Important Information Regarding Confession On Sundays

Dear brothers and sisters,

Further to this week’s newsletter, I would like to let parishioners know that from now on any confessions that are not possible before Liturgy will ordinarily be heard AFTER the service and that Holy Communion will be administered at this time.

THERE WILL NO LONGER BE ANY CONFESSIONS WHILST THE HOLY GIFTS ARE PREPARED FOR HOLY COMMUNION UNLESS THERE IS A SECOND PRIEST – AND EVEN THEN IT WILL NOT BE GUARANTEED.

We will ensure that everyone who requires confession does so, and that all blessed to commune are able to partake of the Holy Mysteries, but confessions and possibly trying to deal with profound spiritual crises before communion has proved itself neither practicable or appropriate.

Please do not simply think “I only need two minute for a quick confession; what’s the issue?” Someone else may appear behind you, and someone else behind them, and before we know it a queue may have formed!

If time has run out before Liturgy and you still require confession with the intention to commune of the Holy Mysteries, please let one of our oltarniky know when they are preparing zapivka for those communing, and the clergy will reserve communion and be prepared for confession.

By the time the faithful kiss the Cross at the end of the service, the Holy Gifts have been consumed and the vessels cleansed unless we know that reservation is needed. If you request Holy Communion at this time, it will be too late.

Also, confession on Sundays is primarily for those driving long distances or have no possibility of weekday confession, due to personal circumstances. If you are local to Cardiff, please do your best to confess in the week, and recognise the need for those coming from the valleys, the borders and the west of England – of whom many require confession before our Sunday service.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.

May God bless you.

Fr Mark

Parish Newsletter: 30 January 2023

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday’s Liturgy brought a great contrast to our Hierarchical Liturgy, the previous weekend, most notably in the drop to our more usual Liturgy numbers of just over forty – though Nazareth House Chapel swallows that up in its vastness.

We were glad to welcome visitors, who mostly (though coincidently) travelled from Pontypridd. We hope that they will return to share Liturgy with us soon.

The parish was greatly blessed to have two deacons for the Divine Liturgy, with Father Avraamy’s ministrations greatly enriching our celebration. Having served as a deacon for twenty years, with thirteen of those being in the Svyatogorsk-Dormition Lavra, he brings great and very welcome experience to our parish.

I was also greatly appreciative of his pastoral help yesterday, spending time with refugees facing many challenges in their new life in the valleys. It was a blessing that his first Liturgy serving as an assistant cleric of the parish coincided with the visit of a family who hopefully benefitted from a long talk with him (as a fellow refugee), helped by his words and prayers. To Hierodeacon Avraamy – many years!

This is a prompt to point out that there have been problems with the door from the street – the family in question having arrived just as Mass ended and our final set up began, but not being able to get into the building they returned later, when the latch worked and the door fortunately opened! This has happened quite a few times over the last three or four weeks, with some first time visitors going to reception or giving up. The door is always unlocked for the 9:30 Mass and the handle may need turning several times. We have reported this, but the problem continues, so Deacon Mark will attack the latch with WD40 before next Liturgy to ensure the handle turns properly and the latch raises.

As announced at the end of Liturgy, there will be a local pilgrimage to Llandaff Cathedral on Saturday 25thFebruary, to pray before the relics of St Teilo, whose feast falls a few days earlier, whilst I am serving in Walsingham.

A moleben will be served at 10:00 in the Chapel of St Teilo, at the end of the righthand South Aisle, with time to explore the cathedral and a visit to St Teilo’s Well around the corner after the service. It has been suggested that those able to stay may wish to retreat to the Black Lion pub at midday. Tracy has kindly agreed to take on the role of pilgrimage coordinator, as we get pilgrimages under way. It would be useful for us to know how many people are able to join us for this small beginning to our pilgrimage-year, so parishioners are invited to email Tracy: t_sbrain@icloud.com

Having discussed the use of Capel-y-ffin, the smallest church in the principality, with Father Richard Williams at Hay-on-Wye, we intend to make a pilgrimage to the Black Mountains, in honour of St David, on Saturday 18th March.

St David’s foundation at Llanthony, nearby, has been a place of March pilgrimage for many years. However, the darkness, intense cold and dampness of the virtually disused parish church make it an inhospitable place for Liturgy. Capel-y-ffin slightly further up the the Afon Honddu and the valley promises a lighter and more liturgically-hospitable place of worship: a very special place, close to the site of the monastery founded by the eccentric romantic, Father Ignatius of Llanthony in the 19th century.

Father Richard has suggested that we visit Hay-on-Wye after Liturgy, as he would be glad to welcome us at St Mary’s where I hope he will tell us about the early saints Eigen and Eigion who vie for the dedication of one of the churches of the benefice at Llanigon. Details will be confirmed after the pilgrimage has been discussed with Vladika Irenei.

The final pilgrimage note, is to point out that there are still places available for the diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land, led by Bishop Irenei, and taking place between 31st July and 12th August. Details may be found at:

https://orthodox-europe.org/content/diocesan-holyland-pilgrimage-2023/?fbclid=IwAR0o5jbnyGeSTt03kciN70pP9YToLKTiIteUXK4pQiCMpB6GU9iGEKDKtl8

I am very happy that some parishioners have registered for the pilgrimage, and I greatly look forward to visiting the shrines of the Holy Land – God-willing – not only with our bishop, but with brothers and sisters of the parish.

In Cardiff, we need to hold a parish AGM, and given the length of Liturgies during the Great Fast, Sunday 19th February will allow us to give three weeks notice, as per the statutes of parishes of the ROCOR. On that Sunday we will hold our parish general meeting after Liturgy, and will ensure that we have refreshments available to see us through to the end of the AGM. No elections are due during this meeting, but the matter of subscription is a priority, so that an electoral-roll is in place for any future voting. If you have any items for the agenda, please email Deacon Mark who acts as the parish administrator: rmfisher@ntlworld.com

This week, I will hear confessions on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, so may I ask for requests by 13:00 Wednesday lunchtime to allow time to contact those requiring a slot?

I wish to keep Saturday as free as possible, so that we can concentrate on the celebration of Great Vespers at 17:00. Church will be open for set up from 16:00.

Please don’t be shy in requesting house blessings, as I hope to get around some of the Cardiff homes of the parish this week, and next weekend, as well as heading further afield and venturing into England – at the ‘eastern end’ of the parish! Also, please remember that there is Theophany Water in Church, so if you have not yet taken any, please bring bottles to collect it.

I continue to ask your prayers for my health. Though the concerns of last autumn are happily behind me, I continue to suffer from oedema and continuing fatigue. Your prayers, in union with those of the saints and angelic-hosts, make an immense difference. We must never be tempted to think otherwise, however dysfunctional our spiritual lives may seem. Joined with the voices of the saints and bodiless powers of heaven, and with one another, even our feeble requests have power and force. Is not even the greatest and most powerful flood anything other than hundreds of thousands of single drops of rain!

In your prayers, we also ask for the remembrance of the newly departed servants of God, the Priest Stephen, Nikolai and Aleksandr, as well as for Stuart-Michael whose fortieth day has just passed, and for the Reader Paul and Joanna who reposed at the turning of the year. May their memories be eternal.

We also ask your prayers for Mirela, whose baby is very obviously imminently due. Having partaken of the Holy Mysteries at yesterday’s Liturgy, may the grace of the Lord’s Most Pure and Holy Body and Blood fortify her in the days ahead!

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Hieromonk MarK

St Ephrem the Syrian’s Fourteenth Hymn on the Epiphany of our Lord

My thought bore me to Jordan,
and I saw a marvel when there was revealed
the glorious Bridegroom who to the Bride
shall bring freedom and holiness.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

I saw John filled with wonder
and the multitudes standing about him
and the glorious Bridegroom bowed down
to the Son of the barren that he might baptise Him.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

At the Word and the Voice my thought marvelled:
for lo! John was the Voice;
our Lord was manifested as the Word,
that what was hidden should become revealed.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The Bride was espoused but knew not
who was the Bridegroom on whom she gazed:
the guests were assembled, the desert was filled
and our Lord was hidden among them.                                                              

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Then the Bridegroom revealed Himself
and to John at the voice He drew near:
and the Forerunner was moved and said of Him
This is the Bridegroom Whom I proclaimed.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

He came to baptism Who baptises all
and He showed Himself at Jordan.
John saw Him and drew back
deprecating, and thus he spoke:

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

How, my Lord, dost Thou will to be baptised
Thou Who in Thy baptism atonest all?
Baptism looks unto Thee
do Thou shed on it holiness and perfection?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Our Lord said I will it so
draw near, baptise Me that My Will may be done.
Resist My Will thou cannot:
I shall be baptised of thee, for thus I will it.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

I entreat, my Lord, that I be not compelled
for this is hard that Thou hast said to me
‘I need thee to baptise Me;’
for it is Thou that with Thy hyssop purifiest all.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

I have asked it, and it pleases Me that thus it should be
and thou, John, why dost thou gainsay?
Allow righteousness to be fulfilled
and come, baptise Me; why art thou standing there?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

How can one openly grasp
in his hands the fire that burns?
O Thou that art fire have mercy on me
and bid me not come near Thee, for it is hard for me!

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

I have revealed to thee My Will;  what dost thou question?
Draw near, baptise Me, and thou shalt not be burned.
The bridechamber is ready; keep Me not back
from the wedding-feast that has been made ready.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The Watchers fear and dare not
gaze on Thee lest they be blinded
and I, how, O my Lord, shall I baptise Thee?
I am too weak to draw near; blame me not!

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Thou fearest; therefore gainsay not
against My Will in what I desire:
and Baptism hath respect unto Me.
Accomplish the work to which thou hast been called!

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Lo! I proclaimed Thee at Jordan
in the ears of the people that believed not
and if they shall see Thee baptised of me
they will doubt that Thou art the Lord.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Lo! I am to be baptised in their sight
and the Father Who sent Me bears witness of Me
that I am His Son and in Me He is well pleased
to reconcile Adam who was under His wrath.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

It becomest, me, O my Lord, to know my nature
that I am moulded out of the ground
and Thee the moulder Who formest all things:
I, then, why should I baptise Thee in water?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

It becomes thee to know why I have come
and for what cause I have desired that thou shouldst baptise Me.
It is the middle of the way wherein I have walked
withhold not Baptism.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Small is the river whereto Thou hast come
that Thou shouldst lodge therein and it should cleanse Thee.
The heavens suffice not for Thy mightiness;
how much less shall Baptism contain Thee!

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The womb is smaller than Jordan;
yet was I willing to lodge in the Virgin:
and as I was born from woman
so too am I to be baptised in Jordan.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Lo! The hosts are standing!
the ranks of Watchers, lo! They worship!
And if I draw near, my Lord, to baptise Thee
I tremble for myself with quaking.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The hosts and multitudes call thee happy
all of them, for that thou baptisest Me.
For this I have chosen thee from the womb:
fear not, for I have willed it.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

I have prepared the way as I was sent:
I have betrothed the Bride as I was commanded.
May Thine Epiphany be spread over the world
now that Thou hast come, and let me not baptise Thee!

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

This is My preparation, for so have I willed;
I will go down and be baptised in Jordan,
and make bright the armour for them that are baptised
that they may be white in Me and I not be conquered.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Son of the Father, why should I baptise Thee?
for lo! Thou art in Thy Father and Thy Father in Thee.
Holiness unto the priests Thou givest –
why dost Thou ask for water that is common?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The children of Adam look unto Me
that I should work for them the new birth.
A way in the waters I will search out for them
and if I be not baptised this cannot be.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

High-priests of Thee are consecrated
priests by Thy hyssop are purified –
the anointed and the kings Thou makest.
Baptism, how shall it profit Thee?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The Bride thou didst betroth to Me awaits Me
that I should go down, be baptised, and sanctify her.
Friend of the Bridegroom withhold Me not
from the washing that awaits Me.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

I am not able, for I am weak
Thou blazest in my hands to grasp.
Lo! Thy legions are as flame
bid one of the Watchers baptise Thee!

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Not from the Watchers was My Body assumed,
that I should summon a Watcher to baptise Me.
The body of Adam, lo! I have put on
and thou, son of Adam, art to baptise Me.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The waters saw Thee, and greatly feared;
the waters saw Thee, and lo! They tremble!
The river foams in its terror
and I that am weak, how shall I baptise Thee?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The waters in My Baptism are sanctified,
and fire and the Spirit from Me shall they receive
and if I be not baptised they are not made perfect
to be fruitful of children that shall not die.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Fire, if to Thy fire it draw near
shall be burnt up of it as stubble.
The mountains of Sinai endured Thee not
and I that am weak, wherein shall I baptise Thee?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

I am the flaming fire
yet for man’s sake I became a babe
in the virgin womb of the maiden.
And now I am to be baptised in Jordan.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

It is very meet that Thou shouldst baptise me
for Thou hast holiness to purify all.
In Thee it is that the defiled are made holy;
but Thou that art holy, why art Thou to be baptised?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

It is very right that thou shouldst baptise Me
as I bid, and should not gainsay.
Lo! I baptised thee within the womb –
baptise me in Jordan!

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

I am a bondman and I am weak.
Thou that freest all have mercy on me!
Thy latchets to unloose I am not able
Thine exalted head who will make me worthy to touch?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Bondmen in My Baptism are set free
handwritings in My washing are blotted out
manumissions in the water are sealed;
and if I be not baptised all these come to nought.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

A mantle of fire the air wears
and waits for Thee, above Jordan;
and if Thou consent to it and will to be baptised
Thou shall baptise Thyself and fulfil all.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

This is meet, that thou should baptise Me
that none may err and say concerning Me –
‘Had He not been alien from the Father’s house –
why feared the Levite to baptise Him?’

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The prayer, then, when Thou art baptised-
how shall I complete over Jordan?
When the Father and the Spirit are seen over Thee –
Whom shall I call on, as priest?

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The prayer in silence is to be completed:
come, thy hand alone lay on Me,
and the Father shall utter in the priest’s stead –
that which is meet concerning His Son.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

They that are bidden, lo! All of them stand –
the Bridegroom’s guests, lo! They bear witness
that day by day I said among them,
‘I am the Voice and not the Word.’

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Voice of him that criest in the wilderness
fulfil the work for which thou didst come –
that the desert whereunto thou didst go out may resound
with the mighty peace thou didst preach therein.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The shout of the Watchers has come to my ears –
lo! I hear from the Father’s house –
the hosts that sound forth the cry,
‘In Thine Epiphany, O Bridegroom, the worlds have life.’

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The time hastes on, and the marriage guests
look to Me to see what is doing.
Come, baptise Me, that they may give praise
to the Voice of the Father when it is heard!

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

I hearken, my Lord, according to Thy Word:
come to Baptism as Thy love constrainest Thee!
The dust worships that whereunto he has attained
that on Him Who fashioned him he should lay his hand.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The heavenly ranks were silent as they stood
and the Bridegroom went down into Jordan;
the Holy One was baptised and straightway went up
and His Light shone forth on the world.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

The doors of the highest were opened above
and the voice of the Father was heard –
This is my Beloved in Whom I am well pleased.
All ye peoples, come and worship Him.

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

They that saw were amazed as they stood,
at the Spirit Who came down and bore witness to Him.
Praise to Thine Epiphany that gladdens all –
Thou in Whose revelation the worlds are lightened!

Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

St Ephrem the Syrian’s Ninth Hymn on the Epiphany of the Lord


O John, who saw the Spirit that abode on the head of the Son to show how the Head of the Highest went down and was baptised and came up to be Head on earth! Children of the Spirit have ye thus become, and Christ hath become for you the Head: ye also have become His members.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

Consider and see how exalted ye are; how instead of the river Jordan ye haveglorious Baptism, wherein is peace, spreading her wings to shade your bodies. In the wilderness John baptised: in Her pure flood of Baptism, purely are ye baptised therein.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

Infants think when they see itsglory that by its pomp its might is enhanced. But it is the same, and within itself is not divided. But the might which never waxes less or greater in us is little or again great, and he in whom is great understanding, great in him is Baptism.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

A man’s knowledge, if it be exalted exalted also is his degree above his brethren; and he whosefaith is great, so also is his promise and as is his wisdom, so also his crowning. As is the light, which though it be all goodly and equal all of it with itself, yet goodlier is one eye than another.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

Jesus mingled His might in the water: put Him on my brethren as discerning men! For there are those that in the water merely perceive that they are washed. With our body be oursoul washed! Let the body perceive the manifest water and the soul the secret might, that ye may be made like unto both the manifest and to the secret!

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

How beautiful is Baptism in the eye of the heart; come, let us gaze on it! Like as by a seal ye have been moulded; receive its image that nought may be lacking to us of our image! For the sheep that are white of heart gaze on the glory that is in the water: in your souls reflect it!

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

Water is by nature as a mirror for one who in it examines himself. Stir up yoursoul, ye that discern and be like it! For it, in its midst, reflects your image from it, on it, find an example; in it, gaze upon Baptism and put on the beauty that is hidden therein!

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

What profits it him that hears a voice andknowsnot its significance? Whoever hears a voice and is devoid of the understanding, thereof his ear is filled but his soul is empty. Lo! since the gift is abundant, with discernment receive it.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

Baptism that is with understanding is the conjunction of two lights and rich are the fountains of its rays. And the darkness that is on the mind departs and the soul beholds Him in beauty, the hidden Christ of glory, and grieves when the glory fails.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

Baptism without understanding is a treasure full yet empty, since he that receives it is poor in it, for he understands not how great are its riches into which he enters and dwells. For great is the gift within it, though the mean man perceives not that he is exalted even as it.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

Open wide your minds and see, my brethren the secret column in the air, whose base is fixed from the midst of the water unto the door of the Highest Place, like the ladder that Jacob saw. Lo! By it came down the light unto Baptism, and by it the soul goes up to Heaven that in one love we may be mingled.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

Our Lord, when he wasbaptisedby John, sent forth twelve fountains and they issued forth and cleansed by their streams the defilement of the peoples. His worshippers are made white like His garments, the garments in Tabor and the body in the water. Instead of the garments the peoples are made white and have become for Him a clothing of glory.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

From your garments learn, my brethren how your members should be kept. For if the garment, which ever so many times may be made clean is duly kept for the sake of its comeliness, the body which has but one baptism, manifold more exceeding is the care of its keeping, for manifold are its dangers.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

Again the sun in a house that is narrow is narrowed therein, though he be great: but in a house that is goodly and large when he rises thereon far and wide, in it he spreads his rays and though the sun is one and the same in his nature, in various houses he undergoes changes: Even so our Lord in various men.

Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!

The Entrance Prayers and Vesting Prayers of the Divine Liturgy

The celebration of the Divine Liturgy, with the other Holy Mysteries, is the greatest thing that any human being is called upon to do – far greater than reigning as monarchs, governing as politicians, creating as artists, composing as compsers, discovering as scientists or explorers… than walking on the moon or travelling into the depths of outer space.

The fruits, relevance or temporal value of the labours of all of these people is finite, and will perish and pass away in due season.

In the Eucharistic Offering, we encounter Christ the immortal, eternal, changeless and infinite, despite the paradox and  seeming contradiction implicit in the very sacrament itself – in Christ becoming real and present beneath the veils of bread and wine, in space and in time – an earthly place which becomes heavenly, as time merges with eternity in a foretaste of the age to come.

The Divine Liturgy is humanity’s greatest offering and – in as much as the priesthood is a necessary part in this offering – it is humanity’s greatest achievement.

Thus, in accomplishing this Great Mystery, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the love and generosity of the Father, and the selfless self-giving and self-offering of the Son (our High-Priest and Sacrifice), nothing is casual, accidental or ‘optional’ (despite the Liturgical slovenliness and laziness to encountered in some places).

We give our best, we do our best, we try our best – in awe of the almost unfathomable Mystery of Love that comes to pass.

No other human activity or offering approaches the awesome reality of the Holy Mysteries: the apex of the sacramental life of the Church, in Christ’s self-giving of His Body and Blood.

Given this profound truth and reality, before the Divine Liturgy, the bishop or priest does not simply enter the sanctuary and get on with vesting and preparing the gifts.

Rather, mindful that through the power of the Holy Spirit the Saviour will Himself descend to be present, the celebrant spiritually prepares to enter the altar – where the Lord will be truly present – by praying before his entrance.

Though the assembled clergy at the Hierarchical Liturgy makes it much more obvious that the clergy before the ikonostas are praying, I continue to be astounded when parishioners come up to me and try to ask a question, or wish me good morning even from a distance. Is it not obvious that prayers are being offered?

Please be aware that the priest is still preparing for the awesome celebration of the Divine Mysteries.

Be silent, be prayerful yourself, and cause no disturbance – including staying away from the area before ikonostas unless you are there on an obedience.

Equally, please understand that there are prayers throughout the vesting, indeed at the putting on of EVERY article of the vestments, so this is not a time for the priest to be disturbed with requests or for talking in the altar, and he cannot simply put on vestments quickly before hearing your confession.

And, PLEASE, read on to understand what happens before we even begin the prokomidia. It’s a relatively short read, but a valuable one.

May God bless you.

Hieromonk Mark

The priest that desireth to celebrate the Divine Mysteries must first be at peace with all, have nothing against anyone, and insofar as is within his power, keep his heart from evil thoughts, be continent from the evening before, and be vigilant until the time of divine service. When the time is come, he goeth into the temple, in company with the deacon, and together thy make three reverences towards the east before the holy doors.

The deacon saith: Bless, Master.

Priest: Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Deacon: Amen. Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Heavenly King and the Trisagion Prayers.

Then they say: Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us; for, at a loss for any defense, this prayer do we sinners offer unto Thee as Master, have mercy on us.

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

Lord, have mercy on us; for we have hoped in Thee, be not angry with us greatly, neither remember out iniquities; but look upon us now as Thou art compassionate, and deliver us from our enemies; for Thou art our God, and we Thy people; all are the works of Thy hands, and we call upon Thy name.

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

The door of compassion open unto us, O blessed Theotokos, for hoping in thee, let us not perish; through thee may we be delivered from adversities; for thou art the salvation of the Christian race.

Then they approach the icon of Christ and kiss it, saying: We venerate Thine immaculate Icon, O Good One, asking the forgiveness of our failings, O Christ God; for of Thine Own will Thou wast well-pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh, that Thou mightest deliver from slavery to the enemy those whom Thou hadst fashioned. Wherefore, we cry to Thee thankfully: Thou didst fill all things with joy, O our Savior, when Thou camest to save the world.

Then they kiss the icon of the Theotokos, saying the Troparion: As thou art a well-spring of compassion, vouchsafe mercy unto us, O Theotokos. Look upon a sinful people; show forth, as always, thy power. For hoping in thee we cry “Rejoice!” to thee, as once did Gabriel, the SupremeCommander of the Bodiless Hosts.

Then, with bowed head, the priest saith: O Lord, stretch forth Thy hand from Thy holy place on high, and strengthen me for this, Thine appointed service; that standing uncondemned before Thy dread altar, I may celebrate the bloodless ministry. For Thine is the power and the glory unto the ages of ages. Amen.

[According to custom the priest says this prayer: Remit, pardon, forgive, O God, our offenses, both voluntary and involuntary, in deed and word, in knowledge and ignorance, by day and by night, in mind and thought; forgive us all things, for Thou art good and the Lover of mankind.]

Then they make a bow to each choir, and go into the prothesis, saying: I shall go into Thy house; I shall worship toward Thy holy temple in fear of Thee. O Lord, guide me in the way of Thy righteousness; because of mine enemies, make straight my way before Thee. For in their mouth there is no truth; their heart is vain. Their throat is an open sepulchre, with their tongues have they spoken deceitfully; judge them, O God. Let them fall down on account of their own devisings; according to the multitude of their ungodliness, cast them out, for they have embittered Thee, O Lord. And let all them be glad that hope in Thee; they shall ever rejoice, and Thou shalt dwell among them. And all shall glory in Thee that love Thy name, for Thou shalt bless the righteous, O Lord, as with a shield of Thy good pleasure hast Thou crowned us.

Having come into the sanctuary, they make three bows before the Holy Table and kiss the Holy Gospel and the Holy Table. Then each one taketh his sticharion in his hands, and they make three reverences toward the east, while saying to themselves with each:

O God, cleanse me a sinner and have mercy on me.

Then the deacon cometh to the priest, holding in his right hand the sticharion with the orarion, and bowing his head before the priest, saith:

Bless, Master, the sticharion with the orarion.

The priest saith: Blessed is our God always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Then the deacon goeth to one side of the sanctuary, putteth on the sticharion, praying thus: My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He hath clothed me in the garment of salvation, and with the vesture of gladness hath He covered me; He hath placed a crown upon me as on a bridegroom, and He hath adorned me as a bride with comeliness.

And then kissing the orarion, he placeth it on the left shoulder. Then putting the epimanikia on the hands, with the right cuff he saith: Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorified in strength; Thy right hand, O Lord, hath shattered enemies, and in the multitude of Thy glory hast Thou ground down the adversaries.

And with the left, he saith: Thy hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding and I will learn Thy commandments.

Then, going to the prothesis, he prepareth the holy things. The holy diskos he placeth on the left side; the chalice, that is the holy cup, on the right; and the rest [the spoon and spear, etc.] with them.

Then the priest vesteth himself thus: taking the sticharion in the left hand, and bowing thrice toward the east, as mentioned before, he signeth it with the sign of the Cross, saying:

​Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Then he vesteth himself, saying: My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He hath clothed me in the garment of salvation, and with the vesture of gladness hath He covered me; He hath placed a crown upon me as on a bridegroom, and He hath adorned me as a bride with comeliness.

Then taking the epitrachelion and signing it, he putteth it on, saying: Blessed is God Who poureth out His grace upon His priests, like unto the oil of myrrh upon the head, which runneth down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron, which runneth down to the fringe of his raiment.

Then taking the zone (belt) and girding himself, he saith: Blessed is God, Who girded me with power, and hath made my path blameless, Who maketh my feet like the feet of a hart, and setteth me upon high places.​

Then putting the epimanikia on the hands, with the right cuff he saith: ​Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorified in strength; Thy right hand, O Lord, hath shattered enemies, and in the multitude of Thy glory hast Thou ground down the adversaries.

And with the left, he saith: ​Thy hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding and I will learn Thy commandments.

Then taking the nabrdnenik and then the palitsa (if awarded it), if he have it, and having blessed and kissed it, he saith: Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Mighty One, in Thy comeliness and Thy beauty, and bend Thy bow, and proceed prosperously, and be king, because of truth and meekness and righteousness, and Thy right hand shall guide Thee wondrously, always now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.Amen.

Then taking the Phelonion, and having blessed and kissed it, he saith thus: Thy Priests, O Lord, shall be clothed with righteousness, and Thy saints with rejoicing shall rejoice, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Then, having gone to the prothesis, they wash their hands, saying: I will wash my hands in innocency and I will compass Thine altar, O Lord, that I may hear the voice of Thy praise and tell of all Thy wondrous works. O Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth. Destroy not my soul with the ungodly, nor my life with men of blood, in whose hands are iniquities; their right hand is full of bribes.But as for me, in mine innocence have I walked; redeem me, O Lord, and have mercy on me. My foot hath stood in uprightness; in the congregations will I bless Thee, O Lord.

St Ephrem the Syrian’s Eighth Hymn on the Epiphany of the Lord

God in His mercy stooped and came down to mingle His compassion with the water and to blend the nature of His majesty with the wretched bodies of men. He made occasion by the water to come down and to dwell in us: like to the occasion of mercy when He came down and dwelt in the womb: O the mercies of God, Who seeks for Himself all occasions to dwell in us!

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

To the cave in Horeb He stooped and came down and on Moses He caused His majesty to dwell. He imparted His glorious splendour to mortals. There was therein a figure of Baptism: He Who came down and dwelt in it tempers within the water the might of His majesty, that He may dwell in the feeble. On Moses dwelt the Breath and on you the Perfecting of Christ.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

That might then none could endure: not Moses chief of deliverers; nor Elijah chief of zealots; and the Seraphim too veil their faces; for it is the might that subdues all. His mercy mingled gentleness in the water and by the oil, that mankind in its weakness might be able to stand before Him when covered by the water and the oil.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

The captive priests again, in the well hid and concealed the fire of the sanctuary, a mystery of that glorified fire which the High-priest mingles in Baptism. The priests took up of the mire and on the altar they sprinkled it for its fire, the fire of that well with the mire had been mingled mystery of our bodies, which in the water with the fire of the Holy Spirit have been mingled.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

The famous Three in Babylon in the furnace of fire were baptised, and came forth. They went in and bathed in the flood of flame; they were buffeted by the blazing billows. There was sprinkled on them there the dew that fell from heaven; it loosed from off them there the bonds of the earthly king. Lo! The famous Three went in and found a fourth in the furnace.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

That visible fire that triumphed outwardly pointed to the fire of the Holy Ghost which is mingled, lo! And hidden in the water. In the flame, Baptism is figured in that blaze of the furnace. Come, enter, be baptised, my brethren, for lo! It looses the bonds; for in it there dwells and is hidden the Mediator of God, Who in the furnace was the fourth.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

Two words again our Lord spoke which in one voice agree in unison: He said, I have come to send fire, and again, I have a baptism to be baptised with. By the fire of Baptism is quenched the fire that which the Evil One had kindled: and the water of Baptism has overcome those waters of contention by which he had made trial of Joseph who conquered and was crowned.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

Lo! The pure fire of our Redeemer which he kindled in mankind of His mercy! Through His fire He quenched that fire which had been kindled in the defiled and sinful. This is the fire wherein the thorns are burnt up and the tares. But happy are your bodies that have been baptised in the fire which has consumed your thickets and by it your seeds have sprung up to heaven!

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

Jeremiah in the womb He sanctified and taught. But if the lowly bosom of wedlock was sanctified in conceiving and bringing him forth, how much more shall Baptism sanctify its conception and its bringing forth of them that are pure and spiritual! For there, within the womb is the conception of all men, but here, out of the water is the birth whereof the spiritual are worthy.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

For Jeremiah though sanctified in the womb, they took up nails and cast him into the pit. Holy was the prophet in his befoulment, for clean was his heart though he was in the mire. Be afraid, my brethren, for lo! Today is washed away your secret befoulment, and the abomination of your sins. Turn not again to uncleanness for there is but one cleansing of your bodies!

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

The presumptuous who is baptised and again sins is as the serpent that casts its slough and again puts it on, that is renewed and made young, and turns again putting on anew its skin of old for the serpent does not cast off its nature. Cast off the tempter the corrupter of souls even the old man let it not make old the newness you have put on!

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

Elisha cast the wood into the water, and made the heavy float and the light sink: their natures were exchanged in the water. There a new thing came to pass not according to nature. How much easier then, O Lord, is this for Thy grace; that in the water should sink transgression which is heavy, but that the soul which is light should be drawn forth and raised up on high!

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

Joshua, son of Nun, on Jericho laid a curse on its walls and a doom on its fountains. They whom Joshua cursed to their destruction again in the mystery of Jesus have been blessed. There was cast into them salt and they were healed and sweetened: a mystery of this salt the sweet salt that came from Mary, that was mingled in the water whereby was healed the noisomeness of our plagues.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

Lo! quiet waters are before you holy and tranquil and pleasant for they are not the waters of contention that cast Joseph into the dungeon, nor yet are they the waters those waters of strife beside which the people strove and gainsaid in the wilderness. There are waters whereby there is reconciliation made with Heaven.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

Hagar saw the spring of water and from it she gave drink to her forward son, him who became as a wild ass in the wilderness. Instead of that fountain of water is Baptism. In it are baptised the sons of Hagar and have become gentle and peaceful. Who has seen rams like these that are yoked, lo! And labour along with tame bullocks and the seed of their tillage is reaped an hundredfold!

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

In the beginning the Spirit that brooded moved on the waters; they conceived and gave birth to serpents and fishes and birds. The Holy Spirit has brooded in Baptism, and in mystery has given birth to eagles – Virgins and Prelates; and in mystery has given birth to fishes – celibates and intercessors; and in mystery of serpents, lo! The subtle have become simple as doves!

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

Lo! The sword of our Lord in the waters! that which divides sons and fathers: for it is the living sword that makes division, lo! Of the living from the dying. Lo! They are baptised and they become Virgins and saints who have gone down, been baptised, and put on the One Only begotten. Lo! Many have come boldly to Him!

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

For whoever have been baptised and put on Him the Only begotten the Lord of the many has filled thereby the place of many, for to him Christ has become a great treasure: for He became in the wilderness a table of good meats and He became at the marriage feast, a fountain of choice wines. He has become such to all in all things by helps and healings and promises.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

Elisha was the equal of the Watchers in his doings, glorious and holy. The camp of the Watchers was round about him thus let Baptism be unto you a camp of guardians for by means of it there dwells in the heart the hope of them that are below and the Lord of them that are above. Sanctify for Him your bodies for where He abides, corruption comes not near.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

They are no more, the waters of that sea which by its billows preserved the People and by its billows laid low the peoples. Of contrary effect are the waters in Baptism. In them, lo! The people have life in them, lo! The People perishes: for all that are not baptised in the waters that give life to all they are dead invisibly.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

They are no more, the waters of that sea which were tempestuous, and boiled against Jonah and plunged into the depths the Son of Amittai. Though he fled he was bound in the prison-house, God cast him in and bound him in dungeon within dungeon for he bound him in the sea, and He bound him in the fish. For him Grace stood surety and she opened the prison and brought forth the preacher.

Happy are ye, whose bodies have been made to shine!

The Prophets have called the Most High a fire: a devouring fire, and who can dwell with it? The People were not able to dwell in it; its might crushed the peoples and they were confounded. In it, with the unction you have been anointed; you have put Him on in the water; in the bread you have eaten Him; in the wine you have drunk Him; in the voice you have heard Him; and in the eye of the mind you have seen Him!

St Ephrem the Syrian’s Sixth Hymn on the Epiphany of the Lord

The Spirit came down from on high and hallowed the waters by His brooding. In the baptism of John, He passed by the rest and abode on One: but now He has descended and abode  on all that are born of the water.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences

Out of all that John baptised, on One it was that the Spirit dwelt: but now He hath flown and come down that He may dwell on the many, and as each after each comes up, He loves him and abides on him.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

A marvel it is that surpasses all! To the water He went down and was baptised. The seas declared it blessed, that river wherein Thou wast baptised: even the waters that were in heaven envied because they were not worthy to be Thy bath.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

A marvel it is, O my Lord, now also that while the fountains are full of water, it is the water of baptism that alone is able to atone. Mighty is the water in the seas, yet is it too weak for atonement.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

Thy might, O my Lord, if it abides within the humble, it exalts him like as royalty and if it abide within the desert gives it peace. Water by Thy might has triumphed over sin, for Life hath encompassed it.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

The sheep exulted when they saw the hand draw near to baptise them. Receive, O ye sheep, your sealing; enter and be mingled in the flock! For more than over all the flock, over you rejoice the Watchers today.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

The Angels and the Watchers rejoice over that which is born of the Spirit and of water: they rejoice that by fire and by the Spirit the corporeal have become spiritual. The Seraphim who sing “Holy” rejoice that they who are made holy have been increased.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

For lo! The Angels rejoice over one sinner if he repent: how much more do they now rejoice that in all churches and congregations lo! Baptism is bringing forth the heavenly from the earthly!

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

The baptised when they come up are sanctified; the sealed when they go down are pardoned. They who come up have put on glory; they who go down have cast off sin. Adam put off his glory in a moment; ye have been clothed with glory in a moment.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

A house that is of dust when it hath fallen by means of water can be renewed: the body of Adam that was of dust which had fallen by water hath been renewed. Lo! The priests as builders renew afresh your bodies.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

A great marvel is this of the wool, that it can take every dye as the mind takes every discourse. By the name of its dye it is called as ye who were baptised when Hearers, have gained the name of Recipients.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

The common waters he sanctified, even Elisha through the Name that is secret. In them washed the leper openly and was cleansed by the Power that is secret: the leprosy was done away in the water, as transgressions in Baptism.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

Today, lo! Your offences are blotted out and your names are written down. The priest blots out in the water and Christ writes down in Heaven. By the blotting out and the writing down, lo! Doubled is your rejoicing.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

Lo! Mercy hath dawned today and from bound to bound it stretches: the sun hath sunk and mercy hath dawned. Justice hath drawn in her wrath; Grace hath spread forth her love. Lo! She pardoneth and quickeneth freely.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

The sheep that beforetime were in the fold, lo! They hasten forth to greet the new lambs that have been added to it. They are white and are clad in white within, and white without are your bodies as your vestments.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

From every mouth, Blessed are ye. On every side Blessed are ye. Sin from you is driven out and the Holy Spirit on you is dwelling. The Evil One hath become sad of countenance; the Good God makes glad your countenance.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

The gift that ye have received freely cease not from watching over: this pearl if it shall be lost cannot again be sought out; for it is like to virginity, which if it be lost is not to be found.

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

May you from all defilement be kept by the power of your white robes! And he whose freedom hath defiled itself, may it be able to wash itself clean by his weeping! For me who am a servant of the community, may the supplication of the community win pardon!

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

To the author who hath toiled in words, let there be reconciliation in rest! To the teacher who hath toiled with voice, let thee be forgiveness through grace! To the priest who hath toiled in baptising, let there come the crown of righteousness!

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

From every mouth with one consent, of those beneath and those above, Watchers, Cherubim, and Seraphim, the baptised, the sealed, and the hearers; let each of us cry aloud and say: Glory to the Lord of our feasts!

Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.

St Ephrem the Syrian’s Fourth Hymn on the Epiphany of the Lord


Descend my sealed brethren, put on our Lord, and be rejoined to His lineage, for He is son of a great lineage, as He has said in His Word.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

From on high is His Nature, and from beneath is His  Vesture. Each that puts off his vesture, commingled is that vesture, with His Vesture forever.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

You too in the water, receive from him the vesture that wastes not, nor is lost for, it is the vesture that vests them that are vested in it forever.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

But the blessed Priest, is mediator between two: the covenant shall be made before Him, He is mediator of his Lord, and surety on our part.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

The Godhead in the water, lo, has mingled His leaven for the creatures of dust, that leaven raises up and the Godhead joins them.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

For it is the leaven of the Lord that can glide into the bondman and raise him to freedom; it has joined the bondman to the lineage of Him the Lord of all.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

For the bondman who has put on Him, Who makes all free in the waters though bondman he be on earth, is son of the free on high, for freedom He has put on.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

The freeman who has put on, that Angel in the waters, is as the fellow of servants, that he may be made like to the Lord, Who became bondman unto bondmen.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

He Who enriches all came down, and put on poverty, that He might divide to the poor, the stores that were hidden out of the treasure-house of the water.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

The lowly one again that has put on the Giver of all greatness, in the water even though he be base in the sight of fools, yet is great in the sight of the Watchers, for that he is clad in greatness.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

For like as He Who is great, Who became lowly in His love by the unbelievers was persecuted, and by the Watchers* was worshipped, was made lowly and makes the lowly great.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

Thus, let him be lowly who is great, that in him the lowly may be great: Let us be like to Him Who is greater than all, Who became less than all: He was made lowly, and makes all men great.

The meek man who has put on Him Who is great, in the water though humble be his countenance, very great is his discernment, for He Who is exalted above all dwells in him.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

For who could be found to despise the bush of thorn the despised and humble, wherein the Majesty in fire made its dwelling within?

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

Who again could be found to despise Moses the meek and slow of speech when that excelling glory dwelt upon his meekness?

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

They that despised him despised his Lord; the wicked that despised him the earth swallowed up in anger; the Levites who scorned Him the fire devoured in fury.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

Of Him Christ commanded, You shall not call him who is baptised and has put Him on Raca (worthless/empty); for whoso despises the despised, despises with him the Mighty.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

In Eden and in the world are parables of our Lord; and what tongue can gather the similitudes of His mysteries? For, He is figured all of Him in all things.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

In the Scriptures He is written of; on Nature He is impressed; His crown is figured in kings, in prophets His truth, His atonement in priests.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

In the rod of Moses was He, and in the hyssop of Aaron and in the crown of David: to the prophets pertains His similitude, to the Apostles His Gospel.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

Revelations beheld Thee, proverbs looked for Thee, mysteries expected Thee, similitudes saluted Thee, parables showed types of Thee.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

The Covenant of Moses looked forward to the Gospel: all things of old time flew on and alighted thereon in the new Covenant.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

Lo! The prophets have poured out on Him their glorious mysteries; the priests and kings have poured out upon Him their wonderful types: they all have poured them out on all of Him.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

Christ overcame and surpassed, by His teachings the mysteries by His interpretations the parables; as the sea into its midst receives all streams.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

For Christ is the sea, and He can receive the fountains and brooks, the rivers and streams, that flow from the midst of the Scriptures.

Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!

* Syriac: ‘ira = Watcher/Angel. The book of Daniel refers t ‘irin and qaddishin, “Watchers and Holy Ones” among the angels.

St Ephrem the Syrian’s First Hymn on the Epiphany of the Lord

The heavens He has renewed, for that fools worshipped all the luminaries: He has renewed the earth, for that in Adami t was wasted. That which He fashioned has become new by His spittle: and the All-Sufficing has restored bodies with souls.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

Gather yourselves again O sheep and without labour receive cleansing! For one needs not as Elisha to bathe seven times in the river, nor again to be wearied as the priests are wearied with sprinklings.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

Seven times Elisha purified himself in a mystery of the seven spirits; and the hyssop and blood are a mighty symbol. There is no room for division  He is not divided from the Lord of all Who is Son of the Lord of all.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock in the day of Thine Epiphany!

Moses sweetened in Marah the waters that were bitter because the People complained and murmured: Thus he gave a sign of baptism wherein the Lord of life makes sweet them that were bitter.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock in the day of Thine Epiphany!

The cloud overshadowed and kept off the burning heat from the camp it showed a symbol of the Holy Spirit, which overshadows you in baptism tempering the flaming fire that it harm not our bodies.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

Through the sea the People then passed, and showed a symbol of the baptism wherein ye were washed. The People passed through that and believed not: the Gentiles were baptised in this and believed and received the Holy Spirit.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

The Word sent the Voice to proclaim before His Coming, to prepare for Him the way by which He came and to betroth the Bride till He should come that she might be ready when He should come and take her from the water.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

The voice of prophecy stirred the son of the barren woman and he went forth wandering in the desert and crying, “Lo! The Son of the Kingdom comes! prepare the way that He may enter and abide in your dwellings!”

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

John cried, Who comes after me, He is before me: I am the Voice but not the Word; I am the torch but not the Light the Star that rises before the Sun of Righteousness.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

In the wilderness this John had cried and had said, “Repent ye sinners of your evils and offer the fruits of repentance; for lo! He comes that winnows the wheat from the tares.”

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

The Light-giver has prevailed and marked a mystery, by the degrees he ascended: Lo! There are twelve days since he ascended, and today this is the thirteenth: a perfect mystery of Him, the Son, and His twelve!

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

Darkness was overcome to make it manifest that Satan was overcome and the Light prevailed that he should proclaim that the Firstborn triumphs: darkness was overcome with the Dark Spirit, and our Light prevailed with the Light-giver.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

In the Height and the Depth the Son had two heralds. The star of light proclaimed Him from above John likewise preached Him from beneath: two heralds, the earthly and the heavenly.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

The star of light, contrary to nature, shone forth of a sudden less than the sun yet greater than the sun. Less was it than he in manifest light and greater than he in secret might because of its mystery.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

The star of light shed its rays among them that were in darkness and guided them as though they were blind so that they came and met the great Light: they gave offerings and received life and adored and departed.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

The herald from above showed His Nature to be from the Most High; likewise he that was from beneath showed His Body to be from humankind, mighty marvel! that His Godhead and His Manhood by them were proclaimed!

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

Thus whoever reckons Him as of earth, the star of light will convince him that He is of Heaven: and whoever reckons Him as of spirit, this John will convince him that He is also bodily.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

John drew near with his parents and worshipped the Sun and brightness rested on His Face. He was not moved as when in the womb. Mighty marvel! That here he worships and there he leaped!

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

The whole creation became for Him as one mouth and cried out concerning Him. The Magi cry out in their gifts; the barren cry out with their children the star of light, lo! It cries out in the air, Behold the Son of the King!

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

The heavens are opened, the waters break forth, the dove is in glory! The voice of the Father is stronger than thunder as it utters the word, “This is My Beloved”; the Watchers brought the tidings, the children acclaimed Him in their Hosannas.

To Thee be praise from Thy flock on the day of Thine Epiphany!

The Feast of St Philip of Moscow With Bishop Irenei

Dear brothers and sisters,

Given the great spiritual, physical and culinary labours of the last few days, there are, no doubt, many people in our community who are tired, but saying “Slava Bogu… glory to God!” for the blessing of being able to welcome our hierarch and archpastor, Bishop Irenei to Cardiff – with today’s hierarchical Divine Liturgy as the crown of our celebration.

After more than a year and a half since his last hierarchical visitation, Vladika’s visit was important, especially given the great changes and expansion in our parish and local missions since the trials of covid and lockdown.

We rejoice that we were able to come together as a scattered community of Orthodox faithful, representing our Cardiff parish and our Cheltenham and Swansea missions, with the blessing of welcoming Deacon Andrey and Reader George to serve with us. The contribution of Hierodeacon Avraamy – now blessed to serve in our South Wales communities – was also most welcome.

Gathered around our hierarch, the Liturgy expressed the spiritual bond and catholicity/sobornost of our common and shared life as the Church, in which each of us called to individual ministry and vocation, as alluded to by Vladika in his homily.

Within our community we glorify God for so many vocations, great gifts and talents – in singing, reading, icon painting, cooking, liturgical expertise, floral craft, and the simple ability to organise hospitality and to welcome all who gather not only to the Holy Table of the eucharist, but also to the table of Christian fellowship to share in food and drink.

As well as catching up with familiar parishioners in the parish, His Grace was able to meet those who now travel from England for Liturgy, those baptised since his last visitation, and our catechumens, several of whom will be baptised in the next couple of months. For many parishioners this was their first meeting with Vladika, and for some, it was there first encounter with an Orthodox bishop – and such a personable, warm and positive one.

We were also very happy to welcome our brother-priest, Father Sorin of the Romanian Parish of St Stephen, and were so pleased that he was able to meet Vladika Irenei once again, and join us for trapeza.

The festive table on this feast of the Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow summed up the wonderful diversity of our parishioners – with Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Romanian, Spanish, British and Caribbean fare feeding all those assembled, as well as supplying many parishioners with meals for the next few days.

We are so very grateful to all who contributed so generously, and especially for Melangell who took on the role of Senior Sister, having this episcopal visitation as her first rather daunting duty, ceremonially starting with the welcome she offered to Vladika, with the traditional offering of bread and salt, after which the children of the parish offered posies of flowers to their bishop.

We are particularly indebted to our kliros and oltarniky, for their part in the Liturgy, particularly to our oltarnik Oswald, who so capably served with Reader George in fulfilling what would ordinarily have been the obedience of subdeacon.

As Vladika commented, it is the choir who face the greatest challenge in the Hierarchical Liturgy, given the many variations from our usual celebration. May God bless you all!

Thank you everyone for your many and varied offerings, obediences, gifts, generosity and goodwill in making the feast of St Philip such a truly memorable and joyful day and for welcoming Vladika Irenei to lead us in our celebrations.

Above all, we express our thanks to His Grace Bishop Irenei, for his fatherly love and care, and for visiting and nurturing his flock in the fullness of Orthodoxy within our God-Preserved Diocese.

Eis polla eti Despota!