The Leave-Taking of the Exultation of the Cross

The last two weeks have been very busy for the parish, with additional confessions at every moment possible around each Sunday’s Liturgy and an encouraging number of communicants.

The excellent attendance for the Leave-Taking of the Exultation of the Cross was reflected in the time it took for the faithful to venerate the Cross, and to be anointed with oil from Godenovo.

As with other feasts of the Cross, it was wonderful to see so many of the faithful venerate the Cross as the choir chanted Krestu Tvoemu (We venerate Thy Cross), and to see new faces and have parishioners from the entire geographical spread of our parishes: from the West Wales Coast to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Following the final veneration of the Cross for the feast this year, a memorial service was chanted on behalf of two of the Welsh-Romanian families who are friends of the parish, and we thank them for their generosity in preparing gift bags in memory of their departed, so that all of our worshipers benefitted from their generosity, and they were kind enough to send a bag for Fr Luke who was celebrating in Llanelli.

It was a special joy to administer Holy Communion to baby Joachim, on his first visit since his baptism in the Romanian Orthodox parish in Coventry, and to see our previously ‘trainee’ oltarnik, Alexander, don a stikharion for the first time.

We now have the benefit of two Marks and two Alexanders in the sanctuary each week, and will happily welcome another John or Oswald to make further pairs! Today also saw little Yuriy’s first assignment, carrying an acolyte candle (having rejected the intended large taper!), which is quite impressive feat for a three-and-a-half-year-old.

We were glad to be able to thank our outgoing starosta, Alyona, for her labours on behalf of our parish, mindful that her wardenship saw the parish enter a very collaborative and positive period of community-life. We are indebted to her for her labours, especially in being so warm and welcoming to the many non-Slavs and converts in our community. She has always made it clear that our parish is built on Faith, not language or national identity. Alyona, we thank you for your poslushaniya, love and great support!

As always, our thanks go to all who made the Leave-Taking of the feast of the Exultation of the Cross such a prayerful, joyful and sociable celebration.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Cardiff-London-Cheltenham-Cardiff… the week so far!

Dear parishioners and friends,

Here we are on the eve of our next Cardiff Liturgy, after a busy week for the clergy serving our mission in Wales and Gloucestershire.

Monday saw Deacon Mark and I journey to London to celebrate the altar-feast of our cathedral – the Nativity of the Mother of God – and we were pleased to have Cardiff parishioners join in our cathedral celebrations on Monday evening and on Tuesday. It was a joy to share the celebration with our bishops and cathedral-clergy and to have time with our many friends in Chiswick.

From the cathedral, we returned to a busy week of secular work, looking forward to visiting Cheltenham today, where Deacon Mark and I were pleased to be able to serve the Liturgy for the Leave-Taking of the Nativity of the Mother of God. Though it was only at a few days’ notice, we were able to arrange the use of the United Reformed Church in Prestbury. Thanks to Deacon Mark and Cheltenham parishioners for their efforts in searching for an alternative Liturgy venue to All Saints, Pittville.

The simplicity and bareness of the old chapel was in marked contrast to the Gothic Revival splendour of All Saints, but though we very much missed our usual surroundings, we were grateful to have somewhere to temporarily celebrate the Liturgy, and enjoy time together over lunch before returning to Cardiff.

We will be organising our next Cheltenham Liturgy over the next few days and will give ample notice, as some of our Cardiff and Wiltshire faithful wish to support the Cheltenham mission, with the hope to expand its life to embrace our parishioners in Swindon, Wiltshire and Bath.

Back in Cardiff, having unloaded the car, confessions were heard during compline in St John’s in Canton this evening, with added entertainment by the church-mouse’s active perambulations during the evening office.

We look forward to returning to Cardiff for Liturgy in the morning, when we will celebrate the Forefeast of the Exultation of the Life-Giving Cross.

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Leave-Taking of the Dormition

Dear brothers, sisters and friends of our Cardiff and Cheltenham parishes,

The Liturgy in Cardiff today was greatly blessed by the addition of Father Luke to the celebrating clergy, much to the joy of those who have not seen him for a considerable time, with parishioners from deepest Wiltshire thinking they might drive all the way to West Wales to see him.

Father Luke was a very great help today, given parishioners had travelled from Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Swansea, and all required confession.

We congratulate all who partook of the Holy Mysteries on this Leave-Taking of the feast of the Dormition, when at the end of Liturgy, after the chanting of the encomia and velichanie for the Dormition, the plashchanitsa of the Mother of God was returned to the sanctuary.

Sunday was also the feast of St Irenaeus of Lyons and Bishop Irenei was greeted for his nameday by telephone yesterday evening, as he was leaving church after the vigil in our parish in Lyons. After the dismissal today’s Liturgy, we chanted Mnogaya Leta for our bishop, with an icon of St Irenaeus, written within the parish, being blessed before presentation to His Grace when the clergy visit the cathedral for its altar-feast: the Nativity of the Mother of God.

I was also very pleased to bless an icon of St Andrei Ufimsky by the hand of the same iconographer, and will be cherishing this in my cell.

The parish received a wonderful blessing this week, as our Chancellor, Archpriest Paul, commended the old candlestands from ROCOR‘s former Bradford parish the care of our community, and we were able to put them into use, knowing that these humble stands had been used in the worship of the Russian Church Outside of Russia since 1946. We sincerely hope they will still be in use in another seventy-five years.

In addition to visiting Wallasey and the Parish of St Elizabeth this week, Father Deacon Mark and I have also had the pleasure of visiting Vladika Irenei in London and the Cheltenham parish yesterday, so it has been a very busy week with significant mileage. To add to this, Deacon Mark is driving to Heathrow to meet matushka Alla and Yuriy who are on their return journey from Crimea at this very moment.

Though matushka and Yuriy are still in transit, other parishioners have arrived home, and it was lovely to have faithful back from Ukraine and Russia and to celebrate the Liturgy and the end of our ‘Summer Pascha’ with them.

As I explained at Liturgy, a very difficult work rota for me will make confessions a challenge this week, but I hope that it will be possible to hear confessions on Thursday. Given the challenges of the week, may I ask all requiring confession, and who are able to do so on Thursday to contact me by Wednesday lunchtime (indicating any time that you would NOT be available that day), so that I may endeavour to make arrangements: otetzmark@hotmail.com 

Given that next Sunday’s Liturgy is followed by a General Parish Meeting, it will only be possible to hear a few confessions before Liturgy, and there will be no possibility to hear either long confessions, or confessions after Liturgy. I am sorry, but on top of my work rota, the meeting makes this unavoidable. Also, there will be no Saturday evening service.

As always, our thanks go to everyone who made our celebrations in Cardiff and Cheltenham possible this weekend, particularly our servers and singers, and our sisters who prepared the food enjoyed by our hungry and appreciative faithful.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

“O taste and see…” – the Blessing and Enjoyment of God’s Gifts

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, as we celebrated the after-feast of the Transfiguration (the Apple Saviour / Яблочный Спас), it was satisfying to pick apples only half an hour before today’s Liturgy, with the morning dew still glistening on the leaves and fruit on the trees in the chaplaincy garden.

As the Hours and Liturgy progressed baskets and bowls of fruit multiplied on the table placed behind the stand bearing the festal and Kazan icons.

At the end of every Liturgy, during the singing of Psalm 33, we hear the words “O taste and see, the Lord is good.” The folk names of these feasts of the All-Merciful Saviour and the Transfiguration bear witness to this as we bless the gifts of God’s creation and receive them as a blessing from Heaven.Continue reading

The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you all who contributed to today’s Liturgy, and a joyful celebration of the feast of St Seraphim, and thank you to our parishioners who sent greetings from their holidays in Russia and Ukraine!Continue reading

On the feast of St Vladimir and the Baptism of Rus

Dear brothers and sisters, a happy feast to you all as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Equal to the Apostles, St Vladimir, and the Baptism of Rus.

We especially send our greetings to the faithful of our Cheltenham Mission on their patronal feast.

We wish them every blessing and strength as a community.

May God grant you all many, blessed years!

The coming weekend: the feast of St Seraphim of Sarov

Dear brothers and sisters, 

A thankyou to all who made Sunday such a sociable gathering, as we congratulated our two Olga’s on their nameday. Thank you to each of our Olgas for the refreshments served in the churchyard. I hope that, weather permitting, we can organise some refreshments each week, as the late start to Liturgy means that it is quite late when we break our communion fast. Continue reading