Today and the Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters, 

What a whirlwind of a day we have had in Cardiff, continuing our celebration of the Kazan Icon. Busy seems an obvious understatement. 

With the actual feast falling in a weekday/workday little more than half a dozen of us gathered in St Mary’s for Liturgy on Friday – though it was lovely and very prayerful.

However, today’s translated celebration of our altar-feast was quite astounding, with such impressive numbers, including many new faces – yet again – joining our festal gathering of Britons, Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovans, Serbs and Greeks and even our young Hungarian!

We have so many people to thank for their efforts in making the last few days such a wonderful celebration centred on our Liturgies in Butetown and Canton.

Thank you for the many ‘obediences’ undertaken with such dedication and generosity – whether spiritual, liturgical, musical, floral, culinary or domestic. 

Our depleted kliros rose to the occasion singing today’s Liturgy; matushka Alla adorned the Kazanskaya Mother of God, which dominated the entry-way into St John’s; our sisters provided lunch for all who stayed for our festal trapeza; Norman and Georgina organised St Mary’s, so that we only had to lay the altar and zhertvenik for Friday Liturgy, and fed us all with shuba for lunch; Deacon Mark and our oltarniky laboured selflessly to set-up, arrange and put away… and we then need to recognise the dedication of those travelling form Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Oxfordshire. What a remarkable parish we have! 

The presence of Father Luke, as always, coincided with an ever-renewing queue for confessions, and we are grateful for his tireless occupation of the Lady Chapel for the Mystery of Repentance every time he comes to St John’s. Between us, over the course of four days, so many confessions were heard, and it was a joy that so many communed of the Holy Gifts of the Lord’s Body and Blood. 

We congratulate everyone who partook of the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Communion on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday! 

Not only was today’s service joyful, but it was wonderful to see how many people stayed to enjoy such a warm and friendly festal trapeza, provided by our parish sisters. 

As announced at Liturgy, St John’s is not available for parish use next Sunday, so we will not have a ROCOR Liturgy in Cardiff. However, the Hours and the Liturgy will be celebrated in Llanelli at 10:00, and the Romanian Parish celebrates Matins and the Divine Liturgy in St Luke’s Church in Canton at 07:00. 

It would be lovely to see Cardiff parishioners on Saturday, in Cheltenham, where the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated in Prestbury. See: 

https://www.facebook.com/events/836600210914954/?ref=newsfeed

We will gather in St Mary, Butetown, for Compline and a spiritual talk at 19:00 on Friday, and I will hear confessions in the afternoon and evening. May I ask for requests for confessions by 22:00 on Wednesday. 

I am presently in Somerset and am, as yet, unsure how many days my stay will last. Much depends on ongoing chest-problems. I shall, of course, be praying for our community at the ancient Christian sites associated with our British Saints and – God-willing – will be able to spend time with some of our Wessex parishioners, before ministering to the needs of those living in Cardiff later in the week.

Any requests for prayers will be gladly received! 

May God bless you all. 

In Christ – Fr Mark 

Greetings on the Feast of the Kazan Icon

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings to you all, as we celebrate our altar-feast.

On this Autumn feast of the Kazan Icon, we remember how the intercessions of the Mother of God and the protection of her grace-filled wonderworking icon delivered Orthodox Muscovy from the invasion of the Poles.

In the Time of the Troubles, following the end of the rule of the House of Rurik, Russia was tormented by pretenders to the throne, by struggles between the boyars and different layers of society, and by division and civil strife.

In the words of Avraamy Palitsyn, the cellarer at the Trinity St Sergius Lavra:“In the general whirling of heads, everyone wanted to be above his station: servants wanted to be masters, the rabble wanted to be gentry, the gentry wanted to be nobles… The Fatherland and Church perished: the temples of the True God were ruined… cattle and hounds lived in the altars; … dice was played on the icons; … harlots danced in clerical robes. Monks and priests were burned by fire…”

… and into this chaos came the invader and aggressor, seeking to exploit the weaknesses, divisions and fracture-lines of society and state, to occupy, seize and despoil.

Indeed, the Poles occupied Moscow, imprisoning the Holy Hieromartyr, Patriarch Germogen, who perished from the privations and misery in which he lived. Yet from his cell, the Holy Hierarch was able to call the Orthodox people to prayer and repentance, to fasting and supplication, to beg the help of the Queen of Heaven.

From prison, he called for a three-day fast and ordered the wonderworking Kazan icon to be brought to the Princes Minin and Pozharsky, who led the resistance to the Polish occupation, and the sacred-treasure was borne before the regiments who fought to regain the capital from the Poles, who were driven from Moscow on October 22, 1612 (November 4 on the Civil Calendar) – since kept as the autumn feast of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.

Turning aside from armies and regiments, warfare and battles, let us focus on the spiritual call of the Holy Hieromartyr – to fast, to pray, to labour spiritually for the overcoming of violence, division and strife, by turning to the Mother of God as our fervent intercessor.

In our 21stcentury world, there are so many temptations to distract us from this spiritual-labour and spiritual-resistance to the violence and evils of the world, forgetting that our first reactions need to be spiritual and rooted in prayer.

Today, so many Orthodox people rush to the internet, to social media and forums, commenting, critiquing and fanning the flames of discord and division, absorbing news, facts and figures, rather than doing precisely what St Germogen ordered: to fast, to pray, to weep, to asceticism/podvig, making prostrations and turning to the Mother of God as the Champion Leader, and pleading for our suffering world!

How many more hours do so many self-proclaimed Orthodox prophets and activists spend before computer screens than in fervent prayer in their icon-corners?

How many more times are hands raised to tweet, type and comment, rather than to make the sign of the Cross whilst praying for the peace from above, for the unity of all and for the salvation of our souls?

How many more hours are spent being gripped by the heat of the passions, as hours of news soaks into the psyche, rather than in burning prayer for the softening of evil hearts, the breakthrough of God’s love and the repentance of fallen humanity and the world?

None of this is to deny the tragedies of the present time, or indeed injustices, acts of violence and atrocity, but we must instinctively turn to God and His saints for answers and solutions.

This feast should prompt us not to run to Twitter, Facebook, internet chat groups, on-line forums and 24 hour news as a first, knee-jerk reaction to the ills and tragedies of the world, but rather to prayerfully flee to the Mother of God, spoken of in the kontakion of the feast as “ that calm and good haven, the speedy helper and ready and fervent salvation.”

We place our hope in her as the mother given to all of humanity as she stood at the foot of the Cross, knowing that it is only by prayer, repentance and turning to God that the divisions of humanity can truly be healed, as we pray “help us all who, amid temptations, sorrows and sickness, are heavy laden with many sins, who stand before thee and with tears pray to thee with compunctionate soul and contrite heart… and who have unfailing hope in thee…”

Let us turn to the Mother of God with such heart-felt compunction, hope and contrition, knowing that the first stirrings of a changed and transfigured world begin within the deepest recesses of our own hearts.

It is from hearts filled with the love of God, striving to love neighbour and stranger, friend and even enemy, that peace will transform the world, and on this feast, we turn to the Mother of God not only as the ‘Champion Leader’, but also as the ‘Queen of Peace.’

Most Holy Lady, Mother of God, save us!

In Christ – Fr Mark

The Canon to St Varus for Those Who Have Died Without Baptism

A Canon Of Supplication To The Holy Martyr Varus, To Whom The Grace Was Given To Pray For Those Deceased Ancestors Of Cleopatra Who Had Not Been Vouchsafed To Receive Holy Baptism: Tone VIII

Ode I, Irmos: The staff of Moses, once working a wonder, striking the sea in the form of the Cross and dividing it, drowned the mounted tyrant Pharaoh, and saved Israel who fled on foot, chanting a hymn unto God.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

O Lord, be Thou entreated by Thy holy martyr Varus, and clothe Thyself in mercy and compassions! Lo! they will be poured out even unto hades, O Thou Who lovest mankind, and, through Thy rich lovingkindness will bring pity unto NN., for whom we pray.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

O great martyr of Christ, be thou mindful of the afflicted and helpless NN. Who sit, unenlightened, in the gloom of darkness; and do not cease to fall down before the compassionate Lord, until He comfort them with His rich lovingkindness.

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

Thou wast able to make entreaty for the family of the wondrous Cleopatra, O glorious passion-bearer; wherefore, rendering aid today, thou art likewise able to free from torments NN., who are remembered by us, if it is fitting for thee to pray to the Lord for them: for the Master will comfort them with His rich lovingkindness for thy sake.

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

O good helper and Mistress, look down from thy glory upon the helpless who are in the gloom of hades, and behold the misfortunes of the pitiful NN. whom we remember to thee; and cease thou never to entreat thy Son, the compassionate Lord and Master, in their behalf, until He comfort them with His rich lovingkindness.

Ode III, Irmos: O Christ, Who in the beginning established the heavens in wisdom and founded the earth upon the waters, make me steadfast upon the rock of Thy commandments; for none is holy as Thee, O Thou Who lovest mankind.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

Move thou the choir of the holy hosts of heaven to make supplication with thee, O martyr, and do thou a thing all-wondrous, great and honourable, which will bring even greater joy unto those who have no hope and consolation and are without expectation: our ancestors who died a bitter death outside the Faith, and NN., who are remembered with them, that the Lord may grant them forgiveness and great mercy.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

O excellent passion-bearer, beloved of Christ! Thou knowest how desirable and joyful freedom is for those in torment; wherefore, the joy of our kin and NN. with them, who have incurred everlasting torments because of their unbelief, will know no bounds if thou wilt ask the Lord to grant them forgiveness and great mercy.

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

O Varus, right victorious athlete, be thou merciful to our entreaties, and look upon NN., who are in desperate need; and moved by pity, do thou thyself earnestly pray to the Master Who loveth mankind, that He grant them forgiveness and great mercy.

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

O Mary our Mistress, thou hope of the universe, divinely acceptable habitation, our reconciliation with God: Accept the petitions of this present intercession, and cease not to beseech thy Son, the Lord of all, that for thy sake He grant forgiveness and great mercy unto the hopeless NN.

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

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

Sessional hymn, Tone V: Pray thou for the whole world, O great-martyr, and cease not to ask mercy for all sinners who have in divers ways grievously offended the Master and continue to offend him, who by mortal works have utterly done themselves to death and acquired nought, since they have wrought evil. And intercede also, O passion-bearer, for our departed kinfolk, NN., beginning as is possible; and cease not to pray and fall down before the Lord Who hath mercy on all, that He forgive and have mercy on those who sit in darkness and are embittered with exceeding great bitterness.

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

Another sessional hymn, Tone III: O great Varus, dweller in everlasting joy and namesake of heavenly rest: With boldness thou darest to remember before the Lord the redeeming qualities of our forebears; for even though we cannot place thee in their graves, yet do we beseech thee to add thy prayers to our earnest supplications that they be granted pity. Wherefore, fall down and pray, for the Master will not reject thine intercession, but, inclined by His infinite goodness, will send deliverance and great mercy upon those who are embittered with exceeding great bitterness.

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

O all-radiant Lady, who art hymned above all and art continually magnified by the heavenly hosts, Mother of the King of all: Since thy glory and greatness are increased where and when He desireth, when thou helpest sinners and coverest the whole world with thy supplications, O Mistress, increase the majesty of thy sublimity, and by thy fervent supplications deliver from grievous torments our unbelieving and unbaptized kinfolk and NN., who are commemorated with them; and grant them deliverance and great mercy.

Ode IV, Irmos: Thou art my strength, O Lord, Thou art my power; Thou art my God, Thou art my joy, Who, without leaving the bosom of the Father, hast visited our lowliness. Wherefore, with the Prophet Habbakuk I cry unto Thee: Glory to Thy power, O Thou Who lovest mankind!

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

Since thou lovest all who have recourse to thee with faith, O passion-bearer, thou hast won the love of those who make entreaty unto thee. What other thing, desiring to glorify thee, will He Who loveth mankind do if not to bestow the asked-for mercy upon the compunctionate, the eternal prisoners bereft of all joy, NN. As before, O valiant martyr, fail not in thy prayers for them.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

Cruel winter, barren of salvation, and joyless lamentation lie upon the ungodly who have died, in the place where NN., whom we remember, are assigned. But haste thou, O passion-bearer, to unite them to the race of the righteous, and fail not in thy prayers for them.

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

Let not the gloomy prison of hades forever hold our ancestors and kinfolk, and all who are remembered with them, NN. Since thou, the wondrous athlete, hast set at nought the power of unbelief and the might of sin, so as before with the family of Cleopatra, fail not in thy prayers for them, that they may be forgiven, O martyr.

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

Through thee, O all-pure one, have we come to know how to glorify the Creator of all things; through thee are we wont to magnify the true Saviour Who came forth from thee bearing flesh. We praise and bow down before thee, the Mistress, and pray: Have mercy on the our kinfolk NN. who have died in unbelief, and fail not in thy prayers to thy Son, that He deliver them.

Ode V, Irmos: Wherefore hast Thou turned Thy face from me, O Light never-waning? And why hath a strange darkness covered me, wretch that I am? But turn me, and guide my steps to the light of Thy commandments, I pray.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

Every gift and every mercy poured forth from the merciful Lord, though allwondrous and all-marvelous, when brought to bear to accomplish the forgiveness of NN. who have died in impiety, impart excellent magnitude thereto. Wherefore, today also do thou make haste to entreat the Master, O martyr, that He work great things.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

Turn not away from our compunction, O Lord, neither be Thou mindful of the multitude of our sins; rather, remember Thy mercies which are from of old, and in Thy compassions, and for the sake of the valiant athlete Varus, exhaust not the riches of Thine infinite lovingkindness, but pour forth Thy mercies and forgiveness upon NN., whom we remember.

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

If the Master’s love for mankind extendeth even unto those afar off at sea, O great-martyr, stand forth today and, falling down, beseech Him to have mercy on those far away from the Faith, our kinfolk who have died unbaptized, and NN., who are commemorated with them, that He may grant them forgiveness and great mercy.

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

Intercede, O Mistress, for our weakness, and be thou constantly with us in time of need, helping us everywhere and always; for thou art the hope and expectation of Christians. Wherefore, reject not our petitions, but fulfil and perfect them by thine incomprehensible grace.

Ode VI, Irmos: Cleanse me, O Saviour, for many are my transgressions; and lead me up from the abyss of evils, I pray, for to Thee have I cried, and Thou hast hearkened to me, O God of my salvation.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

Let not the pride of the enemy rejoice, having seized men’s souls as plunder; but by thy fervent supplications do thou, O martyr, destroy his desires, entreating the Lord to forgive NN., whom we remember, and to deliver them and us from everlasting torment.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

The inspiration for our feat of prayer is the forgiveness of the family of Cleopatra, whence we have conceived the thought to move thee to make supplication. Disdain not NN., whom we remember, O great-martyr, and reject not their sinful state; but making haste, ask of Christ the Master that He grant them forgiveness and deliverance from bitter torments.

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

Assuming boldness, O passion-bearer, ask of the King of heaven that He grant the joy of remission instead of dread punishment unto those who have met an evil end because of their unbelief, and whose hope of good things hath utterly perished because they have angered God; and having led them up from bitterness, preserve them in the mercy of the Master.

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

What evil can prevail over thy maternal supplications, O Mistress? For truly, if thou wilt stand forth today and make supplication for NN., for whom we ask thee to pray, thou shalt obtain for them joyous forgiveness, deliverance and great mercy.

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

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

Kontakion, Tone IV: Following Christ, O martyr Varus, and draining His cup, thou wast crowned with the wreath of martyrdom and joinest chorus with the angels. Pray thou without ceasing for our souls.

Ikos: Be thou mindful of our words, O splendid denizen of heaven, glorious Varus, great-martyr of Christ, namesake of everlasting rest, who by thy great sufferings didst obtain an impassable and splendid resting-place, far from inescapable imprisonment, unceasing retribution and want: Haste thou by thy God-pleasing supplications to deliver His compunctionate servants NN., for whose sake we entreat thee, standing before thee and crying out with earnestness: Fulfil our petitions, O holy one, and beseech Christ God unceasingly in behalf of our souls.

Ode VII, Irmos: Once, in Babylon, the fire stood in awe of the condescension of God; wherefore, the youths, dancing with joyous step in the furnace, as in a meadow, chanted: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers!

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

As Thou dost enlighten all like the sun, O Lord, and lettest rain fall in abundance upon all, and unceasingly bestowest mercy upon those who anger Thee, hearken now unto Varus, Thine athlete, and pour forth Thy mercy utterly upon our kinfolk who have been separated from Thee, and upon the unbelieving NN., whom we remember, O Thou Who lovest mankind.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

Now as before, be Thou compassionate, O Lord, and allowing Thyself to be entreated, O Master, as Thou didst with Cleopatra, so do Thou deal with us, O Merciful One: Send forth Thy compassions and lovingkindness upon NN., whom we remember, for Thou art the inexhaustible Well-spring of mercy.

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

The prophet, soaring aloft, hymneth Thy mercies, O Lord, unto the ages, and we also believe that Thou hast not diminished in Thy compassions, for the bounds of Thy lovingkindness are infinite. We entreat Thee to pour forth mercies from the abyss thereof upon NN., who have been drowned in the depths, and fill them therewith, for the sake of the martyr, O our Master.

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

He who is most wise among the prophets calleth thee the mountain; and we believe him when he saith that from thee, without the interference of man, the Stone of the divine Offspring issued forth, from Whom we have received salvation and release from the depths of hades. O Mistress, lead up from hades NN., whom we remember today, that we may unceasingly magnify thee, the most merciful one.

Ode VIII, Irmos: When the musical instruments sounded and innumerable were those who worshiped the image in Dura, the three youths, refusing to obey the tyrant’s command, hymned and glorified the Lord for all ages.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

Let Thine ancient words of mercy, which bespeak the hope that we will be lifted up, be fulfilled, O Lord, for Thou didst hearken to Thy saints when they besought Thee to have mercy on those who died in unbelief. And today we bring them before Thee, O Lord, to pray that for the sake of their entreaties Thou mightest have pity on NN., who have died outside of Orthodoxy, O Master, and have offended Thee, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

O Lamb of God Who hast redeemed us by Thy precious Blood, Who didst hearken to the plea of Thecla and the blessed Gregory, who didst accept the petitions of Methodius, Macarius and many others, bestowing joy and deliverance upon those who died in wicked religions, and moved Chrysostom to write that we pray for them: Accept, O Master, with him the glorious Varus, and by their supplications forgive and have mercy on NN., whom we remember.

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

Entreat joy for us, O great-martyr, for we will be filled with gladness if we find that our kinfolk NN. are delivered from everlasting torments; for the Master always listeneth to thy supplications and fulfilleth thy petitions. Wherefore, fail not therein, praying even now, that we may continually glorify thee.

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

O all-immaculate Mistress, wondrous and unwedded Mother of the King, increase to abundance the multitude of thy lovingkindness and compassions for us who seek mercy. For where else may we find it if we do not make haste to fall down before thee? For thou gavest birth for us to the most abundant Torrent of delight, O all-blessed one.

Ode IX, Irmos: Heaven was stricken with awe, and the ends of the earth were amazed, that God hath appeared in the flesh, and that thy womb became more spacious than the heavens. Wherefore, the ranks of men and angels magnify thee as the Theotokos.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

O glorious Varus, in God thou art able by thy divinely acceptable supplications to obtain and pour forth mercies upon those who have been utterly separated therefrom. For there is but one Father of compassions and lovingkindness, and as Master all things are possible for Him. Unfailingly beseech Him, O athlete, that He forgive and have mercy on NN., whom we remember.

Holy Martyr, Varus, pray to God for us.

O great-martyr, accomplish thou an all-wondrous deed attendant upon thy glory: Ask forgiveness from the Lord and the assuaging of His righteous anger for our ancestors, who are embittered because of their dark unbelief, and for NN., who find themselves in bitterness and the expectation of the most grievous of torments, that thou mightest raise them up to a deliverance free of fear, where are the mansions wherein the Master placeth the forgiven to live.

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

What miracle is more wondrous than this, what glory more remarkable, what lovingkindness greater than when thou, O martyr, takest pity and entreatest the merciful Lord to remit the sin of impiety from NN., whom we remember, and to deliver them from grievous punishment?

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

O merciful Mistress, who lovest mankind and art not mindful of evil: Accept the urgency of our petition, and unfailingly intercede for mercy with thy Son and Master, that He have mercy and forgive the sin of heterodoxy for our deceased kinfolk, and for NN. who are remembered with them, and that He bestow upon them remission and a place of mercy which shall not be taken away.

Prayer: O Holy, wondrous Martyr Varus, who, burning with zeal for the Heavenly King, didst confess Him before thy torturers and didst greatly suffer for Him! Now the Church doth venerate thee, as one glorified with the glory of heaven by Christ the Lord, Who granted thee the abundant grace to approach Him boldly. And now, standing before Him together with the Angels, rejoicing on high, beholding the Most Holy Trinity clearly, and enjoying the Uncreated Light, remember the suffering of our relatives (and those we remember, and those we hold in our hearts) who have died outside the Faith, and accept our pleas, and as thou didst intercede for the unbelieving ancestors of Cleopatra and didst free them from eternal suffering, remember those who have died unbaptized or have been buried in an ungodly manner, or died suddenly, or by their own hand, or unjustly, N.N. …. and pray earnestly that they may be delivered from eternal darkness, that we may all, with one mouth and one heart, praise the Most Merciful Creator unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Translated from the Church Slavonic by the reader Isaac E. Lambertsen from The Holy Martyr Varus:

Prayers for Those Who Have Died Unbaptized, 5th printing (Moscow: Dunkan Service, 1996), pp. 4-13.

Copyright © 2001. All rights reserved by the translator.

Troparion, Tone V:  Thou didst follow in the steps of the martyrs and contend for the glory of Christ. Thou wast tied to a beam and restored by the Tree of Life, and thine intercessions gladden our souls.

St Varus: Life and Festal Canon

As well as celebrating the feast of St John of Kronstadt, we also commemorate the feast of the Holy Martyr Varus (Uar), to whom the Lord has given the grace to supplicate for the departed who have died without Holy Baptism.

From our friends at the Convent of St Elizabeth, in Minsk…

“On 1 November, the Church commemorates Saint Martyr Varus of Egypt. His life teaches us the power of unwavering faith. With it, we can withstand the gravest sorrows. He shows that our life in this world is only a fleeting moment of transition to eternity and that worldly honours and comforts are worthless compared to our everlasting salvation.

On icons, Saint Varus appears as a brave warrior in lustrous armour. He is a victorious commander, popular among the rank and file soldiers for his valour, bravery and talent. He is deeply respected among the rulers of Rome. The Emperor himself takes it as a great honour to welcome him in his palace.

With his deserts and spectacular feats, he could have earned himself an honourable place among the heroes of Rome. Yet he was a believer in Christ, and he knew well that worldly fame and glory are worthless in eternity, and the only way to have eternal salvation is by accumulating riches in heaven. In the years of bitter persecution of Christians, he did not hide his beliefs. Voluntarily, he suffered unimaginable torments. He withstood them to the end and gratefully accepted the fate of a Christian martyr, preferring it to a place of honour in the pantheon of Roman heroes.

Yet even after his departure, Saint Varus continued to reassure the tormented and the desperate, reminding them about the eternal joy and comfort waiting for them in their life to come. The pious widow Cleopatra who had assumed the care of Saint Varus’ remains, had a terrible loss. Her son died from an illness at a young age. With great love and dedication, she had been raising him for a brilliant career in the army. Her worldly life lost all meaning, her hopes received a crushing blow. She brought her son’s lifeless body to Saint Varus’ grave in the desperate hope that he would revive him.

Saint Varus came to her in a dream. He told the grieving mother that he would resurrect the boy if she held the glory that he would win in the empire’s wars to be more valuable than his eternal life in heaven. For his part, the boy assured his mother that nothing would make him go back to the world of sorrow. Cleopatra found closure. Praying for her son all the time, she gave away her estate to the poor and served at a church. Seven years later, she reunited with her son in haven.

In this part of the world, the faithful remember Saint Varus for his prayerful intercession for the unbaptised. They invoke his name in prayers for small children, unbaptised kin and stillborn infants. As we read the Canon of Saint Varus at Saint Elisabeth Convent, our sisters pray privately for people of other faiths and unbelievers. In every person, there is an image of God, and we all have a shared purpose – to grow in His likeness.

As we read the Creed at every liturgy, we express our hope for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. It gives us the strength to overcome our worst losses and pains, and to live through our most bitter sorrows. Yet so many people in our age of reason and enlightenment find it hard to embrace this hope with their hearts and souls. Habitually, we look to science for some confirmation but hear only silence. No one person who has departed to eternity can return to tell us about it. Even people who have had encountered eternity but returned to life cannot find the words to talk about it.

And so, like the righteous Cleopatra, we turn to Saint Varus for his assistance. We ask him to help us grow in our faith, build our confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

O Martyr Varus, you received the crown of martyrdom and now rejoice with the angels. Pray for our souls unceasingly!”

Canon of the martyr, the acrostic whereof is: ”I praise the sufferings of Varus and his great glory”, the composition of Joseph, in Tone VI:

Ode 1, Irmos: When Israel crossed the deep on foot as though it were dry land, beholding the tyrant Pharaoh drowned, he cried aloud: Let us sing to God a hymn of victory!

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Thou hast appeared in the heights of the Church of Christ as a radiant sun, illumining the fullness of the earth with the brilliance of thy battles, O blessed Varus.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Embraced by the sweet ardour of divine love, O most blessed one, thou didst deny thyself and didst hasten wisely to all the tortures of the flesh, struggling mightily.

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

Having sensibly bound thyself with the bonds of godly strugglers, O athlete, thou didst break asunder the bonds of falsehood by thy mighty endurance of many torments.

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

The transcendent Word made His abode within thy womb in manner past recounting, O pure one, and, having been born in godly manner, He hath led to Him the choirs of martyrs. With them we praise thee in hymnody.

Ode 3, Irmos: There is none as holy as Thou, O Lord my God, Who hast exalted the horn of Thy faithful, O Good One, and hast established us upon the rock of Thy confession.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Thou didst enter upon valiant struggles with mighty resolve, having made thyself steadfast by hope in the good things which are to come and by the most-wise teachings of the martyrs of Christ, O blessed one.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Beholding the army of the holy athletes suffering lawfully, thou didst show forth their courageous strength, entering upon multifarious torments, O Varus.

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

As a valiant warrior, O Varus, thou didst find thyself in the sacred regiment, and didst cut down multitudes with the battle-sword of courage, O wise one, being glorified with victories.

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

O Virgin Mother of God, I beseech thee: By the effulgence of grace which is in thee, drive away the most profound darkness of my despair and the clouds of the passions.

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

Sedalion, Tone I, “Thy tomb, O Saviour …”: Beholding the honoured sufferings of the martyrs, and venerating their fetters with love, thou didst hasten to ascend to the summit of witness, O most wondrous one; for, suspended upon a tree, thou didst endure wounds, until thou didst commit thy spirit into the hands of the Lord.

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

Theotokion: O all-pure Virgin, thou hope of Christians, unceasingly entreat God to Whom thou gavest birth in manner past understanding and recounting, in behalf of those who hymn thee, that He grant remission of all our sins and correction of life unto those who ever glorify thee with faith and love.

Stavrotheotokion (replaces the Theotokion on Wednesdays and Fridays): Beholding Thee stretched out, dead, upon the Cross, O Christ, Thy most immaculate Mother cried aloud: “O my Son Who art equally unoriginate with the Father and the Spirit, what is this, Thine ineffable dispensation, whereby Thou hast saved the creation of Thine own all-pure hands, O Compassionate One?”

Ode 4, Irmos: Christ is my power, my God and Lord, the honoured Church doth chant in godly manner, crying out with a pure mind, keeping festival in the Lord.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Adorned with holy wounds, thou didst show thyself to be most comely and the beloved of God Who crowned thy head, O right wondrous Varus.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Stretched out on a cross and again upon the ground; O glorious one, thou didst endure cruel pangs. Wherefore, in gladness thou hast inherited the life which is devoid of pain.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

The godly martyrs, seeing thee suffering lawfully, strengthened thee with words of patience, O blessed one; and having completed thy valiant sufferings with them, thou hast attained blessedness.

