Pastoral Letter August 12, 2018

Dearly Beloved in the Lord,

With the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos to be celebrated next Wednesday morning, I thought it best to share with you a lovely message that was sent to me today; the Encyclical for the Dormition by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America. His thoughts and message for us captures exquisitely the intimate and lovely spirit of these days, as we approach with extreme humility, the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos. Please take the time to read the important information that I have included, following the message from His Eminence. Thank you.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate this blessed Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, “in radiant joy with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs together with the angels and the apostles,” we give thanks to God for the revelation of His abundant grace and glorious power through the life and witness of the Virgin Mary. In our commemoration of her and the holiness of her life and service, we are reminded of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, All things are possible to the one who believes. (Mark 9:23).

This assurance of Christ, that through faith the impossible becomes possible, that as people of God we can move beyond limitations to accomplish great and marvelous things in His name, was the focus of the theme of our recent Clergy-Laity Congress. In faith and love we gathered together in Boston and affirmed that all things are possible to the one who believes in Christ.

Today we can once again offer a witness of this truth. In our reflection on the life of the Theotokos, we know that she found favor with God, the Holy Spirit came upon her, and she conceived and carried in her womb the Son of God. She asked the angel following the annunciation of the Incarnation of Christ, How shall this be, since I have no husband? (Luke 1:34) How could this be accomplished by this holy and humble handmaiden of God? All things are possible to the one who believes.

On this Feast of the Dormition, we marvel at her repose and the witness that she offered in passing through death unto eternal life. We sing, “She who is higher than the heavens and more glorious than the cherubim, she who is held in greater honor than all creation…today commends her most pure soul into the hands of her Son.” How did this happen? How does she continue to offer intercessions on behalf of us all? How did she receive such an exalted place? All things are possible to the one who believes.

The potential of this promise through the power of faith and through the holy witness of the Theotokos offers us assurance and strength. The disciples of our Lord were encouraged and guided by her and her holiness of life. Her repose became a celebration of the abundant and eternal life that comes through faith in Christ. This Feast is one of hope and assurance, affirming that even through our burdens and challenges, even in the face of obstacles that seem insurmountable, even through physical hardships and spiritual struggles, all things are possible to the one who believes in Christ.

The power of faith and the unlimited possibilities before us for ministry and service should also be our focus. At our recent Clergy-Laity Congress, we affirmed our commitment to supporting the work of our parishes and helping faithful throughout our Holy Archdiocese explore the potential of the witness of our Orthodox faith. Together we are committed to ensuring the strength and vitality of our witness. I ask that you continue to focus on this theme as you plan for a new ecclesiastical year and consider the impact and potential of our sacred work.

May the blessings of you the Lord be with you on this Feast of the Dormition, and may we seek the intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos as we explore the boundless and unlimited potential of our faith in Christ.”

With paternal love in Him,

† D E M E T R I O S

I would also remind you of a few important items in the life of our community:

For those of you who have received the survey regarding our parish future, please take it on line or request a paper copy. It is imperative that we have a strong representation of the opinions, aspirations and sensibilities of the individual, St. Anna households. It only takes about 20 minutes and is easy to negotiate through and answer. Please, take the survey.

In case you missed the article in last Sunday’s Salt Lake Tribune about the reception of our holy Relics and how they are associated with our filial relationship with the St. Thomas More community, I have included the link for you. You can find the article here. I suggest that even if you have read the article in its printed version, please read it online also. The Salt Lake Tribune relies on the interest of its audience in order to produce stories that highlight our community. In other words, if they can measure a sizable interest in stories about the Orthodox Church in Utah, they will give us more attention. It’s that simple.

In relation to our holy Relic of St. Anna, we are in the process of establishing a shrine within our sanctuary, dedicated to the ministry and life of St. Anna. This will be a most appropriate space for the veneration and appreciation of her holy presence in our lives and in our church. Please pay special attention to the catalogue of needed items for our shrine that are listed in this week’s Bulletin. Your prayerful and generous support of this effort is greatly appreciated.

Please be aware that this Friday evening, August 10th, following the Paraklesis Service, the children of our Vacation Bible School will sing the hymns and songs that they learned during camp. Thank you to Barbara Hillas and Crew for putting together such a wonderful experience for our little ones. We hope to spiritually benefit from a strong participation of our VBS students at the program. Parents, please, if you brought your children to VBS, please allow them to participate in the program as well. Thank you so much!

God Bless!

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony