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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message April 14, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Please be aware that tomorrow morning, Sunday, April 14, we will take up a special collection for the benefit of the students and seminarians of our holy Metropolis of Denver, who are studying at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA. Looking back at my years in theological school, it was a time of fervent faith, absolute dedication, joyful anticipation, diligent work, and a deep longing to serve Christ, and His Bride, the Church.

But like any other student in a graduate school setting, the financial challenges are daunting and plentiful. I am grateful that our Bishop Constantine is mindful of the challenges which our budding servant-leaders face, and extends to them a lifeline, through all our generosity, to ease the burdens. There will be a special collection basket placed in the exit of the narthex as we depart from the Divine Liturgy. Please be mindful of the sacrificial lives these students have chosen and honor the calling which they have received.

Anything offered in prayerful participation will be greatly appreciated.

With Love in Christ, 

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for April 14, 2024

Weekly Bulletin for April 14, 2024 Holy Week and Pascha Schedule 2024 Holy Friday Retreat 2024

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message April 7, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow marks the mid-way point of Great Lent. This the Third Sunday of Lent is themed and dedicated to the precious and life-giving Cross.

The commemoration and ceremonies of the Third Sunday of Lent are closely parallel to the feast of the Veneration of the Cross (September 14). Not only does the Sunday of the Holy Cross prepare us for commemoration of the Crucifixion, but it also reminds us that the whole of Lent is a period when we are crucified with Christ.

As we have “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24), and will have mortified ourselves during these forty days of the Fast, the precious and life-giving Cross is now placed before us to refresh our souls and encourage us who may be filled with a sense of bitterness, resentment, and depression. The Cross reminds us of the Passion of our Lord, and by presenting to us His example, it encourages us to follow Him in struggle and sacrifice, being refreshed, assured, and comforted. In other words, we must experience what the Lord experienced during His Passion – being humiliated in a shameful manner. The Cross teaches us that through pain and suffering we shall see the fulfillment of our hopes: the heavenly inheritance and eternal glory.

As they who walk on a long and hard way and are bowed down by fatigue find great relief and strengthening under the cool shade of a leafy tree, so do we find comfort, refreshment, and rejuvenation under the Life-giving Cross, which our Fathers “planted” on this Sunday. Thus, we are fortified and enabled to continue our Lenten journey with a light step, rested and encouraged.

Or, as before the arrival of the king, his royal standards, trophies, and emblems of victory come in procession and then the king himself appears in a triumphant parade, jubilant and rejoicing in his victory and filling those under him with joy, so does the Feast of the Cross precede the coming of our King, Jesus Christ. It warns us that He is about to proclaim His victory over death and appear to us in the glory of the Resurrection. His Life-Giving Cross is His royal scepter, and by venerating it we are filled with joy, rendering Him glory. Therefore, we become ready to welcome our King, who shall manifestly triumph over the powers of darkness.

The present feast has been placed in the middle of Great Lent for another reason. The Fast can be likened to the spring of Marah whose waters the children of Israel encountered in the wilderness. This water was undrinkable due to its bitterness but became sweet when the Holy Prophet Moses dipped the wood into its depth. Likewise, the wood of the Cross sweetens the days of the Fast, which are bitter and often grievous because of our tears. Yet Christ comforts us during our course through the desert of the Fast, guiding and leading us by His hand to the spiritual Jerusalem on high by the power of His Resurrection.

Moreover, as the Holy Cross is called the Tree of Life, it is placed in the middle of the Fast, as the ancient tree of life was placed in the middle of the garden of Eden. By this, our Holy Fathers wished to remind us of Adam’s gluttony as well as the fact that through this Tree has condemnation been abolished. Therefore, if we bind ourselves to the Holy Cross, we shall never encounter death but shall inherit life eternal.

As we celebrate this commemoration, it is a great blessing that we will do so during Godparent Sunday at St. Anna’s. Having our spiritual children surrounding us, receiving Communion together, and sharing the day with our extended families is a reminder of God’s loving kindness towards us. As the Holy Spirit places these sacred relationships before us, we partake of His love through those whom inspire us to keep, protect, and live our Orthodox Christian Faith. God bless the godchildren, godparents, sponsors and spiritual families of our St. Anna parish!

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for April 7, 2024

Weekly Bulletin for April 7, 2024

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message March 31, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thank you to all who faithfully and enthusiastically participated in our Parish Lenten Retreat. Last evening’s Salutations Service and Dr. Jeannie’s presentation were inspiring and incredibly thought provoking. She reminded us of the rich spiritual heritage that we have received, and our great responsibility to share, preserve and celebrate it. The Orthodox Church is the unapologetic ancient, unaltered, and Apostolic Church of Christ. Live it! 

Among the usual stack of attached flyers which come with the Weekly Bulletin, I am including an encyclical from His Eminence Metropolitan Nathaniel of Chicago. His Eminence has been named the Locum Tenens of the Metropolis of Denver until such time that a new Metropolitan is elected and enthroned. What does “locum tenens” mean? For those of you who’s Latin is a bit rusty, the term literally means “to hold the place of.” The Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, headed by Archbishop Elpidophoros gave the temporary responsibility of our Metropolis’ daily administration to Metropolitan Nathaniel. Therefore, he will now be commemorated in all divine services for the time being. 

We are told that the same Synod is preparing their list of three names of worthy candidates for the office of the Metropolitan of Denver, to be sent to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. There the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will vote for our future hierarch from those names given to them. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will guide, bless, and inspire the process.

I pray that your Lenten journey continues to be fruitful and yield much spiritual joy. No doubt, participation in the Lenten Services, individual prayer and readings, meditation upon Holy Scripture, kind and generous giving, and an overall sense of love and appreciation for Christ will propel you to the joy of the Resurrection in the coming weeks. 

Please know that I will be gone for the entirety of next week, until Friday evening’s Salutations Service. I will be traveling to Denver with my family.

Enjoy a peaceful and lovely evening.

With Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for March 31, 2024

Weekly Bulletin for March 31, 2024 Metropolitan Nathanael Letter Lenten Schedule 2024 Godparent Sunday 2024 GOYA Lenten Retreat 2024 Holy Friday Retreat 2024

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Weekly Bulletin for March 24, 2024

Weekly Bulletin for March 24, 2024 Lenten Schedule 2024 Lenten Retreat 2024 Godparent Sunday 2024 GOYA Lenten Retreat 2024

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message March 17, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This evening, we will begin our long-anticipated journey into Great Lent. We will carve out time in the course of our daily lives and dedicate ourselves to a greater appreciation for Christ’s ministry unto us. We will walk with our Lord in preparation for His passion, suffering, crucifixion, removal from the cross, His burial, and finally, His resurrection. Are you ready to walk this path? Are you prepared to enter into a more substantial and rigorous life of prayer? Are you eagerly anticipating the redemptive acts of our Savior? Are you ready to begin the Fast?

Partnered with our individual acts of prayer, fasting and giving of alms, the Church invites us to participate in the multitude of services that take place only this time of year. Following is a brief synopsis of what you can expect. Please take every opportunity to be with us, enjoying the blessings of our new worship space, and to come together as a community in prayer. 

SUNDAY EVENING GREAT VESPERS OF FORGIVENESS

This service takes place only once. It is the literal transition from pre-Lenten preparations to the actual throws of the season. We are steeped in the necessities of seeking and offering forgiveness for any offense against us, or for any transgression against our brothers and sisters. The service is a solemn and beautiful gateway to the days and weeks ahead. Great Vespers concludes with the opportunity to ask the forgiveness of all in attendance. 

Key Hymn: As the vestments in the church change from celebratory gold to penitential purple;

“Turn not Your face from your child, for I am afflicted; hear me speedily. Give heed to my soul and redeem it.” 

GREAT COMPLINE

Great Compline is a somber service or repentance. It encourages us to turn away from worldly things toward God our Savior. Specifically, it is a service of prayer before sleep, so it includes prayers asking for God’s protection as we approach the end of the day and the coming of darkness upon us. This service is offered weekly on Monday evenings during the five weeks of Great Lent. It puts us in a frame of mind that we require His loving protection from the temptations that tear us away from His loving embrace.

Key Hymn: “Lord of the Powers, be with us. For in times of distress, we have no other help but You. Lord of the Powers, be with us.” 

THE DIVINE LITURGY OF PRESANCTIFIED GIFTS

Also simply known as the Presanctified Liturgy, this unique and lovely service is celebrated weekly on Wednesday evenings. It is also accompanied by a potluck dinner and lecture from various speakers from both within and from outside our parish. Unlike the Divine Liturgy which is a celebration, this service is somber, reflective, penitential and weighty. An additional Lamb (consecrated Body of Christ for Communion) is prepared during Sunday Liturgies before each Presanctified Liturgy (thus the name, “presanctified”). Offering the Eucharist in this unique way reminds us that the weekdays of Lent are steeped in humility and the process of repentance. The service is partly Vespers with additional elements of the Liturgy. Though the Presanctified Liturgy is defined by a dignified stillness, it is still one of the most dynamic services of the Church.

Key Hymn: Psalm 140 “Let my prayer arise as incense and let the lifting of my hands be an evening sacrifice.”

SALUTATIONS TO THE THEOTOKOS AND THE AKATHIS HYMN

These services, chanted on the first four Friday evenings of Great Lent, are actually portions of the full prayer (The Akathist Hymn) that is chanted in its entirety on the fifth Friday of the Fast. It is a joyful poem, or cannon of hymns dedicated to the Theotokos and her unrepeated ministry in the world, and her proximity to Jesus Christ. We are continually reminded that her intercessions are important, comforting and peaceful. Portions of the Great Compline are also included in this service, reminding us that we are still in the season of Lent.

Key Hymn:

“O Champion Leader, I your City now inscribe to you triumphant anthems as the tokens of my gratitude, being rescued from the terrors, O Theotokos. Inasmuch as you have powers unassailable, from all kinds of dangers free me, so that unto you, I may cry aloud, Hail, O unwedded Bride.”

My dearly and much beloved in the Lord, please take the time to be active and prayerful participants in these divine prayer services. You will be richly and spiritually inspired to continue the course of the Fast and emerge victoriously at the end. 

With Much Love Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for March 17, 2024

Weekly Bulletin for March 17, 2024 Lenten Schedule 2024 Lenten Retreat 2024 Godparent Sunday 2024 GOYA Lenten Retreat 2024

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message March 10, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow’s Gospel reading is Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the Last Judgment. It reminds us that while trusting in Christ’s love and mercy, we must not forget His righteous judgment when He comes again in glory. If our hearts remain hardened and unrepentant, we should not expect the Lord to overlook our transgressions simply because He is a good and loving God. Although He does not desire the death of a sinner, He also expects us to turn from our wickedness and live (Ezek. 33:11).

The time for repentance and forgiveness is now, in the present life. At the Second Coming, Christ will appear as the righteous Judge, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). Then the time for entreating God’s mercy and forgiveness will have passed.

As Father Alexander Schmemann reminds us in his book Great Lent (Ch. 1:4), sin is the absence of love, it is separation and isolation. When Christ comes to judge the world, His criterion for judgment will be love. Christian love entails seeing Christ in other people, our family, our friends, and everyone else we may encounter in our lives. We shall be judged on whether we have loved, or not loved, our neighbor. We show Christian love when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit those who are sick or in prison. If we did such things for the least of Christ’s brethren, then we also did them for Christ (Mt.25:40). If we did not do such things for the least of the brethren, neither did we do them for Christ (Mt.25:45).

As tomorrow is the third week of the Triodion (pre-Lenten) Period, it is the last day for eating meat and meat products until Pascha, though eggs and dairy products are permitted every day during the coming week. This practice of limited fasting prepares us gradually for the more intense fasting of Great Lent. For all of you who are new to the Church, please take the time to discuss your Lenten goals, fears, and expectations with me. Send an email, send a text, or give me a call.

Great Lent is a time of spiritual strengthening, healing and revitalization. It is not meant to be a time of frustration, rejection and obligatory practices. Everyone of us comes to this time of year equipped with differing experiences and time spent in this kind of sacred preparations. The important thing is that we dedicate this time to our relationship with God. 

Great Lent will begin next Sunday evening with the celebration of Great Vespers of Forgiveness. The church will turn the page from pre-Lenten lessons and practices and head straight into the beauty of the Great Fast. May it be fruitful and edifying.

With Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter