Weekly News – Sunday 13th August

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today saw the celebration of the forefeast of the Procession of the Life-Giving Cross and the All-Merciful Saviour, and our Liturgy for the feast will be celebrated in Nazareth House at 11:00 tomorrow morning.

Though a good number of parishioners are still away, it was good to welcome Deacon Mark, matushka Alla and Yuriy back from holidays in Turkey, where they enjoyed valuable time with mama and papa who travelled from Ukraine to meet them.

Having two deacons for Liturgy was a blessing, even if our kliros and servers are on skeleton staff! Thank you to all who contributed to our Liturgy, including baking and flowers!

We now look forward to being reunited with our pilgrims from the Holy Land and hearing the details of their blessed travels in the footsteps of the Lord, the Mother of God, the apostles and the saints. Welcome home, dear brothers and sisters!

After tomorrow’s first August feast of the Saviour with its honey blessing, we will celebrate Transfiguration in Cheltenham on Saturday, with the second day of the feast (and the blessing of fruit) in Cardiff on Sunday. As there will be only a few parishioners able to attend tomorrow’s Liturgy, we will also bless honey at our weekend Liturgies.

Next Wednesday, through the good offices of Mother Frances, I look forward to speaking to a group of pilgrims from Germany on the subject of reconciliation, and bidding farewell to Mother, who will be taking up the wonderful position of Warden of Lindisfarne in September. We wish her well, and are so grateful for the incredible kindness and support shown to our community when we were homeless and needful. She was endless in her generosity and we will remember her friendship with fondness and warmth.

This week’s confessions will be heard in Nazareth House on Thursday, so requests by noon on Wednesday, please. Ordinarily, study group would have met on Friday, but given Cheltenham Liturgy on Saturday, I fear this will be too much for me. Apologies!

Some of you are very much aware that, recently, Norman’s health has impacted upon his ability to not only serve, but also to undertake his duties as starosta. He has made no secret of his wish to take more of a ‘back seat’ role in parish  life, to be able to enjoy his faith without the pressures of office, and to pass on the baton of wardenship sooner than initially expected.

With this in mind, I would like to call a General Parish Meeting for Sunday 17th September, the first Sunday of the new ecclesiastical year, so that we may elect a new starosta, for which position I ask for nominations. If the scenario requires, nominations for the position of senior-sister will also be requested.

Qualifications for office are the same as for voting: to have been a parishioner for a minimum of six months, to be a baptised parishioner of good standing (regular attendance, confession and communion, and not under a penance or ban from communion), to not formally be a member of another parish, and to be of or above the age of eighteen years.

We mentioned the 2nd September ‘March for Life’ in today’s announcements, having announced that Dr Clare Jackson of St Alban’s Parish – mum of Daniel (remembered by many as Brother Ambrose) – is organising a coach from Cardiff. Karen will be speaking to Dr Jackson and Daniel also messaged me during the day. Anyone interested should speak to Karen, who will hopefully find places for Orthodox parishioners on the St Alban’s bus. Our parish had an excellent number of attendees last year, and it would be good to see this expand.

Finally, remember that the Dormition Fast begins tomorrow, and be aware that it’s quite a strict fortnight. If you do not have a calendar, please make use of those online at Orthochristian and https://www.holytrinityorthodox.com/htc/orthodox-calendar/

We look forward to feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God on 15/28 August, with a Liturgy on that Bank Holiday morning.

May God bless you and give you all good strength for the Fast.

Asking your forgiveness for Christ’s sake.

Hieromonk Mark

Preparing For Our Summer Feasts

From our senior-sister, Menna…

At the Transfiguration Liturgy on Sunday August 20th, there will be little baskets of grapes available to be blessed for taking home by the congregation (members of the congregation are also invited/encouraged to bring their own fruit for blessing also during the Liturgy).

The little baskets are to be decorated with ribbon in preparation for this, so the plan is that there will be a basket-decorating activity after Liturgy on Sunday August 13th (ie. at the same time as the Trapeza social/refreshments time) for the children (and any adults who wish to get involved too!). All the materials are provided so no-one needs to bring anything, so if you have children who you think will enjoy this, then bring them along on August 13th.

Two weeks later on Sunday August 27th, we will have another little craft activity after Liturgy to make Dormition items ready for the following week’s Liturgy, so another date to note for any craft-loving children (and adults) in the parish (again, all materials will be provided).

Parish News – Monday 31 July

Dear brothers and sisters,

As we come to last day of July, the summer holidays, as well as the pilgrimage season have most definitely arrived, and we keep parishioners in our prayers: Deacon Mark, Alla and Yuriy as they head to Turkey, where they will meet mama and papa, who are travelling from Crimea; Archpriest Luke to Cornwall; Branka, Stefan and Tara, as they travel to Croatia and Serbia; and Aldhelm, Alexander, Nikolai, Maria and Anne, as they join the diocesan pilgrimage in the Holy Land.

We hold them all in our prayers, and hope that our pilgrims will hold us in their prayers in the holy places.

A group of us have, of course, just returned from a rather more local pilgrimage, in Walsingham, where we prayed for the members of our community, and for our parish as it develops in so many new and wonderful ways.

It was a joy to be able to return to Cardiff and celebrate the Divine Liturgy for the Holy Equal to the Apostles, St Vladimir, with the blessing of ancient Russian chants and some Byzantine melodies chanted by Aldhelm and Alexander. Our thanks go to them, as well as to Despina for chanting at Saturday vespers.

Being able to set up church maximally – due to the lack of Sunday morning mass – was a great blessing, allowing the sanctuary and church to be arranged far more fully than is usually possible.

Our sisters are ensuring that the icons are adorned with flowers every week, and this brings so much colour to the service, as well as honouring the Lord, the Mother of God and the saints.

With the holiday departure of Father Deacon Mark, our Hierodeacon, Father Avraamy, very capably served much of the Liturgy in English – something that I most certainly didn’t expect. We are very grateful to him for his devoted labours and his insistence on recognising the importance of English in our parish as the number of British parishioners grows.

This will be a quiet week, as the departure of some of our singers leaves no-one to sing at weekday services.

Though I will be making visits and spending pastoral time with some of our parishioners, there will be no parish activities in Nazareth House until Friday, when I will her confessions in the late afternoon, before our talk on prayer in church at 19:00. As usual, please email confession requests, and by 12:00 on Thursday.

Saturday – 5th August – will see our local(ish) pilgrimage to St Anthony’s Well in the Forest of Dean, before lunch at a parishioner’s home, and our trip to St Mary’s Church, in Kempley. We will gather at St Anthony’s Well near Mitcheldean (GL14 3LQ) at 11:00, and anyone who has not yet expressed interest and would like to take part is invited to contact our parish pilgrimage coordinator Tracy: t_sbrain@icloud.com

Next Sunday will be the feast of the Holy Passion-Bearers, Boris and Gleb, the first canonised saints of our Church, and the variables may be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EuRvf_Uhe3FsL9KXeMKlq628CZ76I0W9/view

I was very happy to hear the announcements regarding planning for our summer feasts from our senior-sister, Menna, and will post them on Facebook separately.

My God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Parish News: 10/23 July

Dear brothers and Cardiff,

Today’s celebration in Cardiff saw us celebrate the Appearance of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God and Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Caves, and even though the beginning of school holidays impacted upon us, we still had a little over thirty adults gathered in Nazareth House to honour the Mother of God and the Father of Rus’ Monasticism and founder of what became today’s much-suffering and persecuted Kiev-Caves Brotherhood and Lavra.

We commend the brothers, with their abbot, Metropolitan Pavel of Vyshhorod and Chornobyl to the care of the Mother of God and the intercession of their spiritual-father and ancestor, St Anthony Pechersky.

We were very happy to greet our twins, Stefan and Tara on their 13th birthday and to be able to sing ‘Many Years’ and share birthday cake with them.

As already posted, I am very happy to have been able to spend time with the faithful in Wiltshire, having visited Chippenham and Lacock at the beginning of the week, and I am very happy that the autumn will see us hold a local Liturgy in the pilgrimage chapel of St Joseph of Arimathea, one of the ancient wayside chapels en route for Glastonbury, between Corsham and Box in Wiltshire. It will be lovely to celebrate a Liturgy in the doorstep of our Wiltshire and Somerset parishioners – Chapel Plaister being within the designation of our mission of St Vladimir, in Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds. Once a date has been agreed we will post details of our ‘pilgrimage Liturgy’.

The more immediate pilgrimage will commence in the morning as some of us make our way to Walsingham – England’s Nazareth – with some of the young brothers travelling on the coach with fellow pilgrims from South Wales Anglican Parishes. We are very grateful to Fr Dean Atkins for extending the invitation to us once again, and the seasoned Walsinghamites are very much looking to introducing the first-timers to a place that has been part of our spiritual consciousness for the greater part of our lives!

Sadly, this will preclude the celebration for the feast of St Olga in the morning, but we will honour both Saints Vladimir and Olga at the end of next Sunday’s Liturgy.

Having returned from Norfolk on Thursday, Friday will see the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the feast of St Vladimir in Nazareth House Chapel at 11:00, after which we will repair to the local cafe.

I hope to hear the bulk of confessions before and after Great Vespers, which will be celebrated in Nazareth House at 17:00 on Saturday. Please email regarding Saturday confessions before 18:00 Thursday.

As announced, on 5th August, our August pilgrimage will see us visit St Anthony’s Well in the Forest of Dean before visiting St Mary’s Church at Kempley, with its extensive Romanesque frescoes and Norman roof. We will gather at St Anthony’s Well near Micheldean at 11:00 before a bring and share lunch at the home of a local parishioner, and then the onward journey to Kempley. Interested parties should email Tracy, our pilgrimage coordinator: t_sbrain@icloud.com

After a well attended discussion group on Friday, our next meeting – continuing to discuss prayer – will be on Friday 4th August, at 19:00 in Nazareth House.

As I wrote a few days ago, please only contact me with requests for prayers/intercessions and confessions over he nexts few days, and in case of emergencies, contact Fr Luke, whose contact details are to be found on our parish web-page: https://russianorthodoxchurchcardiff.com

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark 

Thanks, Reminders and Birthday Greetings!

Dear brothers and sisters, It was good to have a well-attended study group in Nazareth House last night, continuing our discussion on prayer, and our next meeting will be in two weeks’ time on Friday 4th August at 19:00 when we will meet in Nazareth House, once again.
As few parishioners were free during the day-time today, we will belatedly celebrate the summer feast of the Kazan Icon this coming Sunday, 10/23 July.

For anyone wishing to join in the Lord’s Prayer – Gweddi’r Arglwydd – in Welsh there will be print outs for use in the Liturgy. Please ask our senior sister, Melangell (Menna), who is usually at the back of the church during Liturgy.

Next Friday will be the feast of the Holy Equal to the Apostles, St Vladimir, and we will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Nazareth House at 11:00.Thanks to the three young brothers of the parish who chanted the canon in honour of the Kazan Icon in the late afternoon, showing that they are not only confident, but also proficient and competent in leading parish worship.Just to remind you all. There are no confessions or celebration of vespers tomorrow, as I will not only be preparing for Walsingham, but will also be exiled beyond the River Loughor by the obstacle of the latest train strike.

I am greatly looking forward to serving in Walsingham with a group of parish pilgrims, of whom four are visiting ‘England’s Nazareth’ for the first time. We hope to be joined by Fr Mark Tattum-Smith and Matushka Katy-Elizabeth from Mettingham, and having time with our great friend Mother Melangell and some of the local faithful whom we look forward to seeing on our visits throughout the year.

The seasoned pilgrims amongst the group are eager to introduce parish brothers and sisters to what was the most important pilgrimage-place and shrine in pre-reformation England and hope that they will become enthusiastic supporters of the Orthodox presence in Walsingham.

As I will be a considerable distance from all but the parishioners with me, please only contact me with requests for prayers/intercessions and confessions next week, and in case of emergencies, please contact Fr Luke, whose contact details are to be found on our parish web-page: https://russianorthodoxchurchcardiff.com

With a few arranged exceptions, I will hear confessions on Saturday afternoon before and after Great Vespers, which will be celebrated at 17:00.

Finally, congratulations and best wishes to our parish twins, Stefan and Tara, who are thirteen today, and good strength to Branka as she faces domestic life with two teenagers!

Happy Birthday Stefan and Tara. May God grant you many, blessed years!
In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Weekly News: 4/17 Ju

Most noble and sublime was your life and death, O Sovereigns; wise Nicholas and blest Alexandra, we praise you, acclaiming your piety, meekness, faith, and humility, whereby you attained to crowns of glory in Christ our God, with your five renowned and godly children of blessed fame. O passion-bearers decked in purple, intercede for us.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings on the feast of the Holy Royal Martyrs. Please ensure that you mark this feast with prayers and hymns, especially for our Russian Church Abroad, for whom the Royal Martyrs are a pillar of its spiritual identity, and for our own local community and its brothers and sisters.

Those who often know nothing of their lives and who are often indoctrinated with a perverted Soviet version of Russian history, sadly, continue to belittle and malign the Imperial family, who not only possessed deep and immovable Faith, but lived it in deeply and martyrically in  their everyday lives up to their bloody and satanic martyrdom in the hours between 16th and 17th July 1918, according to new calendar reckoning. For us, they remain an inspiration and source of spiritual strength. May they pray for us and protect us by their prayers!

Considering the time of year, we were quite astounded at the number of faithful at yesterday’s Liturgy on the feast of the Translation of the Relics of St Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Rus’, and I was so happy that we were able to celebrate the feast of this great wonder-worker together.

It was a joy to welcome back those who had been away on holiday, to share our service with new visitors, as well as seeing more recent faithful who are only able to be in Cardiff occasionally.

The previous four days saw many confessions, and this was reflected in the number of those communing on this festal day. We congratulate all of them on their confession and communion, and encourage all to struggle to preserve the Grace of Christ’s gift and foretaste of the resurrection!

Many thanks to our choir for their joyful singing and also to our oltarniky, among whom Stefan marked his six months serving in church. The posies made by Matushka Alla for the principal icons were much appreciated, as were Branka’s lovely small prosphory for the congregation, and the ‘Partridge prosphory’ for our proskomedia.

Thanks to our sisters for providing refreshments with which the faithful could break what is always a pretty long fast, given the late hour of communion.

A number of us were extremely interested to see the mementos that Margarita was able to bring from the Convent of the Annunciation, which having refused ROCOR’s union with the Moscow Patriarchate and its decline within an Old Calendar Greek jurisdiction is sadly being sold. Having been founded with the blessing of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, this sacred place was once a pillar of our Church Abroad. Some parishioners have been greatly saddened by this, given their fond memories of the convent, of Abbess Elizabeth – of blessed memory – and of the important place of the convent in their own lives. To the Abbess Elizabeth and all of the sisters, Memory Eternal!

As announced in church, I was unable to confirm the venue for Friday’s prayer talk, since our starosta was not in church yesterday, due to health issues. I will confirm whether our prayer talk is in Nazareth House or St Mary Butetown over the next day or two, but either way, we will meet this coming Friday at 19:00.

Making the most of my presence in the city on Friday, I will hear confessions in Nazareth House in the afternoon, with confessions for those attending the talk from 18:00. I would appreciate emails requesting confessions to reach me by 18:00 on Wednesday. Please indicate if you will stay for the talk, so that I can distribute confessions between the afternoon and early evening.

As next weekend will see me preparing to serve in Walsingham, I will not be in Cardiff for vespers on Saturday.

I and a number of parishioners will depart on our Norfolk Pilgrimage on Monday 24th July, making it impossible to celebrate the Liturgy for the feast of St Olga that day, but we return in time for the feast of St Vladimir on Friday, when the Divine Liturgy will be served in Nazareth House at 11:00. Sunday will see us honour the Holy Equals to the Apostles in the Convent Church, when we will greet our Olgas, serving moleben and chanting Many Years!

Looking forward to next month, may I remind parishioners that, on Saturday 5th August, we will make a pilgrimage to St Anthony’s Well in the Forest, before visiting St Mary’s Church at Kempley, with its remarkable series of Romanesque frescoes. We will meet at the well at 11:00, serving a moleben to St Anthony, and have received a kind invitation to Zoe’s home for lunch, before we go to Kempley.

A number of our usual pilgrims will be away, but anyone interested and perhaps seeking a lift should email Tracy: t_sbrain@icloud.com

As requested at Liturgy, may I ask all who wish to remain on our very out of date mailing list to send a short email making this clear, as the email address list is hopelessly out of date. Next week’s news will only be sent to addresses on the updated list.

Again, we ask your prayers for the sick and suffering servants of God, the Priest Anthony, the Reader David, Maxim, Phoevos, Andrey, Brigid (Mo) and Ludmilla; for Svetlana, Anna and Sofia, travelling in Russia; for Nataliya, who is visiting family in the USA; for Maria, who will be travelling on Wednesday; for the newly departed servants of God the Archpriest Alexander and the Nun Mina, and for Presbytera Cacilia, who’s Years Mind falls at this time: Memory Eternal!

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Weekly News: 10 July

Dear brothers and sisters,

The last four or five days have been busy, though not all has gone according to plan.

Thursday was the eve of the Nativity of St John the Forerunner, with the celebration of Vespers between confessions, for which I am grateful to George for acting as reader, and Friday morning saw a dozen of us assemble and celebrate a simple but prayerful Divine Liturgy, for which we are indebted to Margarita and Alexander for chanting on the kliros.

We were glad to be able to share Norman John’s name-day with him, and wished him “Many Years”.

I was greatly looking forward to celebrating the Divine Liturgy for Saints Peter and Fevronia in Cheltenham the following day, but, sadly a tyre blow-out on the motorway ended our journey before we had even reached Port Talbot, mercifully with no dire consequences.

Happily, Sunday saw a uneventful journey to Cardiff for the feast of the Tikhvinskaya Icon of the Mother of God, and – despite the impact of holidays and the end of term – saw forty of us gather for Liturgy. The boisterousness of our children was a reminder that mums and dads need to keep an eye on our young ones, and try and diffuse a little of the energy which was rather too audible, at times. Can we please make sure that EVERYONE, regardless of age is still during the readings, especially the Gospel, and that the children are with parents from the beginning of the anaphora until after Holy Communion? They need to grow into the Liturgy, even if it initially remains more of a mystery to them than for the adults, and they need to become accustomed to being quiet and prayerful.

With regard to discussions among parishioners over the last week, or so, I would like to address a pertinent question:


Given the distances that some of our folks are travelling and problems with traffic and transport, a late arrival does not automatically cause parishioners to point a finger of blame at those who arrive late after the beginning of Liturgy, and we will always be understanding.

However, for those living in Cardiff, even if using public transport, things should be easier and more straight forward, though this may well mean that, in order to play, safe we start out earlier than might be necessary if all goes according to plan. As you know, apart from Sundays I usually have the joys and sorrows of public transport each and every day on which I am travelling into Cardiff – and I have to make compensatory allowances for the vicissitudes of our transport system.

So… what happens when – for whatever reason – we arrive after the beginning of Liturgy?

•     It is important to be quiet and unobtrusive and to not distract anyone, endeavouring to make no noise and minimise any movement.

•     Though it may sound harsh and prescriptive, the time for the initial veneration of icons and lighting candles is BEFORE Liturgy and not during the service – at least with regard to the icons and candle-stands at the front of the church. 

This may not be the norm in other places or in large temples with a solea at the front and a sanctuary raising the liturgical eye-line above the nave and congregation. However, our setting is very different because of the physical “geography” of the church, pretty much all on one level.

With no raised pavement before the iconostasis and everything outside the sanctuary on the same level, people walking around the front of the church can be distracting and obtrusive once the Liturgy is under way.

•     If you arrive late, please do not approach the front of the church during the deacons’ litanies/eketenias, but venerate the icons and light any candles quickly and quietly during the antiphons, and please DO NOT cross the church from one side to the other at the front of the church before the Holy Doors once the Liturgy has begun.

•     As during the deacons’ ektenias, when the Little Entrance is made, there should be nobody venerating the icons or lighting candles – as at other times when the priests or deacons come out from the sanctuary.

•     If you arrive during readings DO NOT MOVE from the entrance, and stop and wait wherever you happen to be. Before the readings we hear the exclamation “Let us attend” i.e. let us be attentive, so we need to stand, listen and allow others to be attentive as well as being so ourselves.

•     After the Gospel, no one should venerate icons or light candles at the front of the church. The post-Gospel ektenias lead to the Cherubic Hymn, followed by the creed and the anaphora – so the deacons are constantly serving before the iconostasis. There should be no movement or distraction anywhere in church during the anaphora. 

•     There has been a convention that nobody who arrives after the Gospel is permitted to receive Holy Communion, but as Bishop Irenei has made clear, this is already a concession that undermines the integrity of the Liturgy and our participation in it. 

In our ROCOR liturgical handbook Vladika makes it very clear that those who commune are to be at the Liturgy from the very beginning: the blessing, “Blessed is the Kingdom…”, and that this needs to be enforced and observed within our communities (with some possible economia for those of our parishioners travelling great distances).

•     If you arrive late for Liturgy – for whatever reason – do not simply join the communion queue without a blessing. Those who commune do so with the blessing of their spiritual fathers and the agreement of the priest, if he is not their dukhovnik.

•     Please, do not to ask for confession before Holy Communion, and that includes confessions for your children. I often spend five or six hours hearing confessions on Thursdays and Fridays, as well as for close to an hour before Liturgy. Please make the most of the opportunities given.

•     Confessions for those who wish to commune will not be heard after Liturgy, and no one will receive Holy Communion then, apart from in the most exceptional circumstances. Once the chalice is returned to the altar, Holy Communion is over and one of the deacons consumes the Holy Gifts and cleanses the Holy Vessels.

Given that Liturgy does not begin until 11:00 travelling time is plentiful, and there is usually little reason for lateness if we plan accordingly and allow for the unexpected. Sometimes, things go wrong, and in those circumstances we certainly want to know, so that allowances might be made if extreme circumstances warrant economia – but this is an exception and not the norm.

In addition to these observations, may I remind ALL who commune that they should not venerate icons once the Holy Gifts have been brought out, that they should already be lined up for Communion and that they should not ordinarily leave before the Thanksgiving Prayers, which are usually shared between English and Slavonic readers and offered on behalf of all who have communed. There should not be conversations during the prayers.

Also, we do not kiss anything until we have had zapivka after communion, and even then, though we kiss the cross at the end of Liturgy we do not kiss the priest’s hand (or more correctly, the cross on the right cuff of his vestments).

Thank you in advance for your understanding, and I hope that we can all work together to preserve the sanctity, reverence and solemnity of the Liturgy and teach our customs to those who are new and are perhaps not used to our strictness around Communion and may be accustomed to rather more individualism and movement in church.

Our expectations of behaviour during Liturgy set our liturgical culture apart from places where conversation, constant movement, dropping in at any time and equally leaving according to whim are tolerated or entirely normal – and many of us have been shocked by the free-for-all in some other parishes, where the Liturgy is far from prayerful and bad behaviour goes unchallenged.

The earthly Liturgy is a concelebration with the heavenly Liturgy, and we join with the saints and angels as Christ our Great High Priest offers Himself in each and every Liturgy, on behalf of all and for all: united to the Upper Room and Last Supper, and to the redemptive Mystery of His Cross and Resurrection.

How can we possibly do or allow anything which undermines this awesome and wonderful Mystery and foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven?

Looking forward to the week ahead, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Wednesday, the Feast of the Hoy Apostles Peter and Paul, commencing in Nazareth House at 11:00. Like last Friday’s Liturgy, it will be simple, given the lack of singers and servers, but we greatly look forward to celebrating the feast. Those who confessed before last Sunday’s Liturgy are blessed to receive the Holy Gifts.

I will hear confessions on Thursday afternoon in Nazareth House, and would appreciate requests by noon on Wednesday, please. Anyone attending the Liturgy for the Holy Apostles is welcome to confess after lunch.

In your prayers, we ask for remembrance of the sick and suffering servants of God, the Priest Anthony, the Subdeacon Peter, the Reader David, Maxim, Phoevos, Andrey, Brigid (Mo) and Ludmilla.

Also, of you charity, please pray for the newly departed servants of God the Archpriest Alexander and the Nun Mina.

Thank you all who continue to labour for our parish, especially to our prosphora bakers, who provide the central offering for our Liturgy every week. Thank you also to Patrick (Dan) for so generously sharing surplus books and objects of piety with members of the community. We are so pleased to hear that he has finally found a new home in West Wales and pray for a successful completion.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Weekend and the Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

It was certainly as busy weekend, with our clergy serving in both Cardiff and Cheltenham, and in such warm surroundings.

As in past years, our Sunday Liturgy was dented by Fathers’ Day, but we carried on regardless, celebrating the memory of all saints who shone forth in the lands of Rus’, happy to see new faces and welcome first-timers to our Liturgy. We look forward to getting to know one another, and sharing Church life.

Many thanks to our trio on the kliros, to our servers and the parish sisters who offered refreshments to our worshippers. 

We were greatly blessed to commune the newly baptised Stylian, whose parents and Godfather brought him from Hereford to partake of the Most Pure Mysteries. Many Years to them all! We also congratulate all who confessed and communed!

We continue to keep the Apostles’ Fast, and after the blessing of enjoying fish at the weekend, this week returns to the same pattern as last week, and we should fast as strictly as possible, with the fasting rules as our ideal:

Monday: By monastic charter, strict fast (bread, vegetables, fruits)

Tuesday: Food with oil, wine permitted.

Wednesday: By monastic charter, strict fast (bread, vegetables, fruits)

Thursday: Food with oil, wine permitted.

Friday: By monastic charter, strict fast (bread, vegetables, fruits)

Saturday: Fish wine and oil permitted

Sunday: Fish wine and oil permitted

Next Sunday will see us celebrate the memory of the saints who have shone forth in the Isles of Britain, including those whom we venerate locally and have honoured in pilgrimages over the years – St David, St Teilo, St Cadog, St Melangell, St Non, St Tewdrig, and so many others. As some time Archbishop of Western Europe, the memory of the western saints was incredibly important to our great hierarch St John the Wonderworker, and – as a diocese – our local saints are an integral part of our spiritual identity, with our parishes actively promoting their veneration and visiting their holy places, as we do locally, month by month.

As you are all uncomfortably aware, the temperature in Nazareth House continues to be a challenge, with staff telling us how much they are also struggling, with the temperature regulator of the ancient and vast system seemingly not working – meaning on or off is the only choice, apart from a £40k investment. Even with the radiators turned off, the vast Victorian pipes give off an incredible amount of heat, as we know from experience, and as clergy in Russian-style vestments, we are finding the temperature very difficult, hence celebrating at the high-altar, to at least have a cross current from the sacristy window. Air conditioners will be ordered over the next week.

Once more, may I remind you that it is our tradition to offer small prosphory as part of our eucharistic praxis, with the priest removing commemorative particles in memory of the living and departed. The covid-period, with some temporary changes to the way we celebrated saw this forgotten, so please remember that this is our ancient and pious custom, and should be an automatic part of parish life. When prosphory are on the candle-desk, please take the opportunity to present them.

Finally, given the number of enquirers and new parishioners, the following article may be of interest, especially as so many are asking about the rather divergent attitudes of different jurisdictions to the Sacred Tradition of the Church – with some of them trampling it with energy and terrifying thoroughness. I have posted the link to our parish Facebook page, so it may be read there

A Conversation About Modernism, from the Orthodox Christian Information Center (sic!), and written by the much respected Archpriest Alexander Lebedeff, of our Western American Archdiocese.


As already emailed, please get in touch with me by Wednesday noonday, regarding confessions this week.

May God bless you all, and thank you to all who continue to show such immense kindness in little ways, bringing and sharing refreshments for train journeys, meals for clergy, gifts of tea and coffee, flowers and so many other tokens of Christian love.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Celebrating the Kursk-Root Icon in Cheltenham

A day after the Church celebrated the summer feast of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, we belatedly kept the feast in Cheltenham, celebrating the Divine Liturgy in Prestbury, mindful of the wonderful visits the Wonder-Working icon has made to our little community over the years.

Though we only had our customary small congregation, most of those present were with us in the same chapel the last time the icon visited us in March 2021. We also remember the very special visit of the icon with our late Metropolitan Hilarion, of blessed memory.

Rather than preach a homily, at the end of Liturgy, a little time was spent talking to the children about the icon, its pictorial scheme and how miracles have been granted through its physical presence at the heart of our Church and in our scattered communities.

Given that we only have one Liturgy a month, we are generally starting late, as nearly all worshippers wish to confess and commune, so we will discuss amending the service time – though I worry that this will simply result in people coming for confession later. I will discuss this with parishioners when making home visits over the next few weeks.

We would like to thank our devoted parishioners who had been busy before the Liturgy, as always: prosphora-baking, cooking and cutting flowers, and then fulfilling the various obediences for our monthly mission Liturgy, with a wonderful Lenten lunch, with mama Galyna’s pickles and mama Lyuba’s baking!

Pentecost-Trinity Week

Dear brothers and sisters: greetings for the feast – s prazdnikom! 

Though half-term holidays slightly dented attendance for the feast of Pentecost-Trinity, we nevertheless had in excess of forty souls – including the children – for our celebration, with vespers on Saturday evening, the Hours and Liturgy on Sunday, and the culmination of the feast in vespers with the kneeling-prayers. This made for long, but blessed hours of prayer in church, and it was wonderful that so many confessed and communed. We congratulate them all on their reception of the Most Pure Mysteries. 

Though I thanked those who laboured for the feast in my pastoral greetings, I will, nevertheless, repeat our gratitude for all who contributed to our first Troitsa in Nazareth House since 2020. 

As parishioners are now uncomfortably aware, the heat in the chapel is both uncomfortable and problematic. It has been made clear that the heating and radiators will not be turned off during the summer, and the incursion of pigeons makes it impossible to open the side-windows, which lack bird-grills. We are looking at ways to mitigate the heat, and have to be open in saying that if the heat becomes impossible – especially for clergy in layers of vestments – we will regrettably have to rethink our liturgical arrangements. 

This coming Saturday will see our parish pilgrimage to Pennant Melangell, the day after St Melangell’s feast-day, and we greatly look forward to celebrating the Divine Liturgy at her shrine. We will celebrate the Liturgy at 11:00, and having celebrated the proskomedia around 10:00, I will hear confessions before the service. Those who confessed on Sunday will be blessed to commune at the pilgrimage Liturgy. 

Confessions will also be heard in Cardiff earlier in the week, as I shall be in Nazareth House on Thursday, as usual. Please email me by noon on Wednesday to arrange a slot.  

Given journey-time back from Pennant Melangell, there will be no evening service or confessions in Cardiff on Saturday. 

As Deacon Mark reminded parishioners at Liturgy, confessions may be heard in Cardiff from just after 10:00 on Sundays, and we need to try and avoid a “pile up” of parishioners in the twenty to twenty-five minutes before Liturgy – so please plan journeys to try and arrive before 10:30 to avoid congestion. To be clear, I will not hear confessions just before Communion, as this inevitably results in the sudden appearance of a queue of individuals. Our parish has far more time for confessions than most parishes – on Thursday, Saturday AND Sunday, with some arranged confessions on Friday mornings some weeks. By the time we come to Holy Communion, there really should be no need for outstanding confessions. Also, confession and communion after Liturgy is an economia, and should not be taken for granted or thought of as normal. 

Many of you know, our undergraduate students are now at the end of their present academic year, and for Aldhelm and George the end of their undergraduate degrees. Our masters students have dissertations to complete, so the summer will not be a time of leisure for them. Our prayers are with them all as they seek work or look forward to further studies in the autumn. Prayers are also asked for our oltarnik Alexander “the Younger” as he prepares for his remaining exams. 

We congratulate Kyle on his job success and forthcoming employment and life in Cheltenham, and we continue to follow Toby’s journeyman travels in central Europe – greatly missing him in the parish. 

At this time, we also keep Nataliya and Mike in our prayers on their Kazakh and Uzbek travels, and we also pray for God’s blessing upon Germaine’s search for employment in Southern Spain, after having moved south from Pamplona. 

Remember that this week is a fast free week, but that Monday of the following week will see the beginning of the Apostles’ Fast, which will last from 12th June till after Liturgy on 12th July (28th June on the Patristic Calendar) – the Feast of the Chief Apostles, Peter and Paul. Please check your calendars for fasting rules during month-long fast. 

We look forward to celebrating the Sunday of All Saints, next weekend, with the variables for the Liturgy at:


May God bless you all in the week ahead, and remember to continue to celebrate the feast and to pray its hymns and prayers in your icon corners. 

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark