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.

 

Parish News – Looking Forward to Pilgrimage

Dear brothers and sisters,

We enter this week after a busy weekend that saw services at Llancarfan and Canton, with the celebrations of St Cadoc and the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.

 

 

 

Having made our first pilgrimage of the year, we look forward to the pilgrim journeys of the months ahead, with Penrhys, Llanthtony, Patrishow, Caldey, St David’s, Mathern, and Pennant Melangell, on our list – not mention the sacred places beyond the Severn. I look forward to serving in Glastonbury and Walsingham in the coming year – and we are hoping that we might make a pilgrimage to Evesham, where the Mother of God appeared to the swineheard Eoves at the very beginning of the 8th century, and visit some of the holy sites of Dorset.

Covid measures severely limited our pilgrimage-movements over the last year and a half, and it will be a joy to return to making spiritual journeys together.

Returning to this week, we will have the next catechesism/refresher session at the church of St Mary, Butetown on Friday at 19:00. I intend to hear confessions from 18:00, and encourage you to make arrangements with me in the next few days. Please email otetzmark@hotmail.com as soon as possible, and not later than Thursday noon.

Father Deacon Mark will be exercising his paternal responsibilities on Saturday, as Yuriy celebrates his fourth birthday, so I would like to try and hear confessions during the week.

We will celebrate the Hours and Liturgy, as usual at 11:00 in St John’s Church, Canton, and this Sunday – the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican –  will mark the beginning of our use of the Lenten Triodion. Service variables may be found, as always, at orthodoxaustin:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1goHXEpzxIGOGXI1WPbZLqJJVyWSbq6IK/view

May God bless you.

In Christ – Fr Mark

 

 

Celebrating St Cadoc at Llancarfan

Last Saturday saw the first parish pilgrimage of the year, as a small group of parishioners headed out of the city into the Vale of Glamorgan and Llancarfan, with its medieval church and wall-paintings.

With Sunday being the commemoration of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, we anticipated the feast of St Cadoc, celebrating on the site of his monastery, at ‘the church of the stags’.

We were welcomed with great warmth, and very much enjoyed the historical talk from Sam Smith, who was both entertaining and informative as he guided us through the medieval wall-paintings, dominated by the incredible mural of the Holy Great-Martyr, George.

The wealth of surviving medieval details in the church – woodwork, masonry, wall painting – in addition to the architecture of the church in its valley, beside the stream, bore witness to centuries of continual prayer and devotion on this ancient site, founded in the Age of the Saints.

After the wonderful talk, we gathered behind the fine medieval screen of the Lady Chapel, where we chanted a simple moleben, with a canon to St Cadoc, even having charcoal and incense being brought from the sacristy for our use. It was lovely to have a few Llancarfan parishioners with us, and we hope that in the future, we may be able to celebrate the Liturgy on the site of St Cadoc’s ascetic labours.

Though a prince and son of the local King Gwynllyw and Queen Gwladys of Glywysing (both saints), St Cadoc (c. 497 – c. 580) dedicated his life to asceticism and the monastic life and the monastery that he founded at Llancarfan became a great seat of Christian learning, a nursery of asceticism and school of holiness.

With the monastics living in its daughter-houses and cells, Llancarfan became an important monastic centre, with St Cadoc considered a founding-father of the monastic life in Wales.

St Cadoc’s travels linked Wales with Ireland and Brittany, in addition to distant Rome and Jerusalem, and the contrasting poverty of his hermit-retreat on the island of Flatholme in the Severn Channel.

Llancarfan was a place of fellowship between St Cadoc and other great saints of our land, including St Illtud and St Gildas the Wise.

According to tradition, when he was too old to serve as abbot, St. Cadoc retired and withdrew from Llancarfan, and whilst visiting Beneventum (Weedon in Northamptonshire), he was killed by a pagan as he celebrated Liturgy.

It was a great blessing to mark the feast with prayers in the llan of St Cadoc, and to honour him on the site of his own ascetic struggles.

We hope and pray that this visit will be the first of many, and encourage parishioners and friends to make the journey through the narrow lanes of the Vale to seek the blessing of St Cadoc and enjoy the treasures of Llancarfan church.

Our thanks go to the parishioners who greatly honoured St Cadoc, their patron, by the warmth and generosity of their welcome.

Venerable Father, Cadoc, pray to God for us!

Forthcoming Visit of the Kursk-Root Icon

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday, brought the wonderful news that the Wonderworking Kursk-Root icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, will be brought to Cardiff on Friday 18 March, with the hope that it will be possible to make a Wiltshire stop en route.

The following morning, it will visit the faithful in Cheltenham, before continuing to Telford, and thence to Wallasey.

Given the shortness of the visit and limited time, home visits will be for those who have not previously welcomed the icon into their homes, and will be limited to Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Those who would like to welcome the icon for the first time are asked to contact the parish clergy, so that a preliminary plan may be made, allowing the clergy to ascertain the length of time required.

An evening service will be celebrated in Cardiff on 18 March, with the details confirmed once the availability of St John’s or one of the other city churches is known.

Please mark these important dates in your diaries, so that you are able to honour the Mother of God through the veneration and welcoming of her precious icon.

Revealed on September 8, 1259, the wonderworking icon has been a constant channel of miracles, and after finally leaving Russia in 1920, it became the sign of the protection of the Mother of God, leading the exiles who fled the Soviet Union – a miraculous protection in the dark years of the Second World War, a consolation for the thousands of displaced persons, and the Hodegetria of the Russian Orthodox Diaspora – in Constantinople, in Greece, Serbia, then Austria and Germany, and now in every corner of the world.

We look forward to welcoming the icon to Cardiff, once more, and honouring Our Lady, the Theotokos.

Troparion, Tone 4: Having obtained thee as an unassailable rampart and wellspring of miracles, O Most Pure Mother of God, thy servants quell the assaults of enemies. Wherefore, we pray to thee: Grant peace to our land, and to our souls great mercy.