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

With praises we crown the divine martyrs, for with divine wreaths the grace of God hath crowned them who cast down the overweening thoughts of the enemy.

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

O Mistress, from the mire of the passions and the passionate thoughts which alienate me from the one pure God lead me up, that I may bless thee with faith.

Ode 5, Irmos: With Thy divine light, O Good One, illumine the souls of those who rise early unto Thee with love, that they may know Thee, O Word of God, to be the true God Who calleth them forth from the darkness of sin.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Strengthened by divine inclinations, O Varus, with valiant mind thou didst endure unremitting laceration, rending apart the heart of the prideful one, the author of evil.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

The glorious martyr, seeing pieces of his flesh falling to the ground, rejoiced, looking toward eternal and divine rewards with splendour of mind.

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

“I hymn, glorify and worship Thee, O Lord God, having been vouchsafed the good things prepared for those who love Thee!” the martyr cried out fervently amid his suffering.

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

In that thou hast truly been shown to be more holy than the cherubim and seraphim, O most immaculate one, do thou now sanctify all who with faith call thee sacred, and save them by thy mediation.

Ode 6, Irmos: Beholding the sea of life surging with the storm of temptations, fleeing to Thy calm haven I cry unto Thee: Lead up my life from corruption, O greatly Merciful One!

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Thou didst disdain the words of the all-iniquitous enemy and didst patiently endure unbearable pain of the flames, O much suffering Varus, who prayest for those who praise thee with faith.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

The most mindless tyrant did not cease inflicting wounds upon thee without pity, until thou didst commit thy sacred soul into the hands of God, made radiant with the beauties of thy struggles.

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

Emulating Christ, thou wast uplifted upon a tree, and hanging thereon, thou didst surrender thy soul to God, Who crowned thee, having suffered valiantly, O athlete.

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

O Mistress, ever direct my lowly soul which is tempest-tossed on the deep of evils, and guide it to the calm haven, for with unfaltering understanding it calleth thee blessed.

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

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

Kontakion, in Tone 4: Following Christ, O martyr Varus, and draining His cup, thou wast crowned with the wreath of martyrdom and joinest chorus with the angels. Pray thou without ceasing for our souls.

Ode 7, Irmos: The Angel caused the furnace to pour forth dew upon the venerable children, and the command of God which consumed the Chaldeans prevailed upon the tyrant to cry: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers!

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

O Varus, the all-good Cleopatra helped to bury thee, who wast illumined with gifts of thy struggles, finding through thee the glory of faith manifestly fitting, which thou didst fervently show forth in thine end.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Shedding tears over thee and embalming thee with precious unguents, the most honored woman buried in the earth thee who hast buried wicked falsehood and hast illumined us with rays of brilliance from thy grave.

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

The ever-memorable one did not cease pleasing thee, the favorite of Christ, O wise and venerable one, until thou didst show thyself to be a mediator for her of the kingdom of heaven which she and her beloved son were vouchsafed through thee.

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

By thy mediation, O Virgin, restore me, who am crushed by my countless offenses, healing my soul and granting me the words to cry out: Blessed art thou who gavest birth to God in the flesh!

Ode 8, Irmos: Out of the flame Thou didst pour forth dew upon the venerable ones, and didst consume the sacrifice of the righteous man with water; for Thou, O Christ, doest all things whatsoever Thou desirest. Thee do we exalt supremely for all ages.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Hearkening to a mother’s entreaties, O martyr, and splendidly enrolling her son in the army of heaven, with ineffable lovingkindness thou didst show that thy glory and that of the honoured youth cannot be taken away.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Cleopatra bore thee out of Egypt like riches beyond price. O martyr, lavishing precious gifts of healings upon all of Palestine, which honoureth thee with love.

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

In gladness thou didst complete thy struggles, O valiant warrior of the Almighty, and thou hast been crowned by Him as a victor, O most blessed Varus, thou great glory of the martyrs.

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

Sins upon sins do I add, yet I do not fear the coming dread judgment. O pure one, overcome the blindness of my soul, and converting me, save me by thine entreaty.

Ode 9, Irmos: It is not possible for men to see God, upon Whom the ranks of angels dare not gaze; for through thee, O most pure one, the Word appeared, incarnate, to men. And, magnifying Him, with the armies of heaven we call thee blessed.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Manifestly girded about with divine power, O valiant athlete Varus, thou didst cast down the might of the adversary; wherefore, we, the faithful, praise thee, drawing forth abundant healing from thy relics.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

Thy memory hath spread forth upon the ends of the earth like light, like the dawn, like the great sun, O all-praised one, illumining all with the radiant effulgence of thine honored struggles and driving darkness away from men’s hearts.

Holy Great Martyr Varus, pray to God for us.

The loving mother, beholding her son shining with thee in great glory, magnified the God of all, O martyr, and most earnestly glorified thee as an intercessor most great, having been manifestly enriched by thee.

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

The land on which thy most patient body lieth, O wise one, hath been divinely sanctified. By thy supplications, O Varus, grant us remission of sins, amendment of life and deliverance from all difficulties.

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

The Lord, manifesting Himself through thee, the light cloud, O Virgin, wrought utter destruction upon the graven images of Egypt; and He hath vouchsafed the multitude of His athletes to endure, becoming emulators of His honoured sufferings:

Celebrating the Glorification of St John of Kronstadt

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today the Russian Church Outside of Russia celebrates the canonisation of our Holy and Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, that bright luminary, who shone through the gathering storm clouds and darkness in the last days of the Imperial Russia.

At the time of the canonisation in 1964, the Church Abroad was the only free part of the Russian Church, with its prophetic voice championing the plight of the martyric suffering of the faithful in the Soviet Union, whilst the Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate fervently denied the persecution of the Church, especially before western commentators, despite the renewed, savage attacks on the Church under Krushchev, who had died only weeks earlier.

Despite its poverty and numerical insignificance, our Russian Church Abroad struggled to preserve the Faith and the legacy of Holy Russia – and continued that life and legacy in exile and the emigration.

It was clear that the Church in captivity could not canonise such a holy and light-bearing spiritual giant as St John, clearly glorified by God among the choir of the Saints in the Heavenly Church. So, in 1964, our Russian Church Outside of Russia, as the free voice of Russian Orthodoxy glorified St John – an event so long awaited by the faithful in the homeland and in the emigration. The Moscow Patriarchate would not declare St John a saint for another twenty six years.

In this event, we not only reflect upon the holiness and awe-inspiring life and ministry of St John, but also on the importance of our Church Abroad in championing and preserving the inheritance and legacy of our Faith, rejecting compromise and the ‘dumbing down’ of Orthodoxy, the perversion of the tenets of Faith to suit nationalistic and political agendas, communion with schismatics, the cancer of ecumenism that still spreads its deathly cells throughout the ‘Orthodox’ world, and the temptation to accommodate the Church to the fallen world, with its politically correct, hellish agendas.

This is why recognising St John up as a beacon of Orthodoxy and holiness was so important in 1964, and remains so important at the present time, when we are surrounded by darkness… but darkness that is dispelled by the light of God’s Glory shining in the lives of His saints and in His Holy Church.

Let us pray to St John for the Church and the suffering-world, and for us to have the courage and strength to tread the Royal Path that leads to the Kingdom of God.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us!

The Canon to St John of Kronstadt in Tone IV

Ode I, Irmos: Through the deep of the Red Sea, * marched dry shod Israel of old, * and by Moses’ outstretched hands, * raised in the form of a cross, * the power of Amalek was routed in the wilderness.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Make firm my senses and mind, O my Savior, that I may worthily hymn the supplications and struggles of Thy servant John our father, who loved Thee and was beloved of Thee.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

O blessed one who from thy youth wast forechosen to chant unto the first-called apostle in his holy temple, illumined with the radiance of the Cross thou didst flee the gloom of sin, unceasingly offering up prayers and hymnody to God our Savior.

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

On a chariot of the virtues didst thou mount to heaven, as once did Elijah on a chariot of fire; hence, beseech thou the Lord that He send down upon us correction of life.

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

Through thee, O Virgin Theotokos, we who were once deprived of life in paradise have received everlasting life; for thou hast given birth unto Him Who alone is without beginning and giveth life unto all.

Ode III, Irmos: Thy Church, O Christ, rejoiceth in Thee crying aloud: * Thou, O Lord, art my strength, * my refuge and foundation.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

As one who shared in the manner of life of the apostles and wast an emulator of their life, O divinely inspired one, thou didst set forth the word of truth unto the end.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

The eye of thy soul beheld the kingdom of heaven, for it was pure; wherefore, thou didst splendidly set forth thy life, and, honoring it in God, we glorify thee.

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

Let him who doth not labor not eat! These words of the Apostle Paul didst thou proclaim to thy brethren; wherefore, thou didst raise up a house of industry for the sake of the poor, wherein the impoverished and ailing might be provided for, being sustained by the work of their own hands.

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

Thou art wholly light, all-goodness, all-wisdom; thou canst, as Mother of the Almighty, do all things; thou alone art all-perfect, in that thou art the Mother of the all-perfect King of glory.

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

Sessional Hymn, Tone VIII: O blessed John, lamp of Kronstadt, thou whose activity and preaching were continual, who offered up before the throne of the Most High lamentation over the sins of many, and who in the Spirit beheld the bowing down of the heavens at the holy liturgy: Pray thou on behalf of our souls!

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

Theotokion, Tone VIII: O ye faithful, with hymns let us magnify the Theotokos, * the unshakable confirmation of the Faith * and the precious gift of our souls: * Rejoice, thou who didst hold within thy womb the Stone of life! * Rejoice, thou hope of the ends of the earth * and aid of the sorrowful! ** Rejoice, thou Bride unwedded!

Ode IV, Irmos: Beholding Thee, the Sun of righteousness, * lifted up upon the Cross, * the Church now standeth arrayed and doth worthily cry aloud: * Glory be to Thy power, O Lord!

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Having a firm foundation in Christ, thou didst imitate Abraham of old in thy hospitality, receiving those who came to thee from all lands, and leading them to the Lord; and thus didst thou do that which is pleasing unto God.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Desiring to make thy heart a temple of God, it was thy wish to serve unceasingly in the house of God, adorning thy soul with the beauties of heaven.

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

Having extinguished all the passions of the body with the dew of thy feats, thou didst kindle the light of dispassion; wherefore, thou wast shown also to be a child of the everlasting day, O blessed father.

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

The divine Ezekiel, O most pure one, called thee prophetically the gate which was closed, through which He Who alone is pre-eternal hath passed without change, granting His peace.

Ode V, Irmos: Thou, O Lord, who camest into the world, * art my light, * a holy light turning from the darkness of ignorance * those who sing Thy praises in faith.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Unceasingly serving thy Lord and ever emulating the labors of the apostles, O father, thou wast deemed worthy of heavenly gifts.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Having slain the passionate pleasures of thy corruptible flesh, thou didst enliven thine incorruptible soul with piety, and make of it a house of the divine Spirit.

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

Earnestly proclaiming the Gospel of Christ unto all, thou wast a daily communicant at the banquet of the Lord, making thyself and thy flock a living offering which was holy in God’s sight.

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

O most pure one, thou hast given birth unto One of the Trinity, Who, for the sake of His loving-kindness, appeared on earth in two natures; Him do thou unceasingly entreat, that He save our souls.

Ode VI, Irmos: The church crieth out unto Thee O Lord, * ‘I will sacrifice unto Thee with a voice of praise * having been cleansed of the blood of the demons’ * by the blood that for mercy’s sake flowed from Thy side.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Thou wast a fruitful olive tree in the house of thy Lord, O divinely manifest John, for the Lord imparted divine knowledge unto thee and strengthened thee in thine apostolic work.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Ye are the members of the body of Christ! Thus, with the Apostle Paul didst thou preach, teaching thy flock to love Christ alone, that all may be one.

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

Thy life is holy, thy discourse, O divinely wise one, was filled with the grace of God, and thy heart became a vessel of grace-filled prayer. Wherefore, with faith and love we honor thee.

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

The angelic hosts marveled at the ineffable wonder which took place within thee, O most holy Virgin; how He Who is incorporeal and sustaineth all things took flesh from thee.

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

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

Kontakion, Tone IV: O father John, namesake of grace, * who wast chosen by God from childhood, * who in thy youth miraculously received from Him the gift of learning, * and in a dream wast most gloriously called to be a priest: ** Entreat Christ God, that we may all be with thee in the kingdom of heaven.

Ikos: The Holy Spirit Who spake in the prophets and enlightened the whole world through the apostles, Who gave strength to the martyrs and made clear the Orthodox Faith through the holy hierarchs, poured forth His grace abundantly upon thee, O father John; for by thy discourse, by thy works and thy whole life thou didst proclaim the faith of Christ. Wherefore, the Lord hath summoned thee to His habitations; and as thou dost now stand before the throne of His glory, do thou pray that all who honor thee may be with thee in the kingdom of God.

Ode VII, Irmos: In the Persian furnace the youths and descendants of Abraham, * burning with a love of piety * rather than by a flame of fire, * cried aloud saying: * Blessed art Thou in the temple of Thy glory, O Lord.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

By the providence of God thou wast revealed to be a light of piety amid the heavy darkness of godlessness and unbelief, O father, calling upon all to cry aloud: Blessed art Thou in the churches of Thy glory, O Lord!

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Man is formed in the image of God; and thou, O father John, wast a most splendid mirror of the love of God and a dwelling place of the Holy Trinity, Whom we sinners also glorify.

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

From the Lord didst thou receive the grace to heal the infirmities and passions of all; visit us also therewith always, that with thee we may all chant in oneness of mind: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout all ages!

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

O Lady, save thy people, save those who are of the same blood as thee. Save us, O Mother of life and of the whole human race, and, even though we are unworthy to call thee our mother, sanctify, make steadfast and save us by thy supplications.

Ode VIII, Irmos: Having spread his hands, Daniel closed the lions jaws * in their den; * while the zealously pious youths, * girded with virtue, * quenched the power of the fire and cried aloud: * Bless ye the Lord, all ye works of the Lord.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Cleanse our hearts and thoughts by thy supplications, and show us forth to be fertile ground, that, girded about with virtue, we may cry aloud: Bless the Lord all ye works of the Lord!

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Thou wast crowned with a crown of gifts of grace, contemplating heavenly wisdom and ever crying aloud: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

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

Glory to Thee, O most holy, life-creating Spirit, Who proceedest from the Father and ever restest in the Son! Glory to Thee, O Son of God, Who sanctifiest through the Holy Spirit, and strengthenest and makest us wise! Glory to Thee, O Father, Who art ever well pleased with us through the Holy Spirit! O indivisible Triune Unity, have mercy upon us!

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

Rejoice, thou who hast given birth to the salvation of the world! for through thee we have been raised up from earth to heaven! Rejoice, O blessed one, thou protection and dominion, rampart and foundation of those who chant: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Ode IX, Irmos: A cornerstone not cut by hand O Virgin, * was cut from thee the unhewn mountain: * even Christ, Who hath joined together the disparate natures; * therefore rejoicing we magnify thee, * O Theotokos.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Truly thou wast a light to the world, O holy father, for, having adorned thy soul with godly works, thou wast revealed to be an eminent pastor of the Orthodox Church, being a model for the faithful in word and life; wherefore, we bless thee.

Holy, Righteous Father, John of Kronstadt, pray to God for us.

Keeping the One Creator ever before thy mind, through Whom and in Whom all things exist, with a pure heart and guileless soul thou didst labor for Him throughout thy life as thy Lord; and in no wise wast thou bound by Mammon.

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

Princes praised thee and many people glorified thee; but, disdaining earthly glory, thou didst desire to be in the eternal mansions of God, there to glorify the Lord always.

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

He Who is pre-eternal descended into thy womb, O most holy Virgin, and ineffably, in a manner transcending comprehension and all telling, was born from thee, that He might renew Adam of old; wherefore, we ever magnify thee as the cause of our renewal.

Troparion, in Tone IV: With the apostles thy sound hath gone forth into all the earth; * with the confessors thou didst endure sufferings for Christ; * thou didst resemble the holy hierarchs in thy preaching of the Word; * and with the venerable hast thou shone forth in the grace of God. * Therefore, the Lord hath exalted the depths of thy humility above the heavens, * and hath given us thy name as a source of most wondrous miracles. * Wherefore, O wonderworker, who livest in Christ forever, * take pity in thy love upon people in misfortunes; * and hearken unto thy children, * who with faith call upon thee, ** O righteous John, our beloved pastor.

Troparion, in Tone IV: O wonderworker, who livest in Christ forever, * take pity in thy love upon people in misfortunes; * hearken unto thy children who with faith call upon thee, * expecting compassionate aid from thee, ** O John of Kronstadt, our beloved pastor.

The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

As usual, our Sunday Liturgy was a joyous gathering, bringing people from yet further away from Cardiff, with new faces from Bourton-on-the-Water – adding Oxfordshire to the English counties from which worshippers ‘commuted’ across the Bridge to Wales.

We were also very pleased to have some of the faithful from our Romanian sister parish join us, sharing the communion of the Lord’s Body and Blood. Congratulations to all who partook of the Holy Mysteries!

Trapeza was a lively gathering, and it was lovely to see such animated conversation and so many happy faces, with new visitors being welcomed and engaged by our parish regulars.

Having discussed the arrangements for the brother of one of our young Hereford parishioners, we can now look forward to our next baptism, and hope that this will be in Nazareth House, where the Sisters look forward to welcoming us back: praise God! I look forward to discussing practicalities with Sister Anna later in the week.

This Friday is the feast of the Kazan Icon, and we will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Church of St Mary, North Church Street, Butetown, commencing the Hours at 10:30 and the Liturgy at 11:00. We will have a bring and share lunch after the Liturgy, so you are invited to bring food to share in the community hall.

We will continue our celebration of the Kazan Icon when we are all together on Sunday 6th November, when we will serve a special moleben at the end of Liturgy, praying especially for the parish as we prepare to move back to Nazareth House and resume parish life in Cathays. As usual, the Hours and Liturgy will commence at 11:00.

As explained by Deacon Mark, it is important that even those requiring Sunday confession give notification, as time is so limited. Once we are back in Cathays, this will be less of a problem, though time will always be something of a challenge, given the vast areas from which the faithful travel.

As for this week, may I have requests for confessions by Wednesday? Those who have confessed for this weekend may commune this Friday.

If needed, I shall hear some confessions in St Alban’s on Thursday, and I will be able to hear some brief confessions on Friday before Liturgy.

I shall depart for a few days in Somerset after next Sunday’s Liturgy, hoping to spend some time with some of our Wessex faithful in their own part of the world.

I ask you to continue to remember me in your prayers, as medications causes a few unwelcome side-effects and complications in an otherwise vastly improving situation!

In Christ – Fr Mark

 

From Father Mark: 23 October

Dear brothers and sisters,

Here we are at the end of another busy day in Cardiff, having welcomed more new people to our Sunday Liturgy, including visitors from Weston-Super-Mare.

Having been baptised in Chippenham, on Saturday, our newly-enlightened brother, James, was ‘churched’ just before the Hours, and we were so pleased to welcome him to the chalice before everyone else to partake of the Holy Mysteries. It was also a joy for us to welcome his mum, with the journey bringing her to her native soil. 

We congratulate James on his first Holy Communion, having chanted ‘Many Years’ at the end of Liturgy, also praying that God will bless his supportive family and sponsors, Oswald and Despina.

From one James to another – it was our other James’s 6th birthday, and we were very happy to congratulate him at the beginning of trapeza, singing Happy Birthday and Many Years.

This will be a quiet week, as there will be no Friday gathering in St Mary’s or midweek service in Llanelli, as Fr Luke will be visiting family. However, I shall still be ‘on the road’ catching up with parishioners during the week.

May I ask for requests for confessions by Wednesday, 22:00, hoping to hear the majority of confessions on Saturday.

As announced at Liturgy, we look forward to celebrating the feast of the Kazan Icon in St Mary’s on Friday 4th November, with the Hours around 10:30, after the Anglican service, and Liturgy at 11:00. 

We shall continue our celebration the following Sunday, and hope that this will be a Liturgy in which our vastly geographically-scattered flock will be united for our altar-feast..

Tomorrow morning will see the funeral of Mother Germana, the last of the nuns of the Convent of the Annunciation (in Willesden), which had a very special place in ROCOR history, although the sisterhood rejected the rapprochement with the Moscow Patriarchate. With Mother Germana’s death, a chapter has closed and an era has ended. Please remember her in your prayers, together with the Abbesses Elizabeth and Seraphima, of blessed memory. 

May the Lord God remember them in His Kingdom. Memory Eternal!

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Fr Mark

Icon of the Mother of God

Commemorated on October 6/19

The Icon “O All-Hymned Mother” derives its title from the thirteenth Kontakion of the Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos. “O All-Hymned Mother who bore the Word, holiest of all the saints….” which is often inscribed around the edge of her garment.

The Mother of God clasps Her child to Her breast with both hands. Christ is held in Her left arm, and rests on Her left shoulder. He is facing Her, and both of His hands are placed below Her neck.

Instead of the usual stars on Her head and shoulders, the faces of angels appear in three circles.

Drawing Near to the Theotokos: The Tale of the Five Prayers

From the times of the Apostles, Christians of all ages, when entering upon a task, began it with prayer, and the end of it they also hallowed with prayerful thanksgiving to the Lord, in Whom we live and move and have our being. And let us do the same, beloved reader.

But not having the gift of effectual prayer, let us recall and commit to memory what once was offered to the Lord by the grace of the Holy Spirit out of the inspired heart of the great Russian man of prayer, our father among the Saints, Dimitri, Metropolitan of Rostov and Yaroslav.

I am sure that for you, as for me, in offering to your attention “The Tale of The Five Prayers” the work of the great Bishop, it will be both welcome and useful, especially in the view of the wonderful promises which it contains. So hear this tale, my beloved reader.

You will not blame me for offering you in this Tale something new – it is not mine, and not new, but only fundamentally and completely forgotten, forgive me that I have disturbed the dust of ages: but this dust is holy …

One of the holy fathers, standing in prayer and being in ecstasy, heard the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ speaking to the Immaculate and Holy Mother of God, His Mother, saying to her: “Tell me, My Mother, which were the greatest of your sufferings, when you lived in the world, which you suffered for My sake?” The Immaculate One replied: “My Son and God, five times I have endured my greatest suffering for you: First, when I heard from the Prophet Simeon that you were to be killed; Second, when I looked for you in Jerusalem, and did not see you for three days; Third, when I heard that you were seized and bound by the Jews; Fourth, when I saw you on the Cross crucified between the robbers; Fifth, when I saw you placed in the Tomb.” And the Lord said to her: “I tell you. My Mother, whoever reads every day each of your sufferings with My prayer, i.e. ‘Our Father,’ for the first suffering I will give the knowledge of his sins and sorrow for them; for the second, I will give the forgiveness of all his sins; for the third, I will restore to him the virtues lost through sin; for the fourth, I will refresh him at death with my Divine Body and Blood; for the fifth, I will appear to him Myself at his death, and receive his soul into eternal life. Amen.”

After this vision of the Holy Father, the following prayers were added by St. Dimitri:

At the beginning of the five prayers:

“Glory to Thee, Christ my God, that Thou hast not destroyed me a sinner, with my sins, but even till now hast borne -with my sin.”

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Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep me this day without sin. Grant, O Lord, that I may not anger Thee, my Creator, in thought, word or deed, but that all my actions, counsels and thoughts may be to the glory of Thy Holy Name.”

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“God be merciful to me, a sinner, throughout my whole life. In my passing and after death, forsake me not.”

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Falling low on the earth, say:

“Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, accept me, dead in mind and soul, accept me, a sinful prodigal, impure in soul and body. Take from me all shameless enmity and resistance, and turn not Thy Face from me, O Lord, nor say: I know not who thou art. But hear the voice of my prayer: save me, for Thou hast a wealth of compassion and desirest not the death of a sinner. I will never leave Thee nor depart from Thee, my Creator, till Thou hearest me and givest me forgiveness of all my sins, through the prayers of Thy Most Pure Mother, the intercession of the honourable Bodiless Powers of Heaven, of my holy and glorious Guardian Angel, of Thy Forerunner and Prophet, the Baptist John, of the God-speaking Apostles, of the holy and victorious martyrs, of our Reverend and God-fearing fathers, and all Thy Saints, have mercy and save me, a sinner.”

O Heavenly King, O Comforter…
Holy God, Holy Mighty…
Our Father…

Virgin Mother of God, rejoice, Mary full of grace; the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.

First Prayer

“O merciful Mother, Virgin Mary, I thy sinful and unprofitable servant, remembering thy suffering on hearing from the Prophet Simeon of the merciless murder of thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, offer thee this prayer and the Angelic Salutation. Accept it in honour and memory of thy suffering, and pray thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant me the knowledge of my sins and sorrow for them.”

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Second Prayer

Our Father… 
Virgin Mother…

“O Divinely-blessed and Immaculate Maiden, Mother and Virgin, accept from me, thy sinful and unprofitable servant, this prayer and the Angelic Salutation, in honour and memory of thy suffering when thou didst lose thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple, and for three days didst not see Him. Pray and beg of Him the forgiveness and remission of all my sins, O only Blessed One.”

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Third Prayer

Our Father… 
Virgin Mother…

“O Mother of Light, most blessed Virgin Mother of God, accept from me, thy sinful and unprofitable servant, this prayer and the Angelic Salutation, in honour and memory of thy suffering on hearing that thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, had been seized and bound. Pray Him to restore to me the virtues lost through sin, that I may magnify thee, O Most Pure One, for ever.”

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Fourth Prayer

Our Father… 
Virgin Mother…

“O Fountain of Mercy, Virgin Mother of God, accept from me, thy sinful and unprofitable servant, this prayer and the Angelic Salutation, in honour and memory of thy suffering when thou didst see thy GOD, our Lord Jesus Christ, on the Cross between the robbers. Pray Him, O Lady, to grant me the gift of His mercy in the hour of my death, and to refresh me with His Divine Body and Blood, that I may glorify thee, my Defender, for ever.”

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Fifth Prayer

Our Father… 
Virgin Mother…

“O my Hope, Most Pure Virgin, Mother of God, accept from me, thy sinful and unprofitable servant, this prayer and the Angelic Salutation, in honour and memory of thy suffering when thou didst see thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, placed in the Tomb. Pray Him, O Lady, to appear to me in the hour of my death, and to receive my soul into eternal life. Amen.”

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Today in Cardiff

Dear brothers and sisters,

It was certainly a whirlwind of a day today, with no gaps between confessions, proskomedia, Liturgy and the baptism of little Ilarion, whom we welcomed together with his mum, babushka and older sister whom we baptised in the Little Oratory four years ago. It was quite a journey for them, as they live in Taunton, but given the journeys of parishioners from other places in England, these days, it was not quite as unusual as it was in the past.

To have so many for confession over the last few days, and so many communicants was a great blessing, and we congratulate all who partook of the Most Pure Mysteries. Поздравление с причастием святых христовых тайн!

Sadly, I was unable to get a chance to talk to anyone other than those who came to confession, but I hope that next Sunday will be rather more leisurely, allowing the clergy time with the faithful.

As well as thanking everyone who laboured for the joy and beauty of the service, I would like to thank those who stayed to help with the baptism, with the onerous task of bucketing water in and out of the church.

We look forward to next Saturday, when James will be baptised in Chippenham, in honour of our Venerable Father St James the Faster.

Confessions will be heard before Friday’s catechesis session in the Church of St Mary the Virgin, in Butetown. Catechesis will commence at 19:00, and confession times will depend on numbers. Please email me by Wednesday: otetzmark@hotmail.com

Next Sunday will be the commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council and St Ambrose of Optina. The variables may be found here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1l2COeNejN_tKQmiMsaZb6wSPGxdOEt-c/view

As things begin to get back to normal for me, I would like to thank parishioners for their prayers, good wishes and a plentiful supply of baked goods and pirozhki. The priest will never starve!

May God bless you all.