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.

The continuing joy of Theophany

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Sunday of Theophany turned out to be quite a gathering in St John’s, with representation from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Somerset swelling the number of those who had come from closer to home.

This required lots of confessions, reflected in the number of communicants, and it was a special joy – as always – to commune the children. We are grateful for everyone’s patience as confessions before Liturgy and before communion made things a bit longer, but the early arrival of those confessing helped immensely.

The day’s celebration was long, given the Great Blessing of the Waters at the end of Liturgy, but all seemed to go remarkably quickly, and the joy of Wednesday’s celebration in the cathedral was repeated in St John’s, though I was – perhaps – a little more restrained in sprinkling the faithful with Theophany water!

Whilst trapeza was arranged, priestly ministry moved to the porch of St John’s, where I was very happy that the feast should be the occasion to admit George, one of or students, into the catechumenate. We will now have him as our own special intention as we pray the Litany of the Catechumens each week, and we anticipate the making of other catechumens in the weeks ahead.

To return to the celebration in the cathedral – given the use of St John’s on weekdays, and limits on availability, it is our hope to organise group visits to the cathedral for weekday feasts, when we are unable to celebrate in Cardiff. We all need to remember that we have two homes: our parish churches, and our cathedral, and I wish to see the relationship with the cathedral developed. It was wonderful to be in the cathedral and to celebrate with the London clergy and parish, for whom it was a great blessing to have an experienced deacon for the feast.

Theophany brings house-blessing season, and Deacon Mark has already received some requests. It is my hope to perform some blessing whilst in Cardiff during the week. Anyone wishing to arrange a house blessing should contact the clergy. Of course, this year will see us going further afield to bless the homes of the faithful – in Cheltenham, Bath, Chippenham and Warminster, as well as in other corners of the Marches and the West of England. I pray that the renewed joy of the feast will accompany the house-blessings, however long it takes us to get around every home – no doubt long after the octave of the feast.

I would like to remind the faithful that the great veneration and respect for the water blessed to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord is reflected in the fact that we drink it whilst FASTING – especially reserving it for when we are unwell, for feast days and for Sundays when we may be unable to attend Liturgy and partake of the Holy Mysteries. Water from the monthly Lesser Blessing is used at other times, and any requests for this may be addressed to the clergy. Like the artos from Pascha, Theophany Water is greatly revered as a special gift from the Lord – uniquely connected to the feast, and treated as an extra-ordinary blessing and source of grace.

I would like to thank all who worked so hard over the last week, and all who are a constant support for the clergy, sometimes encouraging and sometimes telling them to slow down and breath. We are greatly blessed to have such a supportive and caring community – praise God!

We are also blessed to have gifted and talented individuals, and today was rewarded with the latest accomplishments in iconography and musical composition. We look forward to the growth of iconography in the parish, as our iconographers receive more training in painting and gilding, and I look forward to hearing the work of our own musicians being sung in Liturgy in the year ahead.

This year needs to be one in which we utilise and develop the many talents and skills of our parishioners: painting icons, writing music, making candles and incense, as well as vestments and Church textiles. We need to make the most of the many wonderful skills distributed between the brothers and sisters of the parish.

Looking forward to next weekend, prompt confession requests will be appreciated, and I shall no doubt hear some confessions at the end of the week.

May God bless you all, and may the feast continue be a source of joy and grace in your families and homes, which should be resounding with the troparion of the feast:

When Thou, wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast
enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.

Во Иoрда́не креща́ющуся Тебе́, Го́споди, Тро́йческое яви́ся поклоне́ние: Роди́телев бо глас свиде́тельствоваше Тебе́, возлю́бленнаго Тя Сы́на имену́я, и Дух в ви́де голуби́не изве́ствоваше словесе́ утвержде́ние. Явле́йся Христе́ Бо́же и мир просвеще́й, сла́ва Тебе́.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Forthcoming Services

Dear brothers and sisters,

We find ourselves in a quiet time between new calendar Christmas and the civil New year, when family obligations, limited public transport and various other factors inhibit parish-life.

Additionally, we have parishioners in Russia and Ukraine, and our students away for the university holiday.

This was reflected in Sunday’s Liturgy, with only twenty, or so, adults, but though simpler than it usually would be with a larger kliros, the Liturgy was prayerful and peaceful. We expect that next Sunday’s Liturgy will be much the same.

We will have confessions in Deacon Mark’s office this Thursday, though I may hear some confessions during home visits. May I ask that those requiring confessions email me promptly, so that I can organise confessions as soon as possible. Email otetzmark@hotmail.com by tomorrow evening, please. I know that this allows little time, but your swift attention will be very much appreciated.

Next Sunday will see the Hours and Liturgy at the usual time of 11:00, and I need to remind you that the covid-risk assessment of the diocese of Llandaff has escalated, so that the wearing of masks and two-metre distancing is mandatory.

Looking forward to the Nativity… Like last year, we will celebrate the feast during the night.

The vigil will start later than last year, as St John’s will be in use during the evening. We will celebrate the vigil at 21:30 (with confessions heard from 21:00, and during compline/ pavechernitsa and matins/utrenya) and the Liturgy will be celebrated at midnight.

We will be celebrating the Sunday of the Fathers this weekend, and will be only days away from the Nativity. Whilst some parishioners have health issues affecting fasting, as a general rule those who are to commune should be fasting NOW.

Those confessing will be asked whether they have been fasting, and the clergy remind you that receiving Holy Communion is subject to a blessing. Absolution at confession is NOT a blessing to receive the Holy Gifts.

The morning services of the Eve of the Nativity will be celebrated in Llanelli, and we will advertise these services separately. The diminutive size of the chapel will severely limit attendance.

Fr Luke and his parishioners will be with us for the Vigil and midnight Liturgy.

The Sunday of the Holy Fathers: 02/01/22

Confessions: 10:15

Hours and Liturgy: 11:00

 

The Eve of the Nativity: Wednesday 06/01/22

Confessions 21:00

Christmas Vigil 21:30 (Confessions during the service)

Christmas Liturgy: 00:00 Midnight

 

Sunday after the Nativity: 09/01/22

Confessions: 10:15

Hours and Liturgy: 11:00

 

May God bless you.

In Christ – Fr Mark

 

 

Celebrating St Spyridon in Llanelli

12/25 December: the Feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker

As Father Luke has to travel to England to visit family tomorrow, the celebration in Llanelli will consist of the Hours, Typika (with Holy Communion), and a moleben to St Spyridon the Wonderworker. 

Time: 08:00 

Chapel of St David and St Nicholas, 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire SA14 8LS 

As this is a domestic setting, Fr Luke would appreciate knowing if you would like to attend: Tel: 01554 755690. You are also welcome to email me: otetzmark@hotmail.com 

 

Eleni: Memory Eternal – Ελένη: Αιωνία η Μνήμη.

Dear brothers and sisters,

I have just received news that our sister Eleni, one of the original members of the Orthodox community in Llanelli has fallen asleep in the Lord. 

This remarkable lady was one of a whole group of Cretan women who came to South Wales and made their home in Llanelli: Tinopolis.

Together with her fellow Cretans – especially the redoubtable Eleftheria – their Welsh spouses and families, she supported Archimandrite Barnabas in bringing the Orthodox Church to Llanelli, and continued to do so for as long as she was able.

Eleni – already a talented linguist – excelled in the Welsh language and loved the Welsh saints as much as those of her native Greece. She was not interested in division, jurisdictionalism or nationalism, for she was with the Holy Apostle in saying, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Guided by this principle, Eleni sought to bring all to the Lord; to encourage everyone in the Faith; to share the Gospel; and to communicate the sacred Tradition of the Church with all of her Orthodox sisters and brothers.

After Father Luke transferred to ROCOR, she still came to services for as long as she could, and said that he had not changed, his Faith had not changed and the chapel was still the one in which she’d prayed since it was built in it’s small initial incarnation.

Elderly, unwell and suffering, Eleni remained a bond between local paishioners who wished to coninue to belong to the the Archdiocese of Thyateira, and the parishioners who supported Fr Luke to form the ROCOR parish, remaining a mother and sister to those in each community.

Beyond this, Eleni showed a remarkable love for all Christians here in Llanelli, where she built her life and raised her family, spending more of her life than in Crete.

She was loved and respected by the members of the local chapels, and even taught Greek to some of the chapel ladies, meeting for coffee and a lesson each week. They would practice their Greek and she would practice her Welsh! Sometimes in the car, she would try to make us practice both, whether we were capable of doing so or not.

Over the decades, she brought so much to our lives, singing and praying together – especially the Akathist Hymn each Lent – sitting drinking Greek coffee or mountain tea, sharing the food she had made for us, telling others so much about the spiritual life and discussing all things Greek, Byzantine and linguistic.

One of our last conversations at Father Luke’s table was about the enkomia for the Dormition of the Mother of God, whom she loved with all her heart and to whom she loved to sing the ‘Axion Estin – It is truly meet…’

It was lovely to introduce her to the internet, sitting to watch the Burial Service of the Mother of God, singing along to the enkomia, and to have her remind us how young we all once were  in the days  when Father Luke (before ordination) and the future Prebytera Cacilia took on the reins of the parish – but, time has passed, we have all grown older, and now this matriarchal figure has departed to the Lord.

Having survived the privations of the war, having seen much suffering even as a child, but also some wonderful miracles, Eleni bore illness and suffering with courage and patience, being greatly inspired by Father Luke’s late much-suffering matushka, Prebytera Cacilia.

Glory to God – Δόξα τω Θεώ for having blessed us with Eleni, and may He grant us to have even an ounce of her lively and fervent faith.

We ask you to remember her in your prayers, as well as her husband Christophoros, her children Giannis, Maria and Natasha, and their families.

Eternal Memory – Αιωνία η Μνήμη.

Parish News Round Up

Dear brothers and sisters, 

I hope that the Advent Fast is proving to be a spiritually fruitful time for all in our Cardiff and Cheltenham parishes. 

It is wonderful that my full-time appointment coincides with this season, allowing me to spend time with parishioners – especially those who have joined us since the summer. Simply having the time to chat and correspond by whatever means suits people is wonderful. 

It has also been good to spend time with friends of the parish, with last week seeing ‘catch-ups’ at the Oratory and the Catholic Chaplaincy, allowing discussion of present Russian Orthodox life and the development of the parish – not to mention some temporary limitations since the community left Nazareth House and moved to St John’s. 

One of the fruits of these discussions is the hope (and intention) to establish regular prayers before the relics of St Alban, who is the de facto patron of the British part of our diocese. It is a great blessing that a portion of his sacred relics are here in Cardiff, and we look forward to regular prayers and veneration at the shrine in the Oratory Church. 

Last weekend saw the celebration of the Kursk-Root Icon in Cheltenham (albeit a day late), with the Divine Liturgy celebrated in Prestbury, where the United Reformed Church remains our temporary home. 

It was a joy to be together, with the gathered congregation witnessing to the parish’s faithfulness to ROCOR and our Diocese, whatever virtual-reality, PR and spin is being propagated in cyber-space. 

Though Cardiff friends of the parish were unable to attend Liturgy this month, the faithful still travelled from North Wiltshire, Exeter, and the Forest of Dean, in addition to our Cheltenham and Gloucester parishioners. It was a great joy to see parishioners who are usually unable to attend on Saturdays, due to work commitments, but who changed their work plans to be able to attend Liturgy during the Fast. 

Though the little chapel is bare, as we would expect in a Nonconformist setting, our faithful brought icons to place on the window-ledges, vases of flowers to place before the icon-stands, and fragrant herbs with which to adorn the icons. 

We very much enjoyed being able to sit down to a hearty lunch after Liturgy, with friendly conversation and social-time together. 

Sunday’s Liturgy, in Cardiff, was especially bright and joyful, reflecting Aleksandra’s return from London. The singing on the kliros was excellent, with Agni Parthene (O Pure Virgin) chanted beautifully during the veneration of the Cross and the parish Kursk-Root Icon. We look forward to the visit of the Kursk-Root Icon itself to Great Britain, hoping that there may be a visit, however short to our Welsh capital and our Cheltenham Community. 

This Friday will see another Advent Moleben and reflection in the parish-room at St Mary Butetown, which provided an excellent venue, last week. 

Having reflected on the many meanings of Christ as the Eternal Logos, last Friday, we will remain with the Prologue of St John’s Gospel, reflecting upon the Saviour as the Creative Word of God: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” 

Many thanks to Norman and Georgina for making arrangements with Fr Dean, to whom we are especially grateful for allowing use of the parish-room. 

Though I will confess a few parishioners on Friday, the weekly parish confessions for our locals will be on Saturday, so please let me know, as usual and the clergy will arrange a ‘rota’.  

I will, of course, confess those travelling from farther afield on Sunday, though there will be no ‘over-flow’ after the Liturgy, as we will have the joy of baptising baby Adam from Hereford at 14:00. This will mean that trapeza will not be so long in duration. Support at the baptism would be lovely, and we look forward to seeing Adam, as the last time we saw Ekaterina she still had a few months of pregnancy left. 

I will confess our travelling parishioners from 10:15 before Sunday Liturgy, and ask for advance notice, given that this time is a challenge for us. 

We very much look forward to celebrating the feast of St Nicholas, and the variables for the Liturgy may be found here: 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zWuJ3fNC7zmad4RljYYPPBbw1K8Lojry/view

In Christ –

Hieromonk Mark