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 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8PbdstnLVq-reIVOb3GiwA

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.