Newsletter for the Week of the Paralytic

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings at the end of a joyful day which saw a few of us in Wessex make a pilgrimage to Shaftesbury, where we visited the site of the former abbey, where the relics of King Edward the Martyr were enshrined until the desecration of the great religious house and its dissolution at the reformation. Mercifully, through the grace and mercy of God, the Royal-Martyr’s relics were found during the excavation of the abbey by John Wilson-Claridge in 1931, and enshrined in the former ROCOR Monastery of St Edward, at Brookwood, in 1984.

The abbey ruins, surrounded by green lawns and herb and flower-filled borders are an oasis of tranquility, and we were overjoyed to be able to offer prayers to St Edward-the-Martyr close to the place where his relics were found, and the site of his medieval shrine. Having been greeted with warmth and friendly enthusiasm, we were invited to arrange and “after hours” pilgrimage, and look forward to returning and solemnly offering prayers in a holy place of as once great renown. Many thanks to the wonderful staff. 

In the evening, we enjoyed our end of month gathering on Porphyrios’s narrow boat, chanting compline with the canon to St Edward chanted after the supplicatory canon to the Mother of God. We enjoyed an evening of conversation and fellowship, with a lovely supper ending a blessed and grace-filled day.

Holy Right-Believing King, Edward the Martyr, pray to God for us!

Despite half-term, our Liturgy was well attended, even though the kliros and sanctuary were reduced to a minimum. We are grateful to all who contributed to our celebration, particularly for all who facilitated such a quick packing away and rearrangement of furniture. This was very much appreciated and we need this to continue.

As I will only be returning to Wales tomorrow, there will be no celebration of vespers in Cardiff in the afternoon. After a day preparing for our meeting,I will be in Cardiff on Thursday, and will celebrate the ninth hour and vespers in St Alban’s church at 14:30. Confessions will be arranged around the service. If required, I will hear evening confessions in Nazareth House. Please email me by 18:00 on Wednesday and be clear if you cannot confess until the evening.

Sunday will see our General parish meeting, with the elections of our new starosta and senior sister.

Deacon Mark and I have been struck by the lack of realisation of the responsibilities and tasks assumed by the starosta, and feel that parishioners should be made aware of serious duties that can be time consuming and sometimes require considerable input.

  • Maintaining the church building and property: This may include overseeing cleaning and repairs, as well as ensuring the security of the church.
  • Financial oversight: Church wardens/starostas assist the treasurer in managing the church’s budget, collect donations, and ensure financial accountability.
  • Supporting the clergy: They may assist the clergy with administrative tasks, .
  • Coordinating volunteers: Church wardens/starostas play a key role in recruiting and coordinating volunteers for various tasks required in delivering services and maintaining an efficient parish life.
  • Liaison with the community: They may serve as a point of contact for community partners to promote the parish, represent the parish at community events. Liaising with local churches to arrange and schedule their use for services as needed
  • Liaison with the congregation: They may serve as a point of contact for parishioners and address their concerns.
  • Church Council: The Church wardens/starosta will occupy a seat on the parish council and vote on parish matters outside of the AGM
  • Traditions and Protocols: As the clergy are unable to stop/interrupt services the Church warden/starosta will assist in ensuring those in attendance adhere to church traditions and protocols during services.
  • Contact and welcoming: The Church warden/starosta will be a contact for general queries which do not require the clergy, eg service times, events etc. They should also welcome visitors and newcomers to the parish.
  • Legal and Administrative duties: They may be involved in tasks like creating reports, attending meetings, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.
  • Smooth Running: They will have oversight of the items which require regular ordering to ensure that services and specific feasts run smoothly. Eg. ordering wine, candles, palm crosses, candle guards etc
  • Attendance: The Churchwarden/starosta should be present at the majority of services to ensure consistency and stability in their role

Both Branka and Menna were nominated by various individuals to both positions, with Menna accepting the nomination for starosta, and Branka accepting that of senior sister. Another sister declined candidature for the position of senior sister, having been nominated by various individuals, but kindly offered support and guidance, and her considerable practical knowledge and expertise.

As such, the meeting will be asked to approve  these sisters and ratify their assumption of positions of office. Regular baptised and communicant members of our parish,  who will be absent next weekend, but wish to communicate  their approval are asked to message our treasurer, Olga Azzopardi via WhatsApp, or request her email details from me or Father Deacon Mark (rather than our disclosing it here!).

May we have any items for the agenda by Wednesday, please.

Due to the pressures of time, may we keep refreshments on Sunday to tea/coffee and biscuits/baked goods., allowing people to break their fast and replenish their energy reserves before the service?

As we look forward to Deacon Mark’s ordination of Wednesday 17th July, we would like to remind those who have requested places on the bus to give their deposit of £10 to Olga McKellar, and to do so as soon as possible. We have been much encouraged by the numbers hoping to travel from South Wales, the west of England, and perhaps even from Poole. This will be a great blessing, and will see much of the parish travel to the cathedral for this momentous occasion in the life of our community.

We hope that those who are away for various half-term breaks have a restful and relaxing time, praying for our travellers heading for France, the Lake District, Scotland and wherever else the week may have taken them.

May God bless you.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

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

Ending the First Week of Lent – Pilgrimage to Margam

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope that this week is going well for you, and that its simplicity is reminding you of the joy we can take in the simplest things, with fresh bread, some olives, nuts and fruit seeming like a wonderful feast, overflowing with the love and bounty of God.

I hope that parishioners are remembering that this is a season in which we eat according to need, and not according to appetite. As I keep saying, there’s nothing wrong with a rumbling tummy during Lent, and if it never rumbles you’re doing it wrong!

Many thanks to the few that have been able to attend the chanting of Great Compline and the Great Canon at the shrine of St Alban in the Oratory Church, and thanks to Father Sebastian for his limitless generosity.

I know that the very early time of 16:00 was impossible for all but a few parishioners, but we had to fit our Lenten service into the oroarium of the Oratorian Fathers who have prayers at 17:30 each day, before the church is locked for the night. This is yet another reminder of the limitations placed upon us as guests perpetually under someone else’s roof, and as you know, St John’s is used during the week.

It’s been heartening to hear that our Wessex parishioners have come together to pray the Great Canon in Bishopstrow, just outside Warminster ( where the ash staff that St Aldehelm drove into the ground, budded and grew into the ‘bishop’s tree’).

In private prayer, I would very much recommend parishioners continue to pray the portions of the canon whenever possible during the coming weeks of Lent, as part of the penitential praxis of the season, and to follow up the Biblical references that may evade memory or knowledge.

Those who pray the canon, know that it shows the skill of St Andrew of Crete not only as a hymnographer, but also as a Biblical exegete in the patristic tradition. His words can lead is into Biblical discoveries as we plug the gaps in our Old Testament knowledge.

Tomorrow night will see the chanting of the first portion of the Akahist Hymn, according to the custom established in Llanelli from its many years as a parish of the Greek archdiocese.

Compline and the akathist will be chanted at 19:00, in the chapel of St David and St Nicholas in Llanelli.

The Saturday of St Theodore will be marked by our pilgrimage Liturgy in Margam Abbey, (Port Talbot SA13 2TA), where we will bless kolyvo in honour of the Holy Great-Martyr at the end of the service.

We will have a bring-and-share lunch in the church hall, and look forward to exploring the part of the abbey still used as the parish church, as well as the ruins and the ancient carved stones collected from around the area, and testifying to its significance as an ancient Christian site.

If anyone can offer lifts to our young people, this will be appreciated. We currently have five people, who will otherwise travel by train.

At the end of Sunday’s Liturgy, we will serve the moleben for the conversion of those who have departed into error, which is more widely a celebration of the Triumph of the Orthodoxy and the restoration of the holy icons. This service is celebrated across our diocese, and in the cathedral our bishop will solemnly pronounce the anathemas, thereby declaring Orthodox Truth and liturgically declaring the condemnation of those who reject the Faith of the Orthodox Church and who were anathematised by the God-Bearing Fathers of the Holy Ecumenical Councils and Synods.

During the chanting of the ‘Te Deum’ – the Hymn of St Ambrose of Milan – we will venerate the Holy Icons, and you are asked to bring an icon to hold during this service, so that we form an ikonastasis of the faithful bearing the Holy Icons for the celebration of their own restoration.

Please join us if you are able, to celebrate the end of our first week in Lent.