From Transfiguration to Dormition

Dear brothers and sisters,

What a busy three days we had from Friday to Sunday, with Friday ‘s Transfiguration Liturgy in Butetown, Saturday Liturgy in Cheltenham, and yesterday’s Liturgy in Canton.

Our Cardiff celebrations brought worshippers from Bath, Stroud, Chippenham, Warminster and the Forest of Dean, in addition to our locals. It also meant that we were able to bless the home-grown fruit and produce of three English counties as part of our Transfiguration celebrations!

Though our Cheltenham Liturgy only brought a dozan of us together, it was a joyful occasion, with a second blessing of fruit and produce and a wonderful meal with everyone around the table chatting, welcoming new arrival from Khmelnitsky.

Having had the blessing of been able to celebrate services with the faithful in Wiltshire in the last fortnight, and then Cheltenham, being able to serve the faithful in their home environs is a great blessing, and I think all who have provided transport for making this possible.

Sunday was certainly one of my busier days, and such was the volume of confession that they exceeded time before proskomedia, continuing whilst Deacon Mark prepared the chalice for communion, and also after Liturgy. Together with spiritual counsel to individual parishioners this lasted until 15:30, by which time virtually everyone had gone.

I am sorry that I was unable to socialise, eat and talk with parishioners at trapeza, but it was simply not possible, given pastoral needs on an unusually busy day. However, in future, this needs managing, as the only time we are all together is for Sunday Liturgy and trapeza, and the faithful must have the opportunity to talk to there priest.

Some of you will remember how days like yesterday became normal when we first came to St John’s, so that I hardly ever had time with parishioners after Sunday Liturgy. This must not be allowed to be ‘normal’.  It is both amusing and apt that in Cheltenham, our matriarch. ‘mama Galina’, will not allow eating unless the priest is sitting at the table, insisting that this is the rule, and that everything else must wait until after trapeza.

Such a long ‘priest-day’ is, of course, the result of our not being able to enter St John’s until 10:15ish, leaving only 45 minutes before the Hours and proskomedia.

As I’ve commented before, in Nazareth House, I could be in the church two and a half hours before the Hours, having had hours to hear confessions the previous evening. This allowed ninety minutes for confession on Sundays, as proskomedia – apart from the day’s zapisky – had been completed before anyone arrived.

Since those days in Cathays, we have also gained parishioners from Gloucestershire, Northeast Somerset and Wiltshire, whose confessions are not possible in the week, as is the same for some of our older South Wales parishioners. They must have time for confession on Sunday morning.

The almost impossible juggling is one of the main reasons we need the use of a building with early access. Ideally, at least an hour is needed for the proskomedia, not twenty-five to thirty minutes, plus time to say the entrance prayers a vest before doing so. The present situation puts a strain on both time and clergy and needs to be appreciated by those confessing. This is why we have been so blessed to have Father Luke’s assistance and patience on so many Sundays, when he hears many confessions.

On the confessional theme, this week’s confessions will be on Thursday, in St Mary’s, Butetown, as the church will be unavailable on Friday. May I ask for requests by noon on Wednesday, to allow time to email those confessing.

Saturday will see Tracey’s baptism at 14:00 at Menna’s home in St Nicholas in the Vale, with our service for the eve of the Dormition at the end of the afternoon.

On Sunday, our Dormition Liturgy will be celebrated with the Hours, at 11:00, in St John’s Church, Canton. The variables may be found, as usual, at Orthodox Austin:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RHx1G1Usjf_-Z1zc6v4a7CLlp1YpsYTh/view

You are encouraged to bring herbs and flowers to place around the plaschanitsa of the Mother of God, as it is traditional for us to bless them to distribute to the faithful at the end of Liturgy!

I also encourage you to continue to dedicate this second week of the Dormition Fast to the Mother of God, and will continue to post the English translations of each evening’s Supplicatory Canon – not that they have to be only in the evening, but can be prayed at any time!

Remember that the afterfeast of the Transfiguration lasts until Friday, and try to include the troparion and kontakion – possibly other hymns of the feast – in your daily prayers.

Praying that the All-Merciful Lord may bless and protect you – Hieromonk Mark

Cheltenham and Cardiff Services This Weekend

Dear brothers and sisters, 

The coming weekend will see the resumption of normal parish life with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Cheltenham on Saturday, and Cardiff on Sunday. 

Our Gloucestershire mission will meet for the Divine Liturgy in Prestbury United Reformed Church, with confessions from 09:15 and the Hours and Liturgy as close to 10:00 as possible, though the number of confessing communicants meant an unavoidably late start last month. There will be a bring-and-share lunch after Liturgy, and our Cardiff faithful who will be communing on Sunday are welcome to make their confessions before their homeward journeys.

Our ROCOR parish continues as the canonical Russian Orthodox presence in Cheltenham, and our parishioners remain committed to the diocese and the Russian Church Outside of Russia. We pray that God may sustain them and give them strength. 

On our return to Cardiff, confessions will be heard at Deacon Mark’s office in Morganstown, and we will appreciate notification from those requiring confession as soon as possible. Confessions will also be heard in St John’s from around 10:15 on Sunday morning, and I again ask for an indication of those wishing to do so. Email: otetzmark@hotmail.com

Thank you, all who have already made arrangements. 

I look forward to our celebration of the Hours and Liturgy, and remind you that we are very much seeking to re-establish our bring-and-share lunch, as it is so good to see parishioners catching up with one another after Liturgy. So, please think about bringing offerings for the table. 

The variable parts of Sunday’s Liturgy may be found at ‘Orthodox Austin’ –

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GZAIFRd1iRYrLSHwhsuKiSPVZWvjMtuS/view

As Advent and December, and the end of my secular-employment approach, we look forward to increased parish prayer and services, formalised catechism, and pilgrimage. I hope that we may begin to discuss these important aspects of the development of parish-life on Sunday – especially the celebration of a weekly Advent Moleben around the parish.

Many thanks to all who continue to have been in touch over the last week and to those who have sent ‘care parcels’. The kindness, care and generosity of our parishioners is both exemplary and inspiring. 

May God bless you all! 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 

Cheltenham  Saturday 13th November: Confessions 09:15, Hours and Divine Liturgy 10:00 

Address: Prestbury United Reformed Church, 5 Deep St, Prestbury, Cheltenham GL52 3AW. 

Cardiff – Saturday 13th November: Confessions 16:30 

Cardiff – Sunday 14th November: Confessions 10:15, Hours and Divine Liturgy 11:00 

This weekend in the parish

Dear brothers and sisters,

After a successful response to the parish drive to finance a full-time parish-priest I am happy to inform you that I will be taking up this position on 1st December, ministering to the parishes in Cardiff and Cheltenham, hoping that we will also soon establish an outreach serving our Wessex parishioners.

As many of you are aware, combining full-time work in learning-disabilities and virtually full-time parish ministry was always a challenge, and has become increasingly difficult over the past few years, in which I have become very aware of my own limitations.

However, it has still been a joy to be able to combine both major causes in my life, knowing that Faith has been shaped my ‘external’ professional life, as well as parish ministry.

In the years since Metropolitan Hilarion asked me to take over the position of rector of the Cardiff parish and priest-in-charge of Cheltenham, much has changed, and the needs of the parishes have increased significantly.

Since our move from Butetown to Nazareth House in 2017, the parish has grown, spiritually above all, and we have seen a wonderful flowering of parish-life, despite lockdown and the continuing obstacles of the last year and a half. We are indebted to the Fathers of the Oratory and the Sisters of Nazareth for so much in this period, and we look forward to our return to Nazareth House with great anticipation.

In the meantime, we have to consider sustaining our presence in St John’s, Canton.

Since our last services in St John’s, our use of the church has been formalised with the completion of a hire agreement. As a result, we are now paying for the building on an hourly basis, which significantly increases our weekly outgoings, and the necessary payment for every hour we use the building.

Given the significant cost of each Sunday’s use of the building, Saturday services will no longer be financially sustainable for us given the small Saturday congregation.

I will discuss the situation with Deacon Mark on his return from Greece, and I am hopeful that we will find a way to move forward with Saturday worship and confessions.

As I look forward to commencing the position of full-time parish-priest on 1st December, I very much hope that parishioners will be willing to revive home akathists and various services, so that we will have worship on weekdays as well as the weekends.

However, this week there will be no Saturday service, but we will revert to using Deacon Mark’s office for confessions in the late afternoon and early evening. With this in mind, may I ask those wishing to confess on Saturday to email me – otetzmark@hotmail.com by Friday evening (and this will be strictly enforced), with those needing lifts out of town to Morganstown to let us know, so that we can endeavour to make their confession possible.

The Hours and Liturgy will be celebrated, as usual, in St John’s at 11:00, on Sunday morning, with confessions commencing at 10:15.

I would also appreciate knowing who will require confession on Sunday.

The variable portions of the Sunday Liturgy – St Luke’s Day – may be found here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jvkkwmS9nSNmtr1KvpA8VNT7Ivlm6ECX/view

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Services this coming weekend…

Dear brothers and sisters,

This coming weekend, we look forward to welcoming you to our services in Cheltenham and Cardiff.

On Saturday, the Parish of the Holy Great Prince, Vladimir, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Prestbury United Reformed Church at 10:00, with confessions being heard from 09:15. A bring-and-share lunch will follow the service. For details, see:

https://www.facebook.com/events/318974696658162/?notif_id=1634111239416862&notif_t=page_share&ref=notif

As we are unable to celebrate the Protecting Veil  – the feast of Pokrov – with a Liturgy tomorrow, we will celebrate the Protection on Saturday, blessing the little chapel in Prestbury with another feast of the Mother of God.

On the clergy’s return to Cardiff, we will chant compline in Cardiff at 16:30, with the canon to the Protection of the Mother of God, and we will then celebrate the Hours and Liturgy on Sunday morning at 11:00. As usual, confessions will begin as soon as we have entry to the Church, around 10:15.

The following weekend 23/24 St John’s is unavailable on either Saturday afternoon, or Sunday at the usual time. Though we would be able to celebrate the Liturgy at 06:00 (as I had previously hoped), there will be no chance to hear confessions, given the Saturday situation.

Given this combination of difficulties, we will – regrettably – be unable to celebrate in Cardiff, but will join Father Luke for his first public Swansea Liturgy, in the Vivian Hall, 82 Mumbles Rd, Black Pill, Swansea SA3 5AS.

So… those who would like a seaside Liturgy, are encouraged to journey to Swansea Bay and be a part of the ROCOR celebration for Swansea, Llanelli and West Wales. If you are able to support the Swansea-Llanelli parish, please try to ensure that spare seats in your car are offered to other parishioners who do not have their own transport. May we also ask the same of anyone who is able to support the Cheltenham Liturgy?

I will post details of the Swansea Liturgy once I have spoken to Father Luke.

Finally – I encourage you all to celebrate the feast of the Protecting Veil / Pokrov in your homes tomorrow, and celebrate the Protection of the Mother of God with joy and hope!

May God bless you all.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Week Ahead

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you all who contributed to today’s Liturgy, and a joyful celebration of the feast of St Seraphim, and thank you to our parishioners who sent greetings from their holidays in Russia and Ukraine!Continue reading

THE CANON OF SUPPLICATION TO THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD AT THE CONFESSION OF A SINNER

This canon, which is to be found the Greek Great Book of Needs, is also chanted at Tuesday Compline in the week of tone six of the Octoechos. Whilst we are having confessions during Saturday Compline, this may be pertinent to be chanted at that time, and would certainly be valuable for parishioners as they prepare for confession and Holy Communion. In the Euchologion (Book of Needs) it is followed by a prayer of absolution by St John of Damascus, making it clear that it is intended for use in this context.

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PREPARING FOR CONFESSION

When the faithful confess in church, it is interesting to observe the slightly different ways in which the pentitents approach the Lord in the manner in which they confess. Some speak very personally to the Lord, whilst after the opening of their confession, others address the priest in great detail. Others rhetorically ask whether they have failed in various ways, and confess their shortcomings. I sometimes have to reassure people in saying that there is a very personal diversity here, but that in confessing with sincerity, the ‘style’ of their confession matters little.

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