Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message September 13, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Please pay prayerful attention to the following description of Monday’s Great Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross by the Orthodox Church in America. We WILL offer live services on this Feast. Orthros will begin at 8:00 am followed by the Divine Liturgy and Procession of the Cross at 9:00 am.

The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: The pagan Roman emperors tried to completely eradicate from human memory the holy places where our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and was resurrected for mankind. The Emperor Hadrian (117-138) gave orders to cover over the ground of Golgotha and the Sepulchre of the Lord, and to build a temple of the pagan goddess Venus and a statue of Jupiter.

Pagans gathered at this place and offered sacrifice to idols there. Eventually after 300 years, by Divine Providence, the great Christian sacred remains, the Sepulchre of the Lord and the Life-Creating Cross were again discovered and opened for veneration. This took place under the Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) after his victory in the year 312 over Maxentius, ruler of the Western part of the Roman empire, and over Licinius, ruler of its Eastern part. In the year 323 Constantine became the sole ruler of the vast Roman Empire.

In 313 he had issued the Edict of Milan, by which the Christian religion was legalized and the persecutions against Christians in the Western half of the empire were stopped. The ruler Licinius, although he had signed the Edict of Milan to oblige Constantine, still fanatically continued the persecutions against Christians. Only after his conclusive defeat did the 313 Edict of Milan extend also to the Eastern part of the empire. The Holy Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine, having gained victory over his enemies in three wars with God’s assistance, had seen in the heavens the Sign of the Cross, and written beneath: “By this you shall conquer.”

Ardently desiring to find the Cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, Saint Constantine sent his mother, the pious Empress Helen (May 21), to Jerusalem, providing her with a letter to Saint Macarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Although the holy empress Helen was already in her declining years, she set about completing the task with enthusiasm. The empress gave orders to destroy the pagan temple and the statues in Jerusalem. Searching for the Life-Creating Cross, she made inquiry of Christians and Jews, but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful.

Finally, they directed her to a certain elderly Hebrew by the name of Jude who stated that the Cross was buried where the temple of Venus stood. They demolished the pagan temple and, after praying, they began to excavate the ground. Soon the Tomb of the Lord was uncovered. Not far from it were three crosses, a board with the inscription ordered by Pilate, and four nails which had pierced the Lord’s Body (March 6).

In order to discern on which of the three crosses the Savior was crucified, Patriarch Macarius alternately touched the crosses to a corpse. When the Cross of the Lord touched the dead one, he came to life. Having beheld the raising of the dead man, everyone was convinced that the Life-Creating Cross was found.

Christians came in a huge throng to venerate the Holy Cross, beseeching Saint Macarius to elevate the Cross, so that even those far off might reverently contemplate it. Then the Patriarch and other spiritual leaders raised up the Holy Cross, and the people, saying “Lord have mercy,” reverently prostrated before the Venerable Wood. This solemn event occurred in the year 326.

During the discovery of the Life-Creating Cross another miracle took place: a grievously sick woman, beneath the shadow of the Holy Cross, was healed instantly. The elder Jude and other Jews there believed in Christ and accepted Holy Baptism. Jude received the name Cyriacus and afterwards was consecrated Bishop of Jerusalem. During the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363) he accepted a martyr’s death for Christ (see October 28).

The holy empress Helen journeyed to the holy places connected with the earthly life of the Savior, building more than 80 churches, at Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ, and on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended to Heaven, and at Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings and where the Mother of God was buried after her death.

Saint Helen took part of the Life-Creating Wood and nails with her to Constantinople. The holy emperor Constantine gave orders to build at Jerusalem a majestic and spacious church in honor of the

Resurrection of Christ, also including under its roof the Life-Giving Tomb of the Lord and Golgotha. The temple was constructed in about ten years. Saint Helen did not survive until the dedication of the temple, she died in the year 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. On the following day, September 14, the festal celebration of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross was established.

Another event connected to the Cross of the Lord is remembered also on this day: its return to Jerusalem from Persia after a fourteen year captivity. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Phocas (602-610) the Persian emperor Khozroes II in a war against the Greeks defeated the Greek army, plundered Jerusalem and captured both the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord and the Holy Patriarch Zachariah (609-633).

The Cross remained in Persia for fourteen years and only under the emperor Heraclius (610-641), who with the help of God defeated Khozroes and concluded peace with his successor and son Syroes, was the Cross of the Lord returned to the Christians.

With great solemnity the Life-creating Cross was transferred to Jerusalem. Emperor Heraclius in imperial crown and royal purple carried the Cross of Christ into the temple of the Resurrection. With the emperor went Patriarch Zacharios. At the gates by which they ascended Golgotha, the emperor suddenly stopped and was not able to proceed farther. The holy Patriarch explained to the emperor that an angel of the Lord was blocking his way. The emperor was told to remove his royal trappings and to walk barefoot, since He Who bore the Cross for the salvation of the world from sin had made His way to Golgotha in all humility. Then Heraclius donned plain garb, and without further hindrance, carried the Cross of Christ into the church.

In a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross, Saint Andrew of Crete (July 4) says: “The Cross is exalted, and everything true gathers together, the Cross is exalted, and the city makes solemn, and the people celebrate the feast”.

Much Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony Savas

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message August 30, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, August 29th marks one of the most sad and unjust days in the life of the Church. Perhaps their is no other account of martyrdom as senseless as that of the Baptizer. His life was stricken from this earth, not from the impetuousness of religious zeal, or from one’s theological dispute, but rather from the even darker places of human anger, spite, vengeance, revenge and blood-thirsty power. Please keep today in quiet contemplation and prayerful attention. Please also take the time to read the following account of today’s commemoration from the Orthodox Church in America.

The Beheading of the Prophet, Forerunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt.14:1-12) and Mark (Mark 6:14-29) provide accounts about the martyric end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.

Following the Baptism of the Lord, Saint John the Baptist was locked up in prison by Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch (ruler of one fourth of the Holy Land) and governor of Galilee. (After the death of king Herod the Great, the Romans divided the territory of Palestine into four parts, and put a governor in charge of each part. Herod Antipas received Galilee from the emperor Augustus).

The prophet of God John openly denounced Herod for having left his lawful wife, the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas, and then instead cohabiting with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip (Luke 3:19-20). On his birthday, Herod made a feast for dignitaries, the elders and a thousand chief citizens. Salome, the daughter of Herod, danced before the guests and charmed Herod. In gratitude to the girl, he swore to give her whatever she would ask, up to half his kingdom.

The vile girl on the advice of her wicked mother Herodias asked that she be given the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod became apprehensive, for he feared the wrath of God for the murder of a prophet, whom earlier he had heeded. He also feared the people, who loved the holy Forerunner. But because of the guests and his careless oath, he gave orders to cut off the head of Saint John and to give it to Salome.

According to Tradition, the mouth of the dead preacher of repentance once more opened and proclaimed: “Herod, you should not have the wife of your brother Philip.” Salome took the platter with the head of Saint John and gave it to her mother. The frenzied Herodias repeatedly stabbed the tongue of the prophet with a needle and buried his holy head in a unclean place. But the pious Joanna, wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, buried the head of John the Baptist in an earthen vessel on the Mount of Olives, where Herod had a parcel of land. (The Uncovering of the Venerable Head is celebrated February 24). The holy body of John the Baptist was taken that night by his disciples and buried at Sebastia, there where the wicked deed had been done.

After the murder of Saint John the Baptist, Herod continued to govern for a certain time. Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, later sent Jesus Christ to him, Whom he mocked (Luke 23:7-12).

The judgment of God came upon Herod, Herodias and Salome, even during their earthly life. Salome, crossing the River Sikoris in winter, fell through the ice. The ice gave way in such a way that her body was in the water, but her head was trapped above the ice. It was similar to how she once had danced with her feet upon the ground, but now she flailed helplessly in the icy water. Thus she was trapped until that time when the sharp ice cut through her neck.

Her corpse was not found, but they brought the head to Herod and Herodias, as once they had brought them the head of Saint John the Baptist. The Arab king Aretas, in revenge for the disrespect shown his daughter, made war against Herod. The defeated Herod suffered the wrath of the Roman emperor Caius Caligua (37-41) and was exiled with Herodias first to Gaul, and then to Spain.

The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, a Feast day established by the Church, is also a strict fast day because of the grief of Christians at the violent death of the saint. In some Orthodox cultures pious people will not eat food from a flat plate, use a knife, or eat food that is round in shape on this day. 

With Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony

Please remember the Giving Grid and participate! Please pay attention to the continued/altered Liturgical Schedule as influenced by the realities of an on-going pandemic and health crisis. Please be patient, prayerful and understanding.

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Reflection August 16, 2020

When was such a wonder of wonders ever seen by men? How does the Queen of all lie breathless? How has the Mother of Jesus reposed? Thou, O Virgin, wast the preaching of the prophets; thou art heralded by us. All the people venerate thee; the angels glorify thee. Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee, and through thee, with us. With Gabriel we hymn thee, with the angels we glorify thee; and with the prophets we praise thee, for they announced thee.

Habakkum beheld thee as an overshadowed mountain, for thou art covered with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Daniel beheld thee as a mountain from whom, seedlessly, the solid and strong King, the Christ, issued forth. Jacob saw thee as a ladder upon Whom Christ came down to eat and drink with us. And although we, His slaves, contemplate ascending into the heavens, yet thou hast ascended before all. Rejoice, O Virgin, for Gideon beheld thee as a fleece. David saw thee as the virgin daughter of the King. Isaias called thee Mother of God and Ezekiel a gate. All the prophets prophesied thee!

What shall we call thee, O Virgin? Paradise. It is meet, for thou hast blossomed forth the flower of incorruption, Christ, Who is the sweet-smelling fragrance for the souls of men. Virgin? Verily, a virgin thou art, for without the seed of man thou gavest birth to our Lord Jesus Christ. Thou wast a virgin before birth and virgin at birth and still a virgin after. Shall we call thee Mother? This is meet too; for as a Mother thou gavest birth to Christ the King of all. Shall we name thee Heaven? This thou art also for upon thee rose the Sun of righteousness. Wherefore, rejoice O Virgin, and hasten to thy Son’s rest and dwell in the tents of His beloved. Hasten there and make ready a palace and remember us and all thy people also, too. O Lady Mother of God, for both we and thyself are of the race of Adam.

On account of this, intercede on our behalf; for this supplicate thy Son Whom thou hast held in thine embrace, and help us in our preaching and then afterwards that we may find rest in our hopes. Go forward, O Virgin from earth to heaven, from corruption to incorruption, from the sorrow of this world to the joy of the Kingdom of the heavens, from this perishable earth to the everlasting Heaven. Hasten, O Virgin to the heavenly light, to the hymns of the angels, to the glory of the saints from all the ages.

Hasten, O Virgin, to the place of thy Son, to His Kingdom, to His power, where the angels chant, the prophets glorify and the Archangels hymn the Mother of the King, who is the lit lampstand, wider than the heavens, the firmament above, the protection of Christians, and the mediatress of our race.

St. Hierotheos

May You Enjoy a Blessed Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter August 9, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A week from today, we as the faithful of Christ will gather together and commemorate the falling asleep of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and the daughter of our Matron St. Anna. As she passed from this life to the next, her ministry of prayer, support, intercession, grace, long-suffering and influence upon her Son continues into eternity. May we never cease to ask for her prayers. May we always recognize her influence in our lives. May we we be ever mindful of her love for humankind. 

The Feast of the Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or “falling-asleep” of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.

The Holy Scriptures tell us that when our Lord was dying on the Cross, He saw His mother and His disciple John and said to the Virgin Mary, “Woman, behold your son!” and to John, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:25-27). From that hour, the Apostle took care of the Theotokos in his own home.

Along with the biblical reference in Acts 1:14 that confirms that the Virgin Mary was with the Holy Apostles on the day of Pentecost, the tradition of the Church holds that she remained in the home of the Apostle John in Jerusalem, continuing a ministry in word and deed.

At the time of her death, the disciples of our Lord who were preaching throughout the world returned to Jerusalem to see the Theotokos. Except for the Apostle Thomas, all of them including the Apostle Paul were gathered together at her bedside. At the moment of her death, Jesus Christ himself descended and carried her soul into heaven.

Following her repose, the body of the Theotokos was taken in procession and laid in a tomb near the Garden of Gethsemane. When the Apostle Thomas arrived three days after her repose and desired to see her body, the tomb was found to be empty. The bodily assumption of the Theotokos was confirmed by the message of an angel and by her appearance to the Apostles.

The Icon of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos shows her on her deathbed surrounded by the Apostles. Christ is standing in the center (1.) looking at His mother. He is holding a small child clothed in white representing the soul of the Virgin Mary. With His golden garments, the angels above His head, and the mandorla (halo) surrounding Him, Christ is depicted in His divine glory.

This great Feast of the Church and the icon celebrates a fundamental teaching of our faith—the Resurrection of the body. In the case of the Theotokos, this has been accomplished by the divine will of God. Thus, this Feast is a feast of hope, hope in Resurrection and life eternal. Like those who gathered around the body of the Virgin Mary, we gather around our departed loved ones and commend their souls into the hands of Christ. As we remember those who have reposed in the faith before us and have passed on into the communion of the Saints, we prepare ourselves to one day be received into the new life of the age to come.

We also affirm through this Feast as we journey toward our heavenly abode that the Mother of God intercedes for us. Through Christ she has become the mother of all of the children of God, embracing us with divine love.

The commemoration of the Dormition of the Theotokos and the preparation for the Feast begin on August 1 with a period of fasting. A strict fast is followed on most of the days (no meat, dairy, oil, or wine), with the exceptions of fish on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6) and the day of the Dormition. Oil and Wine are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays.

On the weekdays before the Feast, Paraklesis services are held in most parishes. We at St. Anna have recently been accustomed to celebrating this service weekly as a prayerful response tp the pandemic. 

The Feast of the Dormition is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the Feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service. Scripture readings for the Feast of the Dormition are the following: At the Matins: Luke 1:39-49, 56. At the Divine Liturgy: Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28.

May this last week of preparation for her feast be blessed and I look forward to seeing you in church next Saturday as we celebrate the Dormition or Falling Asleep of the Theotokos.

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony

Thank you to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America for the information contained in this writing. 

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter June 21, 2020

Good Afternoon, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

I pray you are well, and that your spirits are full of the calm and peace of Jesus Christ. I look forward to the next opportunity to be with you, praying together in the church building that we worked so hard to acquire to the glory of God. Though I am still awaiting the results of my coronavirus test, I am confident in a negative result and fully expect to resume active ministry on June 25th. Please continue to pray for the welfare and good health of all who have suffered under the presence of this biological menace. 

This Sunday is Father’s Day and I am pleased to share that the church will be open for live worship! The Orthros will begin at 9:00 am followed by the Divine Liturgy at 10:00 am. Due to my continued quarantine, there will be no weekday services until after my first Sunday back in church. I am sorry for that great inconvenience. But we must all pray for the time when this is behind us.

Having been touched by the realities of coronavirus, institutionally and personally, I have gained a great sense of humility and helplessness against a force that is much greater than all of out control. We can take precautions, follow guidelines, create procedures and live life through vigilance. We can’t stop the spread. But we need to do all we can to mitigate it.

Therefore, through the direction of our parish council, and with my full, enthusiastic support, we have upgraded out mask policy at the church:Beginning with Sunday’s services, the wearing of a face mask is required to enter the building.

We are not the first Greek Orthodox Church to make face coverings necessary, and I’m sure we will not be the last. But more and more organizations are tightening this restriction rather than loosening. it. Though I shouldn’t need to say this, I feel compelled to anyway: this is not a political statement.

This has nothing to do with party affiliations, political philosophies, Constitutional interpretations or anything other than our desire to create the safest environment possible, so people are free to worship at ease, and with confidence that we take the spread of coronavirus seriously. 
Two weeks ago, we opened the church, and right off the bat we had a positive case of the virus at church. Had we not responsibly acted on safety measures, and had there not been a 100% compliance with our face mask request, perhaps our benign outcome would have been disastrously altered.  It makes full sense to look out for each other, respect our mutual desire for wellness and dawn a mask for a couple hours.

Our community was established through positive energy, selfless sacrifice, a familial sense of community, the prayers of St. Anna, our protector and, and through the creative hand of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us continue on this same path, walking together (six feet apart, of course) and moving collectively to the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel.

To all of our dads, grandfathers and godfathers, I pray fervently for you and the families who will honor you. I welcome Fr. Nicholas Andruchow as our celebrant on Sunday, June 21st, and thank him for not allowing us to suffer another Sunday without a St. Anna Divine Liturgy. I, like many of you, will be worshiping at St. Anna’s through my computer. I find that a blessing, in that it will give me a more intimate exposure to your own  liturgical experience, and will undoubtedly help me improve our live streaming process.

God Bless and Be Well!

With Much Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony Savas 

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter May 31, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It’s been said that The Nativity of Christ is God with us. The Wood of the Cross is God for us. The Feast of Pentecost is God within us.

Indeed, these are simple, theological statements, but they are also very true. The events in Bethlehem prove that the Incarnate God had chosen to live with, and minister to humankind. The events of the Crucifixion are witness to God’s unyielding love for his fallen creation. And though Pentecost does not take place until next Sunday, I am reminding you now, that this great Feast is nothing short of God taking up permanent residence in the bodies and souls of the Christian Faithful. As the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we become consecrated vessels, living temples and hallowed beings.

 We have one more week before this wondrous miracle is made manifest and becomes a new reality in the continuous cycle of our liturgical life. Please use this week in prayer and preparation. To be sure, we have much to prepare for, and pray about.

Sunday, June 7th, the Day of Pentecost is the first day in two months that you are welcome to return to church and worship with your fellow St. Anna Parishioners. Are you ready? Are you prepared? If you are, that is fantastic and I can’t wait to see you. If you still feel uneasy about venturing out, please be reminded that there is no judgment against anyone moving at a slower pace. St. Anna’s will be there, waiting for you when you prayerfully decide to put away your dress sweats and fancy bathrobes, and actually come to a service!

I’m sending these reminders a week early so you can mark your calendars and get your self prepared. We have everything arranged for your return. While the sanctuary will look very different from the last time you were present, with chairs removed, directional decals on the floor and signs posted inside and out, the familiarity of the home you acquired will cover you like a warm blanket.

We have space for approximately 86 people, since we have expanded the sanctuary to include the over-flow space behind the barn doors. I have not devised a system to have you sign up because based on my conversations with you, there are quite a few families who are waiting a bit longer to return. Never the less, I am praying that I’ll see 86 of you next Sunday.

When you come, please be courteous to your fellow Christians and wear a face mask. Are we requiring the use of a mask? No. Are we strongly encouraging you to do the right, thing, use common sense and do your part to slow the spread of coronavirus, and anything else that may come from an errant sneeze or cough? Yes. Yes, we are.

The following Tuesday, June 9th will be our first service celebrated for parishioners who are at least 65. Liturgy only – at 9:00 am. Please enjoy the extra measure of safety that has been prepared for you.

And as another reminder, starting next week (NOT this week) the Paraklesis Service is being moved to Thursday evenings and you are also welcome and encouraged to come to the church for that service. 
Starting the second week of June, I am going to start a Bible Study on Wednesday Evenings at 7:00 via Zoom. Please email me if you are interested in participating and I will send you the link. We will study points of Scripture that speak to calamity  and distress. These times have been challenging and difficult. The Bible has much to say to comfort, guide and ground us. I’ve enjoyed my preparations for this Bible Study. It has given me much comfort already.

I hope to see more of you tomorrow, with your families to receive Holy Communion tomorrow after the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. 
If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you as soon as possible,

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter May 17, 2020

Patient endurance kills the despair that kills the soul; it teaches the soul to take comfort and not to grow listless in the face of its many battles and afflictions

St. Peter of Damaskos

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is Risen!
Truly He is Risen!

I trust and pray that this writing finds you well, in good health and in high spirits. The challenging days that we have endured, and the ones that most certainly lie ahead, have and will be the test of our generation in the face of adversity on a large and pervasive scale.

Thus far, as a community of faith and a Christian family, we have continued to weather this storm with grace, patience and hope. I pray that these virtues will continue to guide us as we begin, ever so gingerly, to emerge from that which has constrained us and dictated our every move – most especially our ability to gather together as worshippers of the most high God.  

Late last week, we received a new set of directives from His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver. The Protocol was prefaced with a letter from Dn. Paul Zaharas, the chancellor of the Metropolis of Denver. He stated that “to be clear, this is not a blanket permission to resume services, but rather for doing so when possible in your area.”

This statement was meant for the prudent pastor to internalize every word; to know the directives of local governments, to assess the readiness of his given congregation and  the strengths/liabilities of the physical campus in which he serves.

This past week I have been able to meet with the chancellor of the Metropolis and all Metropolis of Denver clergy, local Greek Orthodox Priests and our parish team that has been assembled to develop and execute a prudent and deliberate plan for us to return to church as safely as possible. After all of these meetings and with all of our shared experience in mind, we are ready to begin our opening.

Please be aware that at any time, due to changes in State regulations or Metropolis directives, these plans may be altered in part or completely.

In one week from tomorrow, we will begin the slow task of opening up the church on Sunday’s much like we were doing before our worship was closed for good.

Per CDC recommendations, the wishes of the St. Anna Parish Council, my urgent request, and your common, good sense, and in consideration for safety of those around you, all who enter St. Anna’s will be asked to be wearing a face mask. You should know that by Metropolis decree, I am required to wear a face mask while distributing Holy Communion.

Per His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, individuals who have been exposed to the virus, experienced symptoms, or who are part of vulnerable groups, should stay home and be ministered to by the priest.

Sundays, May 24th and 31st will be open for the faithful to receive Communion following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Communion will be offered in the Narthex of St. Anna’s from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Sunday, June 7th, The Feast of Pentecost will be the first, scheduled service where the faithful are permitted to attend. This will be a glorious day. The chairs in the sanctuary, and pews in the over-flow space will be reconfigured to reflect social distancing requirements. Families are welcome to sit together. All individual worshipers, couples and families are still required to be six feet from one another.

Services for Worshipers 65 and Older will be celebrated once a week, likely Tuesday mornings. This Divine Liturgy will be offered to those who require an extra blanket of safety measures and we are happy to offer it to them.

Appointments for Communion, Confession and Unction are now, thankfully permitted. Please contact me directly to schedule a visit, either in your home or at the church for individual opportunities to participate in the Sacramental Life of the Church. I very much look forward to resuming ministry at this level.

Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals are now permitted to resume. Although His Eminence recommends that these services (not funerals) be postponed if possible, the church is able to offer these Sacraments, with modest numbers of participants and while exercising social distancing protocols.

Choirs and Congregational Singing are not permitted until further notice. A single chanter is to be utilized in the worship of the church. A second chanter is permitted if they are arranged far apart. Since we are accustomed to singing out while in church, and this is a practice that we know will be hard to resist, this is all the more reason that we wear masks in church.

Weekday and Other Services will continue, but while considering safe practices. For example, Saturday Evening Great Vespers will continue to be available only through livestreaming. The time between Vespers and Liturgy the next day does not give ample time to properly disinfect the space. After June 7th, the faithful may participate in Weekly Paraklesis Services, and other services, per the liturgical calendar. Parishioners that are +65 are the only ones permitted to attend such Liturgies.

Livestreaming will continue at all times, even after the pandemic has been put to rest.

Social Gatherings, Meetings and Classes are still prohibited per Metropolis directives. As soon as these practices can be revived, I will joyfully resume them. Until then, I have been learning how to utilize Zoom teleconferencing and will begin a summer Bible Study and other digital opportunities for growth and fellowship.

As parish leadership, we are taking this time to be proficient in cleaning practices, disinfecting protocols, traffic flow designs and air-flow, and most especially increased prayer.

Increased and Sustaining Prayer!

Do all of these requirements sound too worldly? Do you detect a lack of faith in our church leadership from the bishop to the priest? Please do not. Our sacred and perfect Church exists in the realities of fallen nature. We are subject to disease and exist in a state of fallen grace. Do not confuse caution, respect for life, practical realities, and the sanctity of the person with over-zealous practices. Our Metropolitan’s actions illustrate that we should be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I, as well as the entirety of our parish council are in full agreement.

In closing, I remind you to call, email or text so that we can schedule a time for you to come back to your church. Come visit! I am anxious to see you! Happy to minister unto you.

With Love in our Risen Lord,

Fr. Anthony

On a grateful note: I am thankful to announce that within less than 48 hours of announcing our St. Anna Virtual Food Drive to benefit the Utah Food Bank, we surpassed our goal of $5,000. I thank you for your continued generosity in the face of adversity. Know that that amount equates to almost $40,000 in practical goods and services using the leverage of Utah Food Bank resources. 

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter April 5, 2020


Love for God and for one’s neighbor, they go together and cannot be divorced

With silence, tolerance and prayer we benefit others in a mystical way

When we see that the people around us have no love for God we are distressed. But with our distress we achieve nothing at all. Nor do we achieve anything by trying to persuade them to change their ways. That’s not right either. There is a secret, however, and if we understand it, we will be able to help. The secret is our prayer and our devotion to God so that His grace may act. We, with our love, with our fervent desire for the love of God, will attract grace so that it washes over those around us and awakens them to divine love. Or rather God will send His love and will rouse them all. What we are unable to do, His grace will achieve. With our prayers, we will make all worthy of God’s love.

And you should be aware of something else. Souls that have known pain and suffering and that are tormented by their passions win most especially the love and grace of God. It is souls such as these that become saints, and very often we pass judgment on them. Remember what Saint Paul says, Where sin abounded, grace flowed even more abundantly.1 When you remember this, you will feel that these people are more worthy than you and than me. We see them as weak, but when they open themselves to God they become all love and all divine eros.* Whereas previously they had acquired different habits, they now give all the power of their soul to Christ and are set on fire by Christ’s love. That is how God’s miracle works in such souls, which we regard as ‘lost’.

We shouldn’t be discouraged, nor should we rush to conclusions, nor judge on the basis of superficial and external things. If, for example, you see a woman immodestly dressed, don’t have regard only for her outward appearance, but look more deeply into her soul. She may be a very good soul with an existential restlessness, which she expresses through her shocking appearance. She has a dynamism within her, the power of self-projection; she wishes to attract the eyes of others. But through lack of awareness she has distorted things. Think what would happen if she were to come to know Christ. She would believe and she would turn all her passion towards Christ. She would do everything to attract the grace of God. She would become a saint.

It is a kind of self-projection of our own when we insist on other people becoming good. In reality, we wish to become good, but because we are unable to, we demand it of others and insist on this. And whereas all things are corrected through prayer, we often are distressed or become outraged and pass judgment on others.

Often through our anxieties and fears and our poor psychological state, without intending to and without being aware of it, we do harm to another person, even if we love him very much, as, for example, a mother loves her child. The mother transmits to the child all her anxiety about its life, about its health and about its progress, even if she doesn’t speak to the child and even if she doesn’t express what she has inside her. This love, this natural love, that is, can on occasion be harmful. This is not true, however, of the love of Christ that is combined with prayer and holiness of life. This love makes a person holy; it brings him peace, because God is love.

Let our love be only in Christ. In order to benefit others you must live in the love of God, otherwise you are unable to do good to your fellow man. You mustn’t pressurize the other person. His time will come, as long as you pray for him. With silence, tolerance and above all by prayer we benefit others in a mystical way. The grace of God clears the horizon of his mind and assures him of His love. Here is the fine point. As soon as he accepts that God is love, then abundant light such as he has never seen will come upon him. Thus he will find salvation.

From “Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios” (1906-1991)

Do you want to show love for your neighbor? Stay inside. Keep a safe distance if you need to go out.

Protect yourselves. Protect those whom you don’t even know!

Attention St. Anna Parishioners:

Though we have not altered the church calendar printed in the Bulletin, we are awaiting instructions from the Archdiocese and Metropolis as to how we are to celebrate the Divine Services of Holy Week and Pascha during our present pandemic situation. The schedule will most certainly change.

As soon as I have concrete direction, I will redesign our Holy Week Flyer and send it out.

Hope to have you with us online for tonight’s chanting of the Akathist Hymn at 7:00 pm on YouTube.

God Bless!

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter March 29, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

God bless and keep you all. I pray you are well. I pray you are not lonely. I pray you are hopeful. I pray you find joy in this shaken world.

Christ is Joy!

Thank you for sending in your pictures of your home churches. I will be sharing them from time to time. It is important that we begin to identify our personal, home altars as the sacred spaces that they are. We are unable to be together, gathered as a worshiping body in the holy space which we all worked so hard to acquire. But do not be despondent or grieving. We are learning the lessons that countless Orthodox Christians through history have experienced.

When war raged around the cities and villages, the home became the church.

When Islamic Turks attempted to eradicate the presence of Christ for nearly 400 years, the home became the church.

When communism attempted to silence the voice of the Saints for nearly 70 years, the home became the church.

As the Coronavirus Pandemic rages on, the home, your home has become the church!

Of course the difference is, that we can literally have the church in our homes, given the miracles of technology.

Tomorrow morning at 9:00 am we will celebrate the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts.

Tomorrow evening at 7:00 pm, we will celebrate the Fourth Stanza of the Salutations to the Theotokos.

Sunday Services are as scheduled. Following Sunday’s Divine Liturgy, St. Anna’s will also be open from Noon to 1:00 pm for Communion and for you to come into the church and pray. Please keep respectful distances to maintain the safety of the greater community. Members of the Parish Council will be there to assist.

The link to our YouTube Channel is

The proper equipment for our live streaming capabilities is slowing coming in. People are working hard to deliver to you the best quality experience.  So thank you for your continued patience.

But then again, to my prior point, we are praying comfortably in our homes, with televisions, computers and smart phones. We are not held up in the basements of Leningrad or in the caves of Cappadocia. I suppose our grainy picture and garbled, under-water sound isn’t so bad after all!

Please work to establish and continue a proper discipline of prayer; using this newly-found time to your spiritual benefit and salvific advantage. My family and I, gathered around an icon of the Holy Trinity this evening at 10:00 pm and prayed the prescribed and altered version of the Jesus Prayer, asking God’s mercy upon His created world. Our simple, six-person contribution to the universal voice of collective Orthodox Christian prayer was palpable. Please prayerfully participate. God will hear our plea. He will receive our prayers. He will accept our petitions.

And lastly, c’mon now, there are still a few empty chairs in the church. I need you there with me. Send in your pictures. Once this is all over and we can come together again, I will bind all of these pictures together as an eternal reminder of our love for one another, united in the Body of Christ, while gratefully calling St. Anna’s our home.

Stay strong. Be well. Check in on each other. Pray the new Jesus Prayer. Pray the actual Jesus Prayer. Pour yourselves into the Scriptures. Chant the Liturgy at home. Be as One!

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony

I really, really, really miss you. 

Pastoral Letters

Prayer After an Earthquake

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.

O God, who has established the earth upon firm foundations, graciously receive the prayers of Your people: and, having utterly removed the dangers of the shaken earth, turn the terrors of Your divine wrath into the means of the salvation of mankind; that they who are of the earth may rejoice to find themselves citizens of heaven by means of a holy life.

These things we ask in Your Holy Name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit.