Through the prayers of St Menas…

I am pleased that there are others in our community who, like me, have a devotion to the Holy Great-Martyr Menas – one of the most beloved Egyptian saints. I first encountered this great saint even before I was Orthodox, when Father Luke and his matushka were given an embroidery from Egypt, showing St Menas. Fr Luke introduced me to the pilgrim flasks showing the saint with his arms raised in prayer, with camels seated on either side of him. A strange introduction, perhaps, but St Menas appealed.

During November last year, when we were homeless and without the opportunity for public Liturgy, some of us united in a week of prayer to the Holy Great-Martyr, who answered our prayers, with the Anglican Parish offering us a home for the duration of our ‘exile’ from Nazareth House. From that time on, the saint has answered so many prayers, and granted many graces. May St Menas, the Christ-Bearer, continue to pray for us, and remember us before the Lord, together with the Mother of God, the Queen of Martyrs.

Canon to the Martyr Menas and Company

by St. John of Damascus, in Tone IV:

Ode 1, Irmos: The people of Israel, having fled across the watery deep of the Red Sea with dry-shod feet, beholding the mounted captains of the enemy drowned therein, sang with gladness: Let us chant unto our God, for He hath been glorified!

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

O ye sacred people, now passing gloriously not over the Red Abyss but the sea of the struggles of Menas the sufferer, with glorious Moses and Miriam, the wise woman and prophetess, let us sing unto our God, for He hath been glorified!

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

O Menas, champion of piety, thou wast well pleased to stand as a warrior of Christ before the fierce destroyer and the wicked tormenter who breathed the anger of threats and the heat of wrath. And thou wast His beacon, crying aloud: Let us sing unto our God, for He hath been glorified.

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

Thou, O Christ, didst foretell: When I be lifted up, I will draw those born of earth; and Thou didst do this indeed, summoning from the ends of the world the ranks of martyrs and the people that cry out in joy: Let us sing unto our God, for He hath been glorified!

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

The rod of Aaron which budded prefigured thee, O Virgin, the root which sprung forth from Jesse, which shone forth to the world God incarnate, the imperishable bloom. Him do thou ever entreat on behalf of us that have recourse to thee, O Theotokos.

Ode 3, Irmos: Let us not boast of wisdom, power or riches, but in Thee, the hypostatic Wisdom of the Father, O Christ, for none is holy save Thee, O Lover of mankind.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

The tormenter, stung by thy most wise words, wounded thee without mercy with rawhide thongs, thinking thereby to bow thee down, O invincible martyr.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

Directing the eyes of thy mind to the Lord, thou didst endure unbearable oppression with a most courageous spirit, O right glorious one.

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

Fearing not the exceeding painful torment, but breathing with divine zeal, thou didst depart for the struggles, crying: unlooked for and uninvited, I have come!

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

He that was incarnate of Thee and Who accepted voluntary death hath led up from the gates of hell me who have been slain by the evil tasting of the tree.

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

Sedalion, Tone 8: Egypt, which before had been held fast by the cruel darkness of ignorance, shone thee forth, O divinely wise martyr Menas, as a beacon to all the world, who by the rays of thy divine struggles dost mightily disperse the night of ungodliness. Wherefore, radiantly celebrating thy radiant and honored day, we earnestly cry out to thee: O adornment of sufferers, entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins to them that with love honour thy holy memory.

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

Repeat sedalion.

Ode 4, Irmos: Seated in glory on the throne of the Godhead, Jesus most divine is come on a light cloud and with His incorrupt hand hath saved them that sing: Glory to Thy power, O Christ!

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

By the shedding of thy blood they extinguished the ember of polytheism, and the legion of demons was drowned, and the Church of Christ, which praises thee, was watered thereby, O most blessed passion-bearer Menas.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

O martyr, by being lifted up on the tree thou dost portray the passion on the Cross of Him that slew the cruel serpent; thou dost endure lacerations which win for thee that delight which is in the Heavens, O most valorous one.

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

Thou didst undergo a trial of pain past nature, O sufferer, and divine love, strengthening thy nature, caused thee to receive forgetfulness, urging thee to reach out for wounds, rejoicing.

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

Ineffably didst thou give birth unto God incarnate, Who fashioned for Himself a home of thy blood, and in godly manner is known in two essences and wills, O thou that knewest not wedlock.

Ode 5, Irmos: The impious perceive not Thy glory, O Christ; but we, waking at dawn out of the night, hymn Thee, O Lover of mankind, Radiance of the glory of the Father’s Divinity, O Only-begotten One.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

Luminous with the bright rays of thy witness, having overshadowed dark godlessness, O most wise one, thou hast enlightened the faithful of the fullness who hymn thee, O all-laudable one.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

Every contrivance of the foe hath vanquished away through thy mighty endurance, for neither hunger, nor wounds, nor immolation, nor subjection to iron hooks clouded thy resolve.

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

Surrounded by faith as the sun is by its rays, thou didst make thine abode in the desert and didst enlighten all the cities, preaching Christ, the Son of God, Who came in the flesh, O glorious one.

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

The Deliverer, born of thee in manner surpassing nature, maketh me new who am subject to corruption, freeing me from the ancient curse, O pure Mother of God. Him do thou entreat, that He save me.

Ode 6, Irmos: I have come to the depths of the sea, and the tempest of my many sins hath engulfed me, but, as Thou art God, lead up my life out of the depths, O most Merciful One!

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

Burned by fire, thy wounds rubbed raw with haircloth, yet thou didst remain without pain, for divine grace, being present, strengthened thee, O Menas.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

Thou dost stand condemned before the tribunal of the tyrants, denouncing the falsehood, O ever memorable one, and giving thyself to the faithful as a pillar of piety.

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

With the sweat of thy struggles thou didst dry up the falsehood of idolatry, and didst fashion of thyself a temple of the honoured Trinity, O right wondrous passion-bearer Menas.

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

Heal thou the incurable passions of my soul with the balm of thy goodness, O all-immaculate one, who didst give birth to Christ, the good Saviour, for them that are in the world.

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 4: O Passion-bearer Menas, * Christ our God, the imperishable Crown of martyrs, * took thee from a transient army, * and showed thee forth * as a partaker of the incorruptible and heavenly.

Ikos: The memory of the martyrs is a cause of great gladness for us, for it showeth forth courage amid suffering and victory over the enemy in the radiant and joyful confession of grace. Come ye, therefore, all ye that love this festival, and let us be glad therein, keeping the memory of the passion-bearer Menas as the best and abiding time of our gladness, and receiving the gift of being loosed from our passions, for Christ God is the Bestower thereof, the imperishable Crown of martyrs.

Ode 7, Irmos: Blessed art Thou, O all-hymned Lord, God of our fathers, Who saved the children of Abraham in the fire, they that sought the truth righteously, and Who slew the Chaldeans.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

With wounds didst thou strip off sin’s garment of skin, and thou didst robe thyself in vesture which groweth not old and which grace, appearing, wore, O blessed one.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

By the burning zeal of thine honourable and mighty struggles hath wicked and thorny godlessness been utterly consumed, O martyr, and the leaping flame of ignorance is extinguished by the streams of thy blood, O most blessed one.

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

Possessed of abundant gifts, thou dost pour forth miracles upon them that celebrate thine honoured festival, O right wondrous Menas; and thou dost aid them that sing: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

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

Blessed is the Fruit of thy blessed womb, Whom the hosts of Heaven and the assemblies of those born of earth do bless, He that hath delivered us from the ancient curse, O blessed one.

Ode 8, Irmos: O Almighty Deliverer of all, descending upon the pious youths amid the flame, Thou didst bedew them and teach them to sing: All ye works, bless and hymn the Lord!

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

O Menas, thou wast revealed as a crown-bearer; having set at nought the enemies of the Cross of thy Lord, thou didst put them to shame and didst cry out, O most blessed one: All ye works of the Lord, praise and supremely exalt Him unto the ages!

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

God hath wrought wonders in thy memory, pouring forth healings, both spiritual and bodily, through thy relics upon us that cry out: All ye works of the Lord, praise and supremely exalt Him unto the ages!

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

Thou didst offer God thy service; and having bowed thy head to the ground, thou wast beheaded by the sword, O martyr, crying aloud: All ye works of the Lord, praise and supremely exalt Him unto the ages!

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

Today is the Holy Church adorned with your blood, as with purple and fine linen, O Menas, Victor and Vincent, who cry out: All ye works of the Lord, praise and supremely exalt Him unto the ages!

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

Virgin remaineth the womb of her that bore the Saviour Who without seed was conceived of the Holy Spirit, God uncircumscribable wrapped in flesh, the Word co-unoriginate with the Father. Him do all works praise and supremely exalt as Lord unto the ages!

Ode 9, Irmos: Christ Who uniteth disparate natures, the cornerstone uncut by hands, hath been cut from thee, the unquarried mountain, O Virgin. Wherefore, in gladness we magnify thee, O Theotokos.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

Thou didst love no less than thou wast beloved, O passion-bearer, laying down thy beloved life for Christ Who loved thee and Who glorified thy witness with Himself, O ever memorable one.

Holy Great-Martyr, Menas, pray to God for us.

As a lampstand aflame with the light of three suns did the three inseparable martyrs appear: Menas, Victor, and Vincent, illuminating the faithful and dispersing the gloom of the demons.

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

Accept, as that which is thy due, our praise of thee which proceedeth from a readiness which, I know, surpasseth, our words; and from thy treasuries bestow upon us gifts without number.

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

Of old rightly did all the prophets praise thee, the Mother of the King and Master; and now, the apostles and martyrs magnify thee, glorifying thee with us.

Troparion, Tone 8: With great valour of soul, didst thou strive in martyrdom, and having fought the good fight, O divine Great Martyr Menas, from Heaven hast thou received the gift of miracles; for God hath shown thee to the world as a worker of great signs, and He made thee our protector and a swift help in afflictions and ever-vigilant defence from harm.

A Prayer against Passions, Torments, Despair and Distress

A Prayer of Saint Nikolaj (Velimirovic) to the Most-Holy Theotokos

 

Waves of passion disturb my spirit, great sadness and anguish have overwhelmed my soul. Embalm my soul with Thy Son’s peace, O Most Holy One, and by His Grace drive away every doubt and despair. Calm the storm of my sins that, like a fiery worm, burn me, and quench its flame. Fill my heart with joy, O Most Pure One, and disperse the fog of my iniquities before me, for it confuses me. Illumine me with the light of Thy Son. Helpless is my soul, and everything is cumbersome, even prayer. Here I am, cold as a stone, my lips whispering prayers, while my heart remains immovable, for it is smothered in anguish. Melt the ice which envelops my soul and warm my heart with Thy love.

I rely not on human protection, but fall down before Thee, O Most Pure Sovereign Mother of God; reject me not, but hearken unto the prayer of Thy servant. Sadness has overcome me; I can endure the demonic attack no more. I have no protection; there is no shelter for this poor man, and in this battle, I am ever being wounded. I have no consolation, but in Thee, O Holy Sovereign. O Hope and Protection of all who believe, reject not my prayer.

O Most Holy Mother of Christ, Most Pure, Most Blessed Theotokos, Satan is pounding at me like the waves of the sea against a ship, pursuing me by day and tormenting me at night. I have no peace; turbulent is my soul, my spirit trembles. Hearken, O Most Holy One and help me. Intercede before the dear Lord that He may have mercy on me and forgive the sins I have committed. O Most Holy Mother of Jesus, Thy grace is great, and the mightiest opponent to the powers of Hades. Thou art able to save even the greatest of sinners who, having been cast into the depths of hell by unclean powers, should call upon Thee. So too, save me, for lo, Satan will have me stumble and will destroy my faith, but I trust in the Lord. I magnify Thee, Who art more holy than the Cherubim and the Seraphim. Amen.

This weekend in the parish

Dear brothers and sisters,

After a successful response to the parish drive to finance a full-time parish-priest I am happy to inform you that I will be taking up this position on 1st December, ministering to the parishes in Cardiff and Cheltenham, hoping that we will also soon establish an outreach serving our Wessex parishioners.

As many of you are aware, combining full-time work in learning-disabilities and virtually full-time parish ministry was always a challenge, and has become increasingly difficult over the past few years, in which I have become very aware of my own limitations.

However, it has still been a joy to be able to combine both major causes in my life, knowing that Faith has been shaped my ‘external’ professional life, as well as parish ministry.

In the years since Metropolitan Hilarion asked me to take over the position of rector of the Cardiff parish and priest-in-charge of Cheltenham, much has changed, and the needs of the parishes have increased significantly.

Since our move from Butetown to Nazareth House in 2017, the parish has grown, spiritually above all, and we have seen a wonderful flowering of parish-life, despite lockdown and the continuing obstacles of the last year and a half. We are indebted to the Fathers of the Oratory and the Sisters of Nazareth for so much in this period, and we look forward to our return to Nazareth House with great anticipation.

In the meantime, we have to consider sustaining our presence in St John’s, Canton.

Since our last services in St John’s, our use of the church has been formalised with the completion of a hire agreement. As a result, we are now paying for the building on an hourly basis, which significantly increases our weekly outgoings, and the necessary payment for every hour we use the building.

Given the significant cost of each Sunday’s use of the building, Saturday services will no longer be financially sustainable for us given the small Saturday congregation.

I will discuss the situation with Deacon Mark on his return from Greece, and I am hopeful that we will find a way to move forward with Saturday worship and confessions.

As I look forward to commencing the position of full-time parish-priest on 1st December, I very much hope that parishioners will be willing to revive home akathists and various services, so that we will have worship on weekdays as well as the weekends.

However, this week there will be no Saturday service, but we will revert to using Deacon Mark’s office for confessions in the late afternoon and early evening. With this in mind, may I ask those wishing to confess on Saturday to email me – otetzmark@hotmail.com by Friday evening (and this will be strictly enforced), with those needing lifts out of town to Morganstown to let us know, so that we can endeavour to make their confession possible.

The Hours and Liturgy will be celebrated, as usual, in St John’s at 11:00, on Sunday morning, with confessions commencing at 10:15.

I would also appreciate knowing who will require confession on Sunday.

The variable portions of the Sunday Liturgy – St Luke’s Day – may be found here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jvkkwmS9nSNmtr1KvpA8VNT7Ivlm6ECX/view

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

First Swansea Liturgy Today

Dear brothers and sisters,

The first ROCOR Liturgy in Swansea was celebrated in the Vivian Hall in Blackpill, this morning, and the village hall will be the home of the local Russian Orthodox Parish for the foreseeable future.

Though minimalist in set-up, the furnishings of Orthodox worship provided all that was needed for the Liturgy, celebrated by Father Luke, whilst I joined those on the kliros, where we mainly chanted in English, but with a few Slavonic chants. We hope that Romanian parishioners will share in the chanting in future weeks.

The Liturgy was well attended, welcoming a mixed congregation of Welsh, Romanian and Russian parishioners from both of our South Wales parishes, and there was ample time  to catch up, socialise and spend time together after Liturgy

It was good that parishioners organised car-shares, and I hope this will become an automatic part of parish-life, making it possible for as many of the faithful as possible to attend Liturgy, wherever it is celebrated.

Swansea and Llanelli parishioners have been reminded of the sheer effort required to set up a building for Liturgy, and I hope that in the weeks ahead as many people as possible will offer their labours and assist Father Luke as much as possible. There is much lifting, carrying and unpacking to be done before the hall is ready for worship, and this must be performed in reverse at the end of the day. Parishioners now need to work together to support their parish-priest in this very physical and tiring task.

Father Luke will celebrate the Liturgy in Swansea again next Sunday, with set-up at 09:00, the Hours at 10:00 and the Liturgy at 10:30. Those wishing to communicate should ideally make arrangement to make their confession to Father Luke in the week, to ease Sunday morning, when there is so much to be done.

After a week without Liturgy in Cardiff, the Russian Orthodox Parish will return to St John’s this coming weekend, and I will post details of our services in the next few days.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Swansea Liturgy this Coming Sunday

Dear brothers and sisters,

May I remind you all that this Sunday will see our South Wales parishes worshipping together in Swansea.

After faithfully celebrating the Liturgy in our chapel in Llanelli, Archpriest Luke will celebrate our first public ROCOR Liturgy in Swansea in the Vivian Hall, 82 Mumbles Rd, Black Pill, Swansea SA3 5AS.

The Hours will begin at 10:00, followed by the Divine Liturgy. Confessions will be heard before and during the Hours, and may we remind worshippers that all who wish to commune (with the blessing of the clergy) should prepare themselves with prayer, fasting and confession. This is the historical Tradition of the whole Church, whatever may now happen elsewhere.

We will have refreshments afterwards, so contributions will be most welcome.

Please allow sufficient time to find a parking space, as there is no immediate parking, but there is provision for free parking in Clyne Gardens and paid-parking at the lido.

I am so happy that members of our Cardiff parish have already pledged their support and look forward to a joyful gathering of the Orthodox faithful from across South Wales and the West of England in Swansea.

The variable parts of the Liturgy may be found at:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BkZMMM8_kEDeMcxuFNaviWM7oRW1DBtJ/view

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

A Joyous Day in Cardiff

Dear brothers and sisters,

Every Liturgy is an occasion for rejoicing, and each week we leave Cardiff buoyed by the joy of our celebration, no matter how physically tired we feel. However, today was an especially joyful Sunday, beginning with Elliot being made a catechumen and formally beginning the journey to the waters of baptism, after being an active member of our community for the greater part of the year. It was wonderful to see the joy on the faces of our parishioners – particularly on the kliros – when Elliot recited the creed, and during the final prayer:

O Master, Lord our God, call Thy servant Elliot to Thy holy Enlightenment and count him worthy of the great grace of Thy holy Baptism. Put off his old self and renew him for eternal life and fill him with the power of Thy Holy Spirit for union with Thy Christ, that he may no longer be a child of the body, but a child of Thy kingdom. Through the good pleasure and grace of Thine Only-begotten Son, with whom Thou art blessed, together with Thine all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.

A wonderfully affirmative Amen resounded from the kliros.

I was greatly heartened to know that in baptism, he will take the name of his local sainted-hierarch, St Aldhelm of Sherborne: an apt name for a Dorset musician.

May St Aldhelm pray for him, protect and bless him!

The triumphal joy was sustained by the choir, lifted by the return of Aleksandra, after her period of rest following a fall, with the added blessing of Byzantine chants, in addition to the usual Russian melodies.

It was good to have an army of oltarniky today, and a blessing to have them helping with our commemoration after a busy time of confessing the faithful. When they bowed to the high-place and turned to the west behind the Holy Table for the creed, it was a wonderful sight. As always, they coped with the unexpected, as a blessing of our new travelling holy-vessels and icons crept into the dismissal of the Liturgy.

We were very happy to congratulate Peter on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, and to sing Mnogaya Leta with conviction and hwyl (Welsh gusto!). Again, dear Peter, we pray that God will grant you many, blessed years!

Our social time after Liturgy, allowed us to welcome visitors and catch up over a glass of wine, super-strong coffee for the rector and some lunch. This is one of the aspects of parish-life that we missed so much under stringent covid-regulations, and to return to this fellowship is a blessing and relief.

It was wonderful to have parishioners come to Liturgy to receive a blessing before travelling abroad, and we also hold our student Marina in our prayers, as she completes her M.A. dissertation at home in Moscow. It was strange not to have her with us, but the consolation was to see the friendship between our young parishioners.

Anglican use of St John’s, coupled with my work commitments see us relocate to Swansea, next week, to support Father Luke with the first public Russian Orthodox Liturgy in Swansea, in the Vivian Hall, 82 Mumbles Rd, Black Pill, Swansea SA3 5AS. We hope the weather will be fine, so that we might enjoy relaxing in the lido gardens after Liturgy. All are encouraged to bring food and refreshments for a bring-and-share lunch.

The Hours will be celebrated at 10:00, followed by the Divine Liturgy at 10:30. Confessions will be heard before and during the Hours. Parishioners from Wiltshire and Cardiff have already pledged their support, and our ‘mobile singers’ will be prepped in the next day or two.

Father-Deacon Mark, Alla and Yuriy will not be with us, but will be enjoying a well-deserved break in Corfu, charged with bringing the prayers of our parishes to the shrine of St Spyridon the Wonderworker, and when they return, we will hopefully chant a moleben to St Spyridon, who is greatly loved in the Cardiff parish.

Thank you to all who contributed to today’s Liturgy and lunch, making the parish a prayerful, warm and welcoming place for those who came through the church doors for the first time. Thanks are also due to parishioners who supported Liturgy in Cheltenham Liturgy, yesterday, building the spiritual bonds between our communities.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments…”

May God bless you all.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Funding a full-time parish-priest

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During our recent parish meeting we discussed the problems faced by Father Mark in combining care for the parish with his secular employment as a support-worker for Mencap.

Over time, duties and expectations have expanded and we have recently experienced clashes which have had a direct effect on his ability to serve us on both the Saturday and Sunday services, in addition to the expectation that he will be on-call and available throughout the week as our parish-priest – despite the fact that he is working more than full-time hours. 

Further, this has a very serious effect on Father’s health as he is, in effect, trying to work two full-time jobs, at a time when the parish is growing and when there is a growing need for pastoral work within our very widely-dispersed community.

Therefore, it was decided that, as a parish, we would investigate the possibility of supporting our parish priest with a ‘stipend’ (clergy salary), by raising enough specific donations to contribute towards this.

As I announced from the amvon, at the end of last week’s Liturgy, we have been successful in securing donation-commitments to provide a very basic stipend allowing us to formally offer Father Mark the role of solely being our parish-priest, free from secular employment. Therefore, we are currently preparing the formal paperwork to ensure that he is able to resign from secular work to concentrate on full-time work as rector of our parish.

Thank you to everyone who has come forward to make this possible. 

For those who have made commitments to donate and for those who have not committed, but also wish to donate towards the stipend-fund – even if only occasionally – please see the information below to ensure that:

1) you are able to donate securely and easily.

2) we are where possible able to reclaim ‘gift aid’ from the government to top-up the donations.

3) we can identify the donation as a specific contribution towards the stipend.

Commitments to donate towards the stipend

If you would like to donate specifically towards the stipend please could you inform Deacon Mark, so that your intention is registered on our admin system.

We simply need the following information:

1) your name.

2) the amount you wish to donate specifically toward the stipend.

3) the frequency of your donation.

4) if you would prefer to donate by bank transfer or cash.

5) whether we are able to register you for Gift Aid.

We all know that life can be unpredictable at any time and especially in the current circumstances, so please If should any circumstance arise affecting your ability to continue donations, or need to alter your donation, please make Deacon Mark aware, so that aware so that our systems may be adjusted. 

Importantly, we do not want anybody to put themselves in undue pressure or financial stress.

Donations by Bank Transfer

Donations may be made directly into the parish bank account at any time during the month to suit your circumstances. The parish bank details are:

Account Name: Cardiff Russian Orthodox Church

Sort Code: 01 – 01 – 55

Account No: 17716985

Donations by Cash

Cash donations may be made at any of the month’s services, but in order for us to ensure financial clarity and prevent confusion, please direct your donation to its intended purpose with the following procedure:

1) place your donation into an envelope.

2) write your name and ‘Stipend Donation’ on the envelope.

3) place your envelope in any of the collection plates.

By your doing this, we will be able to ensure that the cash is counted with a witness and then passed to Deacon Mark for banking and recording in the donation register.

Gift Aid

In order to maximise your donations, the government will allow us to claim ‘Gift Aid’ on all eligible donations. This means that the government will give the parish an additional 25% on top of your donation at no cost to you – and, yes, this really is free money!

There are specific conditions to make this possible. These are:

1) that the donor is a UK resident.

2) the donor is a UK Taxpayer (e.g. you pay p.a.y.e on your salary, tax on a pension, or capital gains on an investment);

3) the donor is donating on their own behalf and not on behalf someone else.

4) the donor has completed and signed a ‘Gift Aid’ form, allowing the parish to claim the money from the government.

If you have not filled in a gift aid form, please use the following link that will allow you to download a form for you to complete:

https://russianorthodoxchurchcardiff.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/ROCOR-Cardiff-Parish-Gift-Aid-Form.pdf

Alternatively, if you are unable to print the form above, please let Deacon Mark know and he will ensure you receive one at the next service.

Questions

If anyone has any questions please contact Deacon Mark by email rmfisher@ntlworld.com or mobile 07790 031375 and he will do his best to answer and resolve them for you.

With much love in Christ,

Deacon Mark

Greetings on the Feast of the Protecting Veil

Dear all,

I know that it is rather late in the day, but nightshifts make my days back to front and upside down. However, despite the hour, I greet you all and wish you a blessed and holy feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God.

We have so many feasts celebrating the events of her life and her wonder-working icons, but this feast is a concrete celebration of that wonderful reality that is her ‘protection’; a mother’s instinct to protect her children; and the wonder is that there is no limit to the children who can find shelter under her omophorion.

We remember the vision of St Andrew the Fool in the Church of Blachernae, and the Mother of God’s protection of the Imperial City from the siege of the Avars and Persians in 626, but more than that – we celebrate the Mother of God as our constant protection, and as the mother who cares for us, as her children.

The earliest Christian hymn to the Mother of God is one that is very precious for us, and one which we – as a parish dedicated to the Theotokos – hear each week during clergy communion – “Beneath thy mercy… Pod tvoyu milost…”

Beneath thy mercy we take refuge, O Virgin Theotokos: disdain not our supplications in our distress, but deliver us from perils, O only pure and blessed one.

The history of this glorious hymn, celebrating the Protection of the Mother of God, shows how the Christians across the breadth of the ancient world came together to place themselves beneath the Protecting Veil of her love and mercy, with the Mother of God being a source of unity for Christians of every race and nation.

The earliest manuscript comes from the Coptic Christmas Liturgy and is written on a third-century papyrus. The hymn is part of the Armenian, Byzantine, Ambrosian, and Roman Rites (with a few variant words), and was so ingrained in the hearts and souls of the children of the Russian Orthodox Church, that when the service-texts were reformed in the mid 17th century, the faithful still clung to the original Slavonic text of their forebears.

Подъ твою милость, прибѣгаемъ богородице дѣво, молитвъ нашихъ не презри в скорбѣхъ. но ѿ бѣдъ избави насъ,едина чистаѧ и благословеннаѧ.
 
As we celebrate this feast, let us not only think of ourselves, but with fervent prayers of intercession take our loved-ones, friends, neighbours… and even enemies to the Protection of the Mother of God – asking her to mercifully be their refuge; to come to them in their distress; to hear our supplications for them; to deliver them from perils. And – let us commend those who do not even know the motherhood of the Theotokos to her Protection and intercession. This is the glory of the fifteen decades of prayers, we call the Rule of the Mother of God – offered to her for the intention of others, knowing the power of a mother’s intercession before the Lord of Glory.

Our Lady has become a mirror of God’s boundless and immeasurable love, desiring the salvation and restoration of all of God’s people – not just Christians, but all people, created in the image of likeness of God.

At the foot of the Cross, when the Saviour commended her to St John, with the words “Behold thy mother”, He spoke to the whole of humanity – humanity which was the gift of the Mother of God to our Saviour, who then commended her to us, and who – in the course of time – received His Mother into the glory of heaven, from where she watches over us, protects us, visits us, and works countless miracles.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us!

May God bless you on this wonderful feast.

In Christ –  Hieromonk Mark

The Canon for the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God

Ode 1, Irmos: I will open my mouth, and with the Spirit will it be filled; and I shall utter discourse unto the Queen and Mother, and shall be seen keeping splendid festival; and, rejoicing, I shall hymn her wonders.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Having entered the church in great glory today as the Mother of God, with the ranks of the holy angels and the assemblies of the prophets and apostles, thou prayest for all Christians and deliverest them from perils and grief, covering them with thy mercy.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Moses called thee the tabernacle and the rod of Aaron, for thou didst put forth Christ, the Tree of life; and as thou hast boldness before Him, O Queen, pray thou for us who honour thee, that He deliver us from all evil, that we may glorify the feast of thy protection.

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

Assembling choirs, David doth dance, not as he did before the ark of old, but even more now, hastening into thy presence in the church with the ranks of the saints. And bowing down before thee, we say: Pray thou for us, the people who honour thee, that, glorifying thy protection, we may celebrate it with honour.

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

The ranks of the angels hymn thee, O Theotokos, and the patriarchs and holy hierarchs glorify thee, hastening into thy presence in the church. And the holy Andrew then beheld thee with them, praying to God for us sinners, that He have mercy upon the people who glorify the feast of thy protection.

Ode 3, Irmos: O Theotokos, thou living and abundant fountain, in thy divine glory spiritually establish those who hymn thee, forming themselves into a choir, and vouchsafe unto them crowns of glory.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Like an unploughed field thou didst manifestly produce the divine Grain. Rejoice, O animate table holding the Bread of life! Rejoice, O Mistress, thou inexhaustible wellspring of the Water of life!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Mistress, we, thy people, standing before thee with faith in thy church, await thy mercy. Visit our lowliness, and with thy holy protection defend the Orthodox people from all evil.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O far-famed Virgin who was honourably prefigured by the prophets, with the angels they now do thee homage. Pray thou to God with them, that, rejoicing, we may all splendidly celebrate thy holy protection today.

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

Gideon prefigured thee as a fleece, for Christ God descended upon thee like dew. Pray thou to Him, O Theotokos, that He grant victory to our Orthodox hierarchs over all heresies, that, casting them down like the Midianites, they may glorify thy holy feast.

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

O Theotokos, with thy radiant omophorion thou lightest the church and the people more than the rays of the sun, and by thy visitation drivest away the darkness of our sins, praying for us to thy Son and God.

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

Sedalion, Tone 5: O pure Ever-virgin, fervent and invincible intercessor, excellent and unashamed hope, bulwark, protection and refuge of those who have recourse to thee: with the angels beseech thy Son and God, that He grant compunction, salvation and great mercy to the world.

Glory …, Now & ever …, The foregoing is repeated.

Ode 4, Irmos: Seated in glory upon the throne of the Godhead, Jesus most divine is come upon a light cloud, and with His incorrupt arm hath saved those who cry: Glory to Thy power, O Christ!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O most hymned Virgin, we cry out to thee in voices of hymnody: Rejoice, thou butter mountain, curdled by the Spirit! Rejoice, O lampstand, O jar bearing the Manna which sweeteneth the senses of all the pious!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Theotokos, God hath sanctified thee wholly, more than the ark of Aaron, and hath commanded the saints and angels to do thee homage. With them pray for the city and people who glorify thine honoured feast.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Theotokos, come now in glory unto thy church, with the councils of all the saints, as once the holy Andrew beheld thee in the air, radiantly praying for Christians; and grant us thy mercy.

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

Strengthen our Orthodox hierarchs against all heresy and schism, as God did David against Goliath, O Mistress, that in gladness we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O holy protection and helper of our city!

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

With faith do we fall down before thee, O Lady, and, rendering homage with thanksgiving, we cry out to thee: Rejoice, O Virgin full of the grace of God, our protection and wall of defence, the helper of those in misfortune! Save us who have recourse to thee, for in thee do we place our trust!

Ode 5, Irmos: All things are filled with awe by thy divine glory; for thou, O Virgin who knewest not wedlock, didst hold in thy womb Him Who is God over all, and thou gavest birth to the timeless Son, granting peace to all who hymn thee.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Of old, Solomon described thee as the marriage-couch and bed of the King of heaven, and spake of thee as surrounded by the seraphim, O Theotokos. Wherefore, we now beseech thee, O most holy Mother of God: Protect us from all misfortunes!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

To thee do the foremost among the angels and the honoured prophets and apostles render service with honour as the Mother of God, beholding thee making supplication for the world; and the Lord, hearkening to thine entreaties, doth save thy city and people who place their trust in thee.

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

Isaiah, great among the prophets, prophesied thee, saying that without knowing wedlock thou wouldst give birth to God; for thou, O pure Mary, wast more holy than all, in that thou didst bear God in thy womb and in thine arms. To Him pray thou for us, with thy protection covering those who faithfully glorify thee.

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

Spreading spiritual wings, the councils of the saints came mystically to do thee homage, O Theotokos, beholding thee on the light cloud of glory, praying to Christ the Saviour, that He grant victory to our Orthodox hierarchs, to prevail over all heresy and schism.

Ode 6, Irmos: Celebrating this divine and most honoured festival of the Mother of God, come, ye divinely wise, let us clap our hands and glorify God Who was born of her!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Divinely wise priests, standing in thy church with the pious people, await thy mercy, O Theotokos. Transform our grief into joy, in that thou gavest birth to the Joy Who hath done away with the sins of all men.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

To thee doth all the earth offer gifts as to the Queen and Mother of God. Kings and princes bow down in homage, and all the people are glad, protected from all evil by thy supplications, O Theotokos.

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

Daniel described thee beforehand as a great mountain; for from thee was Christ born without seed. He hath destroyed all the falsehood of the demons, and hath filled all the earth with His Faith. To Him do thou pray for us who glorify the feast of thy protection, O Theotokos.

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

O all-pure one, we utter unto thee the cry of the angel: Rejoice, O throne of God, whereon Ezekiel beheld the Lord in the guise of a man, borne up by the cherubim! With them pray thou for us, O Theotokos, that He save our souls.

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 3: Today the Virgin standeth forth in the church, and with the choirs of the saints she invisibly prayeth to God for us. Angels and hierarchs offer homage, and the apostles and prophets join chorus; for, for our sake the Theotokos entreateth the pre-eternal God.

Ikos: Come, O ye people, let us delight in her all-glorious miracles; for through her hath Adam been delivered from corruption. She is the ark fashioned, not by Noah, but by God. Of old, Moses was unable to see God in the fiery bush; but now the whole earth doth acknowledge the Son of God Who was born of her and to Whom she prayeth for us. Wherefore, we glorify her as the Mother of God; for, for our sake the Theotokos entreateth the pre-eternal God.

Ode 7, Irmos: The divinely wise would not worship a created thing instead of the Creator, but, manfully trampling the threat of the fire underfoot, they rejoiced, chanting: O all-hymned Lord God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Virgin, thou wast not described by the many prophets and wast also unknown to the angels of heaven who minister to God; but now we all know thee to be the Theotokos, and require thy help and aid, O blessed one.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Virgin Theotokos, thou mountain curdled by the Spirit which Habbakuk saw pouring forth the sweetness of healing upon the faithful, heal us who cry out to thy Son: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

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

He Who bowed down the heavens made His abode within thee, O Virgin, and now regardeth thy supplication, fulfilling thy petitions, O pure Queen and Theotokos. To Him do thou now earnestly pray, for we place our hope in thee, O blessed one.

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

O Christ God, our Creator and Saviour, accept the entreaty of Thy Mother, which she offereth to Thee for us sinners, that, rejoicing, we may chant to Thee: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Ode 8, Irmos: The birth giving of the Theotokos saved the pious children in the furnace – then in figure, but now in deed, – and it moveth the whole world to chant to Thee: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and exalt Him supremely for all ages!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

With the ranks of the angels, the honourable and glorious prophets, the preeminent apostles, the hieromartyrs and holy hierarchs, O Mistress, pray thou to God for us sinners who glorify the feast of thy protection in this land.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Cast down pride and arrogance, scatter the councils of unjust princes, and destroy those who instigate wars, O Mother of God, most honoured Queen! And exalt the horn of our Orthodox hierarchs, that we may glorify thy feast, O all-pure Virgin Theotokos, crying: Hymn the Lord, ye works, and exalt Him supremely for all ages!

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

Offering thee hymnody with our mouths, we bow down before thee spiritually with our souls; for our hearts burn within us. O all-pure Mother of God, have mercy upon us who pray to thee, who hymn the Lord and exalt Him supremely for all ages.

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

I have been weighed down by many sins, and am at a loss how to write in praise of thy protection, O Theotokos; but as thou art the Mother of God, adorn thy feast with miracles, that, rejoicing, we may all hymn the Lord and exalt Him supremely for all ages.

Ode 9, Irmos: Let every earthborn man leap up, enlightened by the Spirit; and let the nature of the incorporeal intelligences hold festival, honouring the sacred feast of the Mother of God, and let it cry aloud: Rejoice, O most blessed Theotokos, thou pure Ever-virgin!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O exalted King Who sittest with the Father and art hymned by the seraphim: look down upon the supplication of Thy Mother, which she offereth to Thee for us sinners, and wash away our sins. Save this city and multiply the people. Grant health of body and victory over all adversaries to the Orthodox through the prayers of her who gave Thee birth.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O divinely chosen Virgin, we cry out to thee with the voice of the angel: Rejoice, thou who hast led Adam back into paradise! Rejoice, thou who drivest the demons away with thy name! Rejoice, O hope of Christians! Rejoice, sanctification of souls! Rejoice, preserver of our city!

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

Remember us in thy supplications, O Virgin Lady and Theotokos, that we not perish because of the multitude of our sins. Protect us from all evil and grievous perils, for in thee do we place our trust, and, honouring the feast of thy protection, we magnify thee.

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

As Mother of God, thou hast received from God the gift to heal the infirmities of all Christians, to deliver them from misfortunes, to forgive their sins and save them from captivity and all want. Disdain us not, O Lady, for thou knowest that we are in need of health for our bodies and salvation for our souls.

Troparion, Tone 4: Overshadowed by thy coming, O Mother of God, * we, the right faithful people, celebrate today with splendor, * and gazing upon thy most precious image, we cry aloud with compunction: * Cover us with thy precious omophorion, * and deliver us from all evil, * entreating thy Son, Christ our God, ** that He save our souls.

Services this coming weekend…

Dear brothers and sisters,

This coming weekend, we look forward to welcoming you to our services in Cheltenham and Cardiff.

On Saturday, the Parish of the Holy Great Prince, Vladimir, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Prestbury United Reformed Church at 10:00, with confessions being heard from 09:15. A bring-and-share lunch will follow the service. For details, see:

https://www.facebook.com/events/318974696658162/?notif_id=1634111239416862&notif_t=page_share&ref=notif

As we are unable to celebrate the Protecting Veil  – the feast of Pokrov – with a Liturgy tomorrow, we will celebrate the Protection on Saturday, blessing the little chapel in Prestbury with another feast of the Mother of God.

On the clergy’s return to Cardiff, we will chant compline in Cardiff at 16:30, with the canon to the Protection of the Mother of God, and we will then celebrate the Hours and Liturgy on Sunday morning at 11:00. As usual, confessions will begin as soon as we have entry to the Church, around 10:15.

The following weekend 23/24 St John’s is unavailable on either Saturday afternoon, or Sunday at the usual time. Though we would be able to celebrate the Liturgy at 06:00 (as I had previously hoped), there will be no chance to hear confessions, given the Saturday situation.

Given this combination of difficulties, we will – regrettably – be unable to celebrate in Cardiff, but will join Father Luke for his first public Swansea Liturgy, in the Vivian Hall, 82 Mumbles Rd, Black Pill, Swansea SA3 5AS.

So… those who would like a seaside Liturgy, are encouraged to journey to Swansea Bay and be a part of the ROCOR celebration for Swansea, Llanelli and West Wales. If you are able to support the Swansea-Llanelli parish, please try to ensure that spare seats in your car are offered to other parishioners who do not have their own transport. May we also ask the same of anyone who is able to support the Cheltenham Liturgy?

I will post details of the Swansea Liturgy once I have spoken to Father Luke.

Finally – I encourage you all to celebrate the feast of the Protecting Veil / Pokrov in your homes tomorrow, and celebrate the Protection of the Mother of God with joy and hope!

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark