Lord of the Powers, Be with Us…
While I fully understand the intent of today’s ‘social distancing,’ I am very much opposed to the term. Rather, I prefer ‘physical distancing,’ because the pandemic requires us to be physically spread out. Our social community, the Church family which constitutes the very Body of Christ should not, or better yet cannot be distanced. As these temporary accommodations physically separate us for a time, may our loving and merciful God preserve His people as He has done for almost two thousand years, and ultimately draw us closer to Him and one another in the very near future.His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is my solemn prayer that you continue to find peace and comfort in your precious Orthodox Christian Faith as we continue to experience circumstances that are unique in our lifetimes and contribute to worries and anxieties. Our present, mystical times are supported by a connection to the Creative God Who, by His Wisdom, created the entirety of the Universe. I ask that you pay special attention to this and all messages that come to you from the St. Anna’s. Us staying connected in all ways possible is how we will endure; taking the words of His Eminence to heart.
To that end, please be advised…
As of today, all Liturgical celebrations are suspended for public participation at St. Anna’s until further notice. We are working diligently to set up live broadcasts of services. But until that is in place, please know that I will be here, with the necessary personnel to conduct our Divine Services. As of now, all Compline, Presanctified Liturgies, Weekday Liturgies, Sunday Liturgies and Salutations/Akathist Services are omitted from the Calendar for public participation.
I will let you know when live streaming is available. Until then, there are a multitude of parishes throughout the world that offer such services. Annunciation in Modesto, CA; St. Demetrios in Weston, MA; and St. John the Baptist in Tampa, FL are a few that come to mind. Check their websites for times and availability. I will publish the same when that time comes for us. I expect to be operational soon. It is the highest priority for me right now.
Starting this Sunday, March 22, the church will be open from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm so that the Faithful can receive Holy Communion (per Metropolitan Isaiah). There will be Parish Council Members present to make sure that the numbers of individuals present (though still expected to be small) can be spaced out and kept from harmful distances. This will allow us to maintain proper health procedures from the government and allow us to continue our access to the Mysteries of the Church. Let me be perfectly clear. The church will be open for one hour on Sundays for you to receive Holy Communion. The Divine Liturgy will be celebrated beforehand, behind closed doors.
As members of the St. Anna Parish, you can expect to be contacted by a volunteer from our Service Ministry Team starting early next week. The infrastructure is being finalized and put into place so the spiritual, emotional, and practical needs of our parishioners can be accommodated during these unique days. Our parishioners will be given an ongoing opportunity to have access to home clergy visits, access to mental health professionals and runners to pick up groceries, prescriptions and other necessities as needs arise. I will be prepared by the end of this week to offer more details, but for now, know that if you are a member of the St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church, you will not be isolated and removed from the body that is our parish; and from the Body that is our Lord Jesus Christ. We have 220 households in our Parish Directory. Obviously our email list is much greater. If you are a portion of our greater sphere – that is, you are on our email list but not a member of the parish, let me know if we can be of assistance to you or an at-need member of your family. Provided you are here along the Wasatch Front, of course.
Again, we will be checking in on every member of our parish. Be prepared to receive a call and please be honest with how we can help you. But hey, don’t wait for us. Please call and check on each other. These calls will continue every couple weeks until this crisis subsides.
Just as our children who are not in school are required to maintain their studies and not consider this time a “vacation,” the same must be said for your time away from participating in the Worshiping Body that is the Church. God forbid! Please access daily Scriptural Readings and Lives of the Saints from www.goarch.org. You can also access beneficial and enlightening podcasts at www.ancientfaith.com/radio. Spend time with your families in prayer, meditation, and spiritual discussions. Specifically designed for children, please access www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/letusattend.
If you are feeling sick and specifically have the symptoms associated with Coronavirus and Covid-19, please contact your health care professional as soon as possible. If you are in need of any immediate spiritual assistance, please contact me as soon as possible. Even though you are not able to attend services in person, I am still here, conducting services, doing the work of the parish and available to you in whatever way possible.
Even though we are not connected as a physical body, the needs of the parish are still realities. As long as you are able, and, praying that there are no financial reversals in the households of our community, please remain current in your Stewardship Pledges. And if you have not yet made your Pledge, now is the critical time to do so. Having just purchased our new building, the Great Lent, Holy Week and Paschal celebrations are going to be very different than what we had envisioned for our first year. That also means that the financial support necessary to maintain our new responsibilities will likely be taxed and challenged. Please prayerfully support and maintain your spiritual home to the best of your abilities at this time. Of course the inverse is also true: if there is assistance that can be offered at this time through St. Anna’s, please be sure to contact me. We are all in this together as one family.
I love you all as children of this community and I pray for your abundant health and well-being. Please pray for all clergy, health care workers, first responders and all that are in the front lines of this pandemic. And especially pray for those who have been stricken with loss of health or life. Pray for those who have suffered massive economic changes. Pray for the peace and patience of all who confront this reality. Pray that we will serve our neighbors at this time, not hoard abundances unto our own greed and fear. Pray for peace and security. Pray that this virus disappears from the face of the Earth. Pray Lord Have Mercy. Lord Have Mercy. Lord Have Mercy.
In Christ Jesus the Physician of our Souls and Bodies,
Fr. Anthony Savas