Thomas Week Newsletter

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is Risen! Христосъ воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

After the joy of Bright Week and our celebration of Thomas Sunday, we now enter the second week of Pascha, with the need to maintain the joy of the Resurrection each day of this season.

Saturday saw a wonderful Liturgy in Warminster, and though we were few in number, our celebration was joyful and prayerful, and the day was blessed with beautiful weather and sun blazing through the windows of the Chapel of St Lawrence.

It was lovely to be in Wiltshire on such a glorious spring weekend, beginning with a lovely evening beneath apple-blossom and surrounded by birdsong. Thanks to our Wessex brothers and sisters for their hospitality, kindness and dedication.

Our Sunday congregation was small compared to our numbers for Pascha, but we had a wonderful Liturgy, with a great sense of peace and joy. Thanks to all who contributed in every way.

Were able to congratulate Deacon Mark, George and Yuriy on their recent name-days, with Many Years being chanted after a litia to St Mark the Evangelist and the Holy Great-Martyr George.

In future weeks, it would be appreciated if we could streamline the setting up and putting away in St John’s, with the lack of help before the Liturgy sometimes creating pressure. I hope that our younger brothers can be rather more involved in this initial part of our Sundays.

Might we also suggest that our younger people need to be rather more involved on the domestic side of Sundays in St John’s: cleaning, sweeping, washing up and drying up would be a good start. I’m afraid some of our seasoned sisters are taken for granted, and after cooking, baking, preparing trapeza, and driving very long distances in some cases… never getting to sit down to eat or drink. I would like to see them getting to the table and having a rest, whilst energetic youth takes to the kitchen for a welcome change. Let’s share the labours of parish life and make things a little more fair and reasonable, and not be shy to ask if anything needs doing.

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Further to announcements in church, our General Parish Meeting will be held after Liturgy on Sunday 2 June. Elections will be held for the offices of starosta and senior-sister, and nominations for these positions are requested, and candidates should be communicant members of the parish and in good standing within the community. Before nominating candidates, please ascertain their willingness to stand for office. Over the course of the coming week, we will clarify the duties of each respective parish office, so that prospective officers can be sure that these can be fulfilled.

Some confusion has been caused by the initial announcement, and I would like to clarify that until the forthcoming election, it is only the position of starosta / warden that is vacant. The position of senior sister remains occupied by virtue of election by the parishioners, and our present senior remains the only elected officer within the parish.

After nominations for each position, the parish meeting will see the election of both starosta and senior sister, so that terms of office commence at the same time.

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I am happy to announce that Father Sebastian has welcomed us to use the Oratory Church in Swinton Street on weekdays, and this week will see the chanting of a memorial service for radonitsa tomorrow (Tuesday) at 14:30 and Thursday will see the celebration of the 9th Hour, Vespers and litia for the departed at 14:30 on Thursday. I hope that we may begin with these extra services, as well as on the first Saturday of the month – the only free Saturday at the moment, given the Liturgies in our missions and our pilgrimages.

Some of our young brothers have already used the Oratory as a place of prayer, with the enshrined relics of St Alban being a welcome place for Orthodox prayer when St John’s is inaccessible due to weekday use.

I know that the time may only allow a few parishioners who are free in the day to attend, but the need is for conciliar parish prayer as often as possible, and part of the initial possibility is “when and where”. Services are always celebrated on behalf of all members of the parish, whether they can be present or not, and prayers are offered for the whole community, whether this is at Liturgy, the services of the Horologion, molebens or memorials.

We can hopefully build up more regular common prayer throughout the week, whether in Cardiff or in the Wessex part of our community, and will investigate the possibilities for evening worship, possibly in parish homes. This will be greatly aided by the presence of capable readers in our community, and we will be concentrating on their training and development in the months ahead.

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On Saturday 25 May, this month’s rather low-key and informal pilgrimage will see a visit to Penrhys in the Rhondda. It was once an important centre of Welsh pilgrimage, with origins in the Celtic Age of Saints, before becoming a major medieval shrine to the Mother of God , before post-reformation obscurity, neglect and deprivation and 20th century revival.

In our younger days, Father Luke and I were involved with the annual three day walking “Cistercian Way” pilgrimage that once made its way from Llantarnam Abbey to Penrhys, stopping at local places of worship and of Christian significance in the Valleys.

We very much want to reconnect with this holy place, and hope that we can make a beginning with a simple visit – meeting at the statue of Our Lady of Penrhys on the site of the former Franciscan monastic house at midday. We will say prayers there and hope that the weather allows for a picnic, before walking down the hillside to the well-chapel, where it would be wonderful to celebrate vespers. Please get in touch with me if you can make it, and would like to be part of this initial connection with our local shrine of the Mother of God.

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May I ask requests for this week’s Thursday confession by 18:00, on Wednesday, please, with the intention to hear confessions before and after the service in St Alban’s Church, though I will happily head to Nazareth House for any confessions required in the evening.

Please remember our students and scholars Alexander, Stefan, Tara, Kalina, Henry, Ambrose and Jelena in your prayers at what is a demanding time of the year, with assignments, assessments and exams – and remember George, who has interviews coming up. Prayers for travellers are offered for Alla, and for her parents, and for Marina, who is visiting family in Ukraine. Among the sick we pray for Metropolitan Longin, Bishop Alexander, the priests Spyridon and Anthony, Ludmilla, Brigid, Annamieke, Dymphna, Yiannis and Foevos. Please remember them all in your home commemorations.

Christ is Risen!

Hieromonk Mark

Paschal Newsletter

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ is Risen! Христосъ воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

I hope that today has brought a brief rest for those who laboured greatly for the services of the Great and Holy Week and the Lord’s Pascha. For some, the labour was to sing, for others to read or serve, for others to give their time to cooking, baking, arranging flowers, sewing, and for some the tasks of setting up and putting away – the last seemingly menial, but necessary above most other things.

The first half of the week saw services in Llanelli, where the vesperal Liturgy of Great and Holy Thursday was celebrated in Father Luke’s home chapel, with the matins of Holy and Great Friday and the reading of the twelve passion Gospels in St Mary Butetown. We are very grateful to Father Dean and Georgina for the hospitality offered to us as St John’s was in use all evening.

Our choir and readers worked hard to make this a very beautiful service, as it was, despite the very minimal set up in the nave of St Mary’s.

Holy Friday saw our return to Canton, with the celebration of Vespers and the bringing out of the Shroud of the Saviour. Thanks to our reduced choir for again singing so well, as also in the evening Burial Service. We must also thank those who provided plain and simple fasting food for those needing a little sustenance before the long service and long journeys home for our Wessex parishioners.

On Holy Saturday, I was fortunate that matushka Alla brought me to Cardiff, where she and Svetlana arranged the flowers for the Paschal services, and the arrangements were plentiful and beautiful, with vases of flowers – some brought by parishioners and their offering at the Lord’s Tomb.

I was very blessed that Stefan and Mark gave hours of assistance setting up the church for the night service, allowing me to hear periodic confessions, including those of new visitors from Bristol and the west of England.

The service itself brought lots of new faces, as did the two services celebrated on Sunday morning and afternoon, after which Holy Communion was administered to those unable to be in church during the night for very good reason.

Our night services – with the triple procession around the church, matins with the Paschal Canon, many censings in different coloured vestments, the wonderfully encouraging Paschal Homily of St John Chrysostom, then our wonderful Liturgy – overflowed with the joy and triumph of the Lord’s Resurrection.

Sunday morning saw the chanting of the Paschal Hours, and the communing of young children, with communion also administered after our Paschal Vespers.

This week will be relatively quiet, with confessions on Thursday (requests by 18:00 on Wednesday pleased). As indicated before, we do not have access to Nazareth House chapel until 17:00. If anyone is able to attend I will make myself available to hear confessions on Friday morning, but will do so in St Alban’s Church. For those who are unaware, the Oratory Church contains relics of the Holy Protomartyr of Britain, St Alban, and is a place where some of us often go to pray before his relics and icon.

Friday afternoon will see my departure to Warminster, where our Bright Saturday Hours and Liturgy will be celebrated in the Chapel of St Lawrence at 10:30, with a bring-and-share lunch after our service. It was lovely to welcome Cardiff parishioners last month, and I hope the coming months will see others make the journey across the Severn from South Wales.

Thomas Sunday Liturgy will be in St John’s at 11:00, as usual, with a litia to St George and St Alexandra, giving us the opportunity to greet and congratulate our young parishioners George, Yuriy and Sasha (Alexandra), who celebrated their nameday, today. We wish them Many Years!

In Bright Week, it is a custom to replace our home prayers with the Paschal Hours, and I encourage you to pray the Paschal Canon each day, if you are able, echoing with the radiant joy of the Resurrection.

Christ is Risen!

Hieromonk Mark

Parish News: 22 April

Dear brothers and sisters,

Here we are in the last week of the Great Fast, before the one-day ‘season’ of Lazarus Saturday leads us into Holy Week. Personally, and I think for most people, every year’s Great Fast passes at what seems an unbelievable pace, and this year is no different. The key question, is whether we have made any progress in the season of the fast, which we should appreciate as a great gift the Lord grants us through the Sacred Tradition of the Church, focussing heart and mind on the mystery of repentance, to prepare us to greet the celebration of His Resurrection with spiritual renewal.

Those for whom the Great Fast has been a period of spiritual labour, benefit and gain, must beware that they are not robbed at the eleventh hour, or squander all that has been gained and achieved through carelessness and pride.

Conversely, if Great Lent has not gone as we hoped, we need to remind ourselves of the words that we will hear in the Paschal Homily of St John Chrysostom, and be encouraged by them NOW whilst there is an ‘hour’ in which to act in this Lenten season, before the joy and triumph of the Paschal night…

”If anyone has laboured from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let him keep the feast. If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; for he shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has laboured from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious. He both honours the work and praises the intention.”

We know that these words of the Golden-Mouthed Great-Hierarch are simply an echo of the Lord’s parable, in which the labourer in the vineyard, hired at the end of the day receives the same pay as the one who laboured from its beginning. May they encourage us to be positive and focused, even if we have been careless until now!

The weekend was marked by a great gathering of the faithful of the southern part of the British region of our diocese, assembled around our bishop and concelebrating clergy for the mystery of Holy Unction, in the sobornal/conciliar form (hence ‘soborovanie’) celebrated during the Great Fast.

It was wonderful that we had twenty-nine people travel from Cardiff and Wessex, and the number of the faithful of the diocese gathered in Chiswick was greater than ever, with probably over three hundred souls being anointed by our bishop and his six priestly concelebrants, taking the end of the anointing beyond the dismissal of vespers, which it was necessary to chant after the service of the oil whilst the anointing quietly continued.

Glory to God, for the wonderful gathering, after which Vladika formally blessed our Wessex mission, having spent time with me, Lazarus, Elizabeth and Piran. We greatly appreciate the brief time at the end of the day, in which we were able to sit quietly with our chief-shepherd, who gave us words of encouragement and advice. Eis pola eti despota!

The following morning, our Sunday congregation seemed a bit dented, though we know we have a number of core-parishioners who are away at the moment, unwell or with children who are unwell.

However, it was an extremely beautiful, and peaceful Liturgy, that seemed a natural continuation of the Saturday Mystery of Holy Unction. We had more English chanting than usual, though Slavonic was in no way pushed out. Many thanks to the choir, and to Stefan who served as a solo oltarnik, showing how well he multitasks and juggles everything that needs doing… which is quite considerable.

It was lovely to sit down to soup, Serbian beans (Chilandar monastic recipe!) and other home-made food, as we do every week, but after the labours of Saturday, I think we all enjoyed hearty Slavic food even more before our afternoon journeys!

This week, Thursday will see confessions in Nazareth House, as usual, with 17:00 being the uaual starting time, though I will endeavour to cater for those needing an earlier slot after consultation with the Sisters. Emails by 18:00 on Wednesday, please, and asap for those unable to come after 17:00.

It is a of greenery for blessing at the beginning of Liturgy. It is our tradition to hold our ‘palms’ throughout the service, especially as we hear the Palm Sunday Gospel. Weather permitting, we will have a ‘krestny khod’ around St John’s at the end of Liturgy.

There is already a number of confession requests, so may I please stress how helpful it is to know who will be confessing.

Those who were at Sunday Liturgy will know that we have kulichy (Easter cakes) for sale, to raise funds for the parish, and they are £6. They will be available for sale at services from now until Pascha and will hopefully sell out!

Tonight will see our end of the month (though not quite the end, yet) in Warminster, so I am presently sitting typing looking our on a rather wet, cold and rainy Glastonbury, greatly looking forward to the wood-burner on Porphyrios’s narrow boat. Having celebrated the Sunday of St Mary of Egypt, yesterday, we will continue this celebration by venerating the memory of St Mary as the great ‘icon of repentance’ by chanting her canon as well as that to the Mother of God. I will endeavour to post her canon on our Facebook page, and encourage you all to turn to St Mary for inspiration, help and intercession.

We ask your prayers for the newly departed handmaiden of God, Nadezhda, and for her daughter Olga.

Also, we ask for prayers for our parishioner Marina, as she and her associates look to organise another Ukrainian Orthodox scouting gathering for the summer. Despite facing so many obstacles, last summer’s event went very well, and it is hoped that a similar gathering may bring hope and respite from the ongoing war and the misery people face. Please pray!

May God grant you a good struggle and strength in these last days of the fast and Holy Week.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Parish News: Fifth Week of Great Lent

Dear brothers and sisters,

Sitting looking out onto a sunny morning, with buds breaking into leaf on the trees, it is good to reflect upon the blessings of the last week, in which I was able to visit our chancellor and the Wallasey parish.

It is always a joy to visit Wallasey, with our parish of St Elizabeth worshipping in one of the cemetery chapels, and “Little St Elizabeth’s” in the cellar of Father Paul and matushka Elizabeth’s home.

Both sanctuaries are saturated with prayer, and house many spiritually precious treasures from the Russian Imperial Embassy, from our ‘old’ cathedrals in Buckingham Palace Road and Emperor’s Gate, as well as items from our former northern parishes and the former podvorie chapel in Baron’s Court.

In Wallasey, we venerate icons that were venerated by St John the Wonderworker, our former hierarchs, and the Tsar-Martyr, and place our votive tapers in the very stands that they used in the former temples of the Church in Exile. It is particularly wonderful that the icons from the iconostasis of the episcopal podvorie grace the screen in St Elizabeth’s. I very much hope that our Cardiff and Wessex parishioners will make a pilgrimage to the Wirral and become acquainted with this wonderful parish and church, which is so representative of the particular spirituality our Church Abroad and its traditions.

I was glad to able to discuss parish life with our chancellor and look at ways to try and ease the limitations and restrictions that we continue to face as a parish without its own temple. We had time to discuss pilgrimages, youth activities, clergy formation, and the challenges of parish life.

The highpoint of my visit was the celebration of the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts.

Sadly, the lack of a place to reserve the Holy Gifts in Cardiff and limited church availability makes the celebration of this ancient Liturgy impossible at present, which is a great loss, given the beauty and solemnity of the service, in which the silent Great Entrance is made as the choir sing the anti-cherubikon

“Now the Powers of heaven with us invisibly do minister. For, lo! the King of Glory entereth now. Behold, the mystical sacrifice, all accomplished, is ushered in.”

Let us with faith and love draw near, that we may become partakers of life eternal. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Some commentators have speculated that the Great Entrance, possibly encountered by Crusaders in the Holy Land and Levant, may have been the inspiration of the grail procession in medieval romances, and its especially sacred character and solemnity are because these are not simply offered gifts, but the consecrated Holy Gifts themselves, in which the Lord is present.

It was good that Father Alban, from Durham, was also able to be with us, serving after a long journey, and before the long journey home.

Having returned to Wales on Wednesday, confessions were heard – as usual – in Nazareth house on Thursday, as they will be this week. Sister Aquinas has informed me that the daily mass will now be at 16:00, rather than in the morning, so confessions will ordinarily begin at 17:00. However, I will ask to hear some earlier for those with child-care and other responsibilities… just let me know of time limitations and I will speak to the Sisters. Emails by Wednesday at 18:00, please.

Friday saw an easterly journey for the first of our twice-monthly services in Wiltshire, where our Saturday Liturgy was celebrated in the Chapel of St Lawrence, in Warminster. We were pleased to be joined by some of our Cardiff locals for our celebration, with a litia for the departed at the end of the service, and a Lenten bring-and-share lunch.

Again, we are extremely grateful to Ian, chair of the chapel feoffees, who has supplemented the kitchen, providing a microwave-oven for us to heat food for the faithful. Given journeys from Poole and Cardiff, as well as the west of England, this is greatly appreciated. We look forward to our next Liturgy on Bright Saturday, with Paschal Hymns resounding in the chapel!

Sunday Liturgy for St John Climacus, marked the end the fourth week of the fast, and coincided with the feast of St Mary of Egypt, who will be commemorated next Sunday, as well as in the matins of the Thursday this week, when her life, by St Sophronios of Jerusalem, is read.

After discussions about the children participating the most sacred moments of the Liturgy, it was lovely to see one of our sisters usher Yuriy and Kyrill to the front with candles at the reading of the Gospel, and for them to do the same at the Great Entrance, directed by our young oltarnik, Stefan.

It was lovely to see Hierodeacon Avraamy reunited with his kamilavka and double orary, sent from Ukraine, and we look forward to having him as first deacon when we celebrate the mystery of Holy Unction in the cathedral, next Saturday.

Next Saturday’s Soborovanie / Holy Unction will commence at 14:00, and there will be opportunities to confess in the cathedral before the Holy Mystery. Those travelling by bus will be informed of the arrangements, which are being finalised, and we are encouraging our faithful to bring food to share after the service. I am very happy that there will be three parish carloads, as well as those travelling by bus, and look forward to having a group of Cardiff and Wessex parishioners joining the assembled parishes of the diocese.

Some of our parishioners have asked me to explain the offering of prosphora as Liturgy.

This practice originates in the early Church, and the expected offering of bread and wine by the faithful for the accomplishment of the Liturgy. Even though this fell out of use, the East Slavic Churches retained the tradition of the faithful presenting small loves with their commemorations for the Orthodox living and departed, with a loaf being presented with a commemorative list for the living, and one of the departed.

During proskomedia, the names of those commemorated are read out in the prayers for the living and the dead, and commemorative particles are taken in their memory and placed before the “Lamb” – which is consecrated during the Liturgy.

During the proskomedia, the arrangement on the diskos, forms a symbolic representation of the Church, in which Christ the Lamb of God is flanked by the Mother of God (represented by a triangle of beard) and the ranks of different types of saints, represented by the nine triangles in a three by three square. Before this representation of the deesis, the particles from the loaves presented by the faithful represent all commemorated on their lists – those for the faithful immediately before the Lamb, and those for the departed nearest the edge of the diskos.

After the communion of the faithful, the commemorative particles are placed in the chalice, as the deacon prayers, “Wash away, by Thy precious Blood, O Lord, the sins of those here commemorated, through the prayers of all Thy saints.”

So… when you order prosphora, you are doing so in the name and as a prayerful offering for those commemorated – which implies a list of others, though you are obviously commemorated.

Some people say, “But I’m the only Orthodox person in my family?”

There are very obvious responses.

Do you not pray for your brothers and sisters within the community; for those who have helped you in Orthodoxy through their lives, labours, teaching/preaching; for our hierarchs and clergy – whether living or departed?

We should ALL – without exception – be presenting commemorative lists, or commemoration books for Liturgy. This is our Christian duty, at Liturgy, and a basic part of Orthodox living. We list people according to their full BAPTISMAL name – no Ivans, Pashas, Mishas or Sashas, but Ioanns, Darias, Pavels, Mikhails and Alexanders. We have no vladikas, fathers or mothers, but rather list clergy and monastics as Bishop, Priest, Archpriest, Hieromonk, Monk or Nun.

If we have a commemorative book, we need to keep it up-to-date, as also our lists, if we leave them in church between Liturgies.

I shall post one of Fr John Whiteford’s article on our Facebook and WhatsApp pages.

See also: https://www.facebook.com/ROCORinCardiff/posts/pfbid036TKS7mEUCVQnKeLAQX1S1kaqcptDvvP89cgZh8etGLvtaULiwyiST41TwUhKQTWl

Looking forward to Wednesday evening, or during the day on Thursday, we should endeavour to prayer the Great Canon. The Wednesday evening service will be in Llanelli at 19:00.

This Saturday is that of the Akathist Hymn of the Most Holy Mother of God, when we should all equally to pray the Akathist Hymn. Again, there will be a service in Llanelli at 19:00.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Parish News – Sunday of the Holy Cross and Annunciation


Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we celebrate the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel, following yesterday’s double celebration of the feast of the Annunciation and the Sunday of the Cross, with a joyful, well-attended, festive Liturgy with parishioners from Llanelli, Swansea and the West of England joining the Cardiff locals.

Thanks to singers, flower-arrangers and cooks, who most certainly rose to the occasion, and thank you to the children who contributed to our homily, and who will hopefully remember the key words of the day, central to the meaning of both the Life-Giving Cross and the Annunciation: obedience, humility and submission.

Unfortunately, Deacon Mark, Alla and Yuriy were unable to be with us, as Yuriy developed a dental abscess and – as most of you know – required surgery under general-anaesthetic yesterday afternoon. He is pretty much back to his normal self, today.

As those at Liturgy realised, without Deacon Mark leading the church set-up, confessions were unavoidably delayed, which was unfortunate on a festive day with many to confess and commune, but it was, after all, the Sunday of the Cross, and if we could not endure such a minor cross on such a blessed day, then there was little point in us coming to church. We should also rejoice that so many people honoured the double-feast by confessing and communing of the Most Pure Mysteries. Congratulations to all who partook of the Holy Mysteries! Let us struggle to preserve their Grace.

Many thanks to Masha, for bringing Holy Water from the well of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the place where the Mother of God received the tidings of the Archangel. The faithful were happy to be able to partake of this after the kissing of the Cross.

It was an added blessing to have Oswald visiting us from Norwich, and his labours, together with those of oltarnik Alexander were greatly appreciated. I hope that Oswald’s presence will become frequent.

Your prayers are asked for the newly departed handmaiden of God, Nina, for whom a litia was chanted after our Liturgy.

I am presently journeying north, looking forward to enjoying a few days with our diocesan chancellor and visiting our Wallasey parish, and will return on Thursday, heading straight to Nazareth House for confessions and the akathist to the Saviour’s Passion, to be chanted at 18:00. Please submit requests by 18:00 on Wednesday. Please let me know if you will be in the confession queue on Sunday before the day itself. Without a second priest, Sundays in Cardiff will require confessions not heard by 10:50 to continue after the Divine Liturgy.

This Saturday – 13th April – sees our second Wessex Liturgy, and I am very pleased to hear that some of our Cardiff locals will be joining us in the Chapel of St Laurence, in the centre of Warminster, to support our Wessex brothers and sisters in these early days of our local mission. We look forward to formally receiving Vladika Irenei’s blessing when we attend Holy Unction on Saturday 20th April. The Hours and Liturgy are at 10:30, and there will be a bring-and-share lunch after the service.

Any remaining parishioners who wish to avail themselves of the mini-bus travelling from Cardiff to the cathedral for this for the mystery of Holy Unction (Soborovanie), at 14:00 on the afternoon of the 20th, should let me know asap, as we wish to confirm numbers and transport arrangements.

As you will have already seen from your email inbox, the services for Holy Week remain rather less than we would ideally like due to the use of St John’s during the week, with various clubs and societies hiring the meeting space next to the kitchen on a long term basis.

The earlier part of the week will see services celebrated in Llanelli before they commence in Cardiff on Holy Thursday.

I repeat the schedule here:

27th April – Lazarus Saturday: TBC

 28th April – Palm Sunday morning: Divine Liturgy, 11:00, St John’s, in St John’s, Canton

 28th April – Palm Sunday evening: Bridegroom Matins, 19:00 in Llanelli

 29th April – Holy Monday: Bridegroom Matins, 19:00 in Llanelli

 30th April – Holy Tuesday: Bridegroom Matins, 19:00 in Llanelli

1st May – Holy Wednesday: Small Compline, 19:00 in Llanelli

2nd May – Holy Thursday morning: Divine Liturgy, 10:00 in Llanelli

2nd May – Holy Thursday evening: Service of the Twelve Gospels, 19:00 in St Mary’s Butetown

3rd May – Holy Friday afternoon: Vespers and the bringing out of the winding-sheet, 16:00 in St John’s, Canton

3rd May – Holy Friday evening: Matins of Holy Saturday – Burial service of the Lord, 19:00 in St John’s, Canton

4th May – Holy Saturday: Midnight Office, 23:30, St John’s, Canton  immediately followed by…

5th May – Sunday of Pascha: midnight 00:00 Paschal matins and Divine Liturgy, followed by blessing of Paschal foods and Paschal Breakfast

5th May – Sunday of Pascha: Paschal Vespers, 12:30, St John’s, Canton

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As we enter the second half of the Great Fast, may I remind you of the importance of alms giving and highlight that the foodbank in St John’s is an ideal way for us to support those is need.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Holy Week 2024

Dear brothers and sisters, Holy Week is a time of the year when we particularly experience the limitations and feel the frustrations of being tenants under somebody else’s roof, and being unable to have the full complement of services celebrated publicly.

This is nothing new to us, but our return to St John’s, as a building that is much used for various activities, makes a heavy mark on our celebrations. Those using the building during the week do so as part of long-term bookings, with some of those users having held those slots for several years.

 Because the limited availability of the building I will assist Father Luke in Llanelli in the earlier part of the week and the Holy Thursday evening service (the 12 Gospels) will have to be in St Mary Butetown. Unlike the last Holy Week in St John’s, the church will be in use until 18:00 on Saturday, so there is no possibility of celebrating the Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Saturday.

27th April – Lazarus Saturday: TBC

28th April – Palm Sunday morning: Divine Liturgy, 11:00, St John’s, in St John’s, Canton

28th April – Palm Sunday evening: Bridegroom Matins, 19:00 in Llanelli

29th April – Holy Monday: Bridegroom Matins, 19:00 in Llanelli

30th April – Holy Tuesday: Bridegroom Matins, 19:00 in Llanelli

1st May – Holy Wednesday: Small Compline, 19:00 in Llanelli

2nd May – Holy Thursday morning: Divine Liturgy, 10:00 in Llanelli

2nd May – Holy Thursday evening: Service of the Twelve Gospels, 19:00 in St Mary’s Butetown

3rd May – Holy Friday afternoon: Vespers and the bringing out of the winding-sheet, 16:00 in St John’s, Canton

3rd May – Holy Friday evening: Matins of Holy Saturday – Burial service of the Lord, 19:00 in St John’s, Canton

4th May – Holy Saturday: Midnight Office, 23:30, St John’s, Canton  immediately followed by…

5th May – Sunday of Pascha: midnight 00:00 Paschal matins and Divine Liturgy, followed by blessing of Paschal foods and Paschal Breakfast

5th May – Sunday of Pascha: Paschal Vespers, 12:30, St John’s, Canton

The Third Week of the Great Fast

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings as we begin the third week of the Great Fast.

With people away on vacation and student holidays, yesterday saw a smaller congregation than usual, though it was a warm Liturgy, aptly described by one of our singers as feeling ‘en famille’, and the warmth of our gathering was reflected in the time for which our worshippers lingered and chatted, amply fed on a day of many Lenten pies. Thank you to all who baked and cooked, feeding our faithful on what turned out to be a rather cold church, with all feeling the physical chill: clergy included.

The week began with our end of month service and supper in Wiltshire, and we are grateful to Porphyrios for welcoming us, once again, to his narrow-boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal, and to our sisters who provided Lenten -fare for our gathering and for clergy-hospitality. We are now looking forward to our next Wessex Liturgy in the Chapel of St Laurence, in Warminster, on Saturday 13 April.

Last week saw Nazareth House out of use, so confessions were heard in the Oratory Church, with the akathist to the Divine Passion chanted  between them. We are very grateful to the Oratorian Fathers for their continued kindness and hospitality. Their unwished-for departure from the chaplaincy did nothing to lessen the great friendship that was established between our communities, and they continue to take an interest in parish life and news, and support us through their great hospitality.

This week will see our return to Nazareth House for confessions on Thursday, and the akathist will again be chanted, but at 18:00, after confessions. Those requiring confession are asked to email me by 18:00 on Wednesday.

The akathist to the Lord’s Passion has been published on our blog, and can be found in the first volume of the excellent akathist books printed by Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, and available from on-line book sellers. These are an excellent resource, and are a worth while resource: Volume 1: ISBN 9780884650591 and Volume 2: ISBN 9780884651413.

Our parishioners continue to read the Psalter in its entirety each day during this fast, and those interested interested in acquiring a Psalter with the traditional troparia and prayers at the end of the kathismas are encouraged to purchase one from White Horse Wares…

https://whitehorsewares.co.uk/product/a-psalter-for-prayer-pocket-edition/

… who also stock the translated writings of St Pasisios the Hagiorite, as well as excellent candles suitable for use in your icon-corner. If you have never visited their website, please do!

Sunday was Anastasia’s last, and having completed her musical studies in the Royal College she will spend some time in Greece before returning to university in the States. It has been a great privilege and blessing having her as part of the parish. We thank her for her contribution to parish life and wish her a safe journey and a good celebration of the Lord’s Pascha… Καλό ταξίδι αγαπητή Αναστασία, και καλή Ανάσταση!

Looking forward to Holy Unction / Soborovanie in the cathedral on Saturday 20 April, I am glad to say that we are getting close to having enough attending parishioners to hire a minibus. If you wish to attend, please let Tracy know, but only if you are able to commit, as we do not want to see people dropping out last minute and finding that resources have been wasted.

Next Sunday sees the coincidence of the feast of the Annunciation and the Sunday of the Cross, with the Liturgy celebrating both celebrations, and the Cross venerated at the centre of the church. This is one of the two fish days of the Great Fast, so fish is welcome in trapeza after the service.

The variables for the Liturgy are to be found on the usual website, at… https://drive.google.com/file/d/14OBNB740tC2bT_Th92b4YDvWQj8PUfdC/view

Wishing you a continued prayerful and penitential struggle, as we approach the midpoint on the Fast.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Parish News: the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Wiltshire

Sunday 11/24 March

Dear brothers and sisters,

Whilst every weekend is a celebration of the Faith, this first weekend felt especially festive after the first week of the Great Fast.

After a week of quiet services, with compline and the Great Canon of Repentance chanted in the Oratory Church from Monday to Thursday, and the first portion of the Akathist Hymn in Llanelli on Friday evening, Saturday brought the blessing of our Pilgrimage-Liturgy in Margam Abbey, and today our enthusiastic celebration of the Triumph of Orthodoxy in St John’s, Canton. It has been a great blessing to have services every day for the last nine days and the shared joy of this weekend’s Liturgies was the crown.

It was heartening to know that a group of our Wessex parishioners were meeting to chant Great Compline and the Canon of Repentance in the first week of Lent, with the akathist to the Mother of God on Friday, demonstrating that communal prayer is not always reliant on the presence of clergy, especially given the excellent on-line resources we now have for reader services – largely due to the good offices of Father John Whiteford in this Lenten period. See also: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/horologion.htm

Given the immense geographical dispersion of our faithful, reader services can and hopefully will form common bonds of prayer and worship between our Liturgies, whether in Cardiff or further afield.

Tomorrow will see our end of month gathering for an evening service and supper on Porphyrios’s narrow boat: a much anticipated event, with wonderful fellowship. It is incredible that a narrow-boat has become a place of prayer and one of the hubs of our Wessex mission.

As already reported on Facebook, Saturday’s Divine Liturgy for the Saturday of St Theodore was celebrated at Margam Abbey, where the restored nave of the pre-reformation abbey serves as the parish church, just a stone’s throw from the ‘castle’, the former home of the Talbot family through whose benefaction the church was restored in the 19th century.

The stately sanctuary was an imposing place in which to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, especially when we were such a little pilgrimage group which appreciated the majesty of the setting (which feels more like somewhere in the south of France than industrial South Wales), blessing kolyvo at the end of the service, and then enjoying a lovely bring-and-share lunch in the church hall.

We were very happy to have had Father Mark Greenaway-Robins and members of his warm and friendly congregation with us, and enjoyed chatting with them after the Liturgy and during the afternoon. We must thank Anastasia for singing, George for reading and Stefan for serving. Thanks also to our parish brothers and sisters for the lovely lunch.

Today saw our first Lenten Liturgy of St Basil in Cardiff, and we are grateful for our much reduced kliros for chanting our longer Lenten melodies and for the extra musical labours with the Synodikon of Orthodoxy, in which the essence of the celebration was summed up as our Deacons boldly proclaimed, “This is the Apostolic Faith! This is the Faith of the Fathers! This is the Orthodox Faith! This Faith confirmeth the Universe!”

Having prayed for the conversion of those in error, we remembered the departed teachers of the Faith, Hierarchs and Christian Sovereigns, chanting “Eternal Memory”, before beseeching “Many Years” for our living hierarchs, pastors and Christian leaders.

Even though the day had already been long, by popular request, we still added a krestny khod / procession to the end of our celebration, bringing joy to both young and old.

Congratulations to all who partook of the Holy Mysteries and thanks to everyone for such a wonderful celebration, including those who contributed to a hearty lunch, which was very much enjoyed at the end of a long, tiring and austere week.

There will be evening services in Llanelli at 19:00 on Wednesday and Friday, and confessions will be in St Alban’s Church, in Splott, on Thursday, as Nazareth House in unavailable during Western Holy Week. The akathist to the Saviour’s Passion will be chanted at 15:00, and confessions will be arranged around this devotion.

Please communicate confession requests by 18:00 on Wednesday, please.

I know that parishioners are currently discussing participating in the Mystery of Holy Unction in our cathedral at 14:00 on Saturday 20 April, and we hope that car pooling will make it possible for as many as possible to partake of this Holy Mystery. If anyone is interested and without transport please communicate with me or Tracy, so that we may explore group transport options.

Next Sunday, the second Sunday of the Great Fast is the Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, and the variable portions of the Liturgy may be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ENPLX-KydIW-DZB36ifCNPvA8TfQ6HCZ/view

May God bless you, and give you good strength for the ongoing lenten Fast.

Asking your prayers.

In Christ – Fr Mark

Parish News at the Beginning of Great Lent

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings on this first day of the Great Fast, and thanks to all who contributed to our weekend celebrations in Cheltenham and Cardiff.

Having left maslenitsa behind, and having enjoyed sharing both food and one another’s company, we now enter into the Lenten season with a first week that is dominated by the words of the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete.

Having commemorated the fall and the casting out of Adam and Eve from Paradise in our Sunday services, the Great Canon explores man’s sinful rebellion through the ensuing generations of humanity, not only using the myriad examples as a warning, but also positively focussing on the mystery of repentance and return to God, Who desires the repentance, return and restoration of all of His children.

Through the many Biblical examples we hear, we are called to action in these days of the Great Fast, to wake up and take our spiritual life and our salvation seriously, through obedience, repentance, prayer and fasting.

As we hear in the kontakion,

“My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded, awake then and be watchful that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere, and fills all things.”

Now is the time for us to arise from slumber, and even as the natural world around us comes to life and brings forth flowers and blossoms, the season of the Fast needs to be a time of growth and blossoming for us, with the knowledge that blossom becomes fruit.

At 16:00 this afternoon, and on the next three afternoons there will be a quiet celebration of compline, with the reading of the Great Canon at the shrine of St Alban, in the Oratory Church of St. Alban-on-the-Moors, Swinton Street, Splott, Cardiff, CF24 2NT.

I know that some of our Wessex parishioners are coming together to chant the canon, and encourage all who are unable to get to a service to add it to their evening prayers, at home.

The Great Canon will likewise be chanted in the Chapel of Saints David and St Nicholas in Llanelli at the later time of 19:00 each evening. Compline with the Akathist Hymn will be chanted there at the same time on Friday.

This Saturday – 23rd March – will see our March pilgrimage to Margam Abbey, where the Divine Liturgy for the Saturday of St Theodore will be celebrated at 10:30.

At the moment, only a tiny handful of parishioners have indicated their intention to attend, so please let me know if you are coming, especially as we may need to coordinate some student-lifts or pick-ups from Port Talbot railway station. As usual, there will be a bring-and-share lunch after Liturgy, with food obviously being Lenten. May I remind you that it is not our local tradition to eat shellfish, whatever happens in other jurisdictions.

As announced at Liturgy and in previous newsletters, the mystery of Holy Unction will be celebrated in our London Cathedral at 14:00 on Saturday 20th April, when His Grace, Bishop Irenei will concelebrate with the clergy of our diocese to consecrate the Holy Oil of Anointing for the strengthening and healing of those who receive partake.

All Orthodox Christians of seven years and over may be anointed at the service, providing they are in good standing within the Church and have prepared by fasting and confession.

Looking forward to next Sunday, when we will celebrate the Triumph of Orthodoxy and the restoration of the holy icons, weather permitting, we will preform a cross-procession / krestny khod at the end of the moleben and we would like parishioners to bring icons to celebrate this triumphal first Sunday of the Fast. Trapeza offerings have the weekend relaxation permitting wine and oil, but no shell-fish / sea-food, please.

I will hear confessions, as usual on Thursday, though they will be in St Alban’s Church before our 16:00 service. If you require a later confession, please let me know, and I will arrange early evening confessions in Nazareth House.

I hope and pray that this week is one of simplicity, withdrawal and peace for you: a week of as few words as possible, with electronic devices switched off unless needed for specific reasons, social-media on the back-burner, a minimal diet that does not try to imitate the food of the rest of the year with ‘pretend’ substitutes, and silence that allows you to hear the birds singing as spring gathers pace and the rumbles of a stomach that is fasting!

Everyone should know, but a reminder that our diet is vegan, and we should forego olive oil and wine (alcohol) on weekdays. Saturday as the Sabbath, and Sunday as the Lord’s Day, have the consolation of wine and oil. Finding food with no oils or vegetable fats can be difficult, but avoiding fried food, sauces and dressings, and obviously oily food is pretty straightforward!

Twenty of our parishioners are reading a kathisma of the Psalter each day, ensuring that it is completed in the parish each day, and I would encourage everyone to read the Psalms of David as much as possible during Lent.

May God bless you and the arena of your Lenten struggle. Καλό Στάδιο!

Asking your forgiveness, for Christ’s sake.

Hieromonk Mark

Parish News: 11 March 2024

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings on the feast of Blessed Nikolai of Pskov, the Holy Fool who dared challenge Tsar Ivan the Terrible, and was glorified by the Lord in his poverty and seeming foolishness.

Our weekend was marked by a double-celebration with the Divine Liturgy ‘going out’ of Cardiff and across the Severn, with the first of our mission Liturgies celebrated in Warminster on Saturday, in addition to our Canton-St John’s Liturgy on Sunday.

After having celebrated evening services in Wiltshire on the final Monday of the last two months, and having had singing lessons / practices for our local ladies and gents, celebrating the Liturgy was a source of grace and strength for our faithful living such a distance from our parish base in Cardiff. Thanks to the parishioners and to Ian at the chapel of St Lawrence. 

A litia for the departed was celebrated in each location after our Liturgies, withthe blessing of kutia in Warminster – though it was also enjoyed in Cardiff. It would be good if more parishioners could contribute to cooking memorial-wheat for our services for the departed, and we will post some recipes in Facebook and WhatsApp.

We continue to remember the newly departed Archbishop Anatoly and Nikolai, and prayed for the servant of God Vladimir to mark the anniversary of his repose. Memory Eternal!

Thanks to all who contributed to our Cardiff Liturgy, especially with the expansion of English language chanting, and over the next few weeks I hope that we will also see a variation of readers, as other young men in the parish fulfil this obedience and become accustomed to chanting the readings and thanksgiving prayers.

With the able assistance of our students and young people, the last few Thursdays have seen the chanting of compline, with the akathist after confessions in Nazareth House, and we will pray the night-office of the Church again this week at 19:00, but with a supplicatory canon to the Mother of God and the Canon to St David, the Apostle of Wales, whose feast falls that day. I will hear confessions in the afternoon, and would appreciate requests – as usual – by 18:00 on Wednesday, please.

This Saturday will see the clergy to head to Cheltenham to celebrate the Divine Liturgy for the Saturday of maslenitsa, on which we commemorate all of the venerable fathers and mothers who have shone forth in the monastic life. As usual, we will worship in Prestbury United Reformed Church, Deep St, Cheltenham GL52 3AN.

Confessions will be heard from around 09:30, with the Hours and Liturgy commencing at 10:30. The usual bring-and-share lunch will follow the service, and we know that our matriarchs will be in maximalist mode for blini-week.

The following Saturday, 23rd March, our parish-pilgrimage will be to Margam Abbey, where we look forward to celebrating the Hours and Liturgy at 10:30. Please let me know if you can join us, especially as we may need to arrange lifts from Port Talbot Parkway Station for those without cars.

The mystery of Holy Unction / Soborovanie will be served in our London cathedral on Saturday 20th April at 14:00, and I hope that parishioners who are able to attend may share cars and work together so that as many as possible are able to be part of this diocesan celebration. Only Orthodox Christians above the age of seven years may be blessed to receive this Holy Mystery, and must prepare with confession.

Next Sunday will, of course, be Forgiveness Sunday, and the Liturgy will immediately be followed by the Vespers of Forgiveness, with the rite of mutual forgiveness at the end. This reminds us of the absolute necessity of seeking reconciliation with anyone who we have hurt or offended, even if unintended, asking their forgiveness and forgiving the offence that anyone has caused us. To begin Great Lent otherwise, will see the Great Fast lead us no-where: a spiritual cul-de-sac! We cannot journey towards the Lord’s Pascha with unresolved conflict, or with resentment in our hearts and minds. We must at least have made the first step towards peace and reconciliation, even if we have a considerable way to go on the journey.

After Liturgy and Vespers, we shall then share our last non-Lenten trapeza, though meat has already been given up, yesterday.

The variables for Liturgy may be found here… https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dYl232tSSDKVucg0lIuM7aVn6-yMxsGx/view …and vespers here… https://drive.google.com/file/d/11cC6fYhWuIorAMLk0b5ukOBhxCSPfoAI/view

On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the the first week of the Great Fast, Compline and the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete will be anticipated by an early celebration at 16:00 at the shrine of the Holy Protomartyr Alban in the Oratory Church, in Swinton Street. As always, many thanks to Father Sebastian and the brethren. We are most grateful.

A bilingual text of the Great Canon may be found at orthodoxaustin,https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XyLJRSiDLIdBetWWNsWoKzu3qKzV2kh1/view though parishioners might chant it in the general order for chanting the canons, in small compline as an economia, or in evening prayers.

Please make sure you have the things you need for the Great Fast, and be ready for the Lenten journey to Pascha.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark