The Election of Bishop Nicholas as First-Hierarch

Dear brothers and sisters,

It was with great joy that we greeted the news of the election of His Grace, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, as First-Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and as Metropolitan of New-York and Eastern America.

At the very beginning of the life of our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia – then known as the Russian Church in Exile – the presidency of His Eminence, Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galych initiated a glorious succession of men of deep faith, asceticism and prayer as First-Hierarchs of the Church in the diaspora.

During the rule of the ever-memorable Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy, Philaret, Vitaly, Lavr and Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has been a defender of sacred Tradition and of the freedom of the Church, and – as a bastion of holiness – has produced men and women of great sanctity, some of whom we look to as the saints of tomorrow, yet to be glorified by the Church, though already glorified by God.

Even as the godless Soviets sought to control and destroy the much-suffering Church in the Soviet Union, the First-Hierarchs of the exiled Church led and defended free Church life in exile, and prayed fervently for those who suffered under atheist Bolshevism. But, such was God’s sovereign-will, that there was no short-lived communist junta and the hoped-for return from exile – no going home, and no freedom for the Church behind the Iron Curtain for nigh on seventy years.

As exiles became reconciled to life in the new lands in which they had settled, and as the Holy Synod moved from Constantinople to Sremski Karlovtsi, and thence to Vienna, Munich and New York, our Church Abroad settled, grew and flourished in the Americas, Europe and Australasia, with non-Slav faithful finding Orthodox Christianity in its temples and communities.

As the children of the successive waves of exiles shared their Orthodox Christian Faith and welcomed local peoples, our Church grew and developed, no longer an ethnic and predominantly Slavic Church of exiles, but a multi-national, multi-lingual and multi-cultural Church embracing people of all nations, yet cherishing the enduring spiritual inheritance and legacy of Holy Rus’.

This is wonderfully illustrated by the make-up of our own parish, with its mixture of peoples, languages and nationalities, and this is very much the inheritance that Vladika Nicholas understands as the identity of our beloved ROCOR.

Just over a hundred years after the beginning of organised Church life in the diaspora, we shall soon hear his name, as Metropolitan and First-Hierarch, knowing that with his integrity and Faith, he will develop, defend and preserve the legacy that will be handed over to him when he is enthroned this coming Sunday.

We may be joyfully confident that his rule as First-Hierarch of our Church will be one in which the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will spiritually prosper in holiness and truth, and in which the rights and freedoms of our Church will be defended and preserved.

We pray for God’s blessing upon Bishop Nicholas, that his rule may be long, spiritually-fruitful and blessed.

Many years to His Grace, and glory to God!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Today in Cardiff

Dear brothers and sisters,

It was wonderful to look out of the sanctuary after proskomedia and see so many new faces today, together with the latest parishioners and friends who have returned from their summer travels in Russia, Ukraine and beyond.

At the same time, we missed some of our parishioners who are unwell, sending them our greetings and assuring them of our prayers!

Our kliros was buoyant and the singing bright, the number of confessions and communions spiritually encouraging, and our antidoron was stretched to the limits at the kissing of the Cross.

During the litia after Liturgy, we prayed for the soul of the newly departed handmaiden of God, Svetlana, and ask your continued prayers for the repose of her soul; we blessed Phanouropita and even began the preparations for a St Nicholas Day baptism – and all of this before lunch and the parish meeting.

Father Deacon Mark will publish the meeting minutes in due course, but we warmly congratulate Norman John on his election as starosta, after much support, coaxing and nomination by our parishioners, who  were unanimous in approving his election. We wish him, and Georgina who will help him in her usual selfless way, Many Years and God’s blessing in fulfilling this obedience.

In reporting to the meeting as rector, I was keen to recognise the spiritual growth of the parish since our last parish meeting, shortly before the first lockdown, and for those who were not at the meeting I will venture a few observations.

Sadly, there are those whom we have not seen since the first lockdown, but – amazingly – we now have a committed procession of people week by week, making their way from Bath and Avon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, faithfully supporting the parish and contributing greatly to parish life: singing, serving, sanitising St John’s and performing other welcome obediences.

Without exception, they all settled into parish-life without stopping to take a breath, and it is now very strange when they are unable to be with us. At the same time, our local parishioners have shown great warmth and openness, in welcoming and including our new parish family members from across the Severn. What a blessing it is to be the rector of such a parish.

Thanks are due to parishioners for their gifts of wine, incense, icons, garden produce and pryanik. It was rather like the end of the Christmas Vigil!

Your prayers are asked for those about to travel – for Olga and Andrew, and for Elena; for Subdeacon Peter who is sick, and for the Archimandrite Mefody, Svetlana, and Igor– all newly departed.

Finally, may I remind all in church that whilst lunch is being uncovered and refreshments prepared, the thanksgiving prayers are being offered. All who have received Holy Communion should be present for them, unless they have an obedience that requires them to be in the kitchen or at the table. In this case, they should be prayed at home.

I look forward to us celebrating our first Liturgy of the Church Year, next Sunday, after the beginning of the New Indiction on Tuesday. Before then, we will gather for compline on Saturday at 16:30, at which time confessions will be heard.

May God bless you all, and protect our faithful brothers and sisters on their travels.

In Christ – Fr Mark