Pastoral Letter October 1, 2017

“The Most High planted in the middle of Paradise The thrice blessed wood, the gift of life for us, In order that, in approaching it, Adam might find eternal and immortal life, But he did not strive earnestly to know this life, And he failed to attain it, and revealed death. However, the robber, seeing how the plant in Eden Had been beautifully transplanted in Golgotha, Recognized the life in it and said to himself: `This is what my father lost formerly In Paradise.’”
– St. Romanos the Melodist, On the Adoration at the Cross

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday, October 1st is the Feast of St. Romanos the Melodist. Regarded as the greatest of the musician saints of the Church, he is lifted up for his virtues of humility and steadfastness before his talents as a writer and a chanter. As far as those two talents were concerned: writing and chanting, Romanos could do neither very well. Year after year he worked at his prayerful craft only to be disappointed with his efforts. The words of his prayerful hymns did not communicate effectively, the theology of the Church. Nor did his voice; his weak, pitiful voice, proclaim the richness of the Byzantine traditions of inspired chanters.

That is until one Christmas season, when he had a dream that the Theotokos gave him a small, sweet-tasting scroll to swallow. In his dream, he consumed the sacred and little object. As he approached the chanting stand, the very next day – that being Christmas Eve, he felt a lack of confidence for the last time in his life. Glorious words came forth from the depths of his soul. Those words were communicated to the faithful through the most incredible voice that anyone in the church that evening could have imagined. In the midst of an evening’s sleep, his abilities to chant, his theological knowledge and his doctrinal articulation were lovingly crafted by the Mother of God, herself. Though he is not alone in the pantheon of sainted church musicians, such as St. John of Damascus and St. Cassiane, he is regarded as the chief among them.

Please join me this Sunday, immediately following the Divine Liturgy to honor our church musicians; chanters and choir members. The services of the Orthodox Church would be unrecognizable without the ministry of those who lift up their voices in song. First-time observes to our worship will notice, immediately, that we praise God in hymns, we pray in song, we doxologize and we glorify with glad voices. I suppose that we are all church musicians, as our parish continues to grow in our congregational singing. But Sunday’s acknowledgements are for those whop dedicate their time to practice and preparation in the arena of chant. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to those who sing in the church. Your ministry is one of love and the celebration of the gifts God gave you. I very much appreciate you sharing those gifts with the people who gather around the Lord’s table for our collective Eucharistic celebration. The Divine Liturgy is, by definition, the “work of the people.” In worship, there is no greater witness of this work, than those who sing out. Our parish has tremendously grown and matured in our singing. Thank you all for your dedication to this divine art.

Blessing our chanters and singers, I remain,

In Christ’s Loving Service,
Fr. Anthony

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN OUR GREEK FOLK DANCE PROGRAM, PLEASE COME TO OUR INTRODUCTORY MEETING THIS SUNDAY, AT 12:30 IN THE CHURCH. DANCE PRACTICES BEGIN NEXT WEEK, OCTOBER 8TH AFTER SUNDAY SCHOOL.

GOYA AND JOY WILL KICK OFF THE NEW SEASON OF YOUTH MINISTRY SUNDAY AT 5:00 PM. 2009 WALDO DRIVE IN HOLLADAY. PLEASE, PARENTS AND CHILDREN, JOIN US!

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE YET TO PARTICIAPTE IN OUR CAPITAL CAMPAIGN AS WE STRIVE TO ACQUIRE THE ATRIUM PROPERTY FOR OUR CHURCH, PLEASE PRAYERFULLY CONSIDER YOUR FAMILY’S CONTRIBUTION AND COMMUNICATE YOUR INTENTIONS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. WE’RE ON THE CLOCK! THANKS! GOD BLESS!!!

THOUGH WE STILL HAVE SEVERAL PEOPLE TO INSPIRE, AND MUCH MORE FUNDS TO RAISE, I LIFT UP OUR COMMUNITY; BARELY THREE YEARS OLD, AND WE’VE SURPASSED THE MILLION DOLLAR MARK IN FUND RAISING FOR OUR NEW CHURCH. THAT IS TO BE CELEBRATED AND GRATEFULLY ACKNOWLEDGED. YOU ARE ALL WONDERFUL!