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

Dear parishioners and friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Today in Cardiff

Dear brothers and sisters,

It was wonderful to look out of the sanctuary after proskomedia and see so many new faces today, together with the latest parishioners and friends who have returned from their summer travels in Russia, Ukraine and beyond.

At the same time, we missed some of our parishioners who are unwell, sending them our greetings and assuring them of our prayers!

Our kliros was buoyant and the singing bright, the number of confessions and communions spiritually encouraging, and our antidoron was stretched to the limits at the kissing of the Cross.

During the litia after Liturgy, we prayed for the soul of the newly departed handmaiden of God, Svetlana, and ask your continued prayers for the repose of her soul; we blessed Phanouropita and even began the preparations for a St Nicholas Day baptism – and all of this before lunch and the parish meeting.

Father Deacon Mark will publish the meeting minutes in due course, but we warmly congratulate Norman John on his election as starosta, after much support, coaxing and nomination by our parishioners, who  were unanimous in approving his election. We wish him, and Georgina who will help him in her usual selfless way, Many Years and God’s blessing in fulfilling this obedience.

In reporting to the meeting as rector, I was keen to recognise the spiritual growth of the parish since our last parish meeting, shortly before the first lockdown, and for those who were not at the meeting I will venture a few observations.

Sadly, there are those whom we have not seen since the first lockdown, but – amazingly – we now have a committed procession of people week by week, making their way from Bath and Avon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, faithfully supporting the parish and contributing greatly to parish life: singing, serving, sanitising St John’s and performing other welcome obediences.

Without exception, they all settled into parish-life without stopping to take a breath, and it is now very strange when they are unable to be with us. At the same time, our local parishioners have shown great warmth and openness, in welcoming and including our new parish family members from across the Severn. What a blessing it is to be the rector of such a parish.

Thanks are due to parishioners for their gifts of wine, incense, icons, garden produce and pryanik. It was rather like the end of the Christmas Vigil!

Your prayers are asked for those about to travel – for Olga and Andrew, and for Elena; for Subdeacon Peter who is sick, and for the Archimandrite Mefody, Svetlana, and Igor– all newly departed.

Finally, may I remind all in church that whilst lunch is being uncovered and refreshments prepared, the thanksgiving prayers are being offered. All who have received Holy Communion should be present for them, unless they have an obedience that requires them to be in the kitchen or at the table. In this case, they should be prayed at home.

I look forward to us celebrating our first Liturgy of the Church Year, next Sunday, after the beginning of the New Indiction on Tuesday. Before then, we will gather for compline on Saturday at 16:30, at which time confessions will be heard.

May God bless you all, and protect our faithful brothers and sisters on their travels.

In Christ – Fr Mark

Parish Meeting This Sunday

Dear brothers and sisters,

This Sunday will be the last of the Church year, with the new ecclesiastical year beginning next Tuesday on 1/14 September.

To mark this transition, we will be holding a General Parish Meeting after Sunday’s Liturgy, looking back over the last year and a half as the rector (Hieromonk Mark), parish administrator (Deacon Mark), and treasurer report on various aspects of parish life.

Much has happened since our last parish meeting, with the geographical area in which our parishioners live expanding across the Severn, from where loyal new parishioners now make weekly journeys. Given the distances involved, not everyone will be able to be in church on Sunday, but we nevertheless encourage those unable to attend to raise any subjects they wish to be discussed on the agenda.

We encourage you all to attend the meeting and to give your views and opinions on the matters we need to discuss. It is your parish, and your voice, ideas and opinions count.

We hope that you will be with us on Sunday, when we will have a bring-and-share lunch after Liturgy, and then hold our meeting. So, bring-and-share will obviously mean bringing something to share!

We especially look forward to welcoming more parishioners back from their travels, new friends who have been in touch with us over the past month or two, and hopefully some of our faithful who have not been with us for a while.

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Fr Mark

The Leave-Taking of the Dormition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Today’s Liturgy and the Blessing of Honey

Dear brothers and sisters,

It was – as always – a great joy to gather today for the Divine Liturgy, followed by the veneration of the Precious Cross and the blessing of honey.

Though yesterday was the feast of the Procession of the Life-Giving Cross and the All-Merciful Saviour, we were unable to have Liturgy, so we ‘caught up’ with August’s first feast of the Saviour at compline yesterday evening and today, after Liturgy.

The icon of the All-Merciful Saviour

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The Feast of St Panteleimon

Dear brothers and sisters – greetings on this feast of the Holy Great-Martyr and Healer, Panteleimon.

On this feast, we bring the sick to St Panteleimon’s merciful care and intercession, and we pray for the Monastery of St Panteleimon on Mount Athos.

We especially pray for Reader George, through whose generosity the parish received a small portion of the relics of the Great-Martyr.

May the Holy Great-Martyr Panteleimon preserve us and help us by his intercessions.

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The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

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