A Paschal Pilgrimage to Walsingham

Dear brothers and sisters,

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

I have been very fortunate to make a pilgrimage to Walsingham for a few days, celebrating the altar-feast of the Orthodox chapel of the Life-Giving Spring.

The Mother of God appeared to Richeldis (Rychold), Lady of the Manor of Walsingham in the 11th century, commanding her to build a replica of the original Holy House of Nazareth, later dismantled and rebuilt in Loreto, in Italy, after the Islamic conquest of the Holy Land.

The great shrine and priory, which developed around the chapel of the Holy House was endowed through royal patronage and was renowned throughout Europe, but despite its sanctity and fame it fell victim to the ravages of the reformation and the destruction of the holy places by King Henry VIII and his henchmen.

The 19th century saw the restoration of Roman Catholic pilgrimage to Walsingham, based in the Slipper Chapel, and the 20th century saw the restoration of Anglican religious life around a newly built Holy House and shrine complex.

The founder of the restored Anglican shrine, Father Alfred Hope Paten, was encouraged to engage with the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile by Father Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, vicar of St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge, who had travelled in Russia before the revolution, visiting holy places and holding theological discussions with some of the leading churchmen of the time. Despite his advanced Papalist Anglo-Catholicism, he was a great admirer of Orthodoxy and a friend and supporter of the exiled faithful, including the first hierarch of the Church in Exile, Metropolitan Antoniy of Kiev and Galych.

The Orthodox presence in the shrine has been developed over the years by a series of remarkable Orthodox figures, including Archimandrite Nicholas Gibbes (former tutor to the Tsarevich Alexei), Archbishop Nestor of Kamchatka, Archbishop Sava of Grodno, St Nikolai Velimirovich, Archbishop Nikodem, and the pioneer of iconography of British saints, Archimandrite David.

Our diocese and its clergy have been involved in spiritual life here since the earliest years of the Anglican shrine, when emigré Russians made pilgrimages to this corner of Norfolk to honour the Mother of God.

The intended free-standing Russian Orthodox chapel was never built, but the little chapel in use since 1941 and consecrated by Archbishop Sava on the Sunday of Pentecost in 1944, remains a place of Orthodox prayer and worship, occupying a landing on above the south aisle of the Anglican shrine church.

Now that Father Philip Steer is unable to serve in the chapel of the Life-Giving Spring, the Orthodox presence is maintained by Mother Melangell, who has a house-skete in the village. There is a Russian-tradition parish of the Patriarchate of Constantinople a short distance away, based in the Church of the Transfiguration in Great Walsingham, and the former monastic-brotherhood church of St Seraphim survives, though sadly bereft of services for most of the year.

We are greatly blessed that Orthodox prayer is offered in Walsingham EVERY day, even if the Liturgy is not celebrated in the shrine very often.

It is a joy to celebrate and pray in the shrine, especially in the evenings, when the church is quiet. The Holy House, dedicated to the Annunciation and built to replace that destroyed by the reformers of the 16th century is a special place to pray the akathist hymn to the Mother of God.

There were many intentions for which to pray during the short pilgrimage, and the culmination of this prayer was our Liturgy for the feast of the Mother of God, the Life-Giving Spring, a short distance from her holy well within the shrine-church.

It was a privilege to be with our local friends, including parishioners from Walsingham, Cambridge and Norwich, to meet local supporters of the Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow, and to share a Paschal lunch in the orangery after the Liturgy – welcoming two Ukrainian pilgrims who visited that day, not knowing that there would be an Orthodox presence.

We very much look forward to returning in the summer and autumn, knowing that the Mother of God continues to pour out her grace on this shrine and the many pilgrims who honour her in England’s Nazareth.

Collection for the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem

Dear brothers and sisters,

A very joyful Lazarus Saturday – Лазарева суббота to you all.

As we celebrate the rising of Lazarus, we look forward to baptising our catechumen George, in the sea at Watch House bay, in Barry, at 18:00 this evening. We would have liked to have done so in the morning, but the tide dictates the hour of his baptism, which will follow Palm Sunday vespers.

Having celebrated Lazarus’s resurrection from his four-day tomb, we rejoice that on this day, George will be baptised into the Saviour’s death and resurrection, and will celebrate the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem by receiving the same Lord, Himself, in the communion of His Most Holy and Precious Body and His Most Holy and Life-Giving Blood.

Looking forward tomorrow, I would like to remind you of a tradition that has been followed by our Church Abroad from it’s earliest days in the emigration:

Following pre-Revolutionary tradition and supported by the founders of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and their successors, parishes across the ROCOR will be making plate collections on Palm Sunday to benefit the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem.

Следуя дореволюционной традиции, поддерживаемой основоположниками Русской Зарубежной Церкви и их преемниками, во всех ее храмах и монастырях в праздник Вербного воскресенья будут проводиться тарелочные сборы на нужды Русской Духовной Миссии в Иерусалиме (РДМ). 

Also, any offerings towards the cost of Holy Week and Pascha flowers may be given to Deacon Mark.
May God bless you all.
With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Celebrating St Mary of Egypt Tomorrow

Dear brothers and sisters,

After a day of home visits for a house-blessing, confessions and a moleben to the Holy Unmercenary Healers, we look forward to celebrating the Sunday of St Mary of Egypt in St John’s tomorrow.

This will be the last Lenten Liturgy, as we will move into Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday the following weekend.

The variables of the Sunday Liturgy may be found at:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1R_2GRzaLZaMhBOlPqcD4zMktCr9YS-4i/view

… and we will celebrate the Hours and Liturgy in St John’s Church, Canton at 11:00.

A warm welcome awaits all who wish to join us, and we hope that everyone can stay for a chat and refreshments after the service.

During the week, the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified will be celebrated in Llanelli, in the chapel of St David and St Nicholas (11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli, Carms SA14 8LS), at 19:00 on Wednesday.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

 

Today’s feast in Llanelli

Thanks to the small group of local, and not so local faithful who gathered in the little chapel of St David and St Nicholas for today’s Liturgy in Llanelli, and thanks to Archpriest Luke for celebrating for us.

I enjoyed manning the kliros, for once, with demestvenny chants bringing a festal feel to our celebration.

Though there were only a few of us, it was lovely to celebrate the vesperal Liturgy for the feast, especially in a little garden chapel, with spring very much evident outside the window, though hail brought a rather noisy interlude whilst we were enjoying lunch in the house.

I know that circumstances prevented a few of the Cardiff faithful attending, as much as they wished to do so, and hope that we might start enjoying weekday liturgies in Father Luke’s little chapel, which has been at the centre of local Orthodox life for several decades.

Compline is celebrated there each Wednesday evening at 19:00, though the next mid-week evening service will be the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified.

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 otetzmark@hotmail.com 

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 

The Blessing of the Kursk-Root Icon

Dear brothers and sisters,

The last few days have been a great blessing from the Mother of God, through the visit of her ancient, wonderworking Kursk-Root icon of the  Sign, and have been filled with prayer and devotion: during the icon’s travels, in parish homes, in church in Cardiff and Cheltenham, during the day and the night, and in the final joyful-sorrow of the handing-over of the image to its next custodians in this Marian journey.

The moleben services in Chippenham, Cardiff and Cheltenham brought the faithful together, not simply from our own parishes, but from other Orthodox communities, and it was a great joy to meet and talk with brothers and sisters from Birmingham, Bristol, Poole and Swindon – all of us united as children of the Most Holy Theotokos.

It was also a joy to go to parish homes that had not been previously graced with a visit from the icon, and we look forward to visiting more homes in the future.

I would like to thank all who came to pray with such zeal and devotion, and all who worked so hard: the members of the kliros and altar-team; matushka Alla for such superb floral arrangements; our sister Xenia for sweet herbs for the faithful to take as an evlogia from Cheltenham; oltarnik Oswald for coordinating Cheltenham set-up; Isaiah from the Swansea parish for his excellent photographs (to be seen here soon) and Deacon Mark for being an able coordinator and chauffeur.

Deacon Mark and I would like to thank parishioners for such warm hospitality in their homes, in welcoming the icon and honouring the Mother of God, and in the generosity shown to those caring for the icon on its journey.

We parted from the icon at the gates of the church in Telford, and the icon will be in Wallasey for the weekend, before visits to Norfolk, St Leonard’s and Oxford, as well as time in London.

Above all, our thanks are due to the Most Holy Mother of God, for the great and grace-filled icon that she gave to the world as a consolation and blessing in 1259, granting countless blessings to the people of God over the subsequent centuries – especially in the most troubled and dangerous times.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us!

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Honouring St Teilo and Praying For Ukraine

Being the feast of St Teilo, today saw a visit to Llandaff Cathedral, where we quietly prayed a short moleben to St Teilo before the reliquary in the Lady Chapel, commending our community, the Ukrainian land and the sick to God in our prayers.

At the time we were travelling, members of our parish joined the faithful in Ukraine and Russia in prayers for peace. and we especially ask St Teilo to intercede for Ukraine, for those who live in fear, and for those already affected by war and civil strife.

 

 

Troparion, Tone 4: As a fountain of the true Faith, thou didst issue forth the life-giving waters of salvation, O Hierarch Teilo. Wherefore, we implore thee, intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

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

Kontakion, Tone 1: O teacher of pure doctrine, joy of monastics and St David’s fellow pilgrim to Jerusalem, where thou wast elevated to the episcopate, most pious Father Teilo, we keep festival in thy honour, praying for grace to follow in thy footsteps.

Pray to God for us, O Holy Hierarch Teilo, for we fervently flee unto thee, the speedy helper and intercessor for our souls.

Events This Week

Dear brothers and sisters,

It was good that our expectations were proven wrong on Sunday, as we expected the weather would dissuade parishioners from making the journey to Cardiff, at least those from across the border. But, despite the wind and the rain, we had a good congregation for our Liturgy in Canton, with Cheltenham parishioners from the Forest of Dean.

Having celebrated the Meeting of the Lord in the Lady Chapel of St John’s on Tuesday, Saturday saw us celebrate the after-feast in Cheltenham, with a joyful Liturgy and lunch in Prestbury United Reformed Church, benefitting from much appreciated reinforcement from Cardiff.

During each Liturgy, when the day turned dark, as the wind howled and the rain lashed the church buildings, it was like being sheltered in the security and fastness of the ark, protected and safe-in-God.

I would like to thank all who contributed to a wonderful weekend in our parishes: singers, servers, sisters who fed everyone, and those who did the much-needed driving. May God bless you all.

It is a very busy and encouraging time in our communities, with eager new parishioners, some of whom are being catechised in preparation for baptism; other parishioners using catechesis as a refresher course; and a great sense of renewal and direction – recently encouraged by pilgrimages to Llancarfan and to the relics of St Alban in the Oratory Church, the blessing of newly-painted icons, new families with children, visitors seeking to learn about the Orthodox Church and the deepening spiritual lives of our parishioners.

My greatest hope is for the deepening of friendship between our Gloucestershire and Cardiff parishes, with the possibility of mission in the North Cotswolds, given the number of Wiltshire faithful we now have, and effectively connecting our communities. I look forward to visiting Wiltshire parishioners in the week ahead to bless houses and spend time with the faithful.

See below for this week’s services, and please note that there will be a baptism in Cardiff at 14:00 on Sunday.

Events this week:

Friday 25 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 with refreshments provided. You do not need to be new to Orthodoxy, as we can always refresh our knowledge!

Saturday 26 February:

Depending on the need for Cardiff confessions, I may be available during the day. Please email otetzmark@hotmail.com by Wednesday evening, as I shall be busy and away until very late on Thursday.

Sunday 27 February, in St John’s Church, Canton:

10:15 confessions, 11:00 Hours and Liturgy, followed by a bring-and-share lunch before the 14:00 baptism.

May God bless you all – Fr 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: otetzmark@hotmail.com

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.

Friday Events: Moleben to St Alban Before His Relics

Dear brothers and sisters,

Through the good offices of the fathers and brethren of the Cardiff Oratory, I will celebrate a moleben before the relics of the Holy Protomartyr, Alban, in the Church of St Alban-on-the-Moors, on Friday, and should very much welcome parishioners to join me.

This is the first liturgical-visit to the shrine, but the brethren of the Oratory have indicated that we would be most welcome for regular prayers and devotions before the relics.

After the moleben, we will be able to venerate the relics of the Holy Protomartyr, who became an unofficial patron of our diocese through our joyful pilgrimages to St Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire.

The Fathers have asked that we offer the moleben at 14:30, to ensure that we are undisturbed, though I will hear confessions in the church before the service (and after, if needed), with several parishioners having indicated that afternoon confessions will be easier for them than going to St Mary Butetown in the evening.

I repeat – this will be the first of regular visits to the shrine, to which some of us already go quietly, for personal prayer, mindful that it is such a great blessing to have the relics in the city.

Confessions in St Mary Butetown will commence at 18:00, and will be followed by our catechesis cum refresher session in the parish room in North Church Street.

Our thanks go to Fathers Sebastian and Dean, for their warmth and generosity, and to Brother David-Lewis Barker for his support and enthusiasm in building parish links with our local shrine of St Alban.

Holy Protomartyr, Alban, pray to God for us!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Addresses:

Church of St Alban-on-the-Moors, Swinton St, Splott, Cardiff CF24 2NX.

Church of St Mary the Virgin, North Church St, Butetown, Cardiff CF10 5HB.