The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman

Dear brothers and sisters: Christ is Risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

Today was an especially joyful Liturgy in Cardiff, as we welcomed back Hierodeacon Avraamy after a three week absence, with him returning to us as a cleric of the Diocese of London and Western Europe of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, having transferred from the Diocese of Dnipropetrovsk. This is a cause for great celebration and we are so happy that his absence, whilst serving in London, afforded fr Avraamy and Bishop Irenei the time to formally conclude this matter. Praising God, we extend congratulations to our Hierodeacon. Axios!

Having two deacons, once again, and a fuller kliros made for a joyful celebration of the Divine Liturgy, though I look forward to us having more space to arrange the altar in a more spacious and Orthodox manner with the removal of seasonal statuary after western Ascension, on Thursday.

I was very happy that our youngest oltarnik could be at Nazareth House so early, today, and was able to observe the whole of the proskomedia, assisting with the commemorations, later standing close to the Holy Table to see the liturgical actions at close quarters. This was a great joy, especially after the involvement of our Cheltenham young people, yesterday, with Isaac having helped his mum to bake the prosphora, and Anastasia and Timofey assisting their mother on the kliros. Glory to God!

I have also been greatly encouraged by the dedication of children within our extended spiritual family. Some brothers and sisters from other parishes come regularly for confession and children who have seen their parents do so have insisted that they should do the same, even though they are younger than the customary age of seven years, and the canonical age of ten years. This is humbling for us adults, especially given that the youngest child who insists on coming to confession is still a toddler! We can see why our Blessed Saviour tells us that we need to be like these little ones.

As anticipated, today was the last Liturgy – for a while – for our journeyman-oltarnik. Oswald, whose apprenticeship sees him depart for Austria tomorrow, on the first leg of the year of journeys which lie before him. Commending him to the Lord’s care and protection, our Liturgy ended with a litia to St Stephen, the patron saint of stone-masons, before the chanting of many years to Oswald and Hierodeacon Avraamy.

Oswald has left a supply of icons, which will be put out for sale on Sundays, though this will be the last batch for a considerable time, as he treads the highways and byways of Europe!

Among our first-time visitors, today, we were pleased to welcome Magdalena and her daughters, visiting from Moscow, and look forward to welcoming them to our Llanelli mission later in the week.

As always, it was wonderful to see the warmth and generosity with which our various visitors were welcomed into the community.

This Friday sees the beginning of a fortnightly discussion group in the parish room of the church of St Mary, North Church St, Butetown, at 19:00, and the subject will be prayer. I will hear confessions in the church before the meeting. Would anyone wishing to arrange a confession please email me by 18:00 on Wednesday?

On Saturday, a group of parishioners will be making a pilgrimage to Glastonbury, where the intention is for us to begin our day with prayers at Bride’s Mound in Beckery, where we will meet at 10:00. This ancient monastic former island in the levels is connected with St Brigid, and was the site of a monastery excavated in the 1980’s. After our stop at Beckery, we will visit the abbey and town, before continuing to Chalice Well and the Tor. En route, we greatly look forward to visiting the Rose Garden bookshop, a source of Orthodox books and icons.

Our June pilgrimage, on Saturday 10th June will be to the shrine and church of Pennant Melangell, where – with Vladika’s blessing – we hope and currently intend to serve the Divine Liturgy. Any one interested should contact our pilgrimage secretary Tracy: t_sbrain@icloud.com

As you know, July will see a group of parishioners heading to Walsingham, joining the South Wales Anglican pilgrims from 24-27th of the month. For those travelling independently, the cost is £225. The cost including a place on the coach is £370. Again, any more interested parties should contact me as soon as possible

Next Sunday will be the last Sunday of the Paschal season, with the Hours and Liturgy at 10:45, and is also the feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. The variables of the Liturgy may be found at:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yOCZAVZvJwvKgwebnIeE7CEdyhymP85Q/view

Following on form announcements at Liturgy, may I remind all parishioners that antidoron, cut from the loaves remaining from the preparation of the Holy Gifts during the proskomedia should be treated with the utmost reverence, and not casually. It is eaten with prayer and fasting, and we should not be finding crumbs on the church floor. Children should be supervised and made to understand that this is not everyday bread, but is blessed and holy, even if not the Holy Gifts. The amount of crumbs on the floor has been raised by cleaning staff, who were concerned for spiritual reasons.

Please, make the most of the remaining days of Pascha, as we enter the last full week of the season. May the joyful hymns of the resurrection ring out as we approach the feast of the Lord’s the Ascension, which we will celebrate in Nazareth House with the Hours and Divine Liturgy at 11:00 on Thursday 25th May.

The feast of Mid-Pentecost continues until its Leave-Taking on Wednesday. Please try to pray the canon, as posted on our blog and Facebook page.

May God bless you all and give you good strength!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Parish Pilgrimage to Mathern and Tintern

Dear brothers and sisters,

I have just entered the house and boiled the kettle for a cup of tea at the end of a very long but very blessed day of pilgrimage, with our senior sister and seven of the brothers of the parish, having greatly enjoyed our spiritual-journey to Mathern and Tintern.

After chanting the Paschal Hours at Nazareth House, our eastward journey took us to Mathern, the place where St Tewdrig died from his battle wounds after leading the Welsh army against the invading Saxons.

His hope was to be buried on Ynys Echni (Flat Holm), but divine intervention took him only as far as Mathern, where a miraculous spring gushed forth – though today the waters in it are choked with autumn leaves and decaying vegetation.

However, the brothers of the parish have suggested that cleaning the well is something they would very much like to do.

Three of the brothers from Bath and Chippenham met us, having already explored the churchyard.

Our first stop, however, was neither the well nor the church – a graceful and imposing building despite its stark protestant interior – but the lovely little green area around the statue of St Tewdrig, where the instant-appearance of a table from Menna’s Land-rover (in which I greatly enjoyed travelling!) and the assembly of parishioners’ offerings conjured up a much appreciated picnic lunch.

After visiting the church, enclosing the site where St Tewdrig’s coffin and relics were found, and subsequently reburied in the 17th century, we made our way to the Holy Well, where we chanted the Paschal moleben, with the Paschal Canon and hymns to the saint.

We then made our way through the beautiful Wye Valley to Tintern, with its ruins of the great abbey.

It was here, Din-Teyryn, long before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of the Cistercians, that St Tewdrig retired from kingly-rule to live as a hermit, until an angelic messenger commanded him to emerge from his seclusion and lead the warriors of the local kingdom against the invading Saxons, and despite their victory, a blow to the head by a spear thrown by one of the fleeing Saxons mortally wounded the king.

To quote his hagiography,

“…Tewdrig, fully harnessed, mounted his horse and stood at the head of the troops to defend the ford over the Wye. The Saxons were put to flight, but one of them hurled a lance across the water and wounded the old king.

When it was perceived that the wound was mortal, his men were for removing him, but he forbade them to do so, and said that he would die there, and that he had desired his body to rest in the Isle of Echni, the Flat Holm, in the Severn Sea.

On the morrow, however, appeared two stags harnessed to a wagon, and Tewdrig, recognising that they were sent by the will of God, allowed himself to be lifted into the conveyance. The wagon carried him to the bank of the Severn and there stayed, and on the spot a sparkling spring began to flow. Then suddenly the wagon dissolved, and Tewdrig gave up the ghost.

Meurig erected an oratory on the spot, which was blessed by S. Oudoceus. The spot was Mathern, below Chepstow; there the old king was laid, and not conveyed, as he had desired, to Echni.”

The beautiful village that has grown in the more than a thousand years since the death and burial of St Tewdrig, with its centuries old cottages and gardens full of spring flowers and trees in bud and blossom, was a wonderful place in which to honour our martyred hermit-king and saint, and whilst the drama of Tintern was so impressive, and the social time spent there after exploring was a blessing, the spiritual heart and climax of our day was in the little village by the Severn, sacred to St Tewdrig.

I would partcularly like to thank our drivers, Peter, Porphyrios and Menna – and also Aldhelm for playing the accordion and bringing such cheer during our picnic lunch.

Dioch yn fawr!

Troparion to St Tewdrig, King and Hermit, Tone VI:
O Holy and Right-Believing King and Champion of the Faith, having resigned thine office thou didst retire to Tintern and the silence of the eremitical life; * but, upon the invasion of the pagans, * was prompted by an angel of God * to return and lead the victorious Christian host; * and grievously wounded, didst consecrate the Welsh soil with thy blood; * and borne to Mathern didst leave the mortal world * and wast born again in heaven. * Wherefore, O Holy Tewdrig, * intercede to Christ the High King of Heaven, * to bless our land, * and have mercy on our souls!

Venerable Hermit-King and Martyr, Tewdrig, pray to God for us!

Holy Week and Pascha in Cardiff

Dear brothers and sisters,

Please see the following times for Holy Week and Pacha services, noting that Wednesday-Friday will be in Nazareth House, Pascha night in St John’s, and the back to Nazareth House for Paschal Vespers on Sunday afternoon.

Given ongoing leg-problems, I will sadly not be celebrating the Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Saturday.

I hope that parishioners will take full advantage of the chance to confess on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so that Saturday night confessions may be reserved for those travelling from afar.

All approaching the Mystery of Holy Unction (Orthodox Christians above the age of seven years), must make their confession as part of the preparation for this Holy Mystery.

May God bless you all.

Hieromonk Mark

Wednesday: Holy Unction at 19:00

There will be the opportunity for confessions before the service from 17:00, and all partaking of the Mystery of Holy Unction should have made a recent confession.

Thursday: Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St Basil at 11:00 

Holy Friday Matins (12 Gospels) at 19:00 confessions before and after the service.

Friday: The Burial Service of the Lord (Vespers) 16:00, followed by confessions.

Matins of Holy Saturday 19:00 – followed by confessions.

Pascha night will be in St John’s, Canton.

Confessions for non-locals from 10:30 – no long confessions given possible numbers.

Saturday: Midnight Office at 23:30.

Sunday: Procession at 00:00, followed by the Paschal Liturgy and blessing of baskets.

So that we have a Paschal service in Nazareth House, we will celebrate the Agape Vespers on Sunday afternoon, at 14:00.

Introducing the Parish Officers

Dear brothers and sisters,

As there are so many new folks in the parish, it seems a good idea to familiarise them with the members of the parish council and those who occupy positions of responsibility – so that names can be matched with faces and faces with names.

Our parish has four trustees: Hieromonk Mark, the chairman of the trustees, Peter Lloyd-Griffiths, Karen Evans, and Olga Evdochimova. They are responsible for the parish as a charitable organisation, and are also de facto members of the parish council.

Norman, our starosta (churchwarden), was elected in 2022, and will occupy the position until our next elections in 2023. He is usually to be seen in the sanctuary, where he is the senior oltarnik. Together with our senior-sister, he is the coordinator for parish events, elected-representative of the parishioners and the lay face of the parish in diocesan life.

Our new-comers will know Peter as probably the first person they meet and chat with, hence his nickname Peter-the-meeter-and-greeter. Peter has served as a parish trustee for the last year. Though he will step back from this role in the coming months, he will remain a member of the parish-council.

As chief-bibliophile, Karen is the face at the candle desk/church lavka, and is a trustee of the parish. She and her family are at the core of parish life.

Olga is one of the founder-members of the parish, and in addition to being the parish treasurer, she is also the regent (choir director) of the parish, and one of its trustees.

Our senior-sister, Menna, is also one of the principle ‘meeters and greeters’ of the parish. In addition to coordinating the parish sisterhood, with our pilgrimage-coordiantor, Tracy, is passionate about promoting our local saints and holy places.

As well as these parish office-holders, our other Cardiff clergy are ex-officio members of the parish council.

In addition to his spiritual and liturgical role in parish life, Father Deacon Mark also acts as parish administrator, chauffeur, chief cook and bottle-washer!

We are now greatly blessed to have Father Deacon Avraamy serving in the parish, bringing his vast experience of Church life in Ukraine, including thirteen years in the Holy Dormition Svyatogorsk Lavra.

If your new to the parish, please don’t be shy and say hello to our parish ‘faces’.

The Sunday of the Veneration of the Life-Giving Cross

Dear brothers and sisters,

After a wonderful pilgrimage to Capel-y-ffin and Llanthony, yesterday, Mid-Lent was celebrated in the parish today with the Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Life-Giving Cross, just days after we gathered before the Cross to chant the akathist to the Lord’s Passion, as we will again after Thursday confessions.

As expected, Mothering Sunday dented service attendance, though one of our trustees confirmed that there were still around forty souls gathered for Liturgy. We venerated the Cross at the end of the service, and express our profound thanks to matushka Alla for the floral frame in which it was placed. Spasi Gospodi!

Thanks also go to our choir, reduced to three voices today by commitments and illness, and to our oltarniky. Young Stefan served his tenth Liturgy this morning, and given his confidence and knowledge, it is hard to believe that he has only served for two and a half months.

We rejoice that when we next celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we will have three newly-enlightened members of the parish and partakers of the Holy Mysteries, after the baptism of Dan, Mo, and Germaine on Saturday afternoon – and look forward to welcoming them to the chalice of the Holy Mysteries by their baptismal names of Patrick, Brigid and Mary. Please pray for them as they approach the mystery of Holy Baptism and Chrismation, and as they prepare to for confession and communion of the Lord’s Holy and Life-Giving Body and Blood.

Today brought the joyful news that another of our students wishes to be admitted to the catechumenate in the next few weeks, after faithful attendance in both the Cardiff parish and its Cheltenham mission. Glory to God!

It was very interesting to talk with brothers of the parish in a local café regarding the place of Father Seraphim (Rose) of Platina in the spiritual journeys of those coming to Holy Orthodoxy, and – interestingly – of the spiritual characteristics of the communities encountered that frown upon their parishioners reading his works: in a word, renovationsist and modernist pick-and-mix parishes that don’t really make sense to those seeking traditional, patristic Orthodoxy. I am heartened to hear of the traditional spiritual reading of our parishioners – with a good appreciation of the Holy Fathers, including those of the 19th and 20th centuries like St Ignaty Brianchaninov, St Theophan the Recluse and St Paisios the New. I have also been struck by the appreciation of the lives of the Holy Fools among the brothers of our parish – and as a great admirer of the yurodivy, I am very pleased by this.

After Liturgy, I was glad to see that our oltarnik, Oswald, continues to gain parish support for his icon stall, having ensured I left with an icon of St Gerasimos and the lion. His icons are now sold by White Horse Wares, from whom we have bought excellent candles and gifts – https://whitehorsewares.co.uk

Looking ahead to this week, confessions will be held late on Thursday afternoon, and due to the commitments of some of our parishioners we will chant Compline and the Akathist to the Passion of the Saviour at the later time of 19:00.

Given the worsening situation of the persecuted Church in Ukraine, I would like to draw parishioners’ attention to the open letter written by His Grace, Bishop Irenei, which may be found on the diocesan webpage (in English and Russian):

https://orthodox-europe.org/content/open-letter-persecution-in-ukraine/?fbclid=IwAR2YRLJZ5j_9rY1R7dArdqpBp0mhnDEcPpY_AajU4HIFYK63YRariiPIUiI

All of our parishioners are called upon to redouble their prayers for the suffering Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and for the Brotherhood of the Kiev-Caves Lavra in particular. The clergy of the diocese will serve molebny for the Lavra Brotherhood on 29th March, the day the state-persecutors have set as the deadline for the monks to vacate the Lavra.

I will post the canons to the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev-Caves Lavra on our Facebook page, so that parishioners may pray them for the sake of the persecuted brotherhood.

As mentioned, Saturday afternoon will see the baptism of Dan, Mo and Germaine. We will gather in St Nicholas at 14:00 and anyone wishing to attend should email me for details.

Next Sunday celebrates the memory of St John of the Ladder, with our celebration commencing with the Hours at 10:40, followed by the Divine Liturgy. The variables for the service may be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1O4cW5PW9eIeDfGGD5ZAJj5XOtTB20yEU/view

Having discussed Holy Week with Sister Anna, I will publish service details in the next few days.

May God bless you all, and give you strength for the second half of the Great Fast. If things have flagged a bit, take encouragement from this Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross to regain momentum and spiritual direction.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Our Parish Pilgrimage to Capel-y-ffin and Llanthony

Dear brothers and sisters,

I was incredibly happy to finally be able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with a small band of parish pilgrims in Little St Marys’s at Capel-y-ffin this morning.

After the suspension testing journey from Hay-on-Wye, with the wild and beautiful terrain (under a dramatic cloudscape) of the Brecon Beacons falling away or rising on the sides of the narrow road snaking over the mountains, the pot-holed and weathered lanes brought us to Capel-y-ffin, our arrival heralded by the sight of the lopsided belfry immortalised in Eric Ravilious’s  ‘Wet Afternoon’, painted in 1938.

