Before becoming emperor, Leo was walking in a woods one day, when he met a blind man who was thirsty and asked him to help him find some water. Though he agreed to help, Leo was unable to find any water-source. Then, suddenly, he heard a voice telling him that there was water nearby. He looked again but still could not find the water. Then he heard the voice a second time, saying “Emperor Leo, go into the deepest part of the woods, and there you will find water. Take some of the cloudy water in your hands and give it to the blind man to drink. Then, take the clay and put it on his eyes. Then you shall know who I am.”

Leo obeyed these instructions, and the blind man regained his sight. Later, Saint Leo became emperor, just as the the Mother of God had prophesied, for it was her who had spoken.

St Leo built a church over the site from which the waters continued to flow and it was called ‘The Life-Giving Spring.’

Though the church, rebuilt by Justinian, was destroyed by the Muslim conquerors after the fall of the City in 1453, a small chapel remained on the site, with twenty-five steps leading down to the holy spring.

After the Greek Revolution in 1821, even this little chapel was destroyed and the Spring was buried under the rubble. Christians later obtained permission to rebuild the chapel, and work began in July 1833. Whilst workmen were clearing the ground, they uncovered the foundations of the earlier church. The Sultan allowed them to build not just a chapel, but a new and beautiful church on the foundations of the old one.

On September 6, 1955, the church was one of the targets of a fanatic mob who slaughtered many of the Greeks whose forebears had remained in Istanbul, becoming an important part of the city’s trade and commerce. The church of the Life-Giving Spring was burned to the ground, the abbot was lynched, and the 90-year-old Archimandrite Chrisanthos Mantas was martyred by the blood-thirsty mob.

Although a small chapel was rebuilt on the site, the church has never been restored to its former size or glory. However, the Life-Giving Spring still flows to this day and its waters, blessed by the Mother of God have wonderworking properties.

On this Friday of Pascha, every year, we celebrate the Mother of God, who is the Life-Giving Spring, and her icon and title ties such seemilngly disparate places together: Istanbul, Walsingham, Penrhys, Newman Hall where the feast has been celebrated rather late in the afternoon today.

May the Mother of God, pour forth her prayers for us; pour forth her healing grace upon us; bless us, strengthen and sanctify us through every sanctuary in which we call upon her name, receive her aid and which we and all generations call her blessed.

Troparion, tone 3: As a life-giving fount, thou didst conceive the Dew that is transcendent in essence, O Virgin Maiden, and thou hast welled forth for our sakes the nectar of joy eternal,which doth pour forth from thy fount with the water that springeth upunto everlasting life in unending and mighty streams;wherein, taking delight, we all cry out: Rejoice, O thou Spring of life for all men.

Kontakion, tone 6: From thine unfailing fount, O Maid supremely graced of God, thou dost reward me by the flow of the unending streams of thy grace that doth surpass human understanding. And since thou dist bear the Word incomprehensibly, I entreat thee to refresh me with thy grace divine, that I may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Water of salvation.
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