Happy Feast of the Transfiguration

Dear brothers and sisters,  

Festal greetings to you on this glorious feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord – not just metaphorically glorious, but truly so, as Mount Tabor became a place where the glory of Christ-God was revealed to the disciples, as far as they were able to bear it. 

The Saviour revealed something which had not been seen by the men and women of the Gospels: not by the magi, even though they fell down and worshipped Him as they laid their gifts before Him; not by the shepherds, even though an angel revealed the new-born Lord to them; not by Symeon the God-Receiver, even though he took the Infant-Saviour into his arms and recognised Him as the Light to enlighten the gentiles; not by the many sick, disabled and possessed people whom He healed and set free, even though He, as their Creator made them into new creations through the miracles He wrought. 

Peter, James and John beheld the Saviour in a way that none of the disciples had so-far beheld Him, as Christ revealed His divinity on Mount Tabor. 

The glory that radiated from the Saviour and enveloped Him in the Transfiguration was not something put on for the occasion. As the Church Fathers clarified, when Jesus was transfigured He did not take upon Himself something new that He did not formerly possess, or change into something or someone else. Rather, in the radiant splendour of the godhead, He showed Himself to His disciples as He already was, and as He always had been, though His divinity was temporarily hidden when He was incarnate, as the Saviour of the World 

In the words of St Gregory Palamas, 

“We believe that at the Transfiguration He manifested…  only that which was concealed beneath His fleshly exterior. This Light was the Light of the Divine Nature, and as such, it was Uncreated and Divine.” 

The Saviour revealed what His humility, His love and compassion had hidden when He was obedient to the Father’s will in the incarnation, clothing Himself in Adam and hiding what the Prophet Ezekiel had seen and struggled to describe when the Lord-Yahweh, the pre-incarnate Saviour, appeared on the heavenly chariot-throne in 

“… a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also, from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the colour of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” 

The uncreated-light of Christ’s divinity on Mount Tabor echoed the glory that Ezekiel could only approximate in words and images, and also the glory that Moses encountered when he ascended Mount Sinai: glory that was such that Moses himself was transfigured by his encounter with Christ-Yahweh, as St Gregory reminded his listeners: 

“Even the face of Moses was illumined by his association with God. Do you not know that Moses was transfigured when he went up the mountain, and there beheld the Glory of God? But he (Moses) did not affect this, but rather he underwent a Transfiguration.” 

On Mount Tabor, Moses, present in spirit, again reflected the divine-glory, whilst Elias who had ascended into heaven reflected the light of the Transfiguration both physically and spiritually. 

And, the Saviour appeared in glory, not simply to show the glory of His divinity to the disciples, but to prepare them for the suffering which would obscure this glory more and more, as He went to His voluntary passion like a lamb to the slaughter, with the appearance of the suffering-servant foreseen by the Prophet Isaiah, who 

“hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” 

Behind this sacrificial-suffering, self-emptying and selfless giving was the same Christ who was transfigured, to show the certainty of the glory which lay beyond the Cross, in the eternity of the Kingdom, and His divinity which was concealed beneath the robe of His suffering flesh. 

The Transfiguration pre-empted His great suffering, so that the necessity of the Cross and the sacrifice of Christ, as the Lamb of God and New-Passover, could be understood by those closest to the Saviour, so that they would not be scandalised by the Cross of Christ, and His crucifixion. 

In the words of St Leo the Great: 

“And in this Transfiguration the foremost object was to remove the offense of the cross from the disciple’s heart, and to prevent their faith being disturbed by the humiliation of His voluntary Passion by revealing to them the excellence of His hidden dignity.” 

Paths of suffering-for-Christ would also be the lot of the disciples, given courage by the glimpsed glory of the Kingdom, which would be reinforced by their experience of the resurrection, of the glorious ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost.  Through their spiritual labours and ascent, the Saviour sought to share His glory with them, so that they – and every generation of faithful – might be partakers and inheritors of His glory, to be transfigured like Moses and Elias, radiant in His light.

Similar paths have been trodden by the Saviour’s followers throughout the history of the Church, from the Roman persecutions to the trials of the new-martyrs and confessors of the Communist Yoke in the 20th century, and through this suffering countless people were transfigured, not literally, but spiritually – encountering God, with their endurance and courage buoyed by the promise touched upon by St Leo in his homily for the feast,

“About which the Lord had Himself said, when He spoke of the majesty of His coming, Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in their Father’s Kingdom Mat. 13:43, while the blessed Apostle Paul bears witness to the self-same thing, and says: for I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the future glory which shall be revealed in us Rom. 8:18: and again, for you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. For when Christ our life shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory Col. 3:3 .” 

– and in this he reminds us of the obvious: that most will have to wait for the life of the age to come to behold God’s glory, when the righteous shall shine like the sun. 

Few will have the foretastes of this glory, like St Symeon, St Seraphim or St John the Wonderworker, but we live in hope of this promise of the glory  of God manifest on the mountain.

But, to attain to this promise, glimpsed on Tabor by the disciples, we must take up our Cross to follow the Saviour in selfless love and obedience: thoroughly, faithfully, and maximally. 

This is the only way each of us can begin to climb the mountain, even its lowest and gentlest slopes: embracing Orthodox life as podvig/ascetic labour – praying, fasting, struggling for purity, through repentance and making the Gospel and the Law of God the entire rule of our lives, day by day.

Above all, let us pray, as this communion with God joins time and eternity, our finite and transient human lives with the changeless eternity of the life of God who always IS.

In prayer there is a certain transcendence of time and place, as there was when the Lord was transfigured on the mountain, and prayer may be the catalyst of our metamorphosis and transfiguration. 

St Gregory, (taking the Transfiguration Gospel from St Luke) observes that 

“That same Inscrutable Light shone and was mysteriously manifest to the Apostles and the foremost of the Prophets at that moment, when (the Lord) was praying. This shows that what brought forth this blessed sight was prayer, and that the radiance occurred and was manifest by uniting the mind with God, and that it is granted to all who, with constant exercise in efforts of virtue and prayer, strive with their mind towards God. True beauty, essentially, can be contemplated only with a purified mind.

Let us raise up our hearts and minds to God, as even in wordlessness, this is prayer.  And, through prayer – sometimes easy, often a struggle – let us labour to purify our intellect, thoughts and senses, so that we may contemplate things divine and eternal, and join ourselves to things heavenly and changeless: racing to the mountain in this prayer, eager to behold and experience the glory of the Lord. 

“Arise, ye slothful thoughts of my soul, which have ever been dragged down to the earth! Be ye upborne and rise aloft to the summit of divine ascent! Let us make haste to Peter and the sons of Zebedee, and with them let us go to Mount Tabor, that we may see the glory of our God with them, and may hear the voice which they heard from on high; and they preached that Thou, in truth, art the Effulgence of the Father.” 

Ikos of the Matins Canon. 

In Christ – 

Hieromonk Mark 

Friday Evening Compline : Canon in Tone VIII

On Friday Evening of Tone VIII, at Compline:

The Canon of Supplication to the Most Holy Theotokos

Ode1, Irmos: Let us sing unto the Lord, * who led His people through the Red Sea: * for He alone hath gloriously been glorified.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

О most immaculate Virgin, render Christ merciful unto me, setting me free on the day of the dread judgment.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Rain down upon me drops of compunction, O Lady, washing away my defilement, that I may glorify thee.

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

Illumine me, О Virgin who hast given birth to the never-waning Light, driving away the profound darkness of my slothfulness.

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

Save me who have perished amid many sins, О Theotokos, and deliver me from every torment and grievous condemnation.

Ode III, Irmos: O Lord, Creator of the vault of Heaven * and Builder of the Church, * do Thou strengthen me in Thy love, O Summit of desire, * O Support of the faithful, * O only Lover of mankind.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Having fallen, away from the life of sanctity, О most pure one, I have joined the dumb beasts and am wholly condemned; but do thou who hast given birth to the Judge deliver me from all damnation, and save me.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Unto thee do I flee, О Lady. Ever save me who am beset by a multitude of perils, taking pity upon me, О only all-hymned one who hast given birth to the Saviour and Lord of all.

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

О Lady, thou impassable gate leading to God, open unto me the gates of repentance, I pray, cleansing me of the impurity of my sins with the showers of thy mercy, О thou who art full of the grace of God.

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

Deliver me from the assaults of the passions, О Lady, and vanquish now the foes which wage war upon me; establish me upon the rock of the will of God, and illumine my soul, О portal of the divine Light.

Ode IV, Irmos: O Lord, I have heard the mystery of Thy dispensation; * I have considered Thy works, * and I have glorified Thy Divinity.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

О Word of God Who wast wounded for my sake in Thy love for mankind: Heal the wounds of my soul, and enlighten the darkness of my mind.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The sleep of sin hath overtaken me through the slumber of my slothfulness, О Virgin. But by thy vigilant supplication rouse me to repentance.

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

О most immaculate one who hast poured forth the water of remission from thy well-springs: Give drink to my heart, which hath grown dry through all manner of transgressions.

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

О all-holy Bride of God, Sovereign Lady of the world: save me, delivering me from misfortunes and dispelling the tumult of the passions.

Ode V, Irmos: Rising early we cry to Thee, O Lord; * save us, for Thou art our God, * and we know none other besides Thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Look down, О most pure Lady, hearken unto my voice, and wash away all mine iniquities.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

О Theotokos who hast given birth to the never-setting Sun, enlighten me who have become wholly dark through the passions, that I may glorify and praise thee, О most immaculate one.

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

Have pity on my soul, О most holy Maiden, and deliver it from damnation and everlasting torment.

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

Heal mine ailing soul, О most holy Lady who hast given birth to Him Who taketh away the infirmities of all.

Ode VI, 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.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

By thy vivifying birthgiving mortify the unseemly uprisings of my flesh, О Theotokos who hast given life unto those slain by evil, that I may glorify thee as the cause of the restoration of mankind.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

О Virgin Theotokos who hast given birth to the Abyss of compassions, save my soul from the sorrows of life, and open unto me the spiritual portals of joy; for in thee alone have I placed my hope.

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

That I may joyously hymn thy mighty works and the great grace of thy miracles, О most pure Virgin, By thy prayers ever free me from the unseemly thoughts which afflict me.

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

In a manner transcending nature didst thou give birth unto Him Who did not depart from the bosom of the Father, yet through thee, О Virgin, conversed with men. As thou art the boast and confirmation of all of us, О Theotokos, take pity upon those who flee unto thee.

Lord, have mercy. (Thrice).

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.  

Sessional hymn, Tone VIII: The Word of the Father descended to the earth, and the radiant angel said to
the Theotokos:
“Rejoice, О blessed one who alone hast preserved the bridalchamber, accepting the conception of the pre-eternal God and Lord, that God might save the race of mankind from delusion!”

Ode VII, 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’.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Woe is me! How shall I escape the torments which await me who have lived wickedly on earth? How shall I appear to the dread Judge as other than accursed? О Lady, Birthgiver of God, be thou my helper then!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Quench thou the flame of my passions and still the tempest of my heart, О pure Mother of God; and deliver me from the tyranny of the demons and from the eternal fire, О most pure one.

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

Behold the sorrow which the multitude of mine evils have brought upon me, О Virgin, and before my departure grant me rest, assuaging thy Son by thy maternal supplications.

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

With thy dew extinguish the flame of the passions of my heart, О Virgin Maiden, and rescue me from the dread fire, from eternal damnation and the tyranny of the demons.

Ode VIII, 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’.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Mortify all the uprisings of our bodies, О Virgin who by thy Life-bearing birthgiving didst slay the serpent, and pray that we may receive the life which ageth not, that we may hymn thee forever.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

I ever invoke thine aid, О Birthgiver of God. Put me not to shame who have already acquired shame, but take pity upon me, О most pure one, rescue me from the flame, and deliver me from eternal torments.

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

Show thyself to me as a joyous helper amid evil circumstances, delivering me from the assaults which the demons launched at me, that I may ever bless thee, О Theotokos, as the intercessor for all.

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

О most holy Maiden, thou boast of the apostles and glory of the martyrs, cause me to share in eternal glory, who cry aloud: Bless the Most Holy Spirit throughout all ages!

Ode IX, Irmos: Thou hast passed the limits of nature, * having conceived the Maker and the Lord, * and didst become a door of salvation * unto the world; * wherefore we unceasingly magnify thee, O Theotokos.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

With thy never-waning light drive away the cruel darkness from my soul, О portal of the Light, and show me the luminous paths of repentance, that, treading them, I may elude the gloom of sin and may unceasingly magnify thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Cleanse thy servants, О Good One, and grant us forgiveness of transgressions; deliver us from the eternal flame, that we may share in Thy kingdom, О Word of God, for Thou didst endure the Cross in Thy desire to save the race of mankind.

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

Grant that I may easily pass through the journey of this life, О Theotokos, subduing the uprisings of temptations and perils, in that thou art good, and guide me to the virtues of the heavenly kingdom and divine rest, that, saved, I may glorify thee.

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

In that thou hast given birth to the supremely good God and art merciful, heal thou my soul, which is sick with grievous suffering, and ever deliver me from the evils which oppress and assail me, О most pure one, that, saved, I may fervently magnify thee who hast magnified our race.

Tuesday Evening Compline : Canon in Tone VIII

Further to yesterday’s encouragement to pray the supplicatory canons to the Theotokos, as part of the praxis of the Dormition Fast, the canon for tonight’s compline is posted. This will be equally suited to incorporation into our evening prayers.

You will recognise this as the normal Small Supplicatory Canon, by the Lord Theophanes (also attributed to Theoktistos) but successive evenings will bring different Supplicatory Canons by other hymnographers. 

Ode 1, Irmos: Having passed through the water as upon dry land, * and having escaped the malice of the Egyptians, * the Israelites cried aloud: * Unto our God and Redeemer let us sing.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Beset by many perils, I flee unto thee, seeking salvation. О Virgin Mother of the Word, save me from every grievous and cruel circumstance.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Assaults of the passions disquiet me and fill my soul with great despondency. Bring peace to me with the tranquility of thy Son and God, О all-immaculate Maiden.

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

I entreat thee, О Virgin who hast given birth to God the Saviour, that I may be delivered from grievous circumstances; for, fleeing now unto thee, I raise unto thee my soul and mind.

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

In that thou art good, О only Mother of God who hast given birth to Him Who is good, unto me who am sick in body and soul grant divine visitation and providence.

Ode III, Irmos: O Lord, Creator of the vault of Heaven * and Builder of the Church,* do Thou strengthen me in Thy love, O Summit of desire, * O Support of the faithful, * O only Lover of mankind.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

I count thee the intercession and protection of my life, О Virgin Birthgiver of God. Guide me to thy haven, О cause of good things, confirmation of the faithful, who alone art all-hymned.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

I beg thee to quell the tumult of my soul and the tempest of my grief, О Virgin; for thou hast given birth to Christ, the Origin of tranquillity, О Bride of God who alone art most pure.

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

О thou who hast given birth unto the Benefactor, the Cause of good things, pour forth the riches of beneficence upon all; for as thou hast given birth to Christ Who is mighty in strength, thou art able to accomplish all things, О thou who art blessed of God.

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

When I am wracked by cruel afflictions and painful sufferings, О Virgin, do thou help me; for I know thee to be an inexhaustible and never-failing treasury of healings, О most immaculate one.

Ode IV, Irmos: O Lord, I have heard the mystery of Thy dispensation; * I have considered Thy works, * and I have glorified Thy Divinity.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

О Bride of God, who hast given birth to the Lord and Helmsman, still thou the tumult of my passions and the tempest of my transgressions.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

О thou who hast given birth to the compassionate Saviour of all who hymn thee, bestow the abyss of thy tender compassion upon me who invoke thee.

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

Delighting in thy gifts, О most pure one, we chant hymnody of thanksgiving unto thee, knowing thee to be the Mother of God.

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

As I lie upon my bed of sickness and infirmity, help me, О only Ever- virgin Theotokos, in that thou art full of love.

Ode V, Irmos: Illumine us O Lord with Thy commandments, * and with Thine arm raised on high * grant us Thy peace, * O Lover of mankind!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Fill thou my heart with gladness, О pure one, granting me thine unfading joy, О thou who hast given birth to the Cause of gladness.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Deliver us from misfortunes, О pure Theotokos, who hast given birth to eternal Deliverance, the Intelligence which passeth all understanding.

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

Dispel thou the gloom of my transgressions with the radiance of thy splendour, О Bride of God who hast given birth to the divine and pre-eternal Light.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.  О pure one, heal thou the sickness of my soul, granting me thy

О pure one, heal thou the sickness of my soul, granting me thy visitation, and By thy prayers giving me health.

Ode VI, 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.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

He Who gave Himself over to death hath saved from death and corruption my nature which hath been held captive by corruption, О Virgin. Entreat thy Lord and Son, that He deliver me from the wickedness of the enemy.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

I know thee to be the intercessor and steadfast guardian of my life who doeth away with the tumults of temptations and repelleth the onslaughts of the demons; and I ever pray to be delivered from the corruption of my passions.

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

О Maiden, we have acquired thee as a bulwark of refuge, the perfect salvation of our souls, and latitude amid tribulations; and we ever rejoice in thy splendour. О Lady, even now save us from sufferings and misfortunes.

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

I lie now, sick, upon my bed, and there is no healing for my flesh; but to thee, the good one who gave birth to God, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world, do I pray: Raise me up from the corruption of infirmities.

Lord, have mercy. (Thrice).

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.  

Sessional hymn, Tone VIII: Beholding Thee, the Lamb and Shepherd, * the Saviour of the world, upon the Cross, * she that gaveth birth to Thee said, weeping: * The world rejoiceth, having received deliverance; * but my womb doth burn, beholding Thy crucifixion, ** which Thou dost endure on behalf of all, O my Son and God!

Ode VII, Irmos: The Children of Judaea, * who of old came to dwell in Babylon, * trampled underfoot the flame of the furnace * through their faith in the Trinity, * as they sang: ‘O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.’

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

As Thou didst desire to arrange our salvation, О Saviour, Thou didst make Thine abode within the womb of the Virgin, and hast shown her to be an intercessor for the world. О God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou hast given birth to Him Who willeth mercy, О pure Mother. Him do thou beseech, that He deliver from transgressions and defilement of soul those who cry out with faith: О God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

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

Thou hast shown her who gave birth to Thee to be a treasury of salvation, a wellspring of incorruption, a tower of safety and a portal of repentance for those who cry: О God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

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

О Virgin Birthgiver of God who hast given birth for us to Christ the Saviour, grant healing of bodily weakness and infirmity of soul unto those who with love have recourse to thy protection.

Ode VIII, Irmos: The King of heaven, * Who is glorified by the hosts of angels, * let us praise and supremely exalt throughout all ages.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

О Virgin, disdain not those who are in need of thine aid, and who hymn and supremely exalt thee throughout all ages.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou healest, the infirmity of my soul and my bodily pangs, О pure Virgin, that I may glorify thee throughout all ages.

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

О Virgin, thou pourest forth a wealth of healings upon those who with faith hymn thee and supremely exalt thine ineffable offspring.

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

О Virgin, thou drivest away the assaults of temptations and the attacks of the passions; wherefore, we hymn thee throughout all ages.

Ode IX, Irmos: Saved by thee, O pure Virgin, * we confess thee to be truly the Theotokos, * and together with the choirs of the bodiless hosts * thee do we magnify.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Turn not away from the torrent of my tears, О Virgin who hast given birth unto Christ, and wiped away every tear from every face.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Fill thou my heart with joy, О Virgin who received the fullness of Joy, setting at naught the grief of sin.

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

With the rays of thy light, О Virgin, illumine those who in an Orthodox manner confess thee to be the Theotokos, dispelling the darkness of ignorance.

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

Heal thou the infirmities of one who hath been brought down to a place of affliction, О Virgin, transforming illness into health.

Sunday – the Feast of the All-Merciful Saviour and the Life-Giving Cross

Sunday 14 August: 11:00 Hours and Liturgy

St John’s Church, St Johns Crescent, Canton, Cardiff. CF5 1NX

Dear brothers and sisters

This Sunday, we will celebrate the feast of the All-Merciful Saviour and the Procession of the Life-Giving Cross, so although it is the beginning of the Dormition Fast, we start ‘Post’ with a feast on the very first day!

For some of our parishioners, this will be their first Dormition Fast, as we prepare for the Feast of the Dormition and Assumption of the Mother of God with fourteen days without meat, fish, eggs and dairy food (though we eat fish on the feast of the Transfiguration).

Sunday will be the first of August’s feasts of the Saviour, “Medoviy Spas”, with the blessing of honey at the end of the Liturgy. So… please remember to bring your honey or baked goods (honey cakes, poppy-seed cakes or biscuits etc.) for the blessing at the end of the Liturgy, after we have venerated the Life-Giving Cross and the icon of the All-Merciful Saviour.

We wil lalso venerate the relics of St Panteleimon, whose feast fell on Tuesday, this week.

As always, I encourage you to support your LOCAL beekeepers. Pay extra and buy a jar of local honey! 

Help our LOCAL bees by supporting our LOCAL beekeepers.

“This feast was instituted by a mutual agreement of the Greeks and Russians at the time of the Greek Emperor Manuel and the Russian Prince Andrew in commemoration of the simultaneous victories of the Russians over the Bulgarians and the Greeks over the Saracens [in 1164]. In both of these battles, crosses were carried by the armies from which heavenly rays shone. It was therefore instituted that, on August 1, the Cross be carried first to the middle of the Church of the Divine Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) and after that, along the streets for the people to venerate as a commemoration of the miraculous help of the Cross in previous battles. This was not an ordinary cross but the true Honorable Cross which was kept in the church of the imperial court. On July 31, the Honorable Cross was carried from the imperial court to the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God and from there it was carried along the streets for the consecration of the earth and the air. Finally, on August 14, it was again returned to the church of the imperial palace.”

St Nikolai Velimirovic in the Prologue from Ochrid

May God bless you all!

In Christ – Fr Mark

Returning from Wessex and Looking Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Apologies for posting later than intended, after a few busy days with parishioners in Wiltshire and Somerset, and a late arrival home. 

Our Cardiff parish has been blessed to have gained devoted parishioners in Wessex, initially due to their resistance to local attacks on Orthodox Eucharistic praxis, and their refusal to compromise the Holy Mysteries or doubt the healing efficacy of the Saviour’s Body and Blood. 

It was a blessing to be able to recognise their many journeys and great effort to support our services by travelling in the opposite direction to pray with them in Wiltshire and Somerset, making a few home visits – with Margarita’s home being blessed in the process – and to celebrate the feast of St Panteleimon with a pilgrimage visit to the beautiful church of St Laurence, at Bradford on Avon. As announced after Liturgy, this was a reconnaissance-visit prior to a parish pilgrimage, to hopefully be led by Bishop Irenei. 

It was wonderful to gather in the small chancel and serve a moleben to the Holy Martyr and Archdeacon Laurence of Rome and the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, before a festal lunch and a time of fellowship and conversation. 

The short visit has galvanised our resolve to pray and worship on the other side of the Severn, recognising the constant travels to Cardiff on the part of our Wessex parishioners. 

Later this week and the beginning of the following week, I hope to visit some holy places with Cardiff parishioners. To maximise the opportunities on this front, I would like to hear confessions on Saturday, rather than Friday. I know that this may be problematic for a few people and will endeavour to work around this. Please email by Thursday 18:00 to arrange confessions.

Sunday is the Feast of the All-Merciful Saviour and the Procession of the Life-Giving Cross, and we will have the traditional blessing of honey at the end of Liturgy, so remember to bring your new honey, so that you can taste and see that the Lord is good!.

Following on from the feast of the Holy Great Martyr and Healer, Panteleimon, our small portion of his sacred relics will be available to venerate alongside the Life-Giving Cross. 

Service variables may be found here: 


Remember that Sunday marks the beginning of the Dormition Fast, and food for trapeza should be vegan, with wine and oil permitted. 

May God bless you, and your week. 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 

Celebrating the Church’s Feasts

Dear brothers and sisters,

Having celebrated the memory of the Holy Great Princess, Olga last Sunday, and St Vladimir’s Day with a lovely Liturgy in Walsingham, on Thursday, it was a joy to celebrate the Baptism of Rus’ today, when we could be together as a community.

Thanks to all who made today’s well-attended Liturgy such a joyful occasion, continuing into such a lovely lunch celebrating not only the feast, but also Margarita’s nameday, yesterday.

Our kliros and oltarniky performed their obediences very ably, and we were blessed to have Father Luke with us, with his assistance with confessions being a tremendous help, given the number of communicants.

It also allowed clergy participation in lunch whilst I celebrated a memorial service for the servant of God, Nikolai, whose anniversary falls at this time, and for whose repose we ask your prayers. Memory Eternal! Вѣчная память!

As those in church are aware, we are trying to slow down Holy Communion, so that those communing have consumed the Holy Gifts before their mouths are wiped and they kiss the chalice.

None of us should be consuming the Holy Gifts whilst moving away from the chalice, but we often do so, having formed bad habits in crowded Liturgies, where we are not given sufficient time to consume the Gifts and are ushered on. We have no need to rush in St John’s and will not be doing so, since this is our meeting with the Saviour, who offers Himself to us in the Holy Mysteries and comes to dwell in us.

Again. May I remind all who have communicated that they should not leave the body of the church until the thanksgiving prayers are complete, unless their obediences require them to do so.

Our ‘holiday’ from catechesis continues, but we look forward to forthcoming baptisms, when James will be baptised in honour of St James the Faster and Tracey with the name Mary, for the Mother of God, whose Dormition we will be celebrating at the time of the baptism. We also look forward to Thomas’s baptism around the feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God – a wonderful and beautiful feast.

May I ask those wishing to confess, on Friday to email me by Wednesday evening, and thanks to all who have been so prompt in their requests: otetzmark@hotmail.com

I wish you all a happy feast of St Seraphim, tomorrow, and encourage you all to pray the canons or akathist in his honour! We also celebrate other important feasts in the week ahead:

  • Tuesday – the Holy and Glorious Prophet Elias
  • Wednesday – the Holy and Glorious Prophet Ezekiel and St. Symeon of Emesa, the fool-for-Christ
  • Thursday – the Holy Myrrh-bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles, Mary Magdalene
  • Friday – the Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos of Pochaev and “The Joy of All Who Sorrow” (with coins) of St. Petersburg
  • Saturday – the Holy Martyrs and Passion-bearers Boris and Gleb
  • Sunday – the The Dormition of the Righteous Anna, Mother of the Most Holy Theotokos – Liturgy variables: https://drive.google.com/file/d/18si1-PvB1kO1M3lcT3sMUBgb9rDmWlEa/view

Having enjoyed tea and pirozhky with Father Luke, on returning home, I will now settle down with a cup of tea and enjoy ‘Wimbledon in a cake’, as one of the desserts was described.

Thank you all for your constant labours and many kindnesses.

May God bless you all. S prazdnikom –

Hieromonk Mark

Celebrating St Margarita: Nameday Greetings

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr, Margarita of Antioch (Marina), we send our greetings to our Margaritas in Cheltenham and Warminster, wishing them both a happy nameday and praying that God will grant them many, blessed years! Многая и благая лтѣа!

The Holy Great Martyr Marina was born in Asia Minor, in the city of Antioch of Pisidia (southern Asia Minor), into the family of a pagan priest. In infancy she lost her mother, and her father gave her into the care of a nursemaid, who raised Marina in the Orthodox Faith. Upon learning that his daughter had become a Christian, the father angrily disowned her. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), when she was fifteen years old, Saint Marina was arrested and locked up in prison. With firm trust in the will of God and His help, the young prisoner prepared for her impending fate.

The governor Olymbrios, charmed with the beautiful girl, tried to persuade her to renounce the Christian Faith and become his wife. But the saint, unswayed, refused his offers. The vexed governor gave the holy martyr over to torture. Having beaten her fiercely, they fastened the saint with nails to a board and tore at her body with tridents. The governor himself, unable to bear the horror of these tortures, hid his face in his hands. But the holy martyr remained unyielding. Thrown for the night into prison, she was granted heavenly aid and healed of her wounds. They stripped her and tied her to a tree, then burned the martyr with fire. Barely alive, the martyr prayed: “Lord, You have granted me to go through fire for Your Name, grant me also to go through the water of holy Baptism.”

Hearing the word “water”, the governor gave orders to drown the saint in a large cauldron. The martyr besought the Lord that this manner of execution should become for her holy Baptism. When they plunged her into the water, there suddenly shone a light, and a snow-white dove came down from Heaven, bearing in its beak a golden crown. The fetters put upon Saint Marina came apart by themselves. The martyr stood up in the fount of Baptism glorifying the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Saint Marina emerged from the fount completely healed, without any trace of burns. Amazed at this miracle, the people glorified the True God, and many came to believe. This brought the governor into a rage, and he gave orders to kill anyone who might confess the Name of Christ. 15,000 Christians perished there, and the holy Martyr Marina was beheaded. The sufferings of the Great Martyr Marina were described by an eyewitness of the event, named Theotimos.

Up until the taking of Constantinople by Western crusaders in the year 1204, the relics of the Great Martyr Marina were in the Panteponteia monastery. According to other sources, they were located in Antioch until the year 908 and from there transferred to Italy. Now they are in Athens, in a church dedicated to the holy Virgin Martyr. Her venerable hand was transferred to Mount Athos, to the Vatopedi monastery.

Troparion, Tone 4: Thy ewe-lamb Marina crieth out to Thee with a loud voice, O Jesus:/ “I love Thee, O my Bridegroom,/ and, seeking Thee, I pass through many strug­gles:/ I am crucified and buried with Thee in Thy baptism,/ and suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee;/ I die for Thee that I might live with Thee./ As an unblemished sacrifice accept me,/ who sacrifice myself with love for Thee// By her supplications save Thou our souls, in that Thou art merciful.

Kontakion, Tone 3: Arrayed in the beauties of virginity, O Virgin Marina,/ thou wast crowned with imperishable crowns;/ and stained with the blood of thy martyrdom, O martyr,/ thou hast received the trophy of victory for thy suffering,// piously shining forth miracles of healing.

The Orthodox Chapel That Could Have Been

Though I have never seen photographs, some of the elders within our diocese recall the apse that was started in Walsingham, remaining incomplete – never to be part of an Orthodox Chapel that was conceived and planned to adjoin the south aisle of the Anglican shrine church, in the garden of St Augustine’s, where the confessional rooms now stand.

The ground had been blessed by Metropolitan Seraphim of the Russian Church in Exile (as our ROCOR was then called), though I am still searching in ‘Our Lady’s Mirror’ from the 1930’s to find when.

It would be wonderful to see drawings and plans of the intended chapel, whose construction was prevented by the outbreak of war.

The ‘temporary’ chapel within the shrine church – in which we are still celebrating – adjoins the proposed site, and has been in use since 1941, when it was used by both Eastern European prisoners of war from a nearby camp, and the Free-Polish armed forces.

It was consecrated by Archbishop Sava of Grodno on Trinity-Pentecost 1945) not 1944 as incorrectly repeated on the internet), and St Nikolaj Velimirovic served in this little chapel during his Walsingham convalescence, after the Second World War.

The original dedication of the chapel was in honour of the icon of ‘The Mother of God, of Perpetual Succour’, as can be seen on the foundation document. It was much later that the dedication was changed to the ‘Life-Giving Spring’, and this seems to have had no canonical sanction or official status.

Having celebrated the feast of the Holy Equal to the Apostles, St Vladimir in the ‘temporary’ chapel, yesterday, on the very hand-drawn antimension that was placed on the Holy Table on that day, we are aware of how blessed Orthodox pilgrims are to be continuing as part of the ‘Orthodox story’ of Walsingham, treading where holy men have gone before them.

Visiting the Holy House of Walsingham

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the ‘pilgrim language’ of Walsingham, I have just made my ‘last visit’ of the day to the Holy House, which is at the centre of prayer and devotion in the Anglican Shrine, in which the Orthodox have maintained a chapel and spiritual presence since 1941 (having being involved in Walsingham pilgrim life since 1931), with the chapel being consecrated on Troitsa 1945.

I have previously written of the origin of the Holy House, and will simply quote from a past posting:

“The Mother of God appeared to Richeldis (Rychold), Lady of the Manor of Walsingham in the 11th century, commanding her to build a replica of the original Holy House of Nazareth, later dismantled and rebuilt in Loreto, in Italy, after the Islamic conquest of the Holy Land.

The great shrine and priory, which developed around the chapel of the Holy House was endowed through royal patronage and was renowned throughout Europe, but despite its sanctity and fame it fell victim to the ravages of the reformation and the destruction of the holy places by King Henry VIII and his henchmen.

The 20th century saw the restoration of Anglican religious life around a newly built Holy House and shrine complex.”

The current Holy House, to which the image of Our Lady of Walsingham was translated in 1931, is a very plain structure, echoing the humble simplicity of the Holy House of Loreto, and the mediaeval recreation in the priory a few hundred metres from the current site.

It stands within the Anglican Shrine Church, just inside the ‘west’ door, towards which it is liturgically oriented. The chapel of the Annunciation and shrine of St Vincent of Saragossa are located behind it, between the Holy House and the door and, to its ‘liturgical north’, a Saxon well is accessed by north-south steps (not the original Holy Well, but nevertheless a constant source of healing and blessing from the Mother of God).

The second day of the consecration of the extended church, in 1938, saw the celebration of the Hierarchical Liturgy on the high altar by Archbishop Nestor of Kamchatka, and the memorials of the Walsingham ‘greats’ who welcomed him and the Orthodox pilgrims stand near the Holy House and the west door.

Above the well, in the north aisle of the church, the effigy of Fr Alfred Hope Paten (1885-1958), a great friend and benefactor of the Orthodox Church in Britain reposes, tomb-like.

Immediately next to the Holy House, a  similar memorial to the sometime Bishop of Acra, Mowbray Stephen O’Rorke (1869-1953) – another friend and supporter of exiled Russian Orthodox Christians is to be found, with a figure of the Lady Richeldis kneeling on the west wall of the Holy House, just above the feet of his effigy. Thanks to Dr David Woolf, for pointing out that Bishop O’Rorke’s mortal remains rest beneath this stately memorial.

Lamps and candles burn in the Holy House day and night, for the intentions of parishes, families, pilgrims and their many intentions, and intercessory prayers are offered there every day of the year. Small paper shields, like zapisky, proclaim the intentions, and give the names of parishes and associations for which lamps burn, both inside and outside the Holy House.

Pilgrims pass through its doors from morning till night, and are struck by the peace and prayerfulness of this very special place in which the pilgrim feels the merciful care and loving solicitude of the Mother of God, ‘Our Lady of Walsingham,’ in its profound and hushed peace, amidst the flames of candles and lamps, gently flickering, blue and red.

Most Holy Mother of God, Our Lady of Walsingham, pray to God for us!

The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters, 

Recently, our community has been blessed with some wonderfully festive Liturgies – for the Forerunner, for the Holy Chiefs of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, and yesterday for the Royal Martyrs. 

On these occasions we have been pleased to celebrate the namedays of the faithful, and we very pleased that Nicholas could be with us yesterday, on his first nameday, having been baptised by Father Luke in honour of the Holy Tsar-Martyr on Lazarus Saturday, (on the same day that we baptised George in the sea), after a long and thorough catechumenate. 

As well as congratulating him, we would like to thank him for reading the Hours, the Apostol and thanksgiving prayers – of which he was not forewarned. Many Blessed Years! 

We were also very happy to welcome Isaiah, one of the catechumens from the Llanelli Parish, and were glad for yesterday’s addition to our catechumens with Thomas’s quiet admittance to the catechumenate in the porch of St John’s, whilst the parish shared trapeza in the church. 

We are now looking forward to James’s baptism in Chippenham in a fortnight, adding to the number of our Wessex faithful, and to Tracey’s baptism in St Nicholas on the Eve of the Dormition, at which time she will take the baptismal name of Mary, in honour of Our Lady, the Mother of God, and her feast. 

Last Saturday saw a wonderful Cheltenham Liturgy, and next Saturday sees the celebration of the feast of Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Caves at the Urdd Centre in Llangrannog, on the Cardigan Coast, currently housing refugees from Ukraine. We hope to commence the Hours at 10:00 and Liturgy at 10:30, but given that this is a new setting we are keeping a slightly open mind. Directions may be found here: 


Looking forward to next Sunday’s Liturgy, at 11:00, we celebrate more namedays, with the feast of the Holy Equal to the Apostles, Great Princess Olga, and the variables for the feast may be found at ‘Orthodox Austin’, as usual: 


May I ask for confession requests by Wednesday evening please, as this is something of a challenging week, given a concentration of activities? I have already had a chance to confirm some confessions with parishioners. 

Wishing you a sensible and cautious few days, and looking forward to seeing parishioners at the cooler end of the week. 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark