Nameday Greetings

We congratulate our parishioner and parish-trustee Karen on the feast of her her heavenly patroness, the Holy Great-Martyr Katherine of Alexandria.

Thanking her for all that she does for us, and for for her constant enthusiasm, dedication and support, we wish Karen a happy nameday, praying that the Lord grant her many, blessed years!

Многая и Благая лѣта!

We look forward to serving a litia to the Holy Great-Martyr Katherine, this coming Sunday, when we will be praying for the Monastery of St Katherine and the ancient and venerable Church of Sinai.

The Advent Journey With the Saints: Holy Great-Martyrs Katherine and Mercurius

Tuesday November 24/ December 7: the Holy Great-Martyrs Katherine of Alexandria and Mercurius of Caesarea, in Cappadocia

he Holy Great Martyr Katherine was the daughter of Konstos, the governor of Alexandria, Egypt during the reign of Emperor Maximian (305-313). Living in the capital, the center of Hellenistic knowledge, and possessed of a rare beauty and intellect, Katherine received an excellent education, studying the works of the greatest philosophers and teachers of antiquity. Young men from the most worthy families of the empire sought the hand of the beautiful Katherine, but she was not interested in any of them. She told her parents that she would enter into marriage only with someone who surpassed her in nobility, wealth, comeliness and wisdom.

Katherine’s mother, a secret Christian, sent her to her own Spiritual Father, a saintly Elder living in a cave outside the city, for advice. After listening to Katherine, the Elder said that he knew of someone who surpassed her in everything. “His countenance is more radiant than the shining of the sun, and all of creation is governed by His wisdom. His riches are given to all the nations of the world, yet they never diminish. His compassion is unequaled.”

This description of the Heavenly Bridegroom produced an ardent desire in the soul of the holy maiden to see Him. “If you do as I tell you,” said the monk, “you will gaze upon the countenance of this illustrious man.” In parting, the Elder gave Katherine an icon of the Theotokos with the Divine Child on Her arm and told her to pray with faith to the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of the Heavenly Bridegroom, and she would hear Katherine and grant her heart’s desire.

Katherine prayed all night and was permitted to see the Most Holy Virgin, Who said to her Divine Son, “Behold Thy handmaiden Katherine, how fair and virtuous she is.” But the Child turned His face away from her saying, “No, she is ugly and unbelieving. She is a foolish pauper, and I cannot bear to look at her until she forsakes her impiety.”

Katherine returned again to the Elder deeply saddened, and told him what she had seen in the dream. He received her, instructed her in the faith of Christ, admonished her to preserve her purity and integrity and to pray unceasingly. She then received the Mystery of Holy Baptism from him. Again Saint Katherine had a vision of the Most Holy Theotokos with her Child. Now the Lord looked at her tenderly and gave her a beautiful ring, a wondrous token of her betrothal to the Heavenly Bridegroom (this ring is still on her hand).

At that time Emperor Maximian was in Alexandria for a pagan festival. Therefore, the celebration was especially splendid and crowded. The cries of the sacrificial animals, the smoke and the smell of the sacrifices, the endless blaze of fires, and the bustling crowds at the arenas defiled the city of Alexandria. Human victims also were brought, the confessors of Christ, who would not deny Him under torture. They were condemned to death in the fire.

Katherine’s love for the Christian martyrs, and her fervent desire to ease their sufferings, compelled her to speak to the pagan priest and to Emperor Maximian.

Introducing herself, the Saint confessed her faith in the One True God, and exposed the errors of the pagans. The beauty of the maiden captivated the Emperor. In order to convince her of the superiority of pagan wisdom, the Emperor ordered fifty of the most learned philosophers and rhetoricians of the Empire to dispute with her, but the Saint got the better of the wise men, so that they came to believe in Christ themselves. Saint Katherine made the Sign of the Cross over the martyrs, and they bravely accepted death for Christ and were burnt alive by order of the Emperor.

Unable to persuade the Saint, Maximian tried to entice her with the promise of riches and fame. Hearing her angry refusal, the Emperor ordered his men to subject the Saint to terrible tortures, and then throw her in prison. The Empress Augusta, who had heard much about the Saint, wanted to see her. She prevailed upon the military commander Porphyrios to accompany her to the prison with a detachment of soldiers. The Empress was impressed by Katherine’s strong spirit, and her face was radiant with divine grace. The holy martyr explained the Christian Faith to them, and they were converted to Christ.

On the following day, they again brought the martyr to the judgment court where, under the threat of being broken on the wheel, she was urged to renounce the Christian Faith and to offer sacrifice to the “gods.” The Saint steadfastly confessed Christ and she was taken to be tortured on four wheels with sharp iron spikes, but an Angel smashed the instruments of execution, which shattered into pieces with many pagans standing nearby.

After seeing this miracle, the Empress Augusta and the imperial courtier Porphyrios and 200 soldiers confessed their faith in Christ before everyone, and they were beheaded. Maximian tried again to entice the holy martyr, offering to marry her, and again he was refused. Saint Katherine remained faithful to her heavenly Bridegroom Christ, and after praying to Him, she laid her head on the block beneath the executioner’s sword.

The relics of Saint Katherine were taken by the Angels to Mount Sinai. In the VI century, the venerable head and left hand of the holy martyr were found through a revelation and transferred with honor to the newly-constructed church of the Monastery on Mount Sinai, built by the holy Emperor Justinian (November 14).

Saint Katherine is called upon for relief and assistance during a difficult childbirth. Pilgrims to her monastery on Mount Sinai are given souvenir rings as a remembrance of their visit.

The Holy Great Martyr Mercurius, a Scythian by descent, served as a soldier in the Roman army. The impious emperors Decius (249-251) and Valerian (253-259) issued a decree ordering all Roman citizens to worship the pagan gods, and condemning Christians to torture and death unless they obeyed the decree.

 At that time barbarians attacked the Roman empire, and the emperor Decius went on campaign with a large army. In one of the battles an angel of the Lord appeared to Mercurius in the guise of a nobleman and presented him a sword saying, “Fear not, Mercurius. Go forth bravely against the enemy, and when you are victorious, do not forget the Lord your God.” With this sword the holy warrior cut through the ranks of the barbarians. He also killed their king, winning victory for the Romans. The grateful Emperor Decius rewarded Saint Mercurius for his bravery, and made him commander of the entire army.

 The angel of the Lord appeared again to the holy warrior, who had received great honors and riches, and reminded him by Whom the victory had been given. He also told General Mercurius that he would suffer for Christ, and would receive a crown of victory in His Kingdom. Mercurius recalled that his father Gordian had also confessed the Christian Faith. Although the saint had been baptized, he felt he had not devoted his life to God as his father and grandfather had done. Thus, he was weeping and lamenting when he was summoned before the emperor.

 Decius consulted Mercurius on matters of state, then suggested that they offer sacrifice in the temple of Artemis. Not wishing to do this, the saint returned to his home. He was denounced as a Christian by a nobleman, whose name was Catullus. The emperor would not believe this, however, until he himself had questioned the saint. Openly declaring himself a Christian, Mercurius threw down his military belt and cloak at the emperor’s feet, and he repudiated all the honors he had received. The angel of the Lord again appeared to Saint Mercurius in the prison, encouraging him to endure every suffering for Christ.

 They stretched the holy martyr between four pillars and lit a fire beneath him. They cut his body with knives, and so much blood flowed from his wounds that it extinguished the fire. When they threw him back into the prison nearly dead from his wounds, Saint Mercurius was healed by the Lord, demonstrating the great power of Christ to the impious pagans. Condemned to death, the saint was deemed worthy of a vision of the Lord, Who promised him a quick release from his sufferings. The Great Martyr Mercurius was beheaded at Caesarea in Cappadocia. His holy body emitted a fragrance like myrrh and incense. Many of the sick were healed at his tomb.

 Even after his death the warrior of Christ performed a soldier’s service for the good of the earthly Church. Saint Basil the Great (January 1) once prayed before an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, upon which Saint Mercurius was depicted as a soldier holding a spear. He asked God not to permit the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) to return from his war against the Persians and resume his oppression of Christians. The image of the holy Great Martyr Mercurius, depicted on the icon beside the image of the Most Holy Theotokos, became invisible. It reappeared later with a bloodied spear.

At this very moment Julian the Apostate, on his Persian campaign, was wounded by the spear of an unknown soldier, who immediately disappeared. The mortally wounded Julian, as he lay dying, cried out, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!”

 The Most Holy Theotokos, through the prayers of Saint Basil, had sent Saint Mercurius to defend the Christians from the apostate Julian. May we also be preserved from God’s foes, overcoming them through the prayers and assistance of Saint Mercurius.

 

 

Canon I of the Theotokos: The acrostic whereof is: “O Lady, grant me the grace of discourse”, the composition of George, in Tone IV.

Ode I, Irmos: I shall open my mouth, * and be filled with the Spirit, * and utter discourse to the Queen and Mother; * and be seen radiantly keeping festival, * joyfully praising her entry.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure one, we know thee to be a treasury of wisdom and an ever-flowing fountain of grace; and we pray thee rain down upon us knowledge, that we may praise thee forever.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Being a temple and palace more exalted than the heavens, O most pure one, thou wast set apart in the Temple of God to be prepared as a divine dwelling-place for His advent.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Shining with the Light of grace, the Theotokos hath illumined all and assembled us to adorn her most splendid festival. Come ye, let us draw nigh to her!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The glorious portal which surpasseth human thought, having opened the doors of the Temple of God, doth now command us who have assembled to delight in her divine wonders.

Canon to the Great Martyr Katherine, the acrostic whereof is: “With hymns do I hymn the ever-memorable Katherine,” by Theophanes, in Tone VIII:

Irmos: The wonderworking staff of Moses, * striking and dividing the sea in the figure of a cross, * once drowned Pharaoh the pursuing charioteer, * while it saved the fleeing people of Israel * as they fled on foot, * chanting a hymn unto God.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Let us hasten today, honoring the Theotokos with hymns, and let us celebrate a spiritual feast; for she is offered as a gift to God in the temple.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

By the prayers of the all-wise martyr Katherine, O Christ, enlighten Thou the darkened eye of my soul, granting me a ray of thy splendor, O Master, which destroyeth all the gloom of my soul-destroying falls.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

O all-wise one, guided by the divine commandments of the Master and consumed with love for Him, thou didst hasten to thy struggles rendering the tormentors awestruck with thy knowledge, discourse, wisdom and grace.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Directed by the mighty hand of Christ, thou didst escape the tempests of idolatry, O martyr, voyaging dryshod with the sail of the Cross and the divine winds of the Spirit, chanting a hymn unto God.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Rejoicing in the beauties of virginity, O wise Katherine, and possessed of divine knowledge from heaven, thou didst right boldly and courageously put to shame the proponents of false knowledge, mightily vanquishing them.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure one, he Who proclaimeth thee to be the Theotokos doth reject every heresy; for thou hast given birth unto the ever-existing Word of God, Who immutably assumed flesh, O Birthgiver of God, who art more exalted than all creation.

Canon to the Great Martyr Mercurius, the acrostic whereof is: “May the might of Mercurius preserve me!” the composition of Joseph the Hymnographer, in Tone VIII.

Irmos: That which had been hewn down divided the undivided, * and land unseen was seen by the sun; * water engulfed the cruel enemy, * and Israel traversed the impassable, chanting a hymn: * Let us sing unto the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified!

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Standing joyfully before the Wellspring of blessings with the choirs of heaven, O Mercurius, and filled with divine delight, O ever-memorable one, preserve those who with love celebrate thy festival, chanting unto the Lord: Gloriously hath He been glorified!

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Willingly didst thou enter the arena of torment, O wise one, strengthened with the power of Christ, Who for our sakes willingly endured His saving sufferings; and, rejoicing, thou didst cry aloud: Let us chant unto the Lord, for gloriously hath He been glorified!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Adorned with the confession of Christ, O blessed one, thou didst openly revile the words of the tyrant and, with gladness, endured all manner of pain, O Mercurius, crying out to Him Who strengthened thee: Let us chant unto the Lord, for gloriously hath He been glorified!

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

For our sake didst Thou appear incarnate of the Virgin Maiden, becoming a man like unto us; and Thou dost reveal Mercurius, Thy valiant spiritual athlete, to be a faithful witness to Thy sufferings, who chanteth mightily unto Thee: Let us chant unto the Lord, for gloriously hath He been glorified!

Ode III, Canon I, Irmos: O Theotokos, thou living and plentiful fount, * establish in spiritual fellowship those who sing hymns of praise * of thine honored entry: * grant them crowns of glory.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Receiving the pure and undefiled one, who is more splendid than all creation, the animate bridal chamber of God, the beautiful Temple and chamber doth appear today like a bride adorned for her wedding.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

David, preceding the chorus, doth leap and dance with us, declaring thee, O allpure one, to be the queen all-adorned, standing in the Temple before our King and God, O most pure one.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

From her, whom transgressions issued forth among the race of mankind, hath her correction and incorruption blossomed forth, the Theotokos, who is led today into the house of God.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The angelic armies and the multitudes of all mankind leap for joy, and they advance as lamp-bearers before thy countenance, proclaiming thy majesty in the house of God.

Canon to the Great Martyr Katherine, Irmos: O Christ fortify me on the rock of Thy commandments, * Thou who in the beginning didst establish the heavens with understanding * and didst establish the earth upon the waters, * for there is none holy save Thee, O only Lover of mankind.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Striving voluntarily of thine own will, thou didst go to thy suffering, emulating Christ; and, having radiantly vanquished myriads of the princes of this world, thou wast revealed to be crucified, O God-pleasing Katherine.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

With strength of mind didst thou denounce the tormentors, who were overwhelmed in the abyss of godlessness, O all-praised martyr, plainly expounding the dogmas of the knowledge of God, illumined with the wisdom of God.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

He who whispered thoughts of equality with God into the ears of Eve is now trod underfoot by a young maiden; for, defended with the sword of the Cross, the martyr Katherine hath put him to shame, immeasurably glorying over him.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Birthgiver of God, who alone art most pure, raise up my morbid mind through the activity of the Life Who, from thee, manifested Himself to the world, cleansing the wounds and stripes of my sins.

Canon to the Great Martyr Mercurius, Irmos: O Lord, thou art the confirmation of those who flee to Thee, * Thou art the Light of those in darkness, * and my spirit doth hymn Thee.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

All aflame with divine love, O glorious Mercurius, thou didst regard fire and bonds, the sword and torments to be a dream.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Meeting with grievous wounds, thou didst hymn the Creator, O wise martyr, and thereby received healing, O glorious one.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Strengthened by the divine staff, O right valorous martyr, like a spiritual athlete thou didst mightily cast down the audacity of the enemy.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

To prefigure thy birthgiving, which surpasseth understanding, O pure one, a bush appeared, burning with fire, yet unconsumed.

Kontakion of the feast, in Tone IV, Spec. Mel.: “Having been lifted up on the Cross …”: The most pure temple of the Savior, * the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, * the sacred treasury of the glory of God, * hath been brought into the house of the Lord this day, * bringing with her the grace that is in the divine Spirit. * To her do the angels of God chant the hymn: ** She is the heavenly tabernacle!

Ikos: Beholding the grace of the ineffable and divine mysteries of God made plainly manifest in and filling the Virgin, I rejoice; yet I know not how to understand this strange and ineffable image. How hath the pure one alone been shown to be above all creation, visible and immaterial? Wherefore, wishing to praise her, I am greatly in awe in mind and word; yet, bold, I proclaim and magnify her, saying: She is the heavenly tabernacle!

Kontakion of the Great Martyr Mercurius, in Tone IV, Spec. Mel.: “Thou hast appeared today …”: Glorifying Mercurius with hymns, * let us bless him as an unvanquished warrior in battle, * an unashamed helper amid misfortunes, * and a deliverer from tribulations and sorrows, of those ** who celebrate his memory with gladness.

Sessional Hymn of the Great Martyr Katherine, in Tone IV, Spec. Mel.: “Having been lifted up on the Cross …”: Thou didst love Christ thy Bridegroom, radiantly trimming thy lamp and shining forth with virtue, O glorious one. Wherefore, with Him thou hast entered into the bridal chamber, receiving a crown of suffering from Him. From misfortunes do thou deliver us who keep thy memory, O Katherine.

Glory …, the Sessional Hymn of the Great Martyr Mercurius, in Tone IV, Spec. Mel.: “Go thou quickly before …”: Struggling, the martyr Mercurius put the deceiver to shame and became a mighty champion of Christ. Therefore, he hath now been numbered among the choirs of heaven, worthily sharing in everlasting glory. Wherefore, we faithfully celebrate his
sacred memory.

Now & ever …, the Sessional Hymn of the feast, in Tone IV: O David, go thou before us into the Temple of God, and, rejoicing, receive thou our Queen, and cry out unto her: Enter thou, O Sovereign Lady! Enter thou into the Temple of the King! Her glory is understood allegorically, for from her doth Christ the Light desire to pour Himself forth upon all!

Ode IV, Canon I, Irmos: Perceiving the profound counsel of God, * that the incarnation of Thee the Most High, * will be from a Virgin, * the Prophet Habbakuk cried aloud: * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The Temple of God, receiving today the portal through whom none may pass, hath ceased to perform any service of the Law, crying: Truly truth hath appeared to those who are on earth!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The mountain overshadowed, which Habbakuk beheld of old, prefigured her who hath made her abode in the inaccessible chambers of the Temple, flourishing with virtues, for she doth cover the ends of the earth therewith.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

All the earth hath seen most glorious things, things strange and marvelous, for the Virgin, receiving food from an angel, doth receive tokens of God’s dispensation.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Revealed as the temple and palace and animate heaven, O divine bride of the King, thou art brought today to the Temple of the Law to be kept for Him, O most pure one.

Canon to the Great Martyr Katherine, Irmos: Thou, O Lord, art my strength and Thou art my power, * Thou art my God and Thou art my joy, * Thou Who, while never leaving the bosom of Thy Father, * hast visited our poverty. * Therefore with the Prophet Habbakuk I cry unto Thee, * ‘Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!’

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

O ever-memorable martyr Katherine, showing the determination of a spiritual athlete, with great endurance thou didst set thyself against the hostile one, trampling him beneath thy beautiful feet by the power of the Cross, O passion-bearer, thou boast of the martyrs.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

O all-blessed Katherine, bride of Christ, thou art luminous with the radiant beams of divine beauty, splendid in comeliness. Wherefore, in gladness dost thou chant unto the Master: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Thou didst set at naught the audacity of the tyrant by the godly discourse of thy wisdom, for thou didst rescue from the abyss of the false worship of demons those who were deceived thereby, teaching them to cry aloud to Christ in hymns: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

O all-praised one, who hast mightily trampled down the audacity of the enemy, the right glorious and splendid festival of thy memory hath dawned like the sun, and thereon we cry aloud to the Master: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The might of those who reject the veneration of the icons of thee, O pure Maiden, and of Him who, in a manner surpassing understanding, was incarnate of thee and enlightened the whole world, and of all the saints, hath now been cast down. Enlighten those who honor thee with faith, O thou who alone art all-hymned.

Canon to the Great Martyr Mercurius, Irmos: O Lord, I have heard the mystery of Thy dispensation; * I have considered Thy works, * and I have glorified Thy Divinity.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Thou didst make thyself like unto thy Creator, O divinely wise one, by the sufferings of thy divine martyrdom, and from Him hast thou received splendid crowns, in that didst remain unconquered, O glorious one.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Thou hast now been arrayed in a garment woven by the grace of the Most High, O martyr, having shed the robe of mortality.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Having contended, even to the shedding of thy blood, against sin, thou wast revealed to be victorious and hast been deemed worthy of the glory of the Most High, O Mercurius.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Ever-virgin, the saving Word descended upon thee like a shower drying up the flood of polytheism.

Ode V, Canon I, Irmos: All creation stands in awe of thy divine glory; * for thou, O Virgin who hast not known wedlock, * didst enter into the temple of the Lord; * thyself being a most pure temple, * bestowing peace, upon all who hymn thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The most pure Virgin, the glorious sanctity and sacred offering which is brought today to the Temple of God, is preserved as a habitation for our one God, the King of all, as He Himself knoweth.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Zachariah, having of old beheld the beauty of thy soul, cried out in faith: Thou art the deliverance, thou art the joy of all, thou art our restoration, through whom the Uncontainable One shall appear unto me contained.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O, thy wonders which pass understanding, O all-pure one! Strange is thy birthgiving; strange is the manner of thy maturation; strange also, most glorious and unutterable by mortals, are all thy wonders, O Bride of God.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

As a most radiant lamp, O Bride of God, hast thou shone forth today in the house of the Lord, illumining us with the precious gifts of thy wonders, O pure and allhymned Theotokos.

Canon to the Great Martyr Katherine, Irmos: O Light never-waning, * why hast Thou turned Thy face from me * and why hath the alien darkness surrounded me, * wretched though I be? * But do Thou guide my steps I implore Thee * and turn me back towards the light of Thy commandments.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Aflame with the fire of love for thy Master, O all-glorious martyr, and seeking to behold His incomprehensible beauty, thou didst willingly give thyself over to wounds, radiant with the graces of virginity.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Having splendidly adorned thyself with most-sacred sufferings, O good virgin maiden, thou didst ascend to the heavenly bridal chamber of Christ, and hast now been radiantly joined to thy Bridegroom in gladness, O all-blessed one.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Thou wast revealed to be an all-radiant maiden who having loved Him Whom thou didst desire, and having followed in His steps by finishing a most difficult struggle, cried aloud unto Him as the fragrance of thy noetic myrrh: I have come, O my Bridegroom!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Knowing thee to be the true Theotokos, and knowing the Word of God Who was born from thee, O most pure Lady, we all preach Him Who is known in two independent natures and wills, O Mother and Bride of God.

Canon to the Great Martyr Mercurius, Irmos: Rising early we cry to Thee, O Lord; * save us, for Thou art our God, * and we know none other besides Thee.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Lacerated, cut with a blade without respite, O Mercurius, thou didst endure, strengthened by divine hope.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Having fortified thy heart with the noetic Stone, O glorious Mercurius, thou didst not waver when crushed by a stone.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Having shared in the sufferings of thy Master, thou didst partake of His glory and divine splendor.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Virgin, who hast given birth unto the Life which hath slain death: Slay thou the sin which liveth within me.

Ode VI, Canon I, Irmos: Celebrating the divine and solemn feast * of the Mother of God * O ye divinely wise, * let us come, clapping our hands, * and glorify God who was born of her.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou Who hast upheld all things by Thy word hast hearkened to the prayer of the righteous ones. Wherefore, Thou hast loosed the infirmity of the barren woman, in that Thou art compassionate, and given them her who is the cause of joy.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Wishing to make His salvation known to the Gentiles, the Lord hath now taken from among mankind her who hath not known wedlock, as a sign of reconciliation and renewal.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

As a house of grace, wherein treasures of the ineffable dispensation of God are laid up, O all-pure one, thou didst share in unfading delight in the Temple.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Receiving thee as a royal diadem, O Bride of God, the Temple hath been rendered splendid and been elevated to better things, beholding in thee the fulfillment of the prophecies.

Canon to the Great Martyr Katherine, Irmos: The abyss of my sins and the storm of my transgressions * disquieten me and thrust me down * into the depths of despondency; * but do Thou stretch forth Thy mighty arm, * unto me as Thou didst to Peter, * and save me, O my Guide.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

The good and most pure Word, beholding thee all resplendent in the radiance and beauty of virginity and empurpled in the blood of thy martyrdom, O maiden, brought thee to dwell in the mansions of heaven.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

By the Cross thou didst do away with the dominion of the tyrants, denouncing the vanity of earthly wisdom and pouring forth dogmas of divinely inspired teaching, O most wise and ever-memorable Katherine.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Mightily enduring the pain of thy wounds, O all-glorious martyr, thou didst cast down to the ground him who of old drove Adam from the sweetness of paradise through deceit, and thou hast been crowned with the crowns of the kingdom.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

By thy prayers, O Mother, Virgin Theotokos, make thy Son and our Judge, Who doth deliver us from evil circumstances, to be merciful unto me on the day of Judgment, for in thee alone do I place my trust.

Canon to the Great Martyr Mercurius, Irmos: I will pour out my prayer unto the Lord, * and to Him will I proclaim my grief; * for my soul is filled with evils, * and my life unto Hades hath drawn nigh, * and like Jonah I pray unto Thee: * Raise me up from corruption, O God.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

The ever-existent Word beholding thee enduring all manner of torments for His sake, O wise martyr, enlivened thee, and by His angel, commanded thee to take heart, O Mercurius, and in no wise fear the opposition of the tormentors.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

The serpent of many guises hath been slain and trampled beneath the beautiful feet of the spiritual athlete, the valiant warrior, for, willingly striving unto death towards the wounds of torture, he was filled with glory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

To the Master didst thou wholly offer the desire of thy heart, O martyr; and, having endured the rack, thou wast crowned by Him as a victor O Mercurius, and dost now stand before Him in the heavens with all the martyrs.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

At the angel’s cry thou didst conceive the Angel of Great Counsel, O Maiden, and gave birth incarnate of thy most pure blood unto Him, Who in His unutterable mercy, hath shown to all the ways which lead to life, O all-immaculate one.

Kontakion of the Great Martyr Katherine, in Tone II, Spec. Mel. “Seeking the highest…”: O ye who love the martyrs, * raise up an honored chorus in a most godly manner, * honoring the all-wise Katherine; * for in the arena she preached Christ and trod upon the serpent, ** trampling down the knowledge of the rhetors.

Ikos: Having received the wisdom of God from childhood, O martyr, thou didst also master well all external wisdom; and learning therefrom the movement of the elements and creation through discourse and Him that by His word fashioned them in the beginning, day and night didst thou render thanksgiving unto Him, setting at naught idols and those who worship them, putting down the knowledge of the rhetors.

Ode VII, Canon I, Irmos: Refusing to worship created things * in place of the Creator, * the divinely wise youths bravely trampled down the threatening fire * and rejoicing they sang aloud: * O supremely hymned Lord and God of our Fathers, Blessed art Thou.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Lo, today a joyous spring hath dawned upon the ends of the earth, enlightening our souls, thoughts and minds with grace: the festival of the Theotokos. Let us mystically make festival this day!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Let all things – heaven and earth, the ranks of angels and the multitudes of mankind – bear gifts today unto the Queen and Mother of God; and let them cry aloud: Our joy and deliverance is brought into the Temple!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The Scriptures have come to pass, the Law hath faded like a shadow, and rays of grace have shone forth upon thee who hast entered into the Temple of God, O pure Virgin Mother wherein thou art blessed.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Heaven and earth and the netherworld are subject to thine Offspring as Creator and God, O all-pure one, and every nation of mortals doth confess that the Lord and Savior of our souls hath appeared.

Canon to the Great Martyr Katherine, Irmos: Once in Babylon the fire stood in awe * of God’s condescension; * for which sake the youths in the furnace, * dancing with joyous steps as in a meadow, chanted: * O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Thou art the boast of martyrs and a teacher of piety, leading a multitude of martyrs unto Christ, thy radiant Bridegroom. And with them dost thou cry aloud, O all-praised one, chanting: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Thy most wise discourse brought many out of the madness of idolatry unto salvation, and thou didst show them forth as all-radiant martyrs, who cry aloud with thee: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Following in Thy footsteps, the maiden was brought to Thee beheaded by the sword, emulating Thy most pure Passion, crying aloud unto Thee, our Creator, and saying: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The Holy of Holies dwelt within thee in a hallowed manner, O pure Virgin Theotokos, and He became incarnate from thee to save those who cry out in faith: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Canon to the Great Martyr Mercurius, Irmos: The Hebrew children in the furnace * boldly trampled upon the flames, * changing the fire into dew, they cried aloud: * ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, throughout the ages’.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Illumined with the light of heavenly enlightenment, O valiant warrior, thou dost enlighten those who now hymn thee and chant: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout the ages!

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

O blessed one, having hymned the Benefactor of all, and consumed with love for Him while burning with material fire; thou didst chant: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout the ages!

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Those who rendered homage to stone, and were thereby stony of heart, O martyr, weighted down thy neck with a stone, but thou didst cry aloud: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout the ages!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Having mingled thy precious blood with the blood of the Master and Lover of mankind, thou wast revealed to be a participant in His sufferings, O Mercurius, crying aloud: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout the ages!

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The ranks of angels stand in awe of the depth of thy mystery, O Theotokos; for God appeared incarnate from thee, He to Whom we chant: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout the ages!

Ode VIII, Canon I, Irmos: Hearken, O pure Virgin Maiden, * that Gabriel may tell thee the true counsel of the Most High of old. * Make ready to receive the Godhead; * for through thee the Infinite One hath come to dwell among mankind. *

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Wherefore, rejoicing, I cry aloud: * Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord! Anna, once, leading the most pure temple to the house of God, faithfully said unto the priest, crying aloud: Now accept thou this child, given me by God; lead her into the Temple of the Creator; and, rejoicing, chant unto Him: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

And Zachariah then, beholding them in the Spirit, said unto Anna: Thou dost bring hither the true Mother of Life, whom the prophets of God have clearly foretold as the Theotokos! How, therefore, can the Temple hold her?

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Wherefore, marveling, I cry out: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord! The handmaid of God have I been, answered Anna unto him, and I call upon Him with faith and prayer to accept the fruit of my birth-pangs, that, having received this child, I might bring her that was born unto Him that bestowed her. Wherefore, I cry aloud: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Truly this is a matter of the Law, the priest said to her, and strange doth this thing seem unto me, beholding her that doth most gloriously surpass the holy ones in grace led into the house of God. Wherefore, rejoicing, I cry out: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Canon to the Great Martyr Katherine, Irmos: In his wrath the Chaldean Tyrant made the furnace blaze, * with heat fanned sevenfold for the servants of God; * but when he perceived that they had been saved by a greater power * he cried aloud to the Creator and Redeemer; * ‘ye children bless, ye priests praise, * ye people, supremely exalt Him throughout all ages’.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

The empress, converted by thy teachings, advanced in piety and, mightily enduring the infliction of pain, was clearly deemed worthy of the everlasting kingdom of heaven, crying out to the Master: Ye priests bless; ye people exalt supremely Christ throughout all ages!

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Let the entreaties of the faithful be entrusted to the martyrs, for the passion-bearer doth stand before Christ, asking that which is best for all and mediating salvation for those who earnestly celebrate her most holy and honored memory and faithfully cry aloud: Ye people supremely exalt Christ throughout all ages!

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Opening wide the gateways of paradise, the Bridegroom doth receive thee, O all-wise one; and hath made thee a most radiant dwelling place, revealing thee to be one who shares in His kingdom and His suffering. And, standing now before Him, splendidly adorned, O daughter of the King, forget us not.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

The tyrant tempted thee with alluring words; the cruel one sought to deceive thee with persuasions, hoping thereby to weaken thy resolve, O glorious one; but, wishing to betroth thyself to Christ, thou didst cry out to the Master: Ye priests hymn; ye people, supremely exalt Christ throughout the ages!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O all-immaculate Theotokos, thou art more sacred than the supranatural ranks of angels, for from thy virginal womb, which kneweth not wedlock, thou hast given birth unto their Creator and Lord in two natures, unconfused and immutable, God incarnate in a single hypostasis.

Canon to the Great Martyr Mercurius, Irmos: In his wrath the Chaldean Tyrant made the furnace blaze, * with heat fanned sevenfold for the servants of God; * but when he perceived that they had been saved by a greater power * he cried aloud to the Creator and Redeemer; * ‘ye children bless, ye priests praise, * ye people, supremely exalt Him throughout all ages’.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

The choir of passion-bearers accepted as one of their number thee who wast
adorned and radiant with the precious beauties of thy sufferings and thy pious and honorable martyrdom. And now thou dost unceasingly cry aloud: Ye priests bless; ye people supremely exalt Christ throughout the ages!

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Piously didst thou finish thy course, O glorious one, valiantly putting the foe to
shame; and, laying hold of a heavenly trophy as a victor, thou dost now rejoice with the angelic choirs, unceasingly crying out with them: Ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Christ throughout the ages!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

In meeting thy death by the sword, and receiving the expected end, which thou
didst desire, O all-blessed one, thou didst irrigate the ground with the outpourings of thy blood; whereupon thy blessed and victorious body was shown to be whiter than snow, having chanted: Ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Christ throughout the ages!

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

All we, the faithful, hymn thee, O most pure one, as her who is the cause of our restoration; for in a manner beyond reproach thou didst give birth unto God, the Cause of all, Who in His tender compassion hath restored His image which had been marred by wickedness, O thou who alone art most blessed and joyous.

Ode IX, Canon I, Irmos: In nowise may the hand of the defiled * touch the animate ark of God; * and let the lips of the faithful * never-silently cry out with joy to the Theotokos, * chanting the words of the angel: * Rejoice, O thou who art full of grace! * The Lord is with thee!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O pure Theotokos, as thou hast the most radiant beauty of purity of soul and art full of the grace of God from heaven, with the ever-existent light thou dost ever enlighten those who cry out with joy: Truly thou art more highly exalted than all, O pure Virgin!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thy wonder doth surpass the power of words, O pure Theotokos, for in thee I perceive a body impervious to the movement of sin. Wherefore, thankfully I cry out to thee: Truly thou art more highly exalted than all, O pure Virgin!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Most gloriously did the Law prefigure thee, O pure one, as the tabernacle, the divine jar, the awe-some ark, the veil, the staff, the inviolable temp1e and portal of God. Wherefore, all these things teach us to cry to thee: Truly thou art more highly exalted than all, O pure Virgin!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

In hymnody David cried out to thee prophetically, calling thee the daughter of the King in the comeliness of thy virtues, beholding thee standing, elaborately adorned, at the right hand of God. Wherefore, in prophecy he cried out: Truly thou art more highly exalted than all, O pure Virgin!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Foreseeing thee who art pleasing to God, Solomon proclaimed thee to be the bower of the King, the living and sealed fountain, from whence untroubled waters have issued forth for us who cry out with faith: Truly thou art more highly exalted than all, O pure Virgin!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Theotokos, thou givest to my soul the tranquility of thy gifts, pouring forth life upon those who honor thee as is meet, defending, protecting and preserving them thyself, that they might cry to thee: Truly thou art more highly exalted than all, O pure Virgin!

Canon to the Great Martyr Katherine, Irmos: Heaven was stricken with awe, * and the ends of the earth were filled with amazement, * for God hath appeared in the flesh, * and thy womb was rendered more spacious than the heavens. * Wherefore, the ranks of men and of angels * magnify thee as the Theotokos.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Adorned with bridal ornaments, thou hast passed on to the splendid bridal chambers, holding the lamp of virginity in thy right hand and thy severed head in the other. And now, standing before Christ, thy Bridegroom, preserve thou those who hymn thee.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Thy prayer was accepted, O divinely wise one, for the Master doth save from temptations those who call upon thy name with faith, O honored one, bestowing health upon them, and delivering them from divers spiritual and bodily ailments. Wherefore, in gladness we bless thee, O Katherine.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Thou hast now attained unto the calm harbor, O martyr, having easily sailed over this world’s sea of threefold waves, and in good order, without succumbing to temptation, O all-wise virgin; bringing an offering of varied riches unto Christ, a multitude of martyrs, O all-blessed Katherine.

Holy Great-Martyr, Katherine, pray to God for us.

Joining chorus now with the choirs of virgins within the bridal chambers of heaven, and illumined with rays of thy sufferings, O all-wise Katherine, thou hast loosed the bonds of my falls, earnestly entreating the Benefactor of all, for Whom thou didst shed thy blood.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou hast been revealed, O Virgin Mother of God, to have given birth in the body, in a manner transcending nature, to the good Word, Whom the Father brought forth from His own heart before all ages, in that He is good, and Whom we now know to be more exalted than all bodies, even though clad in a body Himself.

Canon to the Great Martyr Mercurius, Irmos: Every ear is awestruck at hearing of God’s ineffable condescension, * for the Most High voluntarily descended and assumed flesh, * becoming man in the Virgin’s womb; * wherefore we the faithful magnify the most pure Theotokos.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

With grace the martyrs now dispel the stench of dung and with ineffable discourse they drive away our foul passions, pouring forth waters for the healing of our bones and water the souls of those who hymn their wondrous miracles.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

We honor thee in a sacred manner as a great pillar of the Church of Christ, an indestructible rampart, a city which cannot be taken captive, a mighty warrior of God the King of all, a destroyer of our enemies and a noetic and universal beacon, O martyr.

Holy Great-Martyr, Mercurius, pray to God for us.

Thou didst receive an angel of light as a companion before thy suffering, O divinely wise one. Wherefore, lacerated, burned with candles and grievously cut asunder and beheaded with a sword, thou wast not afraid, O most valiant spiritual athlete of Christ.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thy divine memorial hath dawned as a day full of enlightenment, gladness and joy for us who honor thee, O martyr Mercurius, wherefore remember us who keep thy memorial and deliver us from grievous temptations, misfortunes and passions.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O portal of the Light, enlighten my soul which hath been blinded by the passions and darkened by wicked thoughts, and is in danger; and deliver me from temptations, misfortunes and sorrows, that I may glorify thee, the hope and confirmation of the faithful

Troparion of the Great Martyr Catherine, in Tone IV: Thy ewe-lamb Catherine O Jesus, crieth out with a loud voice: * “Thee do I love, O my Bridegroom, * and, seeking Thee, I endure suffering. * in Thy baptism I am crucified and buried with Thee. * I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; * I die for Thee, that I may live with Thee. * Accept me, who with love sacrifice myself for Thee, * as an unblemished offering!” ** By her supplications save Thou our souls, O most merciful One.

Or this Troparion, in Tone IV: With thy virtues, as with the rays of the sun, * thou didst enlighten the unbelieving philosophers; * and, like the most radiant moon shining on those who walk at night, * thou didst drive away the darkness of unbelief. * Thou didst bring the empress to faith * and didst denounce the tyrant, O divinely elect bride. * O blessed Catherine, with desire didst thou make haste to the heavenly bridal chamber, * to Christ the most comely Bridegroom, * and by Him hast thou been crowned with a royal crown. * Standing with the angels before Him, ** pray thou for us who keep thy most honored memory.

Glory …, Troparion of the Great Martyr Mercurius, in Tone IV: In his sufferings, Thy martyr Mercurius O Lord, * received an imperishable crown from Thee, our God; * for, possessed of Thy might, * he set at naught the tyrants and crushed the feeble audacity of the demons. ** By his supplications save Thou our souls.

Now & ever …, Troparion of the feast, in Tone IV: Today is the prelude of God’s good will * and the proclamation of the salvation of mankind. * The Virgin hath manifestly appeared in the temple of God, proclaiming Christ unto all. * To her let us cry aloud: ** Rejoice, O thou fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!

How awesome is this place…

Dear brothers and sisters,

This weekend was blessed with the Divine Liturgy in Cheltenham and Cardiff, bringing our communities together to celebrate the Holy Mysteries and share the communion of the Lord’s Body and Blood.

Each of these services was not celebrated in the consecrated Byzantine ‘otherness’ of an Orthodox sanctuary, surrounded by icons and lamps, and walls and domes painted with angels and saints, flickering the light of hundreds of candle and lamp-flames.

Rather, the Liturgies were celebrated in the plainness of a little Victorian Congregational Chapel and a Victorian parish church surrounded by horse-chestnuts and red-brick terraces. Yet, they began with the same priestly proclamation, as the sign of the Cross was made over the antimins with the Gospel: “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…”

When we pray and worship together in peace and unity; when our spiritual gifts and capabilities are woven together in eucharistic offering; when we assemble as a community to offer not only the Holy Gifts, but our whole selves and lives to God; when we gather in love and fellowship to share the Lamb of God who is “broken but never divided, ever eaten but never consumed” – we reflect the life of the Triune-God as a community of love. We anticipate the mystery of the eternal Eighth Day and receiving a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven, towards which we journey in the pilgrimage of the Christian-life.

Independent of our environment and the lack of an ‘Orthodox setting’, in the otherness of the Liturgy – so different from the hours of work and labour, employment or unemployment, cooking, cleaning and family life – Christ calls us to put aside the cares of the world, “that we may receive the King of All, who comes invisibly upborne by the angelic hosts”.

Our weekly eucharistic journey into the Kingdom is reflected by His journey into the borrowed buildings in which we are able to celebrate, and the little chapel in Prestbury and the Victorian interior of St John’s are transfigured and joined to Heaven.

They may be far from the ideals of the sanctuary in which we wish to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and worship as Orthodox Christians, yet we must be grateful for God’s mercy and grace, and mindful of the ongoing miracle of His revealed-love in these humble places.

Beneath their roofs, the Saviour is welcomed week by week, as we chant “Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord”, and they become the sacred ground at the foot of the Heavenly Ladder on which the Lord descends, so that we may join the Patriarch Jacob and say,

“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

This Sunday in Cardiff

Sunday 7th November.

11:00 – St John’s Church, Canton.

Reader Typica and Moleben in honour of the Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. followed by a bring-and-share lunch.

Unfortunately, it will not be possible to celebrate in the Liturgy in Cardiff on this day. Please see below.

 

Dear brothers and sisters,

Already regretting that we are unable to be together to celebrate the feast of the Kazan Icon tomorrow, I now have the added sorrow of being in isolation due to the unwelcome arrival of covid in the support-setting in which I work.

I am pleased to say that my daily tests have been clear until this morning, when the fateful line appeared next to the t on my lateral-flow test. Having posted a PCR test yesterday, when my daily lateral flow was negative, I have just ordered a second PCR and will remain in isolation awaiting concrete results.

To be clear, my daily-results were negative until today.

I have already spoken to Deacon Mark to indicate that my isolation will not affect the liturgical-gathering of our parish on what, for us, is a particularly celebratory Sunday. However, it will obviously not be possible to celebrate the Liturgy.

With the blessing of His Grace, Bishop Irenei, and the leadership of our deacon and choir, the typica and a festal moleben in honour of the Kazan Icon of the Theotokos will take the place of our usual Liturgy, and our hope is for the faithful to share a buffet-lunch after the service.

With this in mind, would those wishing to provide food/refreshments contact Deacon Mark, so that offerings for the table may be coordinated – rmfisher@ntlworld.com ?

Sadly, my isolation will also not allow me to serve in Walsingham, next week, where I was very much looking forward to catching up with our Orthodox brothers and sisters in ‘England’s Nazareth’.  I look forward to journeying to Norfolk as soon as possible.

Though there will be Sunday Liturgy in Swansea, I would very much like the parishioners to celebrate together in Cardiff, so that those without transport and who have other commitments and demands may be part of the service to honour the Mother of God.

In the meantime, I ask your prayers, principally for the people I support, but also for my swift recovery!

I wish you all a joyful celebration.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

 

First Swansea Liturgy Today

Dear brothers and sisters,

The first ROCOR Liturgy in Swansea was celebrated in the Vivian Hall in Blackpill, this morning, and the village hall will be the home of the local Russian Orthodox Parish for the foreseeable future.

Though minimalist in set-up, the furnishings of Orthodox worship provided all that was needed for the Liturgy, celebrated by Father Luke, whilst I joined those on the kliros, where we mainly chanted in English, but with a few Slavonic chants. We hope that Romanian parishioners will share in the chanting in future weeks.

The Liturgy was well attended, welcoming a mixed congregation of Welsh, Romanian and Russian parishioners from both of our South Wales parishes, and there was ample time  to catch up, socialise and spend time together after Liturgy

It was good that parishioners organised car-shares, and I hope this will become an automatic part of parish-life, making it possible for as many of the faithful as possible to attend Liturgy, wherever it is celebrated.

Swansea and Llanelli parishioners have been reminded of the sheer effort required to set up a building for Liturgy, and I hope that in the weeks ahead as many people as possible will offer their labours and assist Father Luke as much as possible. There is much lifting, carrying and unpacking to be done before the hall is ready for worship, and this must be performed in reverse at the end of the day. Parishioners now need to work together to support their parish-priest in this very physical and tiring task.

Father Luke will celebrate the Liturgy in Swansea again next Sunday, with set-up at 09:00, the Hours at 10:00 and the Liturgy at 10:30. Those wishing to communicate should ideally make arrangement to make their confession to Father Luke in the week, to ease Sunday morning, when there is so much to be done.

After a week without Liturgy in Cardiff, the Russian Orthodox Parish will return to St John’s this coming weekend, and I will post details of our services in the next few days.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Today in Cardiff

Dear brothers and sisters,

Another weekend has passed with a joyful celebration of Faith in St John’s, where we chanted a panikhida for the mother and relatives of our new friends Zhanna and Dionisiy before compline and confession on Saturday, and the Hours and Liturgy, today.

As always, it was a pleasure to welcome new faces and to be able to have time together over food and drink at the end of Liturgy, with the afternoon imperceptibly passing, so that it was 15:30 before we knew it.

However, conversation merely moved to the grounds of St John’s, and the remaining parishioners seemed in no rush to leave, despite the prospect of drives to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire for some.

It was heartening to see our students socialising and getting to know one another, the interaction between the different generations of our parish, and to see parishioners make visitors feel at home, with today being no exception.

Over the years, some of us have belonged to different parishes, as work and study sent us to different countries or parts of Britain, but I have to say that I have never encountered such a warm and welcoming community as ours in Cardiff. Our many visitors over the past month have commented on the welcome they received, and some have kept in touch after their visits to Wales.

This weekend, special thanks are due to Deacon Mark for sorting the ever-expanding Orthodox ‘liturgical luggage’ stashed under the pews, and now neatly stored on the trolley we once parked in my room in Newman Hall. The altar-end of the south aisle is now rather less cluttered and neater.

Thanks also go to our singers and servers, some of whom make considerable journeys each Sunday. We are privileged to have such dedicated people, some of whom travel more than 100 miles each Sunday to be part of a traditional Orthodox parish.

This reminds us that our Faith is not about compromise or convenience, but has a cost if we are to live it fully, maintaining Holy Tradition, preserving canonical Orthodoxy, and rejecting the renovationism and pick and mix imitations of Orthodox that dilute Faith and pander to the whims and convenience of modern society. This is certainly the abiding message of the life of Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa who was martyred on this day – rejecting compromise and maintaining the fullness of Orthodoxy until his last breath at the firing of the bullet that ended his earthly life at 4 p.m. on October 10, 1937.

May his example inspire us, and may his prayers ever protect us.

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Fr Mark

Nameday Greetings

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Martyrs of Rome, Sophia, and her daughters Faith (Vera), Hope (Nadezhada) and Charity (Lyubov), we send our warmest greetings to our parishioners and many friends honoured by their names in Holy Baptism.

We particularly send our congratulations to Sophia in Swansea, Sophia our senior sister in the cathedral-parish, Lyubov in the Wallasey parish, ‘Mama Lyuba’ who has just returned to Ukraine from Cheltenham, Vera – the starosta of the London cathedral-parish, our Cardiff parishioner Nadazhda, and to Masha’s daughter Nadia.

Dear sisters, we wish you a joyous feast and pray that God may grant you many, blessed years! Многая и благая лтѣа!

In your prayers, I ask you to remember the soul of the ever-memorable handmaiden of God, Vera, departed starosta of our former Birmingham parish.

Services this weekend: 2/3 October

Our Russian Orthodox Parish will gather at St John’s Church, as usual, for compline and confessions this coming Saturday, 2 October, and will celebrate the Hours and Divine Liturgy on Sunday 3 October at 11:00: the Sunday after the Exultation of the Cross.

Those needing confession on Sunday morning are asked to arrive as close to 10:15 as possible, to allow sufficient time for the clergy entrance-prayers and the proskomedia.

The variables may be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MjTcEzI-1lBnKrgTaecU8NcS5jK9lrIu/view

It was a great joy to have such a social time after last week’s Liturgy, and – as usual – we invite you to bring offerings for a bring-and-share buffet lunch.

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Canon to the Honourable and Life-Giving Cross

The Canon of the Cross, the acrostic whereof is:

“Having arrayed myself in the Cross, I give utterance to hymnody”;

The composition of Cosmas of Maiuma, in Tone 8.

Ode 1, Irmos: Tracing an upright line with his staff, Moses divided the Red Sea for Israel which was traveling on foot; and striking it a transverse blow, he brought the waters together over the chariots of Pharaoh, thereby inscribing the invincible weapon of the Cross. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Of old, Moses, standing between the priests, prefigured in himself the image of Christ’s most pure sufferings; for, forming a cross with his outstretched arms, he raised up victory, vanquishing the might of the tyrant Amalek. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Of old, Moses, standing between the priests, prefigured in himself the image of Christ’s most pure sufferings; for, forming a cross with his outstretched arms, he raised up victory, vanquishing the might of the tyrant Amalek. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Upon a pole did Moses set the cure of the deadly and venomous sting of the serpents, and the deliverance therefrom; for to the tree, in the image of the Cross, he bound a serpent which crawleth upon the ground, triumphing over the sinister bane therein. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ God, for He hath been glorified.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The sky showed forth the victory of the Cross to the divinely wise Emperor Constantine, the pious ruler; and therein the audacity of the hostile foe was cast down, delusion was destroyed and the divine Faith spread to the ends of the earth. Wherefore let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.

Katavasia: Tracing an upright line with his staff, Moses divided the Red Sea for Israel which was traveling on foot; and striking it a transverse blow, he brought the waters together over the chariots of Pharaoh, thereby inscribing the invincible weapon of the Cross. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.

Ode 3, Irmos: The rod of Aaron is taken to be an image of the mystery, for by its budding forth it chose one priest over others; and for the Church, which before was barren, the tree of the Cross hath now budded forth, for her might and confirmation.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

The rough stone, struck, put forth water for a disobedient and hard-hearted people, and showed forth the mystery of the divinely elect Church, whereof the Cross is the might and confirmation.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

The rough stone, struck, put forth water for a disobedient and hard-hearted people, and showed forth the mystery of the divinely elect Church, whereof the Cross is the might and confirmation.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

When Christ’s all-pure side was pierced by the spear, blood and water flowed therefrom, renewing the covenant and washing sin away, for the Cross is the boast of the faithful, the might and confirmation of kings.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

When Christ’s all-pure side was pierced by the spear, blood and water flowed therefrom, renewing the covenant and washing sin away, for the Cross is the boast of the faithful, the might and confirmation of kings.

Katavasia: The rod of Aaron is taken to be an image of the mystery, for by its budding forth it chose one priest over others; and for the Church, which before was barren, the tree of the Cross hath now budded forth, for her might and confirmation.

Sedalion, in Tone 4: Rejoicing in thee, O thrice blessed and life-bestowing Cross, the people celebrate together with the immaterial choirs, the ranks of hierarchs reverently hymn thee, multitudes of monastics and fasters bow down before thee in adoration, and we all glorify Christ Who was crucified on thee.

Ode 4, Irmos: I have heard, O Lord, the mystery-of Thy dispensation; I have considered Thy works, and have glorified Thy divinity.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Of old, Moses transformed with a tree the bitter springs in the desert, showing forth the conversion of the gentiles to piety through the Cross.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Of old, Moses transformed with a tree the bitter springs in the desert, showing forth the conversion of the gentiles to piety through the Cross.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Jordan, having hidden in its depths an axe-head, gave it forth again through the power of a stick, signifying the cutting off of deception by the Cross and baptism.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

In a sacred manner did the people encamp in four divisions; and preceding in this fashion the tabernacle of the witness, they were glorified in the cross-like formation of their ranks. Wondrously stretched forth, the Cross emitted rays like the sun’s, and the heavens declared the glory of our God.

Katavasia: I have heard, O Lord, the mystery-of Thy dispensation; I have considered Thy works, and have glorified Thy divinity.

Ode 5, Irmos: O thrice-blessed Tree, whereon the King and Lord was crucified, and whereby he who beguiled mankind by the tree did fall! He was beguiled by thee, when God was nailed in the flesh, Who granteth peace unto our souls!

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

O ever-hymned Tree, whereon Christ was stretched: the whirling sword which guarded Eden stood in awe of thee, O Cross, and the dread cherubim withdrew, when Christ was nailed to thee, Who granteth peace unto our souls.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

O ever-hymned Tree, whereon Christ was stretched: the whirling sword which guarded Eden stood in awe of thee, O Cross, and the dread cherubim withdrew, when Christ was nailed to thee, Who granteth peace unto our souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The adverse powers of the nether world are stricken with fear when the sign of the Cross is traced in the air in which they live, as are the generations of the earthborn and the heavenly, who bend the knee to Christ, Who granteth peace unto our souls.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having shone forth a divine light and revealed itself in rays of incorruption unto the benighted gentiles astray in error, the divine Cross acquireth them for Christ Who was nailed thereto, and granteth peace unto our souls.

Katavasia: O thrice-blessed Tree, whereon the King and Lord was crucified, and whereby he who beguiled mankind by the tree did fall! He was beguiled by thee, when God was nailed in the flesh, Who granteth peace unto our souls!

Ode 6, Irmos: Stretching forth his arms in the form of a cross in the belly of the sea monster, Jonah clearly prefigured the saving Passion. And, issuing forth after three days, he foreshadowed the transcendent resurrection of Christ God, Who was nailed in the flesh and enlightened the world by His rising on the third day.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Bent with age and weighted down with infirmity, Jacob drew himself up when he crossed his arms, showing forth the power of the life-bearing Cross; for God Who was nailed in the flesh hath set aright the obsolescence of the law of the Scripture which was written in shadows, and hath dispelled the soul-destroying disease of deception.

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

Bent with age and weighted down with infirmity, Jacob drew himself up when he crossed his arms, showing forth the power of the life-bearing Cross; for God Who was nailed in the flesh hath set aright the obsolescence of the law of the Scripture which was written in shadows, and hath dispelled the soul-destroying disease of deception.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Divine Israel, laying his hands cross-wise upon the heads of the young, revealed that the people who hath the honour of being the elder is a slave to the law. Wherefore, when suspected of erring in so doing, he did not alter the life-bearing image, for, he said, protected by the Cross, the newly established people of Christ God surpass them.

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Divine Israel, laying his hands cross-wise upon the heads of the young, revealed that the people who hath the honour of being the elder is a slave to the law. Wherefore, when suspected of erring in so doing, he did not alter the life-bearing image, for, he said, protected by the Cross, the newly established people of Christ God surpass them.

Katavasia: Stretching forth his arms in the form of a cross in the belly of the sea monster, Jonah clearly prefigured the saving Passion. And, issuing forth after three days, he foreshadowed the transcendent resurrection of Christ God, Who was nailed in the flesh and enlightened the world by His rising on the third day.

Kontakion of the Cross, Tone 4: O Thou Who wast lifted up willingly on the Cross, bestow Thy compassions upon the new community called after Thee, O Christ God; gladden by Thy power Orthodox Christians, granting them victory over all adversaries. May they have as an ally the invincible trophy, Thy weapon of peace.

Ikos: He that was caught up to the third heaven of paradise and heard unspeakable and divine words which the human tongue cannot utter, what writeth he to the Galatians, which, as lovers of the Scriptures, ye have both read and come to understand? God forbid, saith he, that I should glory, save only in the Gross of the Lord, whereon having suffered He slew the passions. Let us all then firmly hold this boast, the Cross of the Lord; for this Wood is our salvation, the invincible trophy, the weapon of peace.

Ode 7, Irmos: The mad command of the impious tyrant, breathing forth threats and blasphemy hateful to God, cast the people into confusion. Yet the three children feared not the fury of the wild beasts, nor the roaring blaze; but, in the midst of the fire, when, the dew-bearing wind blew upon it, they sang: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

The first man, tasting of the tree, made his abode in corruption; for, having condemned himself by an inglorious rejection of life, he imparted a certain taint as a corruption to the whole race. But we mortals, gaining utterance through the tree of the Cross, cry out: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

The first man, tasting of the tree, made his abode in corruption; for, having condemned himself by an inglorious rejection of life, he imparted a certain taint as a corruption to the whole race. But we mortals, gaining utterance through the tree of the Cross, cry out: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Disobedience violated the commandment of God, and the tree brought death to man by its being partaken of unseasonably, for, for the preservation of that which is most precious, the tree of life was forbidden; but God disclosed it to the hapless thief who cried out rightly: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Israel, foreseeing things to come, laid hold of the tip of Joseph’s staff, revealing beforehand that the most glorious Cross would seize the power of the kingdom, for it is the victorious boast of kings and a light for those who cry out with faith: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Katavasia: The mad command of the impious tyrant, breathing forth threats and blasphemy hateful to God, cast the people into confusion. Yet the three children feared not the fury of the wild beasts, nor the roaring blaze; but, in the midst of the fire, when, the dew-bearing wind blew upon it, they sang: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

ODE 8, Irmos: O children equal in number to the Trinity: bless ye God, the Father and Creator; hymn ye the Word Who came down and transformed the fire into dew; and the all-holy Spirit, Who giveth life unto all, exalt ye supremely forever!

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

O hosts of heaven, chant ye to the exalted Tree which was drenched in the blood of God the Word incarnate, celebrating the restoration of those on earth. Ye people, worship the Cross of Christ, whereby the resurrection of the world is accomplished forever!

Glory to Thy Precious Cross, O Lord.

O hosts of heaven, chant ye to the exalted Tree which was drenched in the blood of God the Word incarnate, celebrating the restoration of those on earth. Ye people, worship the Cross of Christ, whereby the resurrection of the world is accomplished forever!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O ye mortal stewards of grace, in sacred manner raise on high with your hands the Cross whereon Christ God stood and the spear which pierced the body of God the Word, that all the nations may see the salvation which is of God, glorifying Him forever!

Both now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O faithful Christian kings, forechosen by divine decree, be ye glad! And having received from God the precious Cross, rejoice in it, the weapon of victory, for thereby tribes of warriors seeking courage are scattered abroad forever.

Katavasia: O children equal in number to the Trinity: bless ye God, the Father and Creator; hymn ye the Word Who came down and transformed the fire into dew; and the all-holy Spirit, Who giveth life unto all, exalt ye supremely forever!

Magnify, O my soul, the all-honoured Cross of the Lord!

Ode 9, Irmos: O Theotokos, thou art a mystical paradise, which untilled did put forth Christ, by Whom the life-bearing tree of the Cross was planted. Wherefore, worshiping it as it is now raised aloft, we magnify thee.

Magnify, O my soul, the all-honoured Cross of the Lord!

Let all the trees of the forests rejoice, for their nature hath been sanctified by Him Who planted them in the beginning – Christ Who was stretched out upon the Tree. Wherefore, worshiping it as it is now raised aloft, we magnify thee, O Theotokos.

Magnify, O my soul, the all-honoured Cross of the Lord!

A sacred horn hath been lifted up, the chief horn for all the divinely wise: the Cross, whereby all the horns of the sinful are noetically broken asunder. Wherefore, worshiping it as it is now raised aloft, we magnify thee, O Theotokos.

Magnify, O my soul, the all-honoured Cross of the Lord!

That Thou mayest show the Cross to the world, O worshipful Lord and King, in the sight of all Thou didst form its all-glorious image in the skies, radiant with boundless light, an invincible weapon. Wherefore, all the powers of heaven magnify Thee.

Magnify, O my soul, the exaltation of the life-creating Cross of the Lord!

Canon II, Irmos: Death, which came upon our race through the eating of the tree hath been abolished by the Cross today; for the curse of our first mother, which fell upon us all, hath been annulled through the Offspring of the pure Mother of God, whom all the hosts of heaven magnify.

Magnify, O my soul, the exaltation of the life-creating Cross of the Lord!

Thou didst not permit the murderous bitterness of the tree still to remain, O Lord, for thou didst utterly destroy it by the Cross. Wherefore, by a tree Thou didst once sweeten the bitterness of the waters of Marah, prefiguring the activity of the Cross, which all the hosts of heaven magnify.

Magnify, O my soul, the exaltation of the life-creating Cross of the Lord!

Those who are continually sunk in the darkness of our forefather, Thou hast raised up by the Cross today, O Lord; for though our nature was brought low through deceit and great lack of restraint, the light of Thy Cross hath again guided all of us aright, which we, the faithful magnify.

Magnify, O my soul, the exaltation of the life-creating Cross of the Lord!

That Thou mightest show forth to the world the image of the Cross venerated among all, O Lord, Thou didst trace its outline in the heavens, in that it is all-glorious, radiant with boundless light: the invincible weapon for the emperor. Wherefore, all the hosts of heaven magnify Thee.

Katavasia: O Theotokos, thou art a mystical paradise, which untilled did put forth Christ, by Whom the life-bearing tree of the Cross was planted. Wherefore, worshiping it as it is now raised aloft, we magnify thee.

Troparion of the Cross, in Tone 1: Save O Lord Thy people, * and bless Thine inheritance. * Grant now unto the faithful * victory over adversaries, * and by the power of Thy Cross ** do Thou preserve Thy commonwealth.