John Fisher Church
56 Begbrook Park, Frenchey
Bristol BS16 1NF
We are a Parish within the Diocese of Sourozh, Moscow Patriarchate. The Diocese in this country was
founded by Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of blessed memory. The
diocese is headed by Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh. Our priest in charge is
Archpriest Michael Gogoleff, tel: 01225-858-792.
We are a multi-ethnic community and Orthodox Christians from various
nationalities worship with us. Our services are in English and Russian
(Church Slavonic) and we follow the old calendar. The services may be
attended by anyone who is interested, although only Orthodox Christians may
receive Holy Communion at the Divine Liturgy.
Here you can find the current schedule of the services. For
further information contact Elya
Kisina 0117 9140282, Masha Springford 0117-973-5037, Galina Self
Welcome to our Parish!
ATTENTION! Changes in timetable of
services. There will be service: Wednesday 28 March. Sixth week of the
Great Lent. Strickt Fast. Little Compline with the Canon of
St Andrew of Crete. Confessions from 17.00, service
starts at 18.00.
A Song of Repentance: the Great Canon
of St Andrew of Crete
The experience of Lent is a spiritual journey whose purpose is to transfer
us from one spiritual state to another, a dynamic passage. For this reason
the church commences Lent with the great penitential Canon of St Andrew of
Crete. This penitential lamentation conveys to us the scope and depth of sin,
shaking the soul with despair, repentance, and hope.
The only times it is appointed to be read in church are the first four
nights of great Lent (clean Monday through to clean Thursday, and fourth
sections of each ode are read at great compline) and at Matins for Thursday
of the fifth week of great Lent, when it is read in its entirety (in this
latter service, the entire life of St Mary of Egypt is also read).
This complex poem (actually a chanted hymn) was written in the early
700's, and it picked up the adjective "great" for two reasons: it
is extra-long (about 250 verses), and it is majestic. It is a liturgical poem
consisting of nine odes. The great Canon was written by St. Andrew of Crete,
a bishop who was initially a monk in Jerusalem.
The whole Canon is a kind of "Walk Through the Bible". St.
Andrew begins with Adam and Eve and goes all the way through, exhorting
himself by applying the stories and characters of the Bible.
Reading the Canon helps us see how Christians in the Holy Land, 1,300 years
ago, understood the Scriptures. It is a way to time-travel, and actually
joins them in these ancient Christian devotions which are part of the dynamic
life of the church.
Father Alexander Schmemann says about the ‘great Canon of repentance’
that: "...with a unique art, St. Andrew interwove the great biblical
themes - Adam and Eve, Paradise and the Fall, the Patriarchs, Noah and the
Flood, David, the Promised Land, and ultimately Christ and the Church - with
confession of sin and repentance. The events of sacred history are revealed
as events in my life, God's acts in the past as acts aimed at me and my
salvation, the tragedy of sin and betrayal as my personal tragedy. My life is
shown to me as part of the great and all embracing fight between God and the
powers of darkness which rebel against Him”.
Of the Canon, Father Alexander, continues: "The Canon begins on a
deeply personal note...One after another, my sins are revealed in their deep
connection with the continuous drama of man's relation to God; the story of
man's fall is my story”.
Father Alexander goes on to say that these stories from Scripture are so
much more than merely allegories. He reminds us that even though we are each
unique persons, we are all moving through the same drama. We all face choices
that through the ages others have faced before us and just as we must choose
the sacred pathway to return to God so they had to choose; and in their
choosing have much to teach us, to remind us, to reveal to us the tried and
tested path to life. And it is in this way that my own and deeply personal
sin becomes the lens through which I can begin to grasp the real importance
of His redemptive acts.
Part of the reasons that we are so vividly lukewarm in the faith,
according to Father Alexander, is that we are too much concerned with things
of the world, and we fail to remember the true heights from which we fell
from grace as sons and daughters of Adam. This is something that is common to
all mankind through the ages, but Father Alexander adds another element to
this that brings it closer to the reality of contemporary life. He says:
"Sin ... is thought of primarily as a natural "weakness" due
usually to a maladjustment, which has in turn social roots and, therefore,
can be eliminated by a better social and economic organization. For this
reason even when he confesses his sins, the modern man no longer repents ...
[he] shares his problems with the confessor - expecting from religion some
therapeutic treatment which will make him happy again and well-adjusted”.
However, the great Canon, says Father Alexander, reintroduces us to the truth
about sin and our sinfulness. It directs us back to the culture of Creation,
Fall, and Redemption where we may have some chance at once again to recall
our experience and existential failures within our life, therefore repentance
from sin is: "...the shock of man who, seeing in himself the
"image of the ineffable glory," realizes that he has defiled,
betrayed and rejected it in his life; repentance as regret coming from the
ultimate depth of man's consciousness; as the desire to return; as surrender
to God's love and mercy ... [allows confession to become] meaningful only if
sin is understood and experienced in all of its depth and sadness”, as the
rejection of communion with God.
Unfortunately, the culture in which we live excludes the concept of sin or
distorts its notion in relation to the biblical and Christian tradition. For
if sin is, first of all, humanity’s fall from an incredibly high altitude,
the rejection by humanity of its ‘high calling’, what can all this mean
within a culture which ignores and denies that ‘high altitude’ and ‘calling’,
and defines a human not from ‘above’ (according to the image and likeness of
God) but from ‘below’ (according to mere biology or physiology). Sadly this
culture we live in thinks of human life only in terms of material goods and
thus ignores the fact that human beings have a transcendental vocation.
The biblical and Christian tradition of sin has a depth and density which
the culture in which we live is simply unable to comprehend and which makes
confession of sins something very different from true Christian repentance.
For this reason the great Canon reminds and teaches us that the ground that
we need to walk in order to return to anything resembling the "image of
the ineffable glory" is a field that we too often leave uncultivated and
neglected. For most of us, locked into the familiarity of institutionalised,
rule bound, and well worn praxis the simple words in the Canon which have so
much to do with acts of self-denial and obedience, are a wilderness of
exceptionally rich and unfamiliar ground, in the culture in which we live and
which shapes our world-view.
Fundraising for a new church.
continue to raise money in order to buy our own church. We are not a big
parish and people are giving generously what they can afford, but we mainly
rely on the help of friends. This is our objective. In the meantime, until we
find something suitable to buy, we hope to move from Frenchey and, as a
temporary solution, to rent another place closer to the centre, where we can
leave all the things we need for our services.
help to collect the money.
Let God help us in our efforts!
For donations: Bank: Lloyds Bank
Account name: Russian
Orthodox Parish of the Holy Trinity
Sort code: 30-00-01, account:
For more information contact Elya Kisina, tel:
0117 9140282 or Masha
Springford, tel: 0117 9735037.