Zacchaeus Sunday – Parish News

Greetings to you all as we continue to celebrate the after-feast of the Meeting of the Lord. S prazdnikom!

As the feast fell on a Thursday, when St John’s is unavailable, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in Llanelli, and I was pleased to be able to assist Father Luke by singing on the kliros. Unfortunately, the afternoon journey to Cardiff was severely disrupted by problems with the railway line beyond Llanelli, so a number of confessions had to be cancelled, though I still managed to see a few people in the early evening before joining our young people to congratulate Kalina on her birthday. Many years!

Despite half-term, road closures, car-troubles and parishioners’ commitments, we were heartened by attendance at today’s Liturgy, and despite the dent in numbers we were still comfortably in excess of forty souls once the children were factored in.

It was good to welcome brothers from Swansea, and it was lovely to be joined by our former parishioner, Monika, visiting from Leicester with her children. In my homily on the saving curiosity of Zacchaeus, I referenced her film “Finding Faith”, and anyone who would like the link and sign-in details should contact me or Father Deacon Mark.

Many thanks to the kliros, operating on holiday numbers, and to Sasha for lone-serving, and thanks to those who brought flowers and refreshments for our celebration.

We greeted Yuriy at the end of our service, congratulating him on his sixth birthday and chanting many years before singing happy birthday after grace at trapeza, during which it was lovely to see so much conversation, warmth and fellowship.

I must admit to being rather slow today after a lovely but busy week and lots of travelling, last Sunday having seen me head over the Severn, taking the opportunity to not only have a prayerful quiet-day in Glastonbury, but also to perform several house-blessings and be in Chippenham for a singing practice with our Wessex gentleman before returning to Llanelli for the feast. Masha has also spent time working on vocal technique and chants with our local ladies, and we are very grateful for this preparation for the liturgical life of our Wessex mission.

We are extremely encouraged by the support being given by the feoffees  of the Chapel of St Laurence in Warminster, who, as trustees, govern the extra-parochial chapel, which is classed as a non-royal peculiar, having being acquired by the townspeople of Warminster at the reformation.

We greatly look forward to our Liturgies on the second Saturday of each month, commencing on 9th March with the Hours and Liturgy at 10:30, confessions being heard from 10:00. The generosity of spirit that we have already received is heartening, with help offered in notifying the local Orthodox that we will be serving in the town.

We already hold a Wessex prayer meeting on the last Monday of the month, currently meeting ‘afloat’ on Porphyrios’s narrowboat – now christened the “porphyrion”. Last month’s initial gathering saw the blessing of the boat and a mission-supper, following several house-blessings, a pilgrimage to Whitchurch Canonicorum and the blessing of the River Wylye. We shall be certainly trying to maximise what we fit into clergy visits.

Our Cheltenham Liturgies will be moving to the third Saturday of the month, and our pilgrimages will be on the fourth Saturday.

Returning to the principality – this week’s confessions in Nazareth House will follow the Thursday pattern, for which emails would be appreciated by 18:00 on Wednesday. I shall also be able to hear some shorter confessions before and after our moleben in St Alban’s., and have already mentioned this to a few people.

We look forward to our protomartyrs pilgrimage on Saturday, and pilgrims should assemble at the Oratory Church of St Alban-on-the-Moors for our 10:30 moleben to St Alban and the reading of his life, before the veneration of a portion of his sacred relics and icon. We are very grateful to Father Sebastian and his confrères for their characteristically warm hospitality, which includes use of the church-hall for a bring and share lunch, for which all food-offerings will be very gratefully accepted.

Weather permitting, we shall head to Caerleon after lunch, visiting the Roman remains of the ‘city of legions’, where the protomartyrs of Wales, Julius and Aaron were garrisoned as soldiers of the Imperial army, before their arrest and martyrdom.

Thanks to those who have already offered lifts to our non-drivers. This is much appreciated.

Echoing Deacon Mark’s announcement, would parishioner please refrain from parking vehicles on the grass on the right hand far end of the drive, next to the church vestries, this has been planted with bulbs and seeded with wild flowers and is not a parking area.

Our prayers are with our very dear sister, Despina, as she makes her way across Europe to Greece, before the last leg to life in Cyprus, and we wish her a safe journey, happy that Catalin is accompanying her on a long and challenging drive for the land bound portion across the continent. She occupies a very special place in our hearts and is greatly loved in our ROCOR and Romanian Orthodox communities in which she has been a faithful presence and a help to many. Kalo taxidhi! May God bless your journey and protect your every mile!

Whilst we were celebrating in Cardiff, our diocese was blessed by the ordination of Deacon Alban Illingworth to the sacred priesthood in our London Cathedral, and he will serve in our Durham mission. We are greatly blessed that despite mischievous schismatic ‘defrocked’ whispering about the state of our God-preserved diocese, we go from strength to strength, with the establishment of new missions, the ordination of new clergy, and growth within our parishes. We congratulate Father Alban, as well as newly-ordained Deacon Antonio in Geneva, and the priest Georgi who has transferred from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to serve in Zurich. Many, blessed years to you all, dear fathers. Axios! Axios! Axios!

Please remember the clergy in your prayers.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Weekly News – Monday 12 February

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings to you all after another busy weekend, with Liturgies in Cheltenham and Cardiff, the joy of sharing the celebration of Faith with so many people, and the unexpected arrival of geographically distant parishioners and friends not seen for a while. It’s also wonderful that recent visitors are now clearly new parishioners, looking very much at home in the parish. Praise God!

Before the busy week ahead, I’m happy to be soaking up the sun on a bus wending its way over the Mendips for a quiet, prayerful day in Glastonbury – having just glimpsed the Tor rising above the Somerset Levels – before a house blessing and time with our Wessex parishioners, the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in Llanelli, then confessions and pastoral time in Cardiff before another weekend.

Our third week back in St John’s was blessed with another well-attended Liturgy (which constantly sustains forty adults or more, plus the children every week), with parishioners from across Wessex joining us for our celebration, which ended with the admission of young Maximilian to the catechumenate after around six months of dedicated participation. We are very grateful to his dad for driving him the considerable distance from Monmouth week by week.

Thanks to our choir, who sang a linguistically well balanced Liturgy, with English alongside the Slavonic, reflecting the developing dynamic of the parish, and thanks to all who contributed to trapeza by bringing food and so warmly and generously looking after everyone.

Parishioners are clearly enjoying being in St John’s, though we are still getting used to things, with a rather minimal set up. However, without the rather stark interior of Nazareth House, even the minimal Orthodox setting feels much warmer. We are very pleased that the large shrines for our iconostasis now flank the high altar when not in situ for Liturgy, and look forward to the frontals that Georgina will be making for them (as well as new analoy covers) after her current Walsingham visit.

The return of weekly trapeza has made a great difference to parish life, and it was heartening to hear my nephew say what a welcome change it was to be surrounded by so many kind and generous people. This is a prime way in which we can touch those who come through our doors with God’s love working in us and through us.

As clarified on messenger, our LOCAL pilgrimage will involve venerating St Alban’s relics in SPLOTT, not Hertfordshire. I have emailed Fr Sebastian to check the availability of the hall for a bring-and-share lunch, as this could make things more straightforward. ‎

We shall celebrate the moleben to St Alban in the Oratory Church in Swinton St, at 10:30, venerating a portion of the protomartyr’s sacred relics, and then have lunch if the hall is free. We shall then head to Caerleon, weather permitting, to visit the amphitheatre and remains of the garrison where Saints Julius and Aaron would have lived. Notification of your intention to attend would be appreciated, so that we can endeavour to match places in cars with non-drivers for the journey to Caerleon. Lifts will be greatly appreciated for those of you with spare places in your vehicle.

The lack of availability of St John’s on Thursdays means our Liturgy for the Meeting of the Lord will be in the little chapel of St David and St Nicholas, at 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli SA14 8LS.

The Hours and Liturgy will commence at 10:00. I will travel to Cardiff after the Liturgy so that confessions may be heard in Nazareth House in the late afternoon and early evening. Please contact me by 18:00 on Wednesday, though I have already received some verbal requests at Liturgy. Notification of those intending to confess on Sunday is also greatly appreciated, so that we know how many people are expected within our limited time-frame.

Thanks to all who have started contributing to St John’s food bank, and also to all who contributed to the extra collection for leprosy Sunday, a few weeks ago, raising over two hundred pounds, before any offerings from further west.

I look forward to the celebration of the after-feast of the Meeting of the Lord and feast of St Agatha, on Sunday, for which the variables may be found at “orthodoxaustin”:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NkfW1Mouqk4Z6UidAr1yfia6Ij2BC3WZ/view

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

 

 

Parish News: 5th February

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Our week begins after a characteristically busy Sunday, with a well attended Liturgy in St John’s, and a larger than usual number of the faithful confessing and communing, though the number of communicants has been significantly growing over the last five or six weeks. I am grateful for the patience of our parishioners as confessions were concluded during the preparation of the chalice with the Holy Gifts.

It was wonderful to look out of the altar at the beginning of the Liturgy and see all of our children assembled to join in the chanting of the litanies before the Gospel. It was equally wonderful to see so many flowers in vases and adorning the icons.

I was very happy to see so many people enjoying trapeza after Sunday Liturgy, and particularly to see so many young people enjoying one another’s company, with students from Cardiff, Bristol and Bath joining other young people from our South Wales parishes.

A thank you to all who have been helping in the setting up and rearrangement of the church before and after Liturgy, and remind all that everyone’s aid makes these movements considerably quicker and easier.

With the growing numbers of worshippers, with more people staying for this bring-and-share lunch, I hope that we may ensure that there is enough food to at least offer some simple refreshment to all who join us.

Again I would like to thank parishioners for their greetings and gifts for the feast of St Mark of Ephesus. Having a Torte Napoleon to share with our students was very much appreciated and made for a festive student gathering.

Intercessions 

As we begin our week, the news is dominated by the cancer-diagnosis of His Majesty the King, and we offer our prayers for his health and treatment during his illness, and for a swift and speedy recovery, turning to the Mother of God ‘the Queen of All’ before whose icon we pray for all of those – including our own loved ones and parishioners – affected by cancer.

Among those who are sick, we also pray for Ludmilla, Brigid, and for Steven, Martin, Nigel and Jacky among the friends a family members of our parishioners.

Having chanted a post-Liturgy memorial service for the newly-departed Alexey, we continue to pray for the repose of his soul, also remembering His Grace Archbishop Anatoly, Yulia and Barnabas. Memory Eternal!

Confessions in Nazareth House this week

Given the limited time we have before Liturgy, if you know that a confession lasting more than five minutes is required, we will need to hear such longer confessions and commune the faithful after Liturgy. We must be firm in starting the Hours and proskomedia at 11:00, but will find appropriate ways to meet the pastoral and sacramental needs of the faithful.

Of course, we very much hope that those living in Cardiff will avail themselves of the opportunity to make their confession on Thursdays, when they may do so in the afternoon or evening, according to circumstance and need. Please email by 18:00 on Wednesday to arrange a Thursday confession, and by Saturday midday to notify us of Sunday confessions, purely to give me an idea of number.

Thursday confessions continue to be heard in Nazareth House!

Cheltenham Liturgy: 10 February

Next Saturday will be our February Liturgy in Cheltenham, when we will celebrate the feast of Saints Ephrem and Isaac the Syrian in Prestbury United Reformed Church, Deep St, Cheltenham GL52 3AN.

Due to the pastoral needs for confession, as well as setting up the church for Liturgy, from Saturday, the Hours and Liturgy will now start at 10:30: half an hour later than previously. However, confession will still begin around 9:20, and will end at 10:20. We will have our customary bring-and-share lunch after the Liturgy, and look forward to spending time with both parishioners and visitors.

Llanelli Liturgy for the Meeting of the Lord: 15 February

As the coming feast of the Meeting of the Lord on 2/15 February falls on a Thursday, we are unable to celebrate in St John’s, due to weekly use in the morning. Therefore, the Divine Liturgy of the feast will be celebrated in the chapel at Father Luke’s home in Llanelli, with the Hours and Liturgy commencing at 10:00.

Pilgrimage to the Oratory Church and Caerleon: 24 February

Looking forward to the coming months, we will recommence our pilgrimages on the fourth Sunday of each month, and will begin with a local pilgrimage in honour of the protomartyr of Britain, St Alban, and the protomartyrs of Wales, Julius and Aaron. Through the good offices of Father Sebastian and the Cardiff Oratory, we will head to the Oratory Church in Swinton Street, Splott, where we will offer a moleben before the sacred relics of St Alban at 10:30, before heading to Caerleon for lunch and a visit to the amphitheatre and Roman excavations, offering prayers to Saints Julius and Aaron,

Pilgrimage to Margam Abbey: 23 March

Our pilgrimage on Saturday 23 March, in honour of the Mother of God, will be to Margam Abbey, near Port Talbot, where we hope to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, share a picnic lunch and explore the church and neighbouring abbey ruins, returning to church for devotions to the Theotokos, whose shrine in the abbey was destroyed during the reformation. We will announce details after further discussions with the Margam clergy.

Food Bank

Thank you to all who contributed to St John’s Food Bank on Sunday. I hope that those parishioners who are able might make Sunday contributions of non-perishable foodstuffs part of their weekend routine.

Telephones

May we remind everyone to turn off their telephones before the beginning of Sunday worship, and stress that it is not appropriate for children to be using smart phones for entertainment/occupation during the Liturgy. We have some very young children who need occupying during the service, and recognise this, but ask that they play in the children’s corner, so that there is are no distractions for the clergy and faithful at the front of church during our worship.

I look forward to being with our Cheltenham parishioners on Saturday, and Cardiff parishioner on Sunday, which is the feast of the Translation of the Relics of the Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer.

The variable of the day may be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HDV9a4R90dQWfAgp8DXETQnOP39NLCq0/view

May God bless you.

Hieromonk Mark

Weekly News – Theophany 2024

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings for the after-feast of the Baptism of the Lord, at the end of a busy day in Wiltshire, and after a final festal service in Nazareth House yesterday.

On such a joyful day, with the Great Blessing of the Water at the end of Liturgy as everyone gathered round, it was lovely to welcome parishioners from far and wide, with the return of our students, new faces, and some familiar faces for the first time in while. Buoyed and blessed by the feast of the Lord’s Baptism, we look forward to our return to St John’s, Canton after fourteen months in Nazareth House.

Thanks to all who contributed to such a joyful Liturgy, especially those who contributed to our trapeza, which will now be a weekly feature of life of St John’s, so – if you are able – please bring something to our bring-and-share lunch.

Due to the impracticalities of weekday celebrations in Nazareth House, around ten of us headed to Chiswick for Theophany, and greatly enjoyed celebrating the feast with our cathedral clergy and brothers and sisters. We are extremely grateful to Fathers Vitaly and Yaroslav and the sisterhood for their warmth and hospitality, and hope that we, as a parish, may connect more with our cathedral over the coming year.

Today day started with a house blessing near Warminster before the sanctification of  the River Wylye at Hanging Langford, a Theophany lunch with Wessex parishioners, a visit to the chapel of St Laurence in Warminster (an intended winter Liturgy setting for our developing Wessex mission), and the evening blessing of Porphyrios’s narrow boat. It was lovely to gather on the house-boat with the icon corner as its obvious focus and centre, praying together in our first Wessex prayer meeting, and then enjoying a warm and congenial bring-and-share supper.

I am very grateful to our Wessex parishioners for their warmth, hospitality and generosity, which will be one of the great blessings of our mission in Wessex, and which – I am sure – will impress itself upon those who meet us and the Church in Wiltshire and beyond.

We look forward to heading to Dorset tomorrow, for another house blessing and a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Wite in Whitchurch Canonicorm.

His Grace, Bishop Irenei, has blessed our mission to serve our very loyal Wessex parishioners who are part of the Cardiff parish, and we look forward to serving them in their own corner of the world, blessed by so many saints and such a noble and profound Christian legacy. We hope to announce our first Liturgy over the next few weeks.

Wednesday will see the relocation of most of our effects to St John’s in Canton, where we will resume parish life, with the Liturgy at 11:00, after confessions from around 10:15 to 10:55, at which time the proskomedia MUST take place.After being without facilities, we look forward to having a kitchen and food area, so please make the most of this, and bring something for our lunch after Liturgy. Thanks to all who did so today. I will hear confessions in Nazareth House on Friday this week, and would appreciate requests by 20:00 on Thursday.I will also be happy to receive requests for house blessings, which have begun in Wessex, before we also do so in Wales.

May God bless you.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

New Year Greetings and News

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings for the new civil year, and best wishes for 2024.

The last day of the past year saw a well-attended Liturgy with  around forty adults and the return of some old faces from the Baltic and closer to home, as well as faces new to our community.

Having expected a dip between western Christmas and Orthodox Nativity, we have been surprised this year, with more or less sustained numbers, though singers and servers have been sparse at times. Welcome all who have made acquaintance with us over the last few weeks and welcome back all who have been away.

I was able to confess a dozen regular parishioners, and – as made clear during announcements – they are blessed to commune on the coming feast of the Nativity, allowing confession time for others who are preparing for Christmas Communion.

This week, confessions will be on Friday afternoon and before and after the Nativity Vigil (from 18:00 and for as long as needed after. On Christmas morning – next Sunday – I would like to be free to confess those coming for the day from destinations beyond the Severn and our Welsh parishioners who live some distance from Cardiff.

As 2024 begins, we pass from one year to the next with the world overshadowed by conflict, with the violence and misery of war, though the past year did see some of our temporary parishioners return to Ukraine, and some of our current parishioners have gone home for Nativity. May God bless and protect them! We are also ever-mindful of the suffering of those in the Holy Land, and have been glad to do what little we have been able to for the relief of those in Gaza and the West Bank.

Not only did 2023 see the continued armed conflict in Ukraine, and the terrible conflict in Gaza, but also the unending state-sponsored crusade against the Church in Ukraine, with continued violent seizures of temples, physical assault on believers, the arrest and imprisonment of clergy, desecration of shrines, temples in flames, the exile of seminarians and pilgrims from the Kiev Caves Lavra and other places – a neo-Soviet attempt to destroy the Church of Christ. Yet – praise God – whilst the seized temples of Patriarch Bartholomew’s schismatics are deserted, nearly empty or even locked for lack of worshippers, the confessing Church is purified, strengthened and radiant in the poverty and humility of the Saviour. A stable was good enough for His birth, and private houses, converted commercial premises, pavements, gardens and open-air places are good enough for the Church. This is the quiet and comforting meaning of the words of the Nativity Vigil: God is with us!

I hope that the same quiet confidence in the Lord’s abiding presence will continue to guide our own community in its wanderings, and constantly changing conditions.

2023 was a year back in Nazareth House, where we have worshipped week by week, have welcomed new faces, admitted new catechumens, performed baptisms, and (yesterday) churched and communed our latest neophyte – Steven – whom we congratulate on the joyful occasion of his baptism in St Nicholas in the Vale. We congratulate him on his first Liturgy as a baptised Orthodox Christian, especially upon his reception of the Holy Mysteries. Many, blessed years!

2023 was a year of pilgrimages, with one each month from February to November, and I hope that we will ensure that every month of 2024 will be blessed in the same way. Thanks to Tracy who has acted as our pilgrimage coordinator and to all who have contributed to these spiritual journeys that have been a source of grace and blessing. Our pilgrimages to Capel y ffin and Llanthony, Pennant Melangell and Glastonbury particularly stand out, and I hope that all three destinations may become a pilgrimage fixture on our calendar.

The year also saw parishioners go farther afield on pilgrimage, with half a dozen intrepid souls facing the summer heat of the Holy Land to join the diocesan pilgrimage, packed with visits to so many sacred destinations. They were greatly blessed to be able to celebrate the Holy Mysteries in places at the heart of the Faith, not only with our own bishop, but also with the hierarchs of the Mother Church of Jerusalem (and yes, Jerusalem is the Mother Church, not somewhere in Turkey, where Pentecost definitely did not happen!).

As a result of conversations and an invitation in the Holy Land, later in the year, a group of our young brothers travelled to Mount Athos with Reader Wilfred from our cathedral, and they very much hope that an annual visit to the Bulgarian monastery of Zographou will become a feature of parish life.

Some changes in Nazareth House have posed obstacles to Sunday worship, limiting our ability to hear confessions, set up the church, and generally celebrate as we need to. Weekday Liturgies on feasts have become difficult, hence celebrating in Llanelli. The lack of trapeza has rather dented the life of the parish (though boosting business at our local café), especially as the massive geographical spread of our parishioners across South Wales and Wessex means that Sunday is the only opportunity for parishioners to spend time together, and some have a long journey home. This has a been a growing topic of conversation, with some parishioners expressing the need for much-missed facilities, and a less limiting physical environment.

As a result of such conversations and discussions, Deacon Mark and I recently visited Llys Esgob, in Llandaff, and spoke with Mother Frances’s appointed successor at St John’s, Canton, the Reverend Andrew Sully. He and Andrew, the starosta, are enthusiastic about the parish returning to Canton and building a community partnership, so that our parish is very much an active part of the life of St John’s. So, we have agreed that we will return to St John’s Canton for Liturgy from Sunday 28th January. Until then, our worship continues in Nazareth House. Parishioners who visited St John’s were delighted to discover that the central heating system now works splendidly. I hope that having the leafy, tree-lined grounds will allow fuller parish life, with adult baptisms in the church garden, processions on each feast, picnics and outside eating in the summer – with occasions to get together with the Anglican faithful.

We extend our thanks to the Sisters of Nazareth for their hospitality over the last thirteen months, and Fathers Alexander and David for their kindness during the previous chaplaincy, when they did everything to help, with great respect for our presence. May God bless them.

We will have the task of moving our furnishings and possessions from Nazareth House to St John’s towards the end of the month, and will appreciate assistance at that time.

Next weekend, our Nativity Vigil will be at 19:00 on Saturday evening and on Sunday 7th January, our Nativity Liturgy will start as close to 11:00 as possible.

Looking beyond Nativity, Theophany falls on Thursday 19th January (New Style) and given that neither Nazareth House chapel or St John’s are available on Thursday mornings, a group of us will attend the celebration of the feast in the cathedral in Chiswick. However, we will perform the Great Blessing of the Waters in Nazareth House after Liturgy on Sunday 22nd January.

The following day, I look forward to an outdoor water blessing in Wiltshire when our Wessex parishioners have the first meeting of their local prayer-group. With the blessing of Bishop Irenei, we will be supporting our loyal Wessex ‘pilgrim-parishioners’ with a local mission, and we are presently looking for a place to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Please keep this intention in your prayers.

So… we begin 2024 with some major changes and developments in the life of our scattered community, but ones which I look forward to, seeing great opportunities for positive development after a period in which parish life has become limited and faced obstacles. We pray for God’s blessing and guidance.

May God bless you and your families in the year ahead.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Weekly News: 27 November

Dear brothers and sisters,

The last few days have certainly been busy, and I hope that those who made the journey to Birmingham to venerate the Trojeručica-Hilandarska icon of the Mother of God, in Bournville, have been spiritually buoyed and encouraged in their Faith by a wonderful day, with a moleben with the akathist before the icon.

Our pilgrimages over the last ten months have been such an encouragement and a common celebration of our Faith, bringing the different generations of our parish together for prayer, Liturgy and social time. I hope and pray that we will continue in these pilgrim endeavours, especially now that we have an active and energetic core of young people.

With so many things going on in December, our plan is to make a local pilgrimage to the Cardiff Oratory, to venerate their portion of the relics of St Alban, enshrined in the church of St Alban-on-the-Moors. Given that this is so local, I wonder whether we may do this on a mutually convenient weekday evening, and we will discuss this over the next week or so. Father Sebastian and his confreres are very keen that we avail ourselves of the shrine and church for devotions to the Protomartyr of Britain, having welcomed us so many times in the past. I will approach him with our request.

For anyone who may be interested in travelling further afield, the ‘Midlands Orthodox Christians’ group (of which we met some members in Bournville), will be making a December pilgrimage to Stoke St Milborough, near Ludlow on Saturday 16th December, and I hope to join them, possibly blessing St Milburgha’s Well. They would be delighted for any of our parishioners to join them!

We were happy to welcome past visitors to yesterday’s Liturgy, as well as welcoming new people to our worship, and welcoming home those who have been away. We are grateful for those who helped set up the church in such a short time, not to mention packing things away.

In future, we will start chanting the Hours before the Roman Catholic service, as the more than doubling of the length of the mass makes it impossible for us to set up, chant the Hours and celebrate the Liturgy at such a late hour, though the confession situation continues to work extremely well.

Tomorrow sees the beginning of the Nativity Fast. There are some variations in local practice, but the common foundation is that food is vegan, without wine and oil, though with wine/oil or fish as permitted additions on certain days.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are essentially ‘dry days’, Tuesdays and Thursdays ‘oil days’, and Saturdays and Sundays ‘fish days’. Whenever fish is permitted, so is wine and oil.

I know that many of our parishioners follow the St Herman Calendar, which has some differences in the fasting rules, but we will be publishing rules according to ROCOR’s printed calendars, and encourage you to follow these guidelines.

Tuesday 28 (15) November:  Holy Martyrs and Confessors Gurias (299), Samonas (306), and Abibus (322), of Edessa. St. Paisiy (Velichkovsky) of Moldavia and Mt. Athos (1794). Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits etc)

Wednesday 29 (16) November: Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew (60). Wine and oil allowed.

Thursday 30 (17) November: Venerable Nikon, abbot of Radonezh, disciple of St. Sergius (1426). Wine and oil allowed.

Friday 1 December (18 November): Martyr Platon of Ancyra (266). Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits etc)

Saturday 2 December (19 November): St. Philaret, metropolitan of Moscow (1867). Fish, wine and oil allowed.

Sunday 3 December (20 November): Forefeast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. Venerable Gregory Decapolites (816). Fish, wine and oil allowed.

I hope that we will all add to our prayer-life and spiritual reading, to focus Advent and our preparation for the Lord’s Nativity.

This Friday would usually be our discussion group, but as there is a rail-strike, I will not be venturing beyond Llanelli – already having such a regrettable time using the railways for travel to and from Cardiff. So, I will hear confessions on Thursday, and will offer an Advent moleben at 16:00, as well as hearing confessions before celebrating vespers at 16:00, on Saturday.

As announced by Marina on Sunday, the next deadline for blanket collection for children in Ukraine is 8th December, and new fleece blankets will be greatly appreciated.

Another charitable focus over the next few weeks will be the concert in St John’s, Canton, on Wednesday 13thDecember at 19:30, with all proceeds supporting suffering Christians in the Holy Land, where the Bethany Christian School is suffering immense hardship

Please endeavour to support these worthy causes!

Next Sunday will be the forefeast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple, and the following morning the Liturgy for the feast will be in Llanelli, with the Hours starting at 10:00. Given the challenges we face before every morning service in Cardiff, our weekday Liturgies will be in Llanelli for the foreseeable future.

May I ask for confession requests for Thursday to get to me by noon on Wednesday, please?

May God bless you all. Good strength for the fast!

In Christ – Fr Mark

Weekly News – 17th September

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings for the Church New Year!

I have just come through the front door and set the kettle to boil after a busy week in the parish, having spent the more than twenty six hours travelling to and fro across South Wales, but having used the time for prayer and reading, as well as keeping touch with our scattered parishioners.

Monday saw the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Beheading of St John the Forerunner, with one of our young brothers chanting Demestvenny melodies at the kliros, contrasting with the harmonised singing of the previous day’s Liturgy, and bringing a very different liturgical aesthetic to our worship.

A community choir practice in church precluded the celebration of vespers and the Lesser Blessing of Water on Wednesday evening, though I still returned to Cardiff ready for an early start on Thursday, arranging the church for Divine Liturgy for the Church New Year, and to perform the proskomedia before confessions and the expectation that I would chant. Unfortunately, a motorway puncture prevented Fr Luke and one of his parishioners from being with us, so I combined roles during the Liturgy, though there was some welcome help from the kliros. Confessions after a break for refreshment, then putting things away in church made for a long day, but a very blessed and productive one.

Friday teatime saw confessions for those working and studying in the daytime, before our evening study group met in the nuns’ choir, and the following afternoon a group of us arranged the church for worship before we had our Saturday evening service.

I’m not sure that everyone realises the great amount of effort that goes into arranging the church for worship and putting everything away. This can easily takes three hours each day, and sometimes more, when clergy are doing this without assistance, and on a Sunday our servers have much to do after Liturgy. We are very grateful to them.

Despite Saturday’s church set-up, today saw even greater pressure on our final arrangements, as mass became even longer, and this situation will be closely monitored. Hearing confessions at the back of the church (from 10:15) makes a great difference, but not being able to set up the church until 10:45 makes the time before our service extremely pressurised. Mercifully, we were able to commence the Hours at 11:05.

We were blessed with another lovely Liturgy today, with a slightly smaller choir than the last few weeks and only a few servers. Once again, the icons looked lovely with the flowers adorning them and I am glad to hear that our sisterhood have a flower rota in place for the next few months.

It was lovely to see parishioners who have been away in Greece and Ukraine and to welcome them home, and we are always glad to be joined by parishioners from Llanelli, who are now with us regularly on the Sundays of the month when there is no Llanelli Liturgy.

The coming week will see Deacon Mark and I go to the cathedral for the altar-feast, together with several of the young brothers of our parish, and we will be away on Wednesday and Thursday, looking forward to seeing other parishioners there.

I will be able to hear daytime confessions in church on Friday, and anyone only able to confess on Saturday should let me know, and arrangements will be made to do so after our visit to Llantwit Major and its ancient church of St Illtyd (see below).

Again, on Sunday, I will her confessions from 10:15 until the end of the Hours.

As announced at today’s Liturgy, despite assurances that we were welcome to visit Llancarfan once again, our communication regarding celebrating the Divine Liturgy received no response. Therefore, there is a change of plan next Saturday, and rather then heading to Llancarfan, we will visit St Illtyd’s Church at Llantwit Major, meeting at the church at 11:00.

Having visited the church with its museum of ancient Christian carved stones, and prayers to honour St Illtyd, we will have lunch in one of the local hostelries and enjoy time together. Given that Father Luke’s background is in archeology and medieval history, we will be glad to have him with us in a place so central to Christianity in South Wales.

We look forward to returning to Llancarfan in the near future, when our previous guide has returned from his travels.

Would anyone requiring confessions on Friday or Saturday please email by Wednesday evening?

Looking ahead to the end of the month, may I remind you that the feast of the Exultation of the Cross falls on Wednesday 27th September  (14th September on the Church Calendar), on which day the Hours and Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 11:00.

Finally, we congratulate Adam, on his reception to the catechumenate, and thank our outgoing starosta, Norman John, for his generous support for the parish. I personally would be lost without the immense support and help from both Norman and Georgina. We pray that God will grant them and our brother Adam “Many, blessed years!”

Asking your prayers.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Weekly News, Sunday 10 September

Dear brothers and sisters,

As all who participated in today’s Liturgy were well aware, changes in our circumstances certainly posed new challenges, as did the intense heat in the convent church, particularly for those vested in the sanctuary. In priests vestments, I must admit that today was a real trial – especially after the same challenge in Cheltenham, yesterday, where Deacon Mark and I struggled through Liturgy and on the homeward journey.

With one of the new Catholic chaplains celebrating, the Mass was close to double its usual length, making for a very late and pressurised set up for Liturgy.

However, quietly hearing confessions at the back of the church during the service alleviated some of the pressure, but our deacons and servers still had a rather short time in which to ready the church for our Orthodox service.

I will repeat today’s confession arrangement next week, having walked round to the back of the church at 10:15, with parishioners already waiting for confessions – which continued in a steady and smooth progression until towards the end of the Sixth Hour.

Looking ahead, I hope that I will have already been able to her the majority of local confessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons. See below.

Despite the pressure and the rush, today’s Hours began only five minutes late, at 11:05, though I hope it will begin at 11:00 as scheduled, next week – even if the Church set-up continues after that time. However, I will put out everything needed in the nave, so that things simply have to be moved a few metres.

From the choir’s initial amen, the Liturgy was a joyous celebration, with our singers chanting harmoniously and confidently, showing sympathy and sensitivity to one another, and supporting and helping one another. Thanks to our regent Olga, and to our two young basses, who acquitted themselves very well.

Yet again, the flowers adorning our icons, and vases of late summer blooms added so much to the makeshift setting for our Orthodox worship, tangibly showing parishioners’ love for God and the saints.

It was lovely to leave the church, at teatime, today, seeing the flowers on the shrines ready for the morning Liturgy for the Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John. The Liturgy will commence at 11:00, as I will pray the Hours after the proskomedia before church set-up.

On Thursday, our Liturgy for the Church New Year will be celebrated at 11:00, and I will be available to hear confessions as needed in the afternoon, after lunch. However, due to a choir practice in church, there will be no service on Wednesday evening, as previously hoped.

Friday sees the resumption of our discussion group on prayer, at 19:00, in Nazareth House, and I will hear confessions beforehand, and after, if – again according to demand.

I will celebrate Great Vespers at 16:00 on Saturday, and any confessions will need to be BEFORE the service, as I have a potentially long journey home afterwards.

Please email regarding confessions on any of these days, so that I can plan, accordingly, and do so by 18:00 on Wednesday.

Tomorrow: Monday 11 September, New Style, Beheading of St John the Forerunner – Liturgy, Nazareth House 11:00. 

Thursday 1/14 September – Church New Year – Liturgy, Nazareth House 11:00. Afternoon confessions by arrangement.

Friday 2/15 September – Church discussion group 19:00. Afternoon/evening confessions by arrangement.

Saturday 3/16 – Great Vespers, 16:00. Afternoon confessions by arrangement.

Sunday 4/17 September. Hours and Liturgy 11:00. Confessions from 10:10

Please email me regarding weekday confessions by Wednesday, 18:00.

In Christ – Fr Mark

 

This Week’s News: Monday 21 August


Dear brothers and sisters,

Happy feast. S prazdnikom!

After the joy of celebrating the feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration in Cheltenham, the second day of the feast saw our celebration in Cardiff.

As the summer has advanced, our numbers have petered out, but despite more of our parishioners having departed on their travels, thirty or so – plus the children – participated in a joyous and festive Liturgy, with the blessing of fruit and honey at the end of the service… and what a splendid gathering of the fruits of creation! Thank you to our sisters for the lovely little individual baskets of grapes, which were inspired!

Our small choir chanted beautifully, and our solitary but extremely competent oltarnik ably coped with one hieromonk, a hierodeacon and a deacon, and we now have little Yuriy lined up to help in the altar, under papa’s watchful eye! We very much look forward to the return of our other oltarniky.

It has been wonderful to welcome our pilgrims back after their extremely busy and intense trip to the Holy Land, and there are many stories and experiences yet to be shared.

Next Sunday will be the fore-feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, and the following day – bank holiday Monday – we will celebrate the Liturgy for the Dormition in the convent church at 11:00, through the good offices and generosity of the Sisters.

Sunday’s Liturgy variables may be found here – https://drive.google.com/file/d/10BR2bjgGeA_ScKbWqAKpvoy9XU8ibL-d/view

…and Monday’s variables here – https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G4IgN-3sja9LiTTe6UzYrnyRfknBn7iP/view

I will also celebrate Great Vespers at 15:00 on Sunday afternoon with the variables here – https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JA8S2Xds9mIRxTJl9Df8jtzbHhy-d868/view

As announced in last week’s news email, I will be joining Mother Frances and  pilgrims from Germany on Wednesday and will give an Orthodox reflection on reconciliation, so – having stayed in Cardiff overnight – I will hear confessions on Thursday, with an obvious preference to hearing them earlier in the day, if possible. Please send any confession requests by noon on Wednesday.

The March for Life, on Saturday 2nd September, is only a few weeks away, so Karen needs to know of any unbooked attendees asap as the seats on the bus from St Alban on the Moors are limited. The cost is £25, which is very reasonable, given the distance. Pilgrims will meet at the Emmanuel Centre, in Westminster, where Father Mark Tattum-Smith will lead an Orthodox service before the march. Details from Karen.

Our next Cheltenham Mission Liturgy, on the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr Phanourios, will be celebrated in Prestbury United Reformed Church on Saturday 9th September.

May I remind you that there will be a parish meeting on Sunday 17th September, for the election of a new starosta, and a new senior sister – should the former election make this necessary. Your nominations of parishioners to occupy these offices are requested by Sunday 2nd September.

Our intended September pilgrimage, on Saturday 23rd September, is to Llancarfan and Barry, to honour Saints Cadoc and Barrwg, though I am awaiting confirmation from Llancarfan.

The fast continues, with its Great Lenten strictness, though we will soon be celebrating the feast of the Dormition. As I reminded parishioners in Liturgy, we should ensure that we celebrate the whole of the festal periods of our Great Feasts, praying the hymns of the feast in our icon-corners, at home, and try to ensure that we have icons of the feasts to be the centre of home prayers and the focus of our devotions.

The feast of the Transfiguration is ‘given up’ on Saturday, with the one day fore-feast of the Dormition leading us into the feast itself, which will last until Tuesday 5th September (new-style), with the honouring of the Icon of the Mother of God “Pribavlenie Uma – the Giver of Reason” being celebrated on Sunday 3rd September. Originally having coincided with the Dormition, this is now kept as a moveable feast and falls on the Sunday after the Dormition.

Let us continue to honour the Mother of God in these pre-festive days.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Today in Prestbury – A Happy Feast!

Dear brothers and sisters,

S prazdnikom – greetings for the Transfiguration of the Saviour!

It was a a great blessing to visit our Cheltenham mission today and to celebrate the feast with our Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire faithful, and though we are few in number the zeal and devotion of our parishioners always make our celebrations joyful and inspiring, especially on feasts.

We are grateful to Masha and Margarita for chanting, especially given the festal chants unfamiliar to our usual singers, of whom several are away on holiday. Our Gloucestershire faithful were very enthusiastic in expressing their thanks, and were very happy to be joined by our ‘Wessex’ pilgrims for this wonderful feast.

As is usual in Cheltenham, virtually everyone confessed and communed, which is always a source of great joy, and one of the children reminded us that he needs a stikhar so that he can serve for the next Liturgy. We look forward to having him serve in the altar.

At the end of the Liturgy, we blessed fruit and honey, as there was no local Liturgy or honey blessing for the feast of the All-Merciful Saviour, and we then enjoyed time together as we shared our customary lunch, for which we thank the sisters who contributed so generously, and also for the floral arrangements which graced our icons.

Our next Cheltenham Liturgy, will be in Prestbury, on 9th September – just before the end of the present ecclesiastical year – and I greatly look forward to celebrating the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr, Phanourios, hoping that some of our South Wales parishioners might join us to honour this greatly loved saint. This will occasion the introduction of our Cheltenham sisterhood to making Phanouropita!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to such a lovely feast. We look forward to the second day of the Transfiguration, in Cardiff, tomorrow, when we shall once again bless fruit and produce at the end of the Liturgy.

Encouraged by the vision of the Saviour’s glory on Mount Tabor, and the strength it gave the disciples in enduring His passion and their own sufferings, let us struggle to climb our own spiritual mountains, leaving behind the fallen things of the world, to attain to the high calling of our baptism, as children of the Light and heirs of the resurrection. Leaving behind the darkness of the world, let us hasten to the Light of Christ, glimpsed in the world, but a foretaste of the glory and divine vision of the age to come.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark