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CONFESSIONS TO PREPARE FOR FORGIVENESS SUNDAYDear brothers and sisters, As I reminded all in church today, next weekend will be extremely busy, with the clergy serving the Divine Liturgy and a panikhida in Cheltenham on Saturday, in addition to Sunday services in Cardiff. This will mean that there will be no confessions on Saturday, and time is already limited on Sunday. Given that Sunday will be the eve of the Great Fast, may I ask that all who desire to confess this coming week contact Fr Deacon Mark rmfisher@ntlworld.com as soon as possible, and by Wednesday evening at the latest. This will allow me to try and arrange confessions on Friday, if required. As we have the Vespers of Forgiveness following next week’s Liturgy, we will need to be strict with timing and need everyone’s cooperation. I hope that some of you may be able to support the Liturgy in Cheltenham where the Hours will be chanted at 09:30 and the Liturgy celebrated at 10:00. As there will be two clergy, we intend to hear confessions from 09:00 to 10:00. The service will be celebrated in All Saints Church, All Saints Rd, Cheltenham GL52 2HG. May God bless you. In Christ – Hieromonk Mark ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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Today's homily from Fr Mark, on the Sunday of the Last Judgement. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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THE HOLY OBEDIENCE OF FASTING Dear brothers and sisters, We are approaching the beginning of the Great Fast, and after Sunday, we will abstain from eating meat. Cheese week will see us use up dairy products, eggs and fish, and Lent will begin on 15th March. Mirroring our inner spiritual struggles, the approaching Great Fast calls us to a limited diet, in which we eliminate all superfluous foods: meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, fish, and if strictly applied alcohol or oil on most days. The only fish days during the Great Fast are the feasts of the Annunciation and Palm Sunday. But what of the weekly fasts for the rest of the year? We need to be clear they are NOT optional in a self-determined way. They are appointed by the Church, and as part of our Holy Tradition are inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit. Despite this, too many people see them as a matter of choice; of free will; of personal opinion. No. They are not! Unless we are in a fast-free week Wednesday and Friday are days of fasting for all who are able to do so. “Canon 69 of the Holy Apostles designates that any hierarch or priest or deacon or subdeacon or reader or chanter who does not fast during Great Lent and Wednesday and Friday is to be deposed. If a layperson does not fast during these times (unless he cannot fast on account of bodily illness), he is to be excommunicated.” (from the Exomologetarion - Manual of Confession - by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite) This is not to say that we are about to excommunicate our parishioners for any failings! However, it does show us how strictly and seriously the Church has treated fasting in its historical life, and will help us understand why we may not sometimes be blessed to receive Holy Communion after our confession. All Orthodox Christians are called to obedience in keeping these fasts. Admittedly, some may be unable to do so fully, for personal reasons. However, when we approach the fasts, our starting point is strictness/akrivia, and we only apply relaxation by economia with the blessing of the Church – not as a product of our own will. If we have concerns and obstacles to keeping the fast, then we need to discuss this with the parish clergy or our spiritual father, if he is not one of the parish priests. We know that some parishioners need dairy products for specific medical reasons, and others have special diets. The fast should be a positive journey, and there is flexibility where this is needed, but we still seek the blessing of the Church for personal allowances. Of course, elsewhere in Cardiff (and across Britain) we see those who claim to be Orthodox, yet consider both fasting according to the canons and even confession as optional. This is not the case and in our ROCOR parishes we will be faithful to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, not the diktats of our own fallen egos, with the allowance of lax clergy. Contrary to the unbelievable nonsense we have heard in the past, strict fasting and confession are not Russian innovations. With prayer and watchfulness, they are steps on the God-revealed way to the Kingdom of Heaven. Sadly, we continually face the expectation that it is acceptable to ignore the weekly fasts, but then expiate our neglect by fasting for the three or four days of our preparation for Holy Communion. Somehow, for the ‘purpose’ of receiving Holy Communion, this communion-fast is expected to excuse our other fastless weeks. Let us be clear that as a substitution of the canonical fasts this is an abuse which undermines the spiritual life consecrated by the Church. If we have difficult circumstances which make fasting a problem, there may be a reason for this being accepted as an economia. However, for those who are able to fast (which is most of us), this personal substitution opposes Holy Tradition, and puts ego above the common life of the Church and its people. The Church simply calls us to keep the weekly fasts, and if we fail in keeping them, we must honestly acknowledge this in the Holy Mystery of confession. However, this presumes that we are trying to keep them in the first place. If you have not raised the topic of fasting in confession, the clergy may have presumed there is no problem. However, recently, this seems not to be the case. So, in Cardiff and Cheltenham, Father Luke and I will be asking everyone seeking to approach the Holy Mysteries whether they have kept the divinely-ordained fasts of the Church. Expect to be asked when and how you have fasted. When we have difficulty or face barriers to fasting, we need to discuss this with the clergy, who want to be able to help and guide us through fasting as a part of a positive spiritual journey. Let us all start out by joyfully embracing fasting as part of our spiritual struggle, whether in the extended fasting periods, or the weekly fasts, and let us take heed to the words of St John of Kronstadt: “To what end do fasting and penitence lead? For what purpose is this trouble taken? They lead to the cleansing of the soul from sins, to peace of heart, to union with God; they fill us with devotion and sonship, and give us boldness before God. “ (from ‘My Life in Christ’) In Christ – Hieromonk Mark ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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ST. LEO OF CATANIA IN SICILYCommemorated on February 20 ( March 5, New Style)Saint Leo was bishop of the city of Catania, in Sicily. He was famed for his benevolence and charity, and his Christian love for the poor and the vagrant. The Lord granted him the gifts of healing various illnesses, and working miracles.When Saint Leo was Bishop of Catania, there was a certain sorcerer named Heliodorus, who impressed people with his fake miracles. This fellow was originally a Christian, but then he rejected Christ and became a servant of the devil.Saint Leo often urged Heliodorus to repent of his wicked deeds and return to God, but in vain. Once, Heliodorus impudently entered the church where the bishop was serving, and tried to create a disturbance, sowing confusion and temptation by his sorcery.Seeing the people beset by devils under the sorcer’s spell, Saint Leo realized that the time for gentle persuasion had passed. He calmly emerged from the altar and, tying his omophorion around the magician’s neck, he led him out of the church into the city square. There he forced Heliodorus to admit to all his wicked deeds. He commanded that a fire be lit, and jumped into the fire with the sorcerer. Thus they stood in the fire until Heliodorus got burnt. Saint Leo, by the power of God, remained unharmed. This miracle brought Saint Leo great renown during his lifetime.When he died, a woman with an issue of blood received healing at his grave. The body of the saint was placed in a church of the holy Martyr Lucy (December 13), which he himself had built. Later on, his relics were transferred into the church of Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours (November 11).Troparion, Tone 4The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith,/ a model of meekness and a teacher of abstinence/ wherefore thou hast attained the heights through humility/ and riches through poverty.// O hierarch Leo our father, entreat Christ God that our souls be saved.Kontakion, Tone 8The Church hath thee, O most blessed one, as a great beacon shining more brightly than the sun./ By thy supplications preserve it invincible, unshaken and unharmed by any heresy,// in that thou art ever-memorable. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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Dear brothers and sisters Though nothing should, perhaps, surprise us these days I must admit to personal surprise at this week’s announcement the Archbishop of Cardiff, has announced that a new Catholic University chaplain will succeed Father Sebastian in the new academic year. As Orthodox, we are so used to appointments being permanent in most places that we forget that things work very differently in other traditions. Since my initial visit to the chaplaincy, three and a half years ago, Father Sebastian and his confrères have been a great friends and benefactors of our parish, having welcomed us to Newman Hall and the University Church in Autumn 2017. In the three and a half years since that visit, overseen by the late Mr Cat, the lives of the Russian Orthodox parish and the Catholic chaplaincy have intertwined, with the Fathers of the Oratory and the scholars of Newman Hall showing great generosity and warmth – especially after the closure of the University Church and of the convent guest wing, and the subsequent period in which Newman Hall became our parish ‘head-quarters.’ The Oratorian Fathers, as chaplains to Nazareth House will still be very much in evidence, but Newman Hall will move into a new phase in its life, without the familiar sight of the Fathers at work in their Oratorian cassocks, whether at the aga, in the garden or chicken run! I would like to thank Father Sebastian for his support and friendship, and for the great lengths to which he has gone to support our parish life. We cannot adequately express our gratitude. With the arrival of a portion of the relics of the Holy Protomartyr, St Alban, to the church of St Alban on the Moors, I hope that our parishioners will be regular pilgrims to the martyr’s local shrine and that St Alban will bless our continued friendship. With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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Having written a long answer to Masha's comment regading clergy covering such a large area, I will post my comment here, again, as I think that we need to consider the positive aspects of the trials of the last year... and the Victory of the Cross in the life the Church. In Christ Hieromonk Mark"I think we can agree that the spiritual changes in the parish, since the beginning of our covid dominated year have rendered distance something of an irrelevance for clergy and parishioners alike. The surprise for us has been that somewhere like Cardiff should draw people from such a distance... even from the heart of Wessex. We are used to being willing to journey to London - to the cathedrals in Chiswick or Kensington, but to cross the Bridge to Wales is a sign that people are now recognising the need for the fulness of Sacred Tradition, even if that is in the worship of an itinerant parish currently borrowing an Anglican building. There are now no 'onlookers' in Liturgy, only very conscious, focused and devout worshippers, for whom the bareness and minimalism is of no consequence. In this respect, there has been a positive consequence from the last difficult year. This was already evident when we were unable to celebrate public Liturgy, but visited the faithful for confession and communion after Liturgy in the Little Oratory, week by week. We were met with such joy and gladness throughout the spring, and whilst Pascha in the Little Oratory without a congregation was not only difficult, but painful, in the homes of our parishioners Christ's resurrection shone with a quiet joy and a radiance at odds with the world. I feel that our parish has been transformed by the trials of lockdowns and deprivation of normal parish life for some periods, and that transformation has really benefitted and strengthened our spiritual life as individuals and as a family. The deepening spiritual life of the parish has become evident over the last three years of its sojourn at Nazareth House / Newman Hall, but the last five months (since we were last able to celebrate at Newman) have been surprisingly positive and even beneficial, and a sign of God’s Grace guiding us through adversity. Who would have thought that we would be reflecting on the spiritual benefits of the last year? But, though we do not deny the very real negative consequences of lockdown and government-imposed restrictions, we have seen how hardship has in many ways renewed the life of the parish." ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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THE SUNDAY OF THE PRODIGAL SONDear brothers and sisters,Having so little chance to speak to you individually after Liturgy these days, I would like to thank you all for your presence, labours and prayers in continuing the liturgical and sacramental life of the parish.Once again, our service united the local flock with visitors making considerable journeys to be with us, and part of the Liturgy. It is always wonderful to stand on the altar steps and look out at such a 'synaxis', assembled for the Holy Mysteries and these days this assembly comes such distances to offer the Liturgy and make the Church a visible and living reality. We see this in the proskomedia, when the eucharistic offering of the Church visibly includes your prayers in the commemorative particles on the diskos - where the Lamb is surrounded by the physical sign of each of you and those for whom you pray: living and departed.Until two weeks ago, I was still struggling to get used to St John's, but the last two Liturgies have somehow felt very different. Despite the continued bareness (in Orthodox terms) and minimalism, there has been something new. Though I have no doubt that simply being in early spring and the sunshine-filled church has a large part to play, I believe that this very is much due to the connectedness of those whose poslushanie is to make Liturgy 'work', and also due to the prayerfulness and attentiveness of the faithful in their increasing numbers - closer to fifty this week, compared to forty last week.Thank you everyone: especially for your patience and for some of you travelling so far.As I asked at yesterday's Liturgy, please request confession by Thursday. Yesterday was heavy on the clergy, who continue with confession and pastoral meetings long after you've gone - in fact until nearly 15:00. This is our joy and obedience, but we need to be able to plan, especially when we need to organise Saturday confessions for local parishioners. If we had known this week's numbers by the requested day, we would have heard most of the confessions on Saturday afternoon. Sunday needs to be for our non-drivers and 'long-distance' worshippers. Remember, ALL worshippers should let Deacon Mark know that they intend to be at Liturgy: rmfisher@ntlworld.comOnce again, thank you to Fr Luke for his invaluable help with confessions, and thank you also to the faithful who waited a long time for confessions, even though they had made early arrangements.As I will be serving a panikhida after next Sunday's Liturgy, my free time after Liturgy will be limited.Once again, thank you to those who graced the clergy with bags of groceries, including plenty of different cheeses to enjoy before Lent.Thanks also to Efraim and Olympia for the beautiful icon of St Calogero that was brought to church for the first time, and to Georgina for the loaf baked in honour of St Teilo and St Calogero.Wishing you a blessed week, and good strength to continue in your labours for the Lord and His Church.Asking your forgiveness for Christ's sake.May God bless you all abundantly!In Christ - Hieromonk Mark ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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“O Holy Father Calogero, taking the yoke of Christ upon thy shoulders, thou didst come into the cave, having no fear of the assaults the enemy launched with beatings and vain noises, O holy one; but thou didst refute them with thy prayers, O mighty soul, pride of the ascetics; therefore, constantly beseech Christ to have mercy upon us.” ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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WELCOMING THE ICON OF ST CALOGEROThe last week has been one in which the postman has repeatedly come to the front door with icons, including the eagerly anticipated icon of St Calogero from Sicily, the arena of the struggles of this 4th/5th century monastic father. As I wrote on the Facebook page last summer… “There are divergent accounts of whom St Calogero was, but they all agree that he was an outsider, who came to Sicily to seek refuge, preaching the Gospel and defending Orthodox doctrine before retiring to lead an eremitical life. According to one account, he was an opponent of Arianism, who fled from North Africa to Sicily in the latter half of the fifth century to escape persecution, though there were also Arian heretics in Sicily. After missionary labours in the area of Fragalata, near Messina, he retreated to a cave on Monte Kronio to live a strict and ascetical eremitical life. Another account has him fleeing to Sicily from the monophysite persecution of the Orthodox in Thrace. Wandering around the island preaching and celebrating the Holy Mysteries, he found shelter in ancient tombs and volcanic caves, with his last abode being the cave on Monte Kronio where he died during the night between 17th and 18th June, 561. He was 95 years of age. The cave in which St Calogero had lived was subsequently made into a small church, and cells for monks were dug into the rock.” Some of you may recall that when I wrote those words last July, during the brief respite from the madness and obsessions of the world, we had celebrated St Calogero’s feast in the chaplaincy – replete with bread ex votos baked by the children. This ‘festa’ was a source of many joys, not only in celebrating St Calogero, but also in the friendship that he established on his day. By suppertime, after our festal service, greetings arrived from Sicily, and the iconographer Efraim Augello – via his wife Olympia – asked for a blessing to paint an icon of St Calogero for the parish, so that we would no longer just have the little paper Santino that we placed in the case of the parish icon of the Mother of God. Additionally, Olympia translated the Italian rendering of the Byzantine texts of the feast into English. We now have the icon as a sign of the spiritual relationship that St Calogero has established, with the added knowledge that this icon was blessed with his relics before the journey to Wales. During the week, one of our parishioners commented on the way that the saints sometimes nudge their way into our lives – even saints that we had not encountered before. This is certainly true of St Calogero, from the moment that Norman John and Georgina related stories of his festa and their now grown-up children’s delight at the site of the bread arms and legs, baked as ex votos. I suggested we should bring the feast to the chaplaincy, as St Calogero was a saint on the Orthodox calendar… and from that point, it seems that the hermit-father took charge, with his own plans – which continue to unfold. We send our heartfelt thanks and greetings to Efraim and Olympia, wishing them many years. Ad multos annos! We also greet Norman John and Georgina who ‘introduced’ us to St Calogero, and who were visited by the newly arrived icon. I look forward to Liturgy, when we will be able to place the icon of St Calogero next to our local saint, Teilo. O santo padre Calogero, prega per noi! ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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REMINDER Tomorrow, Sunday 28 March (New Style), the Hours will be chanted at 10:40, followed by the Liturgy at 11:00. There will be a moleben to Saints Teilo and Calogero after Liturgy, celebrating the feast of the hierarch and the arrival of the hermit-saint's icon from Sicily.The variables are to be found here: drive.google.com/file/d/1jCp2YhuPp_rk7cOBgB6fR8mc8YsU5e9y/view ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, 'You are mad; you are not like us.”St. Antony the Great ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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"The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God. ... I do not worship matter. I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake, who willed to take His abode in matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. Never will I cease honoring the matter which wrought my salvation!"St John of Damascus ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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ST EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN: A VERY COMPUNCTIONATE PRAYER TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRISTNow, once again today,ashamed and with eyes cast downI dare to speak to you,the Master and creator of all:I am but dust and ashes,a reproach of men,truly a worm and not a man,completely condemned and in deep sorrow.How can I look upon you, O Master?With what heart?With what conscience?With what tongue shall I speak to you?How can I begin my confession?Of which sinsshall I, the miserable one,first ask remission?For those I have committed knowinglyand have no excuseor for those by whichI have violated your holy commandments?Or should I begin, rather, with my evil thoughts that have been recordedand must be accounted for?I know, O Lord,that because of my many and evil sins,I am not worthyto call upon your fearful and holy namenor to stand in prayernor to look up and see the height of heaven, for I have transgressed more than any man;I have violated the law more than Manasseh·I have lived more prodigallythan the prodigal son;the enemy has taxed memore than the publican;I, who love prostitution,have prostituted myselfmore than the harlot;I have transgressedmore than Nineveh, but unrepentantly;my iniquities have risen higher than my head,and as a heavy burdenhave pressed heavily upon me,and thus,having become wretched,I am utterly bowed down.I have enraged your holy name;I have distressed your Holy Spirit;I have despised your commandments;I have in various ways stained my soul,created in your image;I have wasted in sinsthe time that you gave me for repentance;I have shamed my face;I have totally blinded my eyes;I have defiled my lips with lies;and all the parts and the portionsof my soul and bodyhave been instruments of sin.My mindhas been mingled with demonic thoughtsand I findthat with every work and thoughtI embitter your goodnesswhile serving my enemy,even though he fights against me.Therefore, I am self-condemnedand, before my forthcoming judgment,I have my evil life to indict meand the foul smell of my passionsto put me to shame.From the years of my childhoodI am always stained by filthy thoughts.I have been an instrument of destructive sin and now,although I hear every dayabout judgment and retribution,I cannot resist sin,but I, the wretched one,am always captured by it.Alas! O Lord,for I have badly wasted your longsuffering.Alas! for the time of my lifehas passed by in vanity.Alas! How shall I lamentthe blindness of my soul?How shall I mournmy passionate and thoughtless will?But, O Master,look mercifully from your holy high place,behold my incorrigible souland with the means and ways you knowcorrect me by your mercy.As if standing before you, O Christ King,as if touching your immaculate feet,so I implore youwith a broken heart.Have mercy on me, O merciful one.Do not wait for my corrupt will,for I have no eagerness to correct myself.For many times, I have been ready to repent,yet I, the most miserable one,have become a liarwith respect to my decision to be with you.O Master,many times you have had mercy on me,but I have neglected you;you have raised me up many times,but I have again fallen down;you have endured me,but I have again enraged you.How many times my humble soulhas been filled with your grace, O Lord!How many timeshas it illumined my dark mind!How many timeshas it comforted my povertyand expelled my despair!How many timeshas it collected my mind togetherfrom the delusion of the imagination!Yet I, the unfortunate onealways reject your grace, O compassionate one.Now,thinking and reflecting upon these things,I am completely amazedand trembleas I am plunged into the depths of wonder; for I, the miserable onehave nothing good to use, as an apology.O lover of mankind,how can I proclaim your blessings to mewhich l, the impious one, reject?Thus,I worthy of a myriad of punishments,for you have filled me, the ungrateful onewith a myriad of gifts.Even so, O Master,having an ocean of long-sufferingand boundless compassion inherent to your nature,do not allow me, the ungrateful one,to be cut off as the fruitless fig tree,neither seize me unprepared,nor present my soulas pitifully condemnedbefore your dreadfuland impartial seat of judgment.But as a good God, who loves mankind,have mercy on me,the ungrateful one,the hardened one,the one with no excuse,the condemned,the one who is worthy of every helland punishment.How can I call upon you, O Master of all,without having kept your commandments?For after I receivedthe knowledge of your truth,I became irritable, merciless,and, especially, a captive to evil thoughts;I also became captive to gluttony,greed, pride, slanderand hypocrisy.While I myself lie, I grieve for the liers;I who am full of transgressions,judge those who transgress.If insulted, I defend myself.If I am not honored, I feel abhorredand I consider as enemiesthose who tell me the truth.If I am not flattered,I feel disgusted.Being unworthy,I expect honors.If someone does not serve me, I defame him as arrogant.I ignore the brother who is sick,but when I am sick,I want to be loved and cared for.I despise the superiorsand overlook the inferiors.If I keep myself even for a little bit from unreasonable desires,I become vainglorious.If I attain some degree of vigilance,I am entrapped by its opposite.If I restrain myself from foods,I am thrown down because of my pride.If I make some progress in virtue,I boast before my brothers.Externally I appear humble,but in my soul I am presumptuous.I am not going to mentionthe vain thoughts I have in churchand the wanderings of my mind during prayer.I leave aside the hypocritical meetings,the greed in the give and take of business,the publication of the mistakes of others and the disastrous slanders.This is my accursed life.Among a myriad of such evils,I struggle for my salvation,but my arrogance and pridedo not allow me to understand them.And yet,what apology have I before you, my God,if I claim that the evil onehas suggested these to me?Not even Adam was helpedwhen he apologized in this manner.Who will not mourn my loss?Who will not sigh for my blindness?Who will not lament my insensitivity?O Lord, grant me repentance.for the sake of your infinite compassion.O all Saints,intercede for me, the sinner,pouring out your supplicationto the compassionate Godthat he may recall my soulwhich has been attached to hadesthrough disgraceful passions.O Saints, intercede for me,so that through your holy prayersI may become worthy of repentance.For it is your work, O holy ones,to intercede for sinners,and it is God’s work to be mercifulupon those who are in despair.O blessed and righteous ones,who have carried out well the fight,come, gather for me, the wretched,and either lament over meas one does for the deador have pity on meas one does for one half-dead.I have no boldness before Godbecause of my many sins.Pour out your mercy on me, O saints,as you would to a hostage and an injured one.For I know that if you entreat God,all my transgressions will be forgiven by himbecause of his ineffable mercy,for as he is loving to mankind, so are you.Only do not overlook me.Receive, O Lord,this humble supplication of mineand have mercy on methrough the intercessionsof your immaculate Motherand of all your Saints,so that I too,together with all the savedthrough your ineffable mercy,may worship you, God the Logos,who is glorified in the Father and the Spirit. Amen.(ed. A.D. Simonoff, Μέγα προσευχητάριον [Athens, 1906], 80)A Prayer Before Falling AsleepO Lord Jesus Christ, our God,you who have manifested your Mothermore honorable than all the heavenly hosts,you, O all-good One,through her intercessions and those of all your Saints,be merciful and forgive me, your unworthy servant,if somehow I have sinned this day as a human,or rather as an inhuman.Forgive my voluntary and involuntary transgressions,the ones I have committed in knowledge or in ignorance,the ones that have been doneout of evil influence and carelessnessand my great indolence and negligence.Forgive me, O Lord,if I have taken an oath by your holy nameor if I have violated my oath;if I have sworn in my mindor if I have somehow irritated you;if I have stolenor if I have lied;if a friend came to me and I ignored himor if I have distressed and embittered my brother;if while standing in prayer and chanting,my evil mind wandered off to evil and worldly things;if I have delighted more than I shouldor if I have said jokes,and have laughed too muchor if I was vainglorious or proud;if I looked upon vain beautyand my mind was attracted by it;if I was overly talkative about improper thingsor if I examined curiously the faults of my brotherand condemned himwhile overlooking my own innumerable faults;if I have neglected my prayeror if I have brought to mindany other evil thing.Forgive me, O God,your useless servant,all these and whatever other thingsI have done and do not remember.Have mercy on me, O Lord,for you are good and you love mankind,so that I, the prodigal one,may go to bed and fall asleepglorifying you,together with the Fatherand your all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit,now and ever and unto the ages of ages. 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Holy Hieromartyr Charlampy pray to God for us. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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CELEBRATING ST TEILO AND LOOKING FORWARD TO PILGRIMAGEGreetings as we celebrate the feast of St Teilo. Поздравления съ праздникомъ!With the parish’s move to the University Church, we started to mark his feast with a pilgrimage to Llandaff Cathedral, but circumstances make that impossible this February.However, we will serve a supplication/moleben to St Teilo after next Sunday’s Liturgy, and will endeavour to have his icon brought from Nazareth House.We very much look forward to resuming pilgrimages together; to honour the Mother of God at Penrhys, Glastonbury and Walsingham; St Teilo at Llandaff and Llandeilo Fawr; St David at St David’s and Llanthony. The list is endless, and so many places – once centres of pilgrimage - await us.The greatest joy of last summer, apart from our beautiful Liturgies in the refectory, was to be able to make a pilgrimage to Llanthony and Capel-y-Ffin – and we received such grace and comfort from that beautiful sunny day and the simple prayers we offered.We hope that this spring and summer, will allow us to make such journeys… even if it is only to pray at an ancient Holy Well.Hierarch of Christ Teilo, pray to Go for us!Troparion, tone 4.As a fountain of the true Faith,/ thou didst issue forth the life-giving waters of salvation, O Hierarch Teilo./ Wherefore, we implore thee,/ intercede with Christ our God/ that our souls may be saved.Kontakion, tone 1.O teacher of pure doctrine, joy of monastics/ and Dewi Sant's fellow pilgrim to Jerusalem,/ where thou wast elevated to the episcopate, most pious Father Teilo,/ we keep festival in thy honour, praying for grace to follow in thy footsteps.Тропарь, глас 4Как источник истинной веры, ты излил живительную воду спасения, о святитель Тейло. Потому молим тебя, ходатайствуй перед Христом, Богом нашим, о спасении душ наших.Кондак, глас 1Учитель истинного учения, радость монахов и спутник святого Давида в Иерусалим, где ты был возведен в сан епископа, о благочестивейший отец Тейло. Мы празднуем твою память и молимся, чтобы благодатью Божией идти по твоим стопам. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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Dear brothers and sisters, Each week, I know that I repeat the comment that parish life returns to a greater degree of normality. This is not an encouraging platitude, but a growing, positive reality. Despite the masks, the house-keeping rules and the limitations placed upon the kliros, I personally experience the Liturgy as not only the most important thing of the week and its stable foundation, but also as its most normal event – looking out, as I do, at the assembled community, and seeing the attention, concentration and spiritual focus of worshippers. Without fail, each week has seen the return of parishioners and friends of the parish, some of whom have been abroad, and some of whom live at considerable distances from Cardiff. This Sunday did not disappoint, and it was a joy to have parishioners with us after time away, accompanied by icons of the Sobor of the St Petersburg saints and the menaion for the whole year. We had our Wiltshire contingent (increased this week) and our Romanian friends, for whom we hope to start including Romanian in the Liturgy. For our friends living in the west of England, Cardiff is their closest ROCOR community and nearest Traditionalist Orthodox parish.As Deacon Mark stressed in his ‘house-keeping’ announcements, it is important that we know how many people require confessions as early in the week as possible, to allow forward planning – especially as we have a parish in which there are usually a large number to confess each week. As Fr Mark the Younger and I both have full-time employment, we need to fit confessions into our weekly schedules. I would like to thank those who came to Llanelli for confessions yesterday, and thank Fr Luke for his continued assistance hearing many confessions each Sunday. This leads me to the observation that for those requiring a long confession, during the Hours before the Liturgy is not the right time for this. Just because there is not a visible queue behind you, it does not mean that there are not many others waiting for confession. Those wishing to confess next Sunday are asked to contact Deacon Mark by Thursday evening, at the latest, so that we can determine whether we need to travel to Cardiff after work on Saturday: rmfisher@ntlworld.com I would like to thank Fr Deacon Mark for his labours over the last few weeks as steward, overseeing the smooth running of our services. On returning to Llanelli, Fr Luke and I discovered an ample supply of pirozhky, fruit and provisions in the bags proffered by parishioners. Thank you for your kindness and generosity. Next Sunday, the Hours will be chanted at 10:40, followed by the Liturgy at 11:00. The variables are to be found here: drive.google.com/file/d/1jCp2YhuPp_rk7cOBgB6fR8mc8YsU5e9y/view Please make use of these texts beforehand, especially when we begin our Lenten journey, with each weekend having its own special celebration. Again, I encourage you to pray the Triodion canon of each Sunday in your prayers, not only on the Sunday itself, but also during the following week. Wishing you a good week. May God bless you all. In Christ – Hieromonk Mark ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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"There is a silence of the tongue, there is a silence of the whole body, there is a silence of the soul, there is a the silence of the mind, and there is the silence of the spirit. The silence of the tongue is merely when it is not incited to angry speech or to stirring up trouble; the silence of the soul is when there are no ugly thoughts bursting forth within it; the silence of the mind is when it is not reflecting on any harmful knowledge or wisdom; the silence of the spirit is when the mind ceases even from stirrings caused by created spiritual beings and all its movements are stirred solely by Being, at the wondrous awe of the silence which surrounds Being. In this state it is truly silent, aware that the silence which is upon it is itself silent."John the Solitary of Apamea (died ca. 394) ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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THE CANON OF THE SUNDAY OF THE PUBLICAN AND THE PHARISEE. Ode 1, Irmos: When Israel walked on foot in the sea as on dry land, * on seeing their pursuer Pharaoh drowned, * they cried: * Let us sing to God * a song of victory. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. By parables Christ hath led all mankind to a life of amendment: Raising up the Publican from humbleness, he showed the Pharisee who exalted himself to be humbled. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. From humility cometh an exalted honour, but from pride we see a grievous fall; let us, then, strive to emulate the good actions of the Publican, and hate the evil ones of the Pharisee. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Every good deed is rendered useless through pride, while every evil is cleansed by humility. Wherefore, let us in faith embrace humility, and utterly abhor the ways of vainglory. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. The King of all, wishing His own disciples to be humble-minded, taught them to emulate the sighing of the Publican and his humility. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. I groan as did the Publican, and with never-silent lamentations O Lord I now draw near to Thy loving compassion, do Thou be merciful to me who doth now pass through life in humility. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. O Lady, I dedicate to thee my understanding and my counsel, my expectation, my body, soul and spirit. From grievous adversaries and temptations, and from every threat to come, do thou deliver and save me. Katavasia: 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 wonders. Ode 3, Irmos: There is none as holy as Thou, * O Lord my God, * who hast exalted the horn of The faithful O good One, * and strengthened us upon the rock * of Thy confession. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. From the dung-hill of the passions the humble are lifted up on high, while from the height of the virtues the high-minded suffer a grievous fall: let us flee such an image of wickedness. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Vainglory doth nullify the riches of righteousness, whereas humility scattereth a multitude of passions; bestowing this upon us, show us to be like the Publican O Saviour. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Like the Publican let us also beat our breasts and cry out in compunction, “O God cleanse us sinners,” that like him we may receive forgiveness. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Zealously, O ye faithful, let us increase in meekness, and with humility let us live out the days of our lives in suffering of the heart, weeping and prayer, that we may receive forgiveness from God. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Let us cast away, ye faithful, the high-minded boasting and hurtful pride of the Pharisee, and his most wicked, repugnant to God, malice. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. In thee, my only refuge, have I set my trust: let me not fall away from my good hope, but grant me thy protection, O pure One, and deliver me from every evil snare of my wicked enemies. Katavasia: O Theotokos, thou living and plentiful fount, * establish in spiritual fellowship those who sing hymns to thee, * and in thy divine glory * grant them crowns of glory. Sessional Hymns, Tone 4: Humility exalted the Publican who was overcome with shame at his evil deeds, * when he cried to the Creator, “Be merciful:” * but exaltation brought down from righteousness the wretched Pharisee who spoke boastfully. * Therefore let us earnestly desire that which is good ** and avoid that which is evil. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Of old humility exalted the Publican * who cried aloud with tears,* “Be merciful,” and he was justified. * Let us all follow his example, * for we have fallen into the depths of evil. * Let us cry to the Saviour from the depths of our hearts: ** We have sinned, be merciful, O Thou Who alone lovest mankind. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. Be swift to receive our prayers, O Lady, * and bring them to thy Son and God, all-immaculate Sovereign Lady. * Deliver from tribulations those who flee to thee. * Destroy the wiles and subdue the arrogance ** of those who godlessly war against thy servants, O most pure One. Ode 4, Irmos: Christ is my power, * my God and my Lord, * the holy Church divinely singeth, * crying with a pure mind, * keeping festival in the Lord. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. The Word, set an example showing that the path to exaltation is humility, having humbled Himself even unto taking the form of a servant, thereby instructing all, that he who humbleth himself shall be exalted on high. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. The righteous Pharisee exalted himself and fell, wickedly rejecting humility, but through humility the Publican was exalted and justified. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. He who was without need of virtue was deprived of them, and shown to be foolish. Yet the riches of humility justified him who was in most need of them, whose humility let us emulate. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. O Lord, Thou didst forewarn all that Thou dost resist the high-minded, but grantest Thy grace to the humble. O Saviour send down now Thy grace upon us, for we have humbled ourselves. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. The Saviour and Master, ever leading us to blessed exaltation, hath shown us that it is humility that raises one on high, for with His own hands He didst wash the feet of the disciples. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. O Virgin, who hast given birth to the unapproachable Light, by thy light-giving effulgence disperse the darkness of my soul, and taking me bythe hand, guide my life into the path of salvation. Katavasia: He who sitteth in glory upon the throne of the Godhead, *Jesus the true God, * is come in a swift cloud * and with His sinless hands he hath saved those who cry: * Glory to Thy power, O Christ. Ode 5, Irmos: Illumine with Thy divine light, I pray, O Good One, * the souls of those who with love rise early to pray to Thee, * that they may know Thee, O Word of God, * as the true God, * Who recalleth us from the darkness of sin. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Let us make haste to follow the Pharisee in his virtues and to emulate the Publican in his humility, and let us hate what is wrong in each of them: foolish opinion and the fall into self-destruction. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. The righteousness of the Pharisee proved to be vain and was condemned, for it was yoked to prideful opinion; However the Publican became a co-companion of humility, the virtue which exalts one on high. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. The Pharisee thought to drive swiftly in the chariot of the virtues; but the Publican outran him on foot, for he had yoked humility to compassion. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Pondering with our minds the parable of the Publican, let us all emulate him with tears, offering to God a contrite spirit, seeking the remission of our sins. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Let us cast far away the wicked haughtiness and boasting of the Pharisee, that we may not be stripped of divine grace. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. A staff of strength grant unto all, O good one, who flee unto thee, grant them victory in the midst of all enemies and deliver them from every evil circumstance. Katavasia: All creation stands in awe of thy divine glory; * for thou, O Virgin who hast not known wedlock, * didst contain within thy womb the God of all, * and gave birth to the timeless Son, * bestowing peace, upon all who hymn thee. Ode 6, Irmos: Beholding the sea of life surging with the tempest of temptations, * I run to Thy calm haven, and cry to Thee: * Raise up my life from corruption, * O Most Merciful One. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. The Publican along with the Pharisee ran the race of life, but the one was overcome by high-mindedness and shipwrecked, while the other was saved by humility. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Changing to a humble course of life, let us emulate the fervent wisdom of the Publican and flee the deadening conceit of the Pharisee; and we shall live. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Let us fervently follow the ways of Jesus the Saviour and His humility, if we desire to reach the tabernacle of everlasting joy and to dwell in the land of the living. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. O Master, Thou hast shown to Thy disciples the humility that raiseth men on high, for girding Thy loins with a towel, and washing their feet Thou didst prepare them to follow Thine example. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. The Pharisee passed his life in virtue and the Publican in sin; but the former was brought low by his pride, while the latter was raised on high by his humble-mindedness. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. I was formed naked in innocence and simplicity; but the enemy hath clothed me in the raiment of transgressions and the grossness of the flesh. But by thine intercessions, O Maiden, I have been saved. Katavasia: 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. Kontakion, Tone 4: Let us flee from the proud-speaking of the Pharisee * and learn from the Publican the loftiness of words of humility, * and with penitential lamentation let us cry aloud: “O Saviour of the world ** be merciful to us, and cleanse us Thy servants’. Ikos: Let us all humble ourselves, brethren; sighing and lamenting, beating our conscience, that at the eternal judgment we may be numbered with the faithful and the righteous, and receive forgiveness. Let us pray that we behold the place truly peaceful, where there is neither pain, nor sorrow, nor sighing from the soul, in the wondrous Eden fashioned by Christ, for He is God coeternal with the Father. Ode 7, Irmos: An Angel made the furnace bedew the holy Children. * But the command of God consumed the Chaldeans * and prevailed upon the tyrant to cry: * O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Exalted by the works of self-justification, the Pharisee was grievously snared in the nets of vainglory, boasting madly; but the Publican was lifted on high on the light wings of humility, and drew near to God. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Using humility as a ladder, the Publican was raised on high to the heights of heaven; but by the putrid foolishness of pride the wretched Pharisee fell into the abyss of Hades. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. The enemy doth catch the righteous and despoil them through vainglory, blinding sinners in the nets of despair. But let us emulate the Publican and hasten to escape from both these evils. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. In our prayer before God, let us fall down with tears and fervent sighs, emulating the Publican in his lofty humility; and singing in faith: “O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou”. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Thou hast forewarned Thy disciples, O Master, teaching them not to be lofty of wisdom, but to be numbered with those who are humble-minded. Therefore, O Saviour, in faith we cry aloud to Thee: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. O thou beauty of Jacob, divine Ladder which of old he beheld stretching from earth to heaven, thou holy Virgin, who hath brought down from on high God made flesh, and doth bring mortal man up to heaven. Katavasia: 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. Ode 8, Irmos: Thou didst make flame bedew the holy children, * and didst burn the sacrifice of a righteous man with water. * For Thou alone, O Christ, dost do all as Thou willest, * Thee do we exalt throughout all ages. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. The humble-minded sighing of the Publican found the mercy of the Lord, and he was saved; but by the evil tongue of boasting, the Pharisee fell from righteousness. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. O ye faithful, let us avoid the self-will of the Pharisee; who called himself pure, rather let us strive to emulate the Publican’s goodness, who gained forgiveness with humility. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. O ye faithful, let us utter the words of the Publican in the holy temple, “God be merciful,” that with him we may obtain forgiveness, and be delivered from the vile boasting of the Pharisee. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Let us all emulate the sighing of the Publican and, speaking to God with warm tears, let us cry out: “O Lover of mankind, we have sinned, but in Thy merciful compassion, do Thou cleanse and save us.” Let us bless the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Lord! God accepted the groaning of the Publican and having justified him, hath shown unto us all, that He is quickly turned to compassion by the sighings and tears of those who ask for the forgiveness of sins. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. I know of no other intercessor save thee, I offer thee, O pure and all-immaculate One, as my mediator before Him Whom thou didst bear. Do thou show me to be free from all that doth grieve me. We praise, we bless, we worship the Lord, praising and supremely exalting Him unto all ages. Katavasia: The Offspring of the Theotokos * saved the holy children in the furnace. * He who was then prefigured hath now been born on earth, * and He gathereth all creation to hymn thee: * all ye works praise ye the Lord * and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages. Ode 9, Irmos: It is impossible for mankind to see God * upon Whom the orders of Angels dare not gaze; * but through thee, O all-pure one, * did the Word Incarnate become a man * and with the Heavenly Hosts * Him we magnify and thee we call blessed. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Christ hath set before us as a path to exaltation and an image of salvation, the humility of the Publican: which, let us strive after by rejecting disdainful pride and gaining God’s mercy through humble-mindedness. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Let us cast away pride and learn the righteousness of the humble-minded; let us not seek to justify ourselves, but rather let us abhor the delusion of vainglory, and with the Publican let us pray to God. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Let us offer the Creator entreaties for mercy, as did the Publican,. Let us avoid the ungrateful prayers of the Pharisee and the boastful words with which he judged his neighbor, that we may gain God’s mercy and light. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Weighed down by a great multitude of sins, I have surpassed the Publican in an excess of evil, having embraced the self-adulating madness of the Pharisee, wherefore I am utterly devoid of all that is good: O Lord, spare me. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. O Lord, grant blessedness to those who for Thy sake are poor in spirit, and who follow Thy teachings, bringing unto Thee a contrite heart. Receive and save them who worship Thee. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. May we never pray unto Thee as did the Pharisee, may we enter the Temple justified by sighing and tears, with a heart that is broken and humbled, laying aside the heavy yoke of sin and thus be cleansed. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. Grant us to hymn, glorify, and bless thee, to worthily honour thee, O most pure one; glorifying thy birth-giving, O only-blessed one, for thou art the praise of Orthodox Christians, and their divinely-acceptable intercessor before God Katavasia: Let every mortal born on earth, * radiant with light, in spirit leap for joy; * and let the host of the angelic powers * celebrate and honour the holy feast of the Mother of God, * and let them cry aloud: * Rejoice! O Theotokos, tho ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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BEGINNING THE TRIODION WITH THE SUNDAY OF THE PUBICAN AND THE PHARISEEDear brothers and sisters,Although we are yet to commence the Great Fast, this Sunday sees the beginning of the Church’s use of the texts of the Lenten Triodion. We begin the Triodion period with Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, and it calls us to prepare for the approaching Fast.The following Synaxarion reading, for next Sunday, explains the origin of the Triodion:“ With God, on this present day we begin the Triodion, the hymns of which were composed by many of our holy and God-bearing Fathers, inspired by the Holy Spirit according to their worthiness.The first of all was the great author Cosmas of Maiuma, who composed the three odes (symbolic of the Holy and Life-Creating Trinity) for the Great and Holy Week of the Passion of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.After him others of the Fathers, including Theodore and Joseph of the Studite Monastery, following his zealous example, arranged the services of the other weeks of the Holy and Great Forty-day Fast, reserving them at first for the use of the Studite Monastery. Furthermore, they composed and arranged hymns, seeking them and collecting them from other books of the Fathers.Since, according to the Triodion, Sunday, the celebration of the Resurrection, is the first day of the week as well as the last or eighth day, they prescribed the first ode of the canon to be sung on the second day of the week, i.e. Monday. The second ode was prescribed for Tuesday, the third day of the week, the third ode for Wednesday, the fourth ode for Thursday, the fifth ode for Friday, and the sixth and seventh odes for Saturday. The rest, the eighth and ninth odes, are prescribed for every day.It must be known, however, that although it is called the Triodion, it does have services with other than three-ode canons. It is so named because the majority of the services have three ode canons, especially during Holy Week. For it was our Holy Fathers’ idea that through the entire Triodion would be commemorated in a concise form all God’s benefits to us from the beginning, using it as a reminder for all of us that we were created by Him, and were exiled from Paradise through the tasting of the fruit, rejecting the commandment that was given to us for our knowledge, and we were cast out through the envy of the arch villain serpent and enemy, who was made to crawl for his arrogance. That we remained cut off from the benefits of Paradise and were led by the devil. That the Son and Word of God, having suffered in His mercy, bowing the heavens, descended and made His abode in the Virgin and became man for our sake, showing us through His life the ascent into the heavens, through humility first of all then fasting and the rejection of evil and through His other deeds. That He suffered and rose from the dead and ascended once more into heaven, and He sent down the Holy Spirit upon His holy disciples and Apostles, who all proclaimed Him to be the Son of God and the most perfect God. And that once more the divine Apostles acted through the grace of the most Holy Spirit and gathered all the saints from the ends of the earth through their preaching, filling the world on high, which was the intention of the Creator from the beginning.Now the purpose of the Triodion intended by the Holy Fathers on these three present feasts of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Prodigal Son, and the Second Coming is a kind of preparatory lesson and stimulation to prepare ourselves for the spiritual labours of the Fast, having put aside our usual corrupt habits.First of all, they present to us the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, and they call the week following precursory. For those who desire to go off to do military battle, first ascertain the time of the battle from the leaders, so that having cleaned and polished their weapons, and preparing well all their other matters, and having removed all obstacles from their path, they earnestly go forth to their labours, taking the necessary supplies.Often before battle they tell anecdotes and tales and parables to incite their hearts to zeal, driving off idleness, fear, despair and other inadequate feelings. So, the divine Fathers herald the coming fast against the armies of demons as a passion which holds fast our souls to cleanse ourselves of the poison accumulated over a long period of time.Not yet possessing those benefits, let us strive to obtain them, and arming ourselves properly, so let us set off to the labours of the Fast. Now the first weapon among the virtues is repentance and humility. And the temptation to attain the greatest humility is pride and arrogance. So, they place before us first of all this present trustworthy parable from the Divine Gospel.It encourages us to shun the desire for the pride and arrogance of the Pharisee, and to cultivate the opposite desire of the Publican for humility and repentance. For the greatest and most grievous passion is pride and arrogance, since this is how the Devil fell from the heavens before the morning star and was cast into darkness. Because of this Adam, the father of our race, was driven from Paradise through partaking of the fruit.Through this example the Holy Fathers encourage all not to be proud of their successes, but always to be humble. For the Lord sets Himself against the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Better a man who has sinned, if he knows that he has sinned and repents, than a man who has not sinned and thinks of himself as righteous. For Christ said, “I say to you that the Publican went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee.”This parable reveals that no one should exalt himself, even though he has done good deeds, but rather should always be humble and pray from his heart to God, for even if he should fall into the most serious sin, salvation is not far off.”I encourage you all to turn to the texts of the Publican and the Pharisee before Sunday…English: www.st-sergius.org/services/triod/0-10.pdfSlavonic: www.st-sergius.org/services/SlavLT/0-1.pdf…and after reading the Gospel, pray the canon of from matins in the texts. I will postthe English text on the Facebook page.Let us embrace the next three weeks as a period of preparation and get into the habit of turning to the services and prayers of the Triodion as spiritual food, nourishing us for the Lenten journey.With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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THE POWER OF PURE PRAYER“Purity of heart constitutes prayer more than do the prayers that are uttered aloud, and silence united to a mind that is sincere is better than the loudest voice of someone crying out. My beloved, give me now your heart and your thought, and hear about the power of pure prayer; see how our righteous fathers excelled in their prayer before God and how it served them as a pure offering. For it was through pure prayer that offerigs were accepted, and it was prayer again that averted the flood from Noah; prayer has healed barrenness, prayer has overthrown armies, has revealed mysteries, prayer has divided the sea, prayer made a passage through the Jordan, it held back the sun, it made the moon stand still, it destroyed the unclean, it caused fire to descend. Prayer closed up the heavens, prayer raised up from the pit, rescued from the fire, and saved from the sea. The power of prayer, like the power of pure fasting, is very great… Thus each one of our righteous forefathers took up the armour of prayer whenever affliction met them, and through it they were saved from affliction.” St Aphraates (Aphrahat) the Persian Sage ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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"And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3 ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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"Be at peace with your soul and heaven and earth will be at peace with you. Endeavour to enter the treasury within you, and you will see the treasury which is in heaven. The former and the latter are one and through a single entrance you will see both of them. The ladder of that Kingdom is hidden within you, within your soul. Dive away from sin into yourself and you will find the steps by which you may ascend."St Isaac the Syrian ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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"Humility is the robe of Divinity. The Word who became human clothed Himself in it, and He spoke to us in our body. Everyone who has been clothed with humility has truly been made like unto Him who came down from His own exaltedness and hid the splendor of His majesty and concealed His glory with humility, lest creation be utterly consumed by the contemplation of Him. Creation could not look upon Him unless He took a part of it to Himself, and thus conversed with it, and neither could it hear the words of His mouth face to face."St Isaac the Syrian ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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SUNDAY 21 FEBRUARY HOURS 10:40, DIVINE LITURGY 11:00.Dear brothers and sisters,As usual, we ask those attending this Sunday's Liturgy to contact Fr Deacon Mark at rmfisher@ntlworld.com, with those confessing to indicate this.It is our hope to return to having confessions on Saturday afternoons, to take pressure away from Sunday morning. Even with Fr Luke hearing confessions, it has been a struggle to accommodate everyone, and we need to endeavour to keep Sunday morning free for those travelling from the West of England.I write that it is our HOPE to have Saturday confessions as Fr Deacon Mark is recovering from a knee infection and will be resting his knee as much as possible over the next few days. It will be the end of the week before we can confirm arrangements.As you will be aware, we now have panikhidas on Sunday afternoons, after Liturgy, and any requests should be addressed to me at otetzmark@hotmail.com, as should any prayer requests.The variables for next Sunday's Liturgy may be found at drive.google.com/file/d/1-PCb3DAs6VTU-IpAjfDLwDu7PVqtkbvZ/view .With love in Christ - Hieromonk Mark ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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Dear brothers and sisters, After a busy weekend, and with today as a workday, there is little time to write on this feast of the Meeting of the Lord, other than to send you joyful greetings and encourage you to celebrate by reading the beautiful hymns with which the holy fathers adorned the feast. They may be found in the on-line menaion at st-sergius.org. Slavonic: st-sergius.org/services/RussMN/02-02.pdf English: st-sergius.org/services/Emenaion/02-02.pdf At the very least, read the scriptural lessons and the troparion and kontakion, but if possible, read the canon by St Cosmas of Maiuma, from the matins section of the menaion text. It is a great pity that many people only encounter canons when preparing for communion or during matins, in church. However, before the multiplication and popularisation of akathist hymns, the standard way to celebrate feasts in the Russian Orthodox home was to read the stichera and the canons as a family. Even now, the kannonik is a standard text in homes of the faithful who pray and worship according to the Old Rite. The order for reading canons can be found here. www.orthodox.net/ustav/order-for-reading-canons.html Please do not hesitate to ask, if you have any queries or need clarification. We are very privileged in being able to access to so many liturgical resources on-line, and encourage you all to familiarise yourselves with the festal texts of the menaion as we move through the liturgical year. They are a wealth of spiritual poetry, theology and verbal iconography that lead us ever-deeper into the meaning of the feasts. Now that circumstances have limited our church services to only once a week, we need to explore the ways in which we may consecrate our whole week with worship, especially when we come to the Great Feasts. So, embrace this feast, and celebrate. Decorate your icon corner - especially the festal icon, if you have one - and make the feast different from any other day of the week. The Great Feasts are a gift from God and a blessing for the Christian life. Take that blessing, and where possible share it, if only in greeting your brothers and sisters in the community. Let us remember that this feast has left its imprint on every evening of the year, apart from during Bright Week, as we chant the beautiful song of Symeon, the 'nunc dimittis' at compline: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.” May we be light-bearers, bearing the Light of Christ, not only to bring the Light to those in darkness, but to live our own lives in that Light: lives that glorify God and which themselves become a light to those around us. And, let us remember that seeing salvation is not enough. The society which surrounded the Saviour, including the Jewish establishment, saw that salvation in His miracles, and heard it in His preaching, but remained blind, deaf and insensitive. We must live lives that bear witness to our salvation and which show that we embrace the Lord, showing that salvation is real to us. Like God’s love, salvation is not forced upon us, and the only obstacles are of our making. May we live in the Light and bring Christ's Light to the world, with the gift of salvation shaping the lives we live as the foundation of our relationship with God.“Come let us greet Christ with divine hymns, and let us receive Him Whom Symeon perceived as our salvation. He Whom David proclaimed beforehand; He, of Whom the prophets spoke, and Who for our sake assumed flesh, thus saving mankind. Him let us worship!” (from the stichira at Lord, I have cried) May God bless you all, and may you all celebrate this feast with joy. In Christ – Fr Mark ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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2/13 February: The Meeting of the LordOn the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, the Church commemorates an important event in the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ (Lk 2: 22-40). On the 40th day after birth the God-Infant was taken to the Jerusalem Temple – the centre of religious life of the God-chosen nation. By the Law of Moses (Lev 12) a woman, having given birth to a child of the male gender, was forbidden for 40 days to enter into the Temple of God. After this interval the mother came to the Temple with the child, so as to offer to the Lord thanksgiving and a purification sacrifice. The Most Holy Virgin, the Mother of God, did not have need for purification, since without defilement she had given birth to the Source of purity and sanctity, but in profound humility she submitted to the precepts of the Law.At this time there lived at Jerusalem the righteous elder Simeon (the account about him is located under the day of his commemoration – 3 February). It had been revealed to him that he would not die until he should behold Christ the Saviour. By inspiration from above, the pious elder went to the Temple at that very moment when the MostHoly Mother of God and Righteous Joseph had brought there the Infant Jesus, so as to fulfill the ritual ceremony of the Law. The God-Bearer Simeon took the God-Infant in his arms, and having given thanks to God, he uttered a prophecy about the Saviour of the world: "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart, O Lord, with peace according to Thy word, wherefore hath mine eyes beheld Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to the enlightening of gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel" (Lk 2: 29-32). Righteous Simeon said to the MostHoly Virgin: "Behold, This One is set for the fall and rising up of many in Israel and for the sign spoken against, and for Thee Thyself a sword shalt pierce the soul, so that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed" (Lk 2: 35).At the Temple also the 84 year old widow Anna the Prophetess, daughter of Phanuel (Comm. 3 February), "who did not leave the temple, serving God both day and night in fasting and prayer. And she also at that time, having drawn near, glorified the Lord and spake about Him (the God-Infant) to all awaiting deliverance at Jerusalem" (Lk 2: 37-38).Before the Birth of Christ, all righteous men and women lived by faith in the Future Messiah the Saviour of the world, and they awaited His coming. The final righteous ones of the closing Old Testament – Righteous Simeon and the Prophetess Anna – were deemed worthy to meet at the Temple the Bearer of the New Testament, in the Person of Whom both Divinity and humanity do meet.The Feast of the Meeting of the Lord is among the most ancient feasts of the Christian Church. It is known, that on the day of this solemnity were proclaimed sermons by Sainted Bishops Methodios of Patara (+ 312), Cyril of Jerusalem (+ 360), Gregory the Theologian (+ 389), Amphylokios of Iconium (+ 394), Gregory of Nyssa (+ 400), and John Chrysostom (+ 407). But in spite of its early origin, this feast was not so solemnly celebrated until the VI Century. During the reign of Justinian in the year 528, a catastrophe befell Antioch – an earthquake, in which many people perished. And upon this misfortune there followed others. In the year 544 there appeared a pestilential plague, daily carrying off several thousand people. During these days of widespread travail, it was revealed to a certain pious christian that the celebration of the Meeting of the Lord should be done more solemnly.When at the day of the Meeting of the Lord the all-night vigil was finally made with church procession, the disasters at Byzantium ceased. In thanksgiving to God, the Church established in 544 that the Meeting of the Lord should be done more solemnly.Church melodists adorned this feast with many a church work of song: in the VII Century – Saint Andrew Archbishop of Crete; in the VIII Century – Saint Cosma Bishop of Maiuma, Monk John Damascene, Saint Germanos Patriarch of Constantinople; and in the IX Century – Saint Joseph the Studite, Archbishop of Thessalonika.With the event of the Meeting of the Lord is associated the icon of the Most Holy Mother of God named: "the Softening of Evil Hearts" or "Simeon's Prophecy", which it is necessary to distinguish from the icon "Seven Arrows".The icon "Simeon's Prophecy" symbolises the fulfillment of the prophecy of the righteous elder Simeon: "for Thee Thyself a sword shalt pierce the soul" (Lk 2: 35).© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.HEBREWS 7:7-17 (EPISTLE, MEETING)Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron. For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies:"You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."LUKE 2:22-40 (GOSPEL, MEETING)Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD"), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel." And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.Troparion, Tone 1: Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos full of grace, for from thee hath shone forth the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, enlightening them that are in darkness. Be glad thou also, O righteous elder, who receivest in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection.Kontakion, Tone 1: O Thou Who didst hallow the Virgin’s womb by Thy birth and didst bless the hands of Symeon as was meet, now Thou hast come and saved us O Christ God. In the midst of battle grant peace to Thy community, and strengthen kings whom Thou hast loved, O Thou Who alone lovest mankind. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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Shine forth within our hearts the incorruptible light of Thy knowledge, O Master, Lover of mankind, and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of the preaching of Thy Gospel; instill in us also the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that, trampling down all lusts of the flesh, we may pursue a spiritual way of life, being mindful of and doing all that is well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the enlightenment of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee do we send up glory, together with Thine unoriginate Father, and Thy Most-holy and good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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Icon of the Mother of God of Sumorin-TotmaCommemorated on January 28 (February 10)The Sumorin Totma Icon of the Mother of God was glorified by numerous healings at the Spaso-Sumorin monastery of the city of Totma. When the inhabitants of the city turned to Tsar Ivan the Terrible for permission to build a monastery in their city, the Rostov archbishop Nicander in the year 1554 bestowed upon Saint Theodosius the grant for building. The igumen of the Priluki monastery blessed Saint Theodosius with an icon of the Mother of God for success at building the new monastery.The icon thereafter received the name Sumorin Totma (Sumorin is the family name of Saint Theodosius, and Totma is a city). After the death of the monk, the wonderworking icon was put in a case in front of the crypt of the saint at the Ascension church of the monastery.Saint Theodosius has appeared to many of the sick, holding this icon in his hands. ... Click Here To See MoreClick Here To See Less
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