However, this arrival was on a sunny spring morning and it was wonderful to arrive at the gate of the little churchyard and see parishioners already there, all of whom seemed to have made the smoother journey up the valley from Abergavenny.

They had come with icons, candles and flowers – using the window ledges and surfaces to bring the visual signs of Orthodox liturgical life to St Mary’s.

Whilst the clergy arranged the little sanctuary for the Divine Liturgy, Father Richard Williams – the incredibly welcoming and personable priest-in-charge – talked a little about the history of the site, starting well before the building of the present church, including the appearance of the Mother of God there in the years after the Norman Conquest, before the bells rang out over the narrow valley, announcing the joyful tidings that the Holy Liturgy would make this little sanctuary the place where heaven and earth would conjoin in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

Having bidden Father goodbye, so that he could be back in Hay in time for the Angelus, the little congregation were able to see and hear the vesting prayers and proskomedia at close quarters, before an intimate and simple Liturgy in the tiny church, celebrated in English, Welsh and Slavonic – though a little Greek also crept in at the Trisagion.

The sun poured in through the clear glass windows, and during the epiclesis it was wonderful to look up and see the sides of the valley to the east beside the trees in the churchyard.

The Liturgy in the simplicity of the church was a great blessing and a source of great joy and peace, knowing that St David had founded a monastic settlement a few miles down the valley, and after a lovely picnic lunch at Capel-y-ffin, we descended to Llanthony, where the medieval ruins of the priory give no hint of the earlier Celtic foundation.

After chanting a litia to St David in the parish church where we celebrated Liturgy in the past, we visited the medieval ruins and were happy to sit down together in the little pub in the vault of the former abbot’s lodging and enjoy hot drinks and chips. This was a very enjoyable time of fellowship, and I hope that we will be able to enjoy Llanthony in the summer time, sitting among the ruins to picnic and enjoy ice-creams and Herefordshire cider, as some of have in the past!

Our thanks go to Father Richard for his hospitality and encouragement to always feel at home and welcome at Capel-y-ffin, and to our parish sisters Melangell and Mary for their fine organisational skills in helping it all happen.

Hierarch of Christ, David, pray to god for us!

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Parish News at the Beginning of the Fast

Dear brothers and sisters,

What an incredible weekend we had Cardiff, with our pilgrimage to Llandaff, in honour of St Teilo and our services for Forgiveness Sunday.

After a week in Walsingham, I was rather tired, but the combination of prayer and fellowship over the weekend certainly put a fresh spring in my step, before the dozens of prostrations during the rite of forgiveness put pay to any bounce and flexibility.

As I have already written, the warmth of our welcome in Llandaff Cathedral was wonderful, and the Dean’s love and devotion to St Teilo over-flowed in his encouragement for us to always feel at home in the cathedral and before the saint’s relics. Father Richard stayed with us for the moleben, and kindly explained some of the cathedral’s history to the faithful before we retired to lunch – greatly enjoying time together over a meal.

Our services for Forgiveness Sunday were very well attended, though not everyone was able to stay for vespers, after refreshments. We were very happy to have the new student-visitors return, and see their commitment to exploring Orthodoxy and being part of our worshipping community. I know that they had a good chat with our parish elders and with some of the other students and young people. This is where the warmth and serious stewardship in our community is so important.

The end of vespers, of course, brought the Rite of Forgiveness, and the number of worshippers became obvious when the growing line of the faithful stretched from the solea, all along one side of the convent church and round the corner to the confession boxes. As always, on this Sunday, it was a joy to quietly sing Paschal hymns, with the members of the kliros joining me as the mutual forgiveness and many prostrations were completed.

I will not be in Cardiff until Thursday, when I will hear confessions in the late afternoon, before the chanting of the Great Canon of Repentance in the convent church at 18:00. May I ask for confessions requests as soon as possible, and not later than midday on Wednesday.

There will be nightly services in the chapel of St David and St Nicholas, where the Great Canon will be chanted from Monday to Thursday), and compline with the akathist-hymn to the Mother of God on Friday. Address: 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli, Carms SA14 8LS.

Looking forward to celebrating the Sunday of Orthodoxy and the Restoration of the Holy Icons, may I encourage parishioners to bring icons to church, so that they may be placed on the capacious window sills around the building. Following, the Liturgy of St Basil, we will offer a moleben for those who have fallen into error.

Obviously, food for refreshments after our services must be lenten/postny. No shellfish please!

Our next parish pilgrimage will be to Capel-y-ffin, where we will offer the Divine Liturgy in honour of St David, meeting at 10:30 and aiming to begin the Hours and Liturgy at 11:00. We will have a pew-picnic after Liturgy and Fr Richard Williams has invited us to visit St Mary’s in Hay-on-Wye (bookshops and tea!!!) afterwards. Anyone interested, should contact Tracy: t_sbrain@icloud.com

Our senior-sister, Menna, would like to remind you all, that there is a very active and vibrant parish WhatsApp group, where parishioners can share news and prayer requests, discuss Orthodox matters, view spiritual and pastoral articles, and generally share aspects of parish-life. Anyone wishing to join should contact her or Deacon Mark.

Equally, anyone wishing to be added to the mailing list should speak to one of the clergy or parish officers who will be glad to add you to the list so that parish circulars are received. I would like to encourage parishioners to read the news and announcements sent out, as it is obvious that some people are missing news and announcements that have been sitting in their inbox.

Wishing you a good start to the Great Fast, with the hope that as many parishioners as possible will pray the Great Canon each evening.

Asking your forgiveness for Christ’s sake.

May God bless you!

Hieromonk Mark

Today in Cardiff – Tomorrow in Walsingham


Dear brothers and sisters,

Our busy weekend continued with our celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Nazareth House, and we were very pleased that our kliros was well provided with singers, making for strong and confident singing. Together with the continued blessing of double-deacons, this made for a splendid Liturgy and I greatly appreciate having two deacons with whom to concelebrate and share the Holy Mysteries.

Though we were a little thin on the ground due to half-term, we were very happy to have four new students visiting and experiencing their first Orthodox service, and were able to chat after the service.

After refreshments to break to our fast, we held our AGM, with reports from the clergy and treasurer. Among the topics discussed were the provision of resources and information for visitors and those exploring Orthodoxy, the availability of printouts of the creed and Lord’s Prayer for visitors, developing pilgrimage and reflecting our local culture in parish life – including use of Welsh in the Liturgy. With our bishop having blessed a parish brotherhood, we also touched and the need to invigorate our parish sisterhood, noting that it is not simply our catering department.

As announced at the Liturgy, I will be serving in Walsingham this week, travelling with Norman and Georgina tomorrow. We look forward to the joy of being with our friends there, especially Mother Melangell, whom we have known for many years. Our Liturgy will be blessed by the presence of Father Mark Tattum-Smith from Mettingham, with whom I will concelebrate as a priest for the first time, and with whom we will be discussing local devotions and promoting ROCOR pilgrimage to Walsingham – with our diocesan connections going back to the very first days of the shrine church. We look forward to the development of local Orthodox Walsingham cells.

Whilst I will obviously be contactable in emergencies, may I remind you that Norfolk is a very long way away, and any interactive pastoral needs need to be directed to Fr Deacon Mark. So that he is able to arrange any provision of support.

However, we will be VERY pleased for us to email us with requests for intercessions and intentions: otetzmark@hotmail.com

We will return on Friday, in time for our pilgrimage to Llandaff cathedral on Saturday, where we will celebrate our moleben to St Teilo at 10:00. After our service and time around the cathedral, we will enjoy the hospitality of the Maltster’s Arms for drinks and lunch at midday.

Just to remind you that we are in the eve of Cheese-Fare week and that meat should be consumed by tonight, though fish will be permitted throughout next week. As Orthodox maximalists, we refute the idea of pancake day… but rather enjoy a whole week. So… enjoy!

The first opportunity to hear confessions will be in Nazareth House on Saturday, after our ‘pilgrim lunch’, and I would like those wishing to confess to email me by 16:00 on Thursday to allow me to email as we will be travelling for much of Friday.

Sunday will be Forgiveness Sunday, and we will celebrate the Vespers of Forgiveness after Liturgy, marking the liturgical beginning of the Great Fast.

Please make the most of the week and get ready for the Fast – in terms of food, prayer and reading.

Looking forward to the Fast, it is our hope that by finding twenty readers to commit to reading a kathisma of the Psalter each day, it may be read every day until the eve of Lazarus Saturday. We really need commitment to this rather than people wanting to join in for a week or two, so if you would like to participate in this spiritual offering, as an act of intercession for our parish, please email psaltergroup@fastmail.com for further information.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Feast of St Philip of Moscow With Bishop Irenei

Dear brothers and sisters,

Given the great spiritual, physical and culinary labours of the last few days, there are, no doubt, many people in our community who are tired, but saying “Slava Bogu… glory to God!” for the blessing of being able to welcome our hierarch and archpastor, Bishop Irenei to Cardiff – with today’s hierarchical Divine Liturgy as the crown of our celebration.

After more than a year and a half since his last hierarchical visitation, Vladika’s visit was important, especially given the great changes and expansion in our parish and local missions since the trials of covid and lockdown.

We rejoice that we were able to come together as a scattered community of Orthodox faithful, representing our Cardiff parish and our Cheltenham and Swansea missions, with the blessing of welcoming Deacon Andrey and Reader George to serve with us. The contribution of Hierodeacon Avraamy – now blessed to serve in our South Wales communities – was also most welcome.

Gathered around our hierarch, the Liturgy expressed the spiritual bond and catholicity/sobornost of our common and shared life as the Church, in which each of us called to individual ministry and vocation, as alluded to by Vladika in his homily.

Within our community we glorify God for so many vocations, great gifts and talents – in singing, reading, icon painting, cooking, liturgical expertise, floral craft, and the simple ability to organise hospitality and to welcome all who gather not only to the Holy Table of the eucharist, but also to the table of Christian fellowship to share in food and drink.

As well as catching up with familiar parishioners in the parish, His Grace was able to meet those who now travel from England for Liturgy, those baptised since his last visitation, and our catechumens, several of whom will be baptised in the next couple of months. For many parishioners this was their first meeting with Vladika, and for some, it was there first encounter with an Orthodox bishop – and such a personable, warm and positive one.

We were also very happy to welcome our brother-priest, Father Sorin of the Romanian Parish of St Stephen, and were so pleased that he was able to meet Vladika Irenei once again, and join us for trapeza.

The festive table on this feast of the Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow summed up the wonderful diversity of our parishioners – with Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Romanian, Spanish, British and Caribbean fare feeding all those assembled, as well as supplying many parishioners with meals for the next few days.

We are so very grateful to all who contributed so generously, and especially for Melangell who took on the role of Senior Sister, having this episcopal visitation as her first rather daunting duty, ceremonially starting with the welcome she offered to Vladika, with the traditional offering of bread and salt, after which the children of the parish offered posies of flowers to their bishop.

We are particularly indebted to our kliros and oltarniky, for their part in the Liturgy, particularly to our oltarnik Oswald, who so capably served with Reader George in fulfilling what would ordinarily have been the obedience of subdeacon.

As Vladika commented, it is the choir who face the greatest challenge in the Hierarchical Liturgy, given the many variations from our usual celebration. May God bless you all!

Thank you everyone for your many and varied offerings, obediences, gifts, generosity and goodwill in making the feast of St Philip such a truly memorable and joyful day and for welcoming Vladika Irenei to lead us in our celebrations.

Above all, we express our thanks to His Grace Bishop Irenei, for his fatherly love and care, and for visiting and nurturing his flock in the fullness of Orthodoxy within our God-Preserved Diocese.

Eis polla eti Despota!

Confessions This Week

Dear brothers and sisters, 

As announced at Liturgy on Sunday, confessions will be heard on Thursday and Saturday this week. 

Those who confessed last weekend are blessed to commune at the Theophany Liturgy, and those preparing for communion on Sunday may confess after the Great Blessing of the Waters. 

There will be limited time before our 11:00 Liturgy, so I would appreciate an idea of how many confessions are expected. I have already received several requests, and will confess those respective parishioners first. If needed, parishioners may be confessed and communed after the service. Please let us know if you would like to confess on Thursday. 

On Saturday, we will celebrate Great Vespers with Vladika at 17:00, and I and Father Luke will be available to confess people before and after the service. 

There will be confessions before the Sunday service, but these must end by 10:55, as Vladika will be greeted at 11:00. Those confessing should be mindful of the time, and long confessions will NOT be possible. 

Whatever day works best for you, please drop us a line. 

May God bless you all! 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark