Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter September 30, 2018

A Thank You Note…

Dear Choir, Chanters and Singers of Hymns,

I just wanted to send this note of appreciation to let you know how much I value your prayerful preparation, unassuming sacrifice and the sharing of your talents, as you sing God’s praises in the midst of our precious congregation.

Next Monday, October 1st is the celebration of St. Romanos the Melodist, the patron saint of Orthodox Church Musicians. Though there have been many hymnographers who have dedicated themselves to articulating the sacred theology and doctrine of our ancient, Orthodox Christian Faith, St. Romanos stands out for his righteousness, humility, miraculous abilities and prolific writing. He penned, through God’s inspiration, well over 1,000 hymns in throughout his ministry of song.

But without you; our choir and our chanters, the work of St. Romanos would be relegated to a museum or dusty library. You bring to life his precious work. Through your collective voice, you lift words from the page, and place them in the ears and hearts of worshipers.

You transform text into inspiration. You allow us to communicate with angles. You guide us, you lead us, and you encourage us to sing out…and our parishioners join you, as best they can.

Since the Sunday closest to the Feast of St. Romanos is elevated as “Church Musician Sunday,” this coming Sunday is a day that is prayerfully dedicated to you.

We will graciously and thankfully pray for you. And of course, those very prayers will be carried to the throne of God upon the chariot that is fashioned by the wave of your collective voice.

God has placed the gift of music in your hearts. And unselfishly, you share that gift with us, as you profess His glory.

Thank you for your commitment and thank you for your love of the Lord. Thank you for the music you provide. I remain,

With Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony
On Behalf of our St. Anna Parish


Weekly Bulletin for September 30, 2018

Weekly Bulletin for September 30, 2018

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter September 23, 2018

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
– 2 Corinthians 1:1-4

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the statement quoted above, which serve as St. Paul’s introduction to his second correspondence with the church in Corinth, we find the key words “church,” mentioned once and “comfort,” mentioned five times. That is, the word “comfort” was written five times in only four verses of the Bible.

I believe that two of the most positive words in the English language are “church” and “comfort.”

When we hear “church” we think of glorious, Byzantine structures, doctrinal entities, rich liturgical practices, sacred traditions, social networks and the place to be, among the people with whom, we want to be.

When we hear “comfort,” images of cozy spaces, pats on the back, familiarity, warm relationships, confidence in one’s surroundings, and predictability are conjured up, in the mind.

Of course, I am basing my thoughts on 21st Century English. St. Paul however, wrote in 1st Century Greek. Big difference. Big, big difference. The two languages are separated by centuries, context, linguistic roots, grammatical structures and cultural realities.

In other words, St. Paul is using these words in very different ways than we might understand them today, in our time and in our language.

We must also understand the words for “church” and “comfort” are linguistic expressions which stem from the same Greek root. Christian author, Steve Sweetman breaks it down for us in this way (Please stay with me, this is important.):

Try to think this through with me. Both “church” and “comfort” are translated from the Greek root word “klesis.” “Klesis” means, “call, called, or, to call,” depending on whether it’s used as a verb or a noun. The only difference between “church” and “comfort” in Greek are their prefixes, that is, the letters in front of the root word “klesis.” That’s why they’re linguistic limbs, stemming from the same root. The two words are closely related.

Our English word “church” is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia.” “Ekklesia” is made up of “ek,” meaning, “out of,” and, “klesis,” meaning, “call or called.” Thus, “ekklesia,” or “church,” when applied to people are those who “are called out of.” Note the similarity between “ekklesia” and “paraklesis.” Our English word “comfort” is translated from the Greek word “paraklesis.” “Paraklesis” is also made up of two Greek words. They are, “para,” meaning, “alongside,” and “klesis,” meaning, “call or called.” Thus, “paraklesis,” or “comfort,” means, “to come alongside.”

In simple terms, “church” (ekklesia) is comprised of people whom Jesus has “called out of” (ekklesia) the world and placed “alongside” (paraklesis) other “called out people.”

If you can dig your way beneath our English text, into the world of 1st century Greek language and culture, you’ll understand what Paul is getting at when he uses the word “comfort” in the context of “church.” Comfort has little to do with hugs, kisses, and warm fuzzy feelings. It has everything to do with being placed “alongside” others in the Body of Christ and doing whatever is necessary in helping others to fulfill God’s will for the Church. The word “comfort” as defined in Biblical terms is more related to the word “church” than it is to what we might think it means today.

Got that? Good. Greek Class dismissed.

All that said, those two words are linguistically and spiritually linked to mean that they are really one in the same. to be called out in service to God, and to stand next to those who have also received their calling unto salvation, is the understanding of both “church” and “comfort.”

Here is my point to all this, (and thank you for not abandoning this message): that in the realities of our Orthodox Christian worship and practice, St. Paul’s 1st Century understanding of the words, and our contemporary context are fused together with such graceful harmony that it can only come from God.

The Paraklesis Service in the Orthodox Church is a service of prayerful acknowledgement that we, as sinners, are in need of comfort. We are in need of the Church. We are in need of being called out by God to fulfill His purpose in us, and we are called to stand in the midst of those who have been similarly called out. You see? The English and Greek speaking worlds of today and those, long past are seamlessly presented before us.

The Paraklesis service (same word, same Greek lesson), is a supplicatory cannon, that is written to any number of saints, in order that, in response to our prayer, the requests of the Faithful are answered by God. That is: answered by God through the intersessions of the saint, with whom we direct our prayers to our loving King and Master.

Of course, the most common Paraklesis Service is chanted to the Theotokos; primarily during the first two weeks of August in preparation for the celebration of her Dormition.

There are many other saints, to whom these services have been dedicated. They include, among others, St, Panteleimon, St. Nektarios, St. Nicholas and others.

Included in this list is our own St. Anna.

As I have mentioned to you in other writings and in past announcements, once our Shrine is in place, anchored by the relic of St. Anna, we will begin these services to be conducted monthly. Therefore:

The Inaugural Service of Paraklesis to the Righteous Ancestor of God, St. Anna will be conducted Next Friday Evening, September 28th at 7:00 pm.

At the time of this writing, the fundamental elements of our Shrine will arrive in time for Sunday Services. Although the iconography for our Shrine is an on-going process that will take several months to complete, our altar table is in place; the reliquary, vigil light and oil lamps are in transit. They arrived in the States just yesterday, and should be delivered to the church office today.

In anticipation of our “sacred and new normal,”I suggest that you begin to develop the following prayerful routine:

Upon entering the sanctuary, look to see if the oil lamps on the Shrine are illumined. If so, that is your indication that her holy relic is displayed for veneration.

Proceed up the right aisle of the church, bow a small prostration before her holy relic, venerate her most valuable presence among us, cross yourselves once again, and proceed to your desired place to worship in the church.

Please…never, ever take her presence for granted. The sacredness which accompanies her physical existence is a blessing that will never fade; so long as we keep our Matron Saint Anna in our hearts, and in the forefront of our minds, as we enter the church. If her relic is displayed for pious veneration, please proceed directly to the Shrine and offer your prayers, that they may be graciously presented, through her intercessions, to her Grandson, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Again, check to see if the lamps are burning, for the relic will not be brought out for every service.

St. Paul writes of comfort within the Church. We understand very well what he means by those words. But always remember, that we are typically most comfortable in the loving presence of our own mothers, godmothers and grandmothers.

St. Anna, the Mother…of the Mother of God…is a source of life and a source of the Church’s earthly existence. Indeed, she is a source of great comfort.

I’m confident that even St. Paul would not disagree.

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas


Weekly Bulletin for September 23, 2018

Weekly Bulletin for September 23, 2018


Services for Sunday, September 16, 2018

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter September 16, 2018

“Because of the Fall of man, the natural order of things has become chaotic. In nature, there is an order for all things, but with man there is chaos; everything is distorted and turned around.” – Elder Thaddeus

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The above-mentioned quote from Elder Thaddeus of Vitivnica (Serbia) is one of my favorites. It can be applied to a myriad of vices, foibles and weaknesses. It answers a lot of questions, explains a lot of issues. It sums up our entire existence in a short, pithy, little statement.

The Elder certainly has a view of mankind that can be considered dis-favorable, to say the least. But, really, the bottom line in this bumper sticker of a condemnation, is just that we have our priorities misaligned.

That’s it.

It means that we can do better.

And in that spirit, the only chaos I’d like to discuss is tardiness in church.

While coming late to the Liturgy may not topple the “natural order of things,” it is nevertheless, a loss of proper priorities and an introduction to chaos in the Divine Liturgy.

Firstly, I will say this: that I am thankful (for the sake of your souls) that you take the time to get up, get ready, prepare, and make it to church on Sunday. This, of course is not to be rewarded.

We are Orthodox Christians. Worship is the center of our very lives. Honoring the Lord, approaching His throne, receiving the Sacraments, hearing His Word, engaging in the fellowship of His Name, and seeking forgiveness of sins is…what we do, who we are, and what we are called to be.

But it seems that the age-old tendency of moving the personal, start-time of the Divine Liturgy is on the move. On the move backwards. Later and Later.

This, of course is not a problem unique to St. Anna’s.

Case in point: please read the following excerpt from the website of a Greek Orthodox Church on the east coast. This statement, this church policy statement would be laughable, were it not part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Entering the Church Late The time to arrive at church is before the service starts, but for some unknown reason, it has become the custom – or rather the bad habit – for some to come to church late. If you arrive after the Divine Liturgy begins, try to enter the church quietly – and observe what is happening. If the Epistle or Gospel is being read or the Little or Great Entrance is taking place, wait until it is finished to quickly find a seat. If Father is giving the sermon, stay in the back until he has concluded. If in doubt, check with one of the ushers to see if it is a good time to be seated. Try not to interrupt the Liturgy with your entrance. The best way to avoid this problem is to arrive on time, then you don’t have to wonder if it’s okay to come in or not. People who come late to the Liturgy should not partake of the Eucharist.

This little gem of church etiquette spends a great deal of time, politely dancing around the fact that coming into the church while the Liturgy is being celebrated is a great distraction to those who have already joined the assembly of worshipers.

Of course, the announcement in our Bulletin is much more direct:

Church Etiquette Reminder: Please remember that no one should enter the church during the Small Entrance, the Great Entrance, the Epistle Reading, the Gospel Reading, or the Creed. Please remain in the hallway, narthex or fellowship hall during these parts of the Divine Liturgy if you have not already entered the church. Thank you!

It is sort of a shame that we need to print such things at all. I ask, with humility that since you are taking the time to come to church, please do so more appropriately and make a greater effort to come on time.

Perhaps you’ve noticed, there are more and more visitors to St. Anna’s each Sunday. I welcome people into our home and am grateful that we are all gathered together, around the bountiful table of our Lord.

One of the greatest complaints that visitors and converts have of Orthodox worship is the distraction of people coming into the sanctuary throughout the entirety of the service.

It’s easy to identify the starting times of worship at St. Thomas More, our host community. The parking lot fills up instantly just before Mass begins.

Last Sunday, I believe there were about 20 people in in church when the Liturgy started. That number swelled to around 200 people by the time we started the Sunday School Blessing.

I realize that it is hard to get children moving in the early hours. And that many of us already live with morning chaos during the week. But I beg of all of us, we must make a more concerted effort to dignify the services and make a better attempt to be in place when the Liturgy begins.

I would also ask one other favor, while we are on this subject. If we find ourselves late for the Liturgy and come into the sanctuary, please refrain from greeting, kissing, waving and engaging people who are standing, chanting, praying and engaged in the service. We can greet each other with love, enthusiasm and Christian joy in the Narthex and in the Fellowship Hall. Its really not appropriate to engage in conversations, even friendly ones, while the Liturgy is being celebrated.

By the time we enter the church, we should have our “game face” on.

For the purpose of respecting everyone’s time, giving more structure to our Sunday School start/finish times, and dignifying our services without dragging them into the afternoon, we start the Liturgy about 15 minutes earlier than in the past. Please be aware of this start time and adjust accordingly.

Parents of Altar Boys, please have your sons and grandsons in the Altar by 10:00 am. Last week, we had kids coming to serve up until the Great Entrance. I hope you can see that this is not an acceptable way to approach ministry in the Altar.

We have started a new school year and anticipate a glorious season of worship, service, prayer, learning and growth in the Holy Spirit. Our precious Orthodox Faith affords us countless opportunities to participate in the life that Christ established for us and in hope that we could accept eternal life. So in this spirit, I ask that we pacify Elder Thaddeus and let him know that mankind has not “distorted everything” and “turned everything around.”

To be sure, we are created in the image of God. And yet, we are products of a fallen world.

Let’s recapture the full glory of the Kingdom and reach the height of our human potential…

…and come to church on time.

With Much Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony

And by the way…if this is our worst issue (which it is), praise God in the Highest!

Today is the Feast of The Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross. I wish a blessed Feast to all who celebrate this Day as their own! Chronia Polla! Many Years!


Weekly Bulletin for September 16, 2018

Weekly Bulletin for September 16, 2018
Diamond Necklace Drawing
JOY-GOYA Kick Off 2018

Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter September 9, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Please be reminded of the following important dates and activities:

This Sunday, September 9th is the FIRST WEEK OF SUNDAY SCHOOL.
I look forward to welcoming back everyone to church and will be happy and blessed to see you and your children

Orthros begins at 9:00 am. The Great Doxology begins at 10:05 am. The Divine Liturgy begins at 10:15 am (from now on).

Children are to remain in church following Holy Communion for the Recognition of the Teachers and Blessing of the Waters for the New School Year.

Starting next Sunday, students and teachers will be dismissed following Holy Communion. Please follow the instructions of the ushers.

Next Sunday, September 16th is our JOY and GOYA Youth Sunday Kick Off! Details are in the attached flyer and in the Weekly Bulletin.

Enjoy a blessed remainder of the week. See you this Sunday as the ministries of St. Anna begin to unfold for the 2018-2019 School Year.

God Bless!


Services for Sunday, September 9, 2018


Weekly Bulletin for September 9, 2018

Weekly Bulletin for September 9, 2018
Diamond Necklace Drawing
JOY-GOYA Kick Off 2018