The Apostles’ Fast

Dear brothers and sisters,

After celebrating the Sunday of All Saints, yesterday, today sees the beginning of the Apostles’ Fast, which will last until the feast of the Holy Chiefs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, on 12 July – new style.

In Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch, this Fast originated as a post Trinity-Pentecost Fast, as a time of spiritual purification and struggle, so that we might be personally granted the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This understanding is evident in the words of St Leo the Great, Pope of Old Rome (†461),

“After the long feast of Pentecost, fasting is especially necessary to purify our thoughts and render us worthy to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit … Therefore, the salutary custom was established of fasting after the joyful days during which we celebrated the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.”

Past observance saw local variations in the length of this Fast, ranging from a week to a whole forty days. However, though the Fast commences on a moveable date (depending on the Pascha-Pentecostarion cycle) we now conclude the fast on the fixed date of the feast of the Holy Chief Apostles, varying from 8 days to 42 days.

As always, it is far more important that our fasting begins within us – with abstinence from sin – but the dietary Fast is one which helps us to put aside earthly cares, to pray MORE as we eat and cook LESS. We should not simply be changing ingredients, but moderating the amount we eat.

As in all Fasts, we give up all meat, eggs, and dairy food, striving to keep the fast from oil, and only partaking of wine/alcohol on days when it is blessed by the Church. During the Apostles Fast, we are permitted fish on Saturdays and Sundays, and on several other feasts.

Here is a summary of this year’s Fast, including some feasts, some of which explain the relaxation of the Fast on days which would usually be observed with a stricter fasting-regime. We are always aware that there is some variation in calendars, but follow ROCOR usage from the St Innocent and Jordanville calendars:

Monday June 20 N.S. – Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Tuesday June 21 N.S. – Fast. Wine and oil.

Wednesday June 22 N.S. – Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Thursday June 23 N.S. – Fast. Wine and oil.

Friday June 24 N.S. – Fast. Wine and oil. Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas (1st c.)

Saturday June 25 N.S. – Fast. Fish, wine and oil.

Sunday June 26 N.S. – Fast. Fish, wine and oil.

Monday June 27 N.S. – Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Tuesday June 28 N.S. – Fast. Fish, wine and oil. St. Jonah, Netropolitan of Moscow (1461).

Wednesday June 29 N.S. – Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Thursday June 30 N.S. – Fast. Wine and oil.

Friday July 1 N.S. – Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Saturday July 2 N.S. – Fast. Fish, wine and oil.

Sunday July 3 N.S. – Fast. Fish, wine and oil.

Monday July 4 N.S. – Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Tuesday July 5 N.S. – Fast. Wine and oil.

Wednesday July 6 N.S. – Fast. Wine and oil. The Meeting of the Vladimir Icon

Thursday July 7 N.S. – Fast. Fish, wine and oil. Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

Friday July 8 N.S. – Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Saturday July 9 N.S. – Fast. Fish, wine and oil.

Sunday July 10 N.S. – Fast. Fish, wine and oil.

Monday July 11 N.S. – Fast. Fish, wine and oil. Venerable Fathers Sergius and Herman (14th c.), abbots of Valaam. Icon of the Mother of God ‘Of the Three Hands’

May God bless you all, and remember that even though it is not great Lent, it does not mean that this Fast is not important.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Services and Events Next Week

Dear brothers and sisters,

We now enter the final days of Pascha and there will be a celebration of the Hours and Divine Liturgy in Llanelli for the Leave-Taking of Pascha, on Wednesday 1 June at 10:00.

The following morning, Thursday 2 June, the Liturgy of the Ascension will celebrated in the Church St Mary Butetown, North Church Street, at 10:30. As this is a bank-holiday, I hope that a good number of parishioners will be able to attend.

As you may be aware, there is a service in St John’s on Thursdays at the same time, so Father Dean stepped in with his usual matter-of-fact generosity. Many thanks Father!

We return to St Mary’s for a pre-baptismal talk at 19:00 on Friday, and look forward to the baptism of Melangell (Menna) in the village of St Nicholas at 14:00 on Saturday afternoon.

We return to St John’s for the Sunday Hours and Divine Liturgy at 11:00 – ending a mobile week of multiple venues!

Christ is Risen!

Fr Mark

Wednesday 1 June, 10:00 – Hours and Divine Liturgy for the Leave-Taking of Pascha.

Venue: The Chapel of St David and St Nicholas, in the garden of Father Luke’s home at 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli, SA14 8LS.

Thursday 2 June, 10:30Hours and Divine Liturgy for the Ascension of the Lord.

Venue: The Church St Mary the Virgin, North Church Street, Butetown, Cardiff.

Anyone requiring confession before Liturgy should contact the clergy to make arrangements.

Friday 3 June,18:00 – Confessions, 19:00 catechesis talk on Baptism.

Venue: The Church St Mary the Virgin, North Church Street, Butetown, Cardiff.

Saturday 4 June, 14:00Baptism of Melangell (Menna) in St Nicholas CF5 6SH (village). Parishioners are invited, and those able to be part of the occasion are asked to email Menna:

Sunday 5 June, 10:15 – Confessions, 11:00 Hours and Divine Liturgy

Venue: St John’s Church, Canton.

The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός νέστη 

Sunday brought us the double joy of celebrating the Samaritan woman – St Photini/Svetlana – and the translation of the relics of St Nicholas from Myra to Bari. I was very happy to be able to preach on the Samaritan woman, in addition to celebrating the great Wonderworker in a festal moleben, with the faithful being anointed with manna from the relics of St Nicholas in the basilica in Bari. 

During the moleben, we prayed for Daniel and Katherine, who were crowned in holy matrimony by Daniel’s priestly father on Sunday afternoon in the Old Rite Russian Orthodox Church of St Nicholas the Wonderworker (Moscow Patriarchate) in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. We pray for a blessed marriage and ‘many years’, to the newlyweds and their families – especially to Father Seraphim and matushka Solomonia. What a blessing for the newlyweds to be crowned in a temple dedicated to St Nicholas on his Spring Feast. 

Later, on Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak to those recently confirmed in the Anglican ministry area, and tell them a little about the Orthodox Church, also taking the opportunity to talk with the Anglican clergy about parish life in the wake of the arrival of refugees from Ukraine. 

This coming Sunday is the Sunday of the Blind Man, and we will celebrate the Hours and Liturgy at the usual time of 11:00, with our customary bring-and-share-lunch after the service. 

The variable parts of the Liturgy may be found at Orthodox Austin, as usual: 

As there will be no catechesis group this Friday, I will hear confessions in Deacon Mark’s office on Saturday, and ask all of those requiring confessions to email me by Thursday: 

May God bless you, and may you continue to rejoice in the Resurrection of Christ as we come towards the end of the Paschal season. 

Christ is Risen! 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 



The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Thank you to all who contributed to our celebration of the Sunday of the Life-Giving Cross, last weekend, when we were pleased to see that last year’s scant numbers on British Mother’s Day were not replicated, and that attendance was not greatly affected by the Cardiff Half Marathon.

Special thanks go to matushka Alla, for arranging the floral frame for the Cross, so soon after the beautiful flowers to adorn the Kursk-Root Icon.

It was a great joy to welcome parishioners’ family members from Kiev, and we look forward to welcoming others in the next few weeks, giving all of the support possible at a difficult and traumatic time for so many people. 

Over the last couple of weeks, I have discovered that evening travel beyond Swansea has become rather problematic, with last minute rail replacement buses and unexpected cancellations making already long days even longer, and even making journeys impossible. Regrettably, until the situation settles down, I shall be unable to celebrate evening services in Cardiff. 

However, our catechesis session will be held as usual, in the parish room at the Church of St Mary Butetown, on Friday, at the usual time of 19:00. Also, as usual, I shall hear confessions from 18:00, and will also hear some confessions in the afternoon, as needed.

So, may I ask for emails and messages regarding confession by Thursday lunchtime, to allow planning? If required, I will also hear confessions on Saturday. Please email 

Last Sunday saw the making of another catechumen, as James was enrolled in the catechumenate, and I hope that this Sunday may see the next catechumen join the ranks. We look forward to Lazarus Saturday, with the intention to baptise George in the sea after the Liturgy – tide permitting – or we may find ourself returning to the River Ewenny, hopefully warmer than the day of Aldhelm’s icy baptism in December.

This coming Sunday, we will celebrate the Hours and the Divine Liturgy of St Basil at the usual time of 11:00, and I would appreciate prior notice of those needing to confess, purely to manage the timing and distribution of confessions. 

As the feast of the Annunciation falls on the Thursday of the Great Canon, the chanting of the canon will be anticipated this year, and will take place in Father Luke’s home-chapel on Monday 4th April (new style) at 19:00. The Annunciation Vesperal Liturgy will also take place in Father Luke’s home-chapel on the morning of Thursday 7th April at 10:00. Following the service, we will go to the cemetery to celebrate a panikhida for our departed sister Eleni, one of the pillars of the local Orthodox community for many years.

I hope that some of our Cardiff community will be able to support this celebration! 

God bless you all. Struggle on with prayer and fasting! 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 

Preparing For the Sunday of Forgiveness

Dear brothers and sisters,

At the end of this ‘cheese week’, in which we use up dairy food and eggs, Sunday will not only have the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, but also the Forgiveness Vespers, which will mark the beginning of the Great Fast. 

So, in the week ahead, use up all of the proscribed foods, ready to start the Great Fast seriously. Avoid being one of those sloppy repeat-offenders who find themselves using up dairy food during the first days of Lent, saying that it would be a sin to bin the food – having repeated this this year after year.

Looking ahead, think about the distractions that should be limited or even put aside during the Lenten Season: television and radio, secular music, social media, gaming, unnecessary phone calls and emails. Fasting from these is as much a part of the Great Fast as the dietary fast.

Our focus should be on things spiritual and heavenly: prayer, spiritual reading, acts of mercy, serving others. Prepare for a season of not simply inner repentance, but of active virtue and mercy.

In Forgiveness Vespers, which will follow the Divine Liturgy, we will liturgically enter the Great Fast after the evening entrance, with the vestments changing to Lenten purple at ‘Vouchsafe, O Lord…’ and the Lenten melodies of ‘Gospodi Pomiluy’ marking the beginning of Lent.

The variables of Forgiveness Vespers may be found here:

The service ends with the rite of mutual forgiveness, and we should strive to ensure that we are at peace with everyone, trying to put right any disagreement, and seeking reconciliation.

Though we will have celebrated the Forgiveness vespers, we will have our last pre-Lenten refreshments until Pascha. Please remember, meat is no longer permitted, when preparing food for our bring-and-share lunch.

Our catechism/study-group will meet once more in the parish room at St Mary Butetown, in North Church Street at 19:00, and I will hear confessions from 18:00 – for those who have made prior arrangement.

As usual, I ask all needing confessions this week to email me, and again ask that this is by Wednesday night to allow planning for Friday and Saturday, given that there may be more confessions than usual:

This week should be one of preparation, as we think about what we will be eating during the Great Fast, what spiritual books we will be reading, what extra prayers we will undertake.

The weight of the present situation in Ukraine bears upon us, and perhaps makes clear to us what extra prayers we should be saying, for the people of both Ukraine and Russia, for the peace and reconciliation which each of us seeks at the beginning of the penitential season.

Looking forward to the first week of the Fast, the Canon of Repentance of St Andrew of Crete, will be chanted from Monday to Thursday evening at 19:00 in the Chapel of St David and St Nicholas in Llanelli.

In the meantime, I encourage you all to undertake extra prayers for the people of Ukraine, and for peace and an end to bloodshed. I know that some of you are already praying the Akathist to the Mother of God, the Softener of Evil Hearts, and encourage others to join this. The English and Slavonic links are below.

Акафист Пресвятой Богородице перед иконой «Умягчение злых сердец»:

May God bless you all.

Asking your forgiveness for Christ’s sake.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

This Weekend and the Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

Despite the extreme morning weather, and the awful journeys that some faced on their way to Cardiff, the Liturgy saw parishioners come from far and wide, from England as well as South Wales, with exactly fifty – including the youngest parishioners – come together for the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

All will agree that it was a very beautiful and joyful service, made all the more celebratory by the number of the faithful who confessed and communed – led by such devout and focused children.

Parishioners expressed their joy and relief at the news that His Eminence Metropolitan Jean of Dubna has annulled his anti-canonical decrees which sought to legitimize the actions of schismatics within our diocese in the summer, though we recognise that this is only the first step to reconciliation and in no way guarantees repentance. It is, however, a beginning – praise God!

At the end of Liturgy, we were pleased to ask God’s blessing for the servants of God Anatoly and Georgiy, on the occasion of their birthday – the former a stately eightieth, and the latter a lively fourth. May God grant them many years.

I was then pleased to bless three recently completed icons: of the Saviour, of the Vatopedskaya icon of the Mother of God, and of Saint John of Kronstadt.

Many thanks to all who worked so hard to ensure a wonderful Liturgy and extremely sociable lunch. We are particularly grateful to our singers and three readers.

Those requiring confession in the coming week are asked to email, as usual:

Having performed two house-blessing this afternoon, I would like to remind the faithful that we are still blessing homes, following the Great Blessing of the Waters at Theophany.

Finally – remember that this is a fast-free week!

May God bless you.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Events this week:

Tuesday 2/15 February, in the Lady Chapel of St John’s Church, Canton:

09:30 Hours and Liturgy for the feast of the Meeting of the Lord and blessing of candles.

Friday 18 February, in the church of St Mary, Butetown:

18:00 confessions, followed at 19:00 by our catechetical study group, to which all are welcome. Eleven gathered in the parish room last week, for what was an interesting and enjoyable session, with lively discussion.

Saturday 19 February, Cheltenham Liturgy in Prestbury United Reformed Church, 5 Deep St, Prestbury, Cheltenham GL52 3AW:

09:15 confessions, 10:00 Hours, 10:30 Liturgy, followed by a bring-and-share lunch. Any visiting Cardiff parishioners preparing for communion on Sunday may be confessed after the Liturgy.

Depending on the need for Cardiff confessions, the clergy will be available at Deacon Mark’s office in Morganstown.

Sunday 20 February, in St John’s Church, Canton:

10:15 confessions, 11:00 Hours and Liturgy, followed by a bring-and-share lunch.

The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Further to our announcement after Sunday Liturgy, we will be holding our next catechesis session this week, welcoming parishioners who would like to treat our sessions as a refresher, in addition to those new to Orthodoxy.

However, due to diaconal commitments, the meeting will be on Thursday, not on Friday, as hoped. We intend to return to meeting on Fridays in future weeks, as we did during Advent. 

We will meet at 19:00 in the parish room at the church of St Mary, Butetown, entering through the garden side-gate and east door (at the Bute Street end of the church).  

Address: St Mary the Virgin, North Church St, Cardiff, CF10 5HB. We are indebted, once again, to Father Dean and the parish for their generous hospitality.

Again, repeating news from Sunday, we will be making a mini-pilgrimage to Llancarfan Church on Saturday, anticipating the feast of St Cadoc, on Sunday.

We will gather in the church at noon, and will be welcomed with a tour, before holding a moleben to St Cadoc. 

I will hear confessions on Thursday, before and after the catechism session, continuing on Saturday, as needed. So, would all those requiring confession email me in the next day or two:

We also invite requests for house-blessings, following Theophany, though I cannot guarantee the presence of Yuriy my trainee-assistant, who ably assisted me last weekend.

We will endeavour to organise house-blessings for Cheltenham parishioners over the next few days, and will discuss logistics after Sunday Liturgy.

The Hours and Liturgy will be celebrated in St John’s, Canton, at 11:00 on Sunday, when we will have the joy of celebrating the Sunday of the New-Martyrs and Confessors.

The Liturgy variables may be found here:

May God bless you. 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 

Christmas Thanks

Dear brothers and sisters, Христос Рождается!

After a busy couple of days for our parishes, I would like to thank all who worked so incredibly hard for Nativity celebrations in Cardiff and Cheltenham – singers, readers, servers, bakers, cooks, and flower-arrangers. Thanks also to all who brought candles with which to light St John’s.

Our Nativity services made for a long night, with the vigil followed by the Liturgy, and we are indebted to Father Luke for confessing parishioners for much of the vigil, before serving the proskomedia.

Saturday saw our Nativity Liturgy in Cheltenham, before a festive visit to Fr Robert and a parish visit on the way home, and Sunday was blessed with a very prayerful and joyful Liturgy back in Carrdiff.

I now look forward to enjoying the sviatky with parishioners around our rather wide parish.

I would like to repeat the thanks expressed at Liturgy for the extraordinary generosity of parishioners in their Christmas giving. It sounds like the Generation Game if one goes through the catalogue of presents – icons, tea, beeswax candles, chocolates, dates, wine, vodka, prianniky, soaps, conserves… but no teasmade or cuddly toy. The generous monetary gifts will pay for an icon of three of the Moscow holy-fools: Tsar Feodor Ioannovich, Vasily Blazhenny and Maxim Blazhenny.

Next Sunday’s service will be at the usual time of 11:00, with the Liturgy following the Hours.

May I ask local parishioners who require confession to email as soon as possible – – so that I may make arrangements for Friday and Saturday? May I also ask those requiring Sunday confession to forewarn the clergy?

Wishing you continuing joy and blessings in the holy-days following the Nativity.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Feast of St Nicholas the Wonderworker

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Although we are now into the new Church day, I nevertheless send you all belated greetings for the feast of St Nicholas the Wonderworker. 

We had the pleasure of congratulating the three youngsters at Liturgy named for St Nicholas, with the added pleasure of congratulating Nicholas from Hereford – usually one of Fr Spyridon’s flock – on his tenth birthday. Many years was sung for the local Nicholases, as well as for Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Subdeacon Nicholas (in Chiswick) and Reader Nicholas (in Jordanville). We pray that God may grant them all many, blessed years. 

It was an especially busy day for us with a tight schedule, following confessions for our worshippers from England, after confessions on Friday and Saturday, and a wonderful number of communicants at Liturgy. 

Our joyful celebration was made even more special by the afternoon baptism of baby Adam-Daniel, supported by his godparents, Mircea-Cristian and Elzbieta. 

We thank everyone for their patience, including Adam-Daniel’s family, as the order for the making of a catechumen happened in one part of the church whilst trapeza happened in another, before some of our parishioners and the baptismal party came together in the nave. 

We congratulate Adam’s parents, Mateusz and Katarzyna, and their family on the baptism of their son, and I would like to thank parishioners who remained to be part of the baptism, singing, and congratulating Adam-Daniel’s family and godparents on this wonderful occasion. We look forward to his first communion, next Sunday, when he will celebrate his first name-day, being the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers of Christ. 

I was sorry not to be able to chat with parishioners after Liturgy, as I remained occupied until after the baptism when I finally managed to sit down for a few minutes with our deacon and starosta – buoyed by the joy of the feast.  

We know that with our students away, parishioners heading to Russia and Ukraine, and many parishioners busy with celebrations with British spouses and families, next Sunday’s Liturgy will be considerably quieter, but I look forward to spending time with parishioners, and also celebrating a moleben to St Spyridon the Wonderworker, whose feast falls on Saturday. 

May God bless you all. 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 


Funding a full-time parish-priest

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) you are able to donate securely and easily.

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

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

Commitments to donate towards the stipend

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

We simply need the following information:

1) your name.

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

3) the frequency of your donation.

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

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

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

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

Donations by Bank Transfer

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

Account Name: Cardiff Russian Orthodox Church

Sort Code: 01 – 01 – 55

Account No: 17716985

Donations by Cash

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

1) place your donation into an envelope.

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

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

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

Gift Aid

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

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

1) that the donor is a UK resident.

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

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

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

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

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


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

With much love in Christ,

Deacon Mark