Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message December 3, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I trust and pray you are well. There are many flyers that are attached to this week’s email message. Some are included in the Bulletin, some are not. Please pay special attention to each one (except you can ignore the typo in the choir concert flyer) and make sure you R.S.V.P. for the events which require knowledge of our participation. There are many activities in the life of the parish that take place this time of year. They are all wonderful opportunities to bring us together as the Body of Christ, celebrating His love for us, and witnessing our love for Him!

And what would the Christmas Season be without turning our attention to St. Nicholas. Not the jolly fellow with a band of elves, a doting wife, and a North Pole estate, but, rather, the St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, bishop of Myra in Lycia. The Orthodox Hierarch and most-beloved shepherd of the people. Services for St. Nicholas will be this Wednesday, December 6th with the Orthros at 9:00 am followed by the Divine Liturgy at 10:00 am. This Sunday, St. Anna’s Sunday School Director, Dr. Brandee Mau has lovingly prepared little St. Nicholas bags for all the students. How we love our St. Nicholas!

Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God. He was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God.

As the fruit of the prayer of his childless parents, the infant Nicholas from the very day of his birth revealed to people the light of his future glory as a wonderworker. His mother, Nonna, after giving birth was immediately healed from illness. The newborn infant, while still in the baptismal font, stood on his feet three hours, without support from anyone, thereby honoring the Most Holy Trinity. Saint Nicholas from his infancy began a life of fasting, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he would not accept milk from his mother until after his parents had finished their evening prayers.

From his childhood Nicholas thrived on the study of Divine Scripture; by day he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books, making himself a worthy dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Bishop Nicholas of Patara rejoiced at the spiritual success and deep piety of his nephew. He ordained him a reader, and then elevated Nicholas to the priesthood, making him his assistant and entrusting him to instruct the flock.

In serving the Lord the youth was fervent of spirit, and in his proficiency with questions of faith he was like an Elder, who aroused the wonder and deep respect of believers. Constantly at work and vivacious, in unceasing prayer, the priest Nicholas displayed great kind-heartedness towards the flock, and towards the afflicted who came to him for help, and he distributed all his inheritance to the poor.

There was a certain formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom Saint Nicholas saved from great sin. The man had three grown daughters, and in desperation he planned to sell their bodies so they would have money for food. The saint, learning of the man’s poverty and of his wicked intention, secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. With the money the man arranged an honorable marriage for his daughter. Saint Nicholas also provided gold for the other daughters, thereby saving the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, Saint Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and to conceal his good deeds.

The Bishop of Patara decided to go on pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, and entrusted the guidance of his flock to Saint Nicholas, who fulfilled this obedience carefully and with love. When the bishop returned, Nicholas asked his blessing for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along the way the saint predicted a storm would arise and threaten the ship. Saint Nicholas saw the devil get on the ship, intending to sink it and kill all the passengers. At the entreaty of the despairing pilgrims, he calmed the waves of the sea by his prayers. Through his prayer a certain sailor of the ship, who had fallen from the mast and was mortally injured, was also restored to health.

When he reached the ancient city of Jerusalem and came to Golgotha, Saint Nicholas gave thanks to the Savior. He went to all the holy places, worshiping at each one. One night on Mount Sion, the closed doors of the church opened by themselves for the great pilgrim. Going round the holy places connected with the earthly service of the Son of God, Saint Nicholas decided to withdraw into the desert, but he was stopped by a divine voice urging him to return to his native country. He returned to Lycia, and yearning for a life of quietude, the saint entered into the brotherhood of a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle. But the Lord again indicated another path for him, “Nicholas, this is not the vineyard where you shall bear fruit for Me. Return to the world, and glorify My Name there.” So he left Patara and went to Myra in Lycia.

Upon the death of Archbishop John, Nicholas was chosen as Bishop of Myra after one of the bishops of the Council said that a new archbishop should be revealed by God, not chosen by men. One of the elder bishops had a vision of a radiant Man, Who told him that the one who came to the church that night and was first to enter should be made archbishop. He would be named Nicholas. The bishop went to the church at night to await Nicholas. The saint, always the first to arrive at church, was stopped by the bishop. “What is your name, child?” he asked. God’s chosen one replied, “My name is Nicholas, Master, and I am your servant.”

After his consecration as archbishop, Saint Nicholas remained a great ascetic, appearing to his flock as an image of gentleness, kindness and love for people. This was particularly precious for the Lycian Church during the persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Nicholas, locked up in prison together with other Christians for refusing to worship idols, sustained them and exhorted them to endure the fetters, punishment and torture. The Lord preserved him unharmed. Upon the accession of Saint Constantine (May 21) as emperor, Saint Nicholas was restored to his flock, which joyfully received their guide and intercessor.

Despite his great gentleness of spirit and purity of heart, Saint Nicholas was a zealous and ardent warrior of the Church of Christ. Fighting evil spirits, the saint made the rounds of the pagan temples and shrines in the city of Myra and its surroundings, shattering the idols and turning the temples to dust.

In the year 325 Saint Nicholas was a participant in the First Ecumenical Council. This Council proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of Faith, and he stood up against the heretic Arius with the likes of Saints Sylvester the Bishop of Rome (January 2), Alexander of Alexandria (May 29), Spyridon of Trimythontos (December 12) and other Fathers of the Council.

Saint Nicholas, fired with zeal for the Lord, assailed the heretic Arius with his words, and also struck him upon the face. For this reason, he was deprived of the emblems of his episcopal rank and placed under guard. But several of the holy Fathers had the same vision, seeing the Lord Himself and the Mother of God returning to him the Gospel and omophorion. The Fathers of the Council agreed that the audacity of the saint was pleasing to God, and restored the saint to the office of bishop.

Having returned to his own diocese, the saint brought it peace and blessings, sowing the word of Truth, uprooting heresy, nourishing his flock with sound doctrine, and also providing food for their bodies. The face of Saint Nicholas resembled that of an Angel, resplendent with divine grace. A brilliant ray shone from his face, like that which shone from the face of Moses (Exodus 34:29), so that those who looked at him were astonished. Whoever was oppressed by some affliction or passion of the soul had only to behold the Saint, and his sorrow was eased at once. As for those who conversed with him, they soon found themselves advancing on the path of virtue. Not only were the faithful moved to compassion, but unbelievers as well, and they directed their steps on the path of salvation when they heard him speak. The evil of unbelief which had been implanted in their hearts since childhood was uprooted, and in its place, the word of truth was sown.

Even during his life the saint worked many miracles. One of the greatest was the deliverance from death of three men unjustly condemned by the Governor, who had been bribed. The saint boldly went up to the executioner and took his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The Governor, denounced by Saint Nicholas for his wrong doing, repented and begged for forgiveness.

Witnessing this remarkable event were three military officers, who were sent to Phrygia by the emperor Constantine to put down a rebellion. They did not suspect that soon they would also be compelled to seek the intercession of Saint Nicholas. Evil men slandered them before the emperor, and the officers were sentenced to death. Appearing to Saint Constantine in a dream, Saint Nicholas called on him to overturn the unjust sentence of the military officers.

He worked many other miracles, and struggled many long years at his labor. Through the prayers of the saint, the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine. He appeared to a certain Italian merchant and left him three gold pieces as a pledge of payment. He requested him to sail to Myra and deliver grain there. More than once, the saint saved those drowning in the sea, and provided release from captivity and imprisonment.

Having reached old age, Saint Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. His venerable relics were preserved incorrupt in the local cathedral church and flowed with curative myrrh, from which many received healing. In the year 1087, his relics were transferred to the Italian city of Bari, where they rest even now (See May 9).

The name of the great saint of God, the hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas, a speedy helper and suppliant for all hastening to him, is famed in every corner of the earth, in many lands and among many peoples. In Russia there are a multitude of cathedrals, monasteries and churches consecrated in his name. There is, perhaps, not a single city without a church dedicated to him.

In Italy, the relics of Saint Nicholas are in the Roman Catholic Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Bari; and his left arm is in Saint Nicholas Roman Catholic Church of Rimini.

In Russia, relics of Saint Nicholas are to be found in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, and in the Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg.

The right hand of Saint Nicholas is in the church of Saint George the New in Bucharest, Romania.

In Greece, portions of the Saint’s relics are in the Monasteries of Saint Nicholas Apo Bathia in Euboia, and Phaneromenē in Salaminos. If you want to make a close pilgrimage to venerate a relic of St. Nicholas, my former parish of St. Nicholas in Northridge, California is a shrine church with a relic, gifted to the parish from the Basilica in Bari. 

St. Nicholas is ever-present and continually praying for us. His folklore is based on his life of love, service, selflessness, protective love for children, and dedication to God. May he ever continue to pray and intercede for us. 

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas


Weekly Bulletin for December 3, 2023

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Weekly Bulletin for November 26, 2023

Weekly Bulletin for November 26, 2023 Mingle – Jingle Advent Retreat 2023 GOYA Ice Skating St. Anna’s Pet Blessing Family Night: Gingerbread House Decorating Choir Christmas Concert

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message November 19, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I look forward to being with you for tomorrow’s services, fellowship, and for our Fall Parish Assembly. The Fall Assembly is the more important of the regularly scheduled parish-wide meetings in that we accept our ministry committee reports, approve the new budget, get important updates and lift up candidates for the Parish Council. 

Going further into next week, please know of a couple differences to our typical liturgical schedule. 

Firstly, the front doors and north door to the church building will be closed all of next week from Monday through Saturday, as the cement floors in the foyer, front hallway, the new narthex and new sanctuary will be resurfaced. This is a messy and smelly process, so next week is a good week to keep away from those areas, given the Thanksgiving Holiday.

For those coming to church on Tuesday, November 21st for the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos, the west gates will be open, and you are asked to come directly into the church from the south sliding doors. Once again, we ask for your understanding and flexibility during the construction process. We’ve stretched your patience, a break is coming, and we thank you. 

Also, please be aware that beginning with the Feast of the Theotokos, all weekday and Saturday services will return to our former schedule from a few years ago: Orthros at 9:00 am and Divine Liturgy at 10:00 am. Especially during the dark mornings of the winter, I believe this will be an added incentive for greater weekday participation. Let’s test it out next week!

And speaking of next week’s Feast:

The second great feast of the Theotokos is the celebration of her entrance as a child into the Jerusalem Temple (the icon of this Feast adorns the right side of the west wall in the new sanctuary) and like the feast of her nativity, this feast of Mary is without direct biblical reference. But like the nativity, it is a feast filled with important spiritual significance for the Christian believer.

The texts of the service tells how Mary was brought as a small child to the temple by her parents in order to be raised there among the virgins consecrated to the service of the Lord until the time of their betrothal in marriage. According to Church tradition, Mary was solemnly received by the temple community which was headed by the priest Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. She was led to the holy place to be “nourished” there by the angels in order to become herself the “holy of holies” of God, the living sanctuary and temple of the Divine child who was to be born in her.

There is no doubt that the verses of the Old Testament Psalm 45, used extensively in the services of the feast, provided a great inspiration for the celebration of Mary’s consecration to the service of God in the Jerusalem Temple.

Hear, O Daughter, and consider and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your Lord, bow to him . . .

The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes, in many-colored robes she is led to her king, with her virgin companions, her escort, in her train.

With joy and gladness they are led along, as they enter the palace of the king.

Instead of your fathers shall be your sons; you will make them princes in all the earth. I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations, therefore, the peoples will praise you forever and ever.

Ps 45.10–17

The Orthodox Church understands these words of the psalm to be a prophecy directly related to Mary the Theotokos. According to the Gospel of Saint Luke which is read at the Vigil of each of her feasts, Mary herself speaks the following words:

My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden. For behold, hence-forth all generations shall call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.

Lk 1.47–50

The main theme of the feast of Mary’s entrance to the Temple, repeated many times in the liturgical services, is the fact that she enters the Temple to become herself the living temple of God, thus inaugurating the New Testament in which are fulfilled the prophecies of old that “the dwelling of God is with man” and that the human person is the sole proper dwelling place of the Divine Presence (Ezek 37.27; Jn 14.15–23; Acts 7.47; 2 Cor 6.11; Eph 2.18–22; 1 Pet 2.4; Rev 22.1–4).

Today is the preview of the good will of God, of the preaching of the salvation of mankind. The Virgin appears in the temple of God, in anticipation proclaiming Christ to all. Let us rejoice and sing to her: Rejoice, O Divine Fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation.


The most pure Temple of the Saviour, the precious Chamber and ­Virgin, the Sacred Treasure of the Glory of God, is presented today to the house of the Lord. She brings with her the grace of the Spirit, which the angels of God do praise. Truly this woman is the Abode of Heaven!


The fortieth chapter of Exodus about the building of the tabernacle is read at Vespers, together with passages from the First Book of Kings and the Prophecy of Ezekiel. Each one of these readings all end with exactly the same line, “for the glory of the Lord filled the house [tabernacle] of the Lord God Almighty” (Ex 40.35; 1 Kg 8.11; Ezek 44.4).

Once again on this feast, the Old Testament readings are interpreted as symbols of the Mother of God. This “glory of the Lord” is referred to the Mother of Christ and it “fills” her and all people after her who “hear the word of God and keep it” as the Gospel of the festal liturgy proclaims (Lk 11.37–28). The epistle reading at the Divine Liturgy also proclaims this very same theme (Heb 9.1–7).

Thus, the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple is the feast which celebrates the end of the physical temple in Jerusalem as the dwelling place of God. When the child Mary enters the temple, the time of the temple comes to an end and the “preview of the good will of God” is shown forth. On this feast we celebrate—in the person of Christ’s mother—that we too are the house and tabernacle of the Lord. (From the OCA)

. . . We are the temple of the living God, as God said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

2 Cor 6.16; Is 52.11

With Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas



Weekly Bulletin for November 19, 2023

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message November 12, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Though Veterans Day was observed yesterday, today is the official Day. Thank you to those who serve, those who served, and their families for providing the freedoms and security we hold dear. May the Commander of the Lord’s heavenly armies, Archangel Michael keep you safe and forever keep peace here and abroad. Similarly, to last year, I am sending Veterans Day Greetings from our Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C. Enjoy a blessed Liturgy tomorrow and a lovely week ahead. 

Much Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony Savas


Weekly Bulletin for November 12, 2023

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Weekly Bulletin for November 5, 2023

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message October 29, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thank you to the many people who came for our prayer service last night, in hopes that God would send His protection and upon the innocent people in the war-torn areas of the Middle East, the Holy Land, and Ukraine. Lord have mercy on them!

As we are rounding into the month of November, please pay special attention to the Liturgical Calendar, for there are many Feasts commemorated in that month – literally from the first day to the last; with several in-between. Celebrating weekday services is a special blessing in our Orthodox tradition and I invite you to avail yourselves of these opportunities for Grace!

Also, please keep in your prayers our shipment of liturgical furnishings that should be leaving the Athenian Port of Piraeus this next week. Our construction schedule is still on track to get us into the new sanctuary by Christmas. Let’s pray that everything coming from Greece will make it across the sea and land, arriving safely at our doorstep.

The iconostasis, iconostasis icons, altar table, bishop’s throne, pulpit, chandeliers, sacrament table, narthex furnishings and lamps will all be the finishing touches that will complete the transformation of our sacred space. As unbelievable as it sounds, we are almost there! Years of prayers, goals, plans, and dreams are materializing right in front of us. I thank you for your prayerful dedication to our Savior, and for the peace and joy, which help define our community. What St. Anna’s has accomplished in a very short amount of time is testament to your faith, your love for one another, and your devotion to the One, Triune God. Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

And as a repeated reminder, we are excited to host our Family Vacation Bible School in November. Children, grades K-5 and invited to come with their parents and siblings to learn about the immediately aforementioned Holy Trinity. This is something new we are trying, so please bring your families and enjoy a wonderful half day of fun and learning. See the attached flyer for more information.  

With Blessings and Gratitude,

Fr. Anthony Savas


Weekly Bulletin for October 29, 2023

Weekly Bulletin for October 29, 2023 Vacation Bible School Fall 2023