Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message February 28, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Though I am ever grateful for the increasing number of people returning to church for live Sunday worship, and for the people who continue to participate liturgically through live streaming, it is completely obvious that there are still many people who are either still uncomfortable in gathering together in church, or, regrettably, have settled into the habit of just being away. 

Gratefully, the day will come, sooner rather than later, when we will all feel confident in being together for prayer, and will re-engage ourselves in the once-vibrant life of our St. Anna parish. I look forward to active ministries, a full church, laughter and discussions ringing through the span of our space, the voices and footsteps of children, abundant fellowship, an appreciation of our lovely grounds, and in-person learning opportunities. 

Though our new reality of separation was thrust upon us swiftly and suddenly, the return to a full complement of services, ministries, classes, gatherings and fellowship will take time. But already, the process has begun, as we plan for, look forward to, and anticipate our post-pandemic life at home, work, school, in society and at church!

So whether we are coming to church for live Liturgies, or participating digitally, let us begin to make steps toward a fuller worship experience. If we are more engaged in the Liturgy, and saturating ourselves with the inspirational and salvific practices of Eucharistic life, then, and only then, can we look forward to all other aspects of the spiritual walk and a productive life in the church. In other words, let us begin the rebuilding of the individual and collective spirit.

Where to begin? Communion Itself. 

I have included in this message a litany of pre-Communion Prayers and post-Communion Prayers. If you want to truly understand the depth of God’s mercy, the span of His love and the generosity of His Gifts, read the prayers of Communion in the Orthodox Church. 

Seriously. Read these prayers. They will truly make you ache to return to the Chalice. They will compel you to action. They will bring peace. They will stir your soul.

They will reveal our starvation, while feeding our hunger.

The Eucharist is Life Itself.


In the coming weeks as we prepare for, and enter into Great and Holy Lent, my communications with you will be intended to reintroduce, reinvigorate and reinvest ourselves in attending to the spirt, as we worship The Spirit. Together with the Father and the Son. One God. The Holy Trinity.

Enjoy and devour the following words. Offer them to God as prayer, and receive them yourselves as wisdom.

Prayers in Preparation of Receiving Holy Communion

First Prayer of Saint Basil the Great

Master Lord Jesus Christ our God, the Source of life and immortality, Who are the Maker of all creation, both visible and invisible, the co-eternal and co-beginingless Son of the eternal Father, Who in the abundance of Your goodness were in the last days clothed in flesh, were crucified and buried for us, the ungrateful and thankless ones, and by Your own Blood refashioned our nature which had been corrupted by sin: O immortal King, accept the repentance even of me the sinner, and incline Your ear to me and hear my words. For I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against heaven and before You, and I am not worthy to gaze on the height of Your glory; for I have provoked Your goodness by transgressing Your commandments and not obeying Your ordinances.

But in Your forbearance, patience, and great mercy, You, O Lord, have not given me up to be destroyed with my sins, but You await my complete conversion.

For You Who love mankind have said through Your Prophet that You desire not the death of the sinner, but that he should return to You and live. For You do not will, O Lord, that the work of Your hands should be destroyed, neither do You delight in the destruction of men, but You desire that all should be saved and come to a knowledge of the Truth.

Therefore, though I am unworthy both of heaven and earth, and even of this transient life – since I have completely succumbed to sin and am a slave to pleasure and have defaced Your image, yet being Your work and creation, wretch that I am, – even I do not despair of my salvation and dare to draw near to Your boundless compassion.

Wherefore receive even me, O Christ Who Loves mankind, as the harlot, as the thief, as the publican, and as the prodigal; and take from me the heavy burden of my sins: You Who take away the sin of the world, Who heal men’s sicknesses, Who call the weary and heavy laden to Yourself and give them rest; for You came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. And cleanse me from all defilement of flesh and spirit.

Teach me to attain perfect holiness in the fear of You, that with the clear witness of my conscience I may receive a portion of Your holy Things and be united with Your holy Body and Blood, and have You dwelling and remaining in me with the Father and Your Holy Spirit.

And, O Lord Jesus Christ, my God, do not let the communion of Your immaculate and life-giving Mysteries be to me for condemnation, nor let it make me sick in body or soul through my partaking of them unworthily; but rather grant that until my last breath I may receive a portion of Your holy Things without condemnation, for communion with the Holy Spirit, as a provision for eternal life, and as an acceptable defense at Your dread tribunal, so that I, too, with all Your elect may become a partaker of Your pure joys which You have prepared for those who love You, O Lord, in whom You are glorified throughout the ages. Amen.

Second Prayer of Saint Basil the Great

I know, O Lord, that I partake of Your immaculate Body and precious Blood unworthily, and that I am guilty, and eat and drink judgment to myself by not discerning the Body and Blood of You, my Christ and God.

But, trusting in Your compassion, I take courage and approach You, for You have said: “He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me and I in him.”

Wherefore have compassion, O Lord, and do not make an example of me, the sinner, but deal with me according to Your mercy; and let these Holy Things be for my healing, and purification, and enlightenment, and protection, and salvation, and sanctification of body and soul; for the turning away of every fantasy, and all evil practice, and diabolical activity working subconsciously in my members; for confidence and love towards You; for reformation of life and stability; for an increase of virtue and perfection; for fulfillment of the commandments; for communion with the Holy Spirit; as a provision for eternal life; and as an acceptable defense at Your dread Tribunal, not unto judgment nor unto condemnation.

Third Prayer of Saint John Chrysostom

Lord my God, I know that I am not worthy or sufficient that You should come under the roof of the house of my soul, for all is desolate and fallen, and You do not have within me a place fit to lay Your head.

But even as from on high You humbled Yourself for our sake, so now conform Yourself to my humility.

And as You consented to lie in a cave and in a manger of irrational beasts, so also consent to lie in the manger of my irrational soul and to enter my defiled body.

And as You did not disdain to enter and dine with sinners in the house of Simon the Leper, so consent also to enter the house of my humble soul which is leprous and sinful.

And as You did not reject the woman who was a harlot and a sinner like me, when she approached and touched You, so also be compassionate with me, the sinner, as I approach and touch You, and let the live coal of Your most-holy Body and precious Blood be for the sanctification, and enlightenment, and strengthening of my humble soul and body; for a relief from the burden of my many sins; for a protection from all diabolical practices; for a restraint and a check on my evil and wicked way of life; for the mortification of passions; for the keeping of Your commandments; for an increase of Your divine grace; and for the advancement of Your Kingdom.

For it is not as one insolent and presumptuous that I draw near to You, O Christ my God, but as one taking courage from Your ineffable goodness, so that having long abstained from Your communion I may not become a prey to the noetic wolf.

Therefore, I pray to You, O Lord, Who alone are holy: sanctify my soul and body, my mind and heart, my emotions and affections, and wholly renew me.

Root in my members the fear of You, and make Your sanctification indelible within me.

Be also my Helper and Defender, guide my life in peace, and make me worthy to stand on Your right hand with Your Saints; through the prayers and intercessions of Your all-pure Mother, of Your ministering Angels, of the immaculate Powers, and of all the Saints who have been well-pleasing to You. Amen.

Fourth Prayer of Saint John Chrysostom

I am not worthy, O Lord and Master, that You should enter under the roof of my soul; but since You, in Your love for men, do will to dwell in me, I take courage and I draw near.

You command: I will open wide the gates which You alone created, that You may enter with love as is Your nature, that You may enter and enlighten my darkened thought.

I believe that You will do this, for You did not banish the harlot who approached You with tears, nor did You reject the Publican who repented, nor did You drive away the thief who acknowledged Your Kingdom, nor did You abandon the repentant persecutor Paul as he was; but You established all who had been brought to You by repentance in the company of Your friends, O You Who alone are blessed always, now and to endless ages. Amen.

Fifth Prayer of Saint John Chrysostom

Lord Jesus Christ my God, loose, remit, forgive, absolve, and pardon the sins, offenses and transgressions which I, Your sinful, useless and unworthy servant have committed from my youth, up to the present day and hour, whether in knowledge or in ignorance, whether by words or in deeds, whether in my intentions or in my thoughts, and whether by habit or through any of my senses.

And through the intercession of her who conceived You without seed, the all-pure and ever-virgin Mary Your Mother, my only sure hope and protection and salvation, make me worthy to receive without condemnation Your pure, immortal, life-giving and fearful Mysteries, unto forgiveness of sins and for eternal life; for sanctification, and enlightenment, and strength, and healing, and health of soul and body; and for the blotting out and complete destruction of my evil reasonings, and intentions, and prejudices, and the nocturnal fantasies of dark evil spirits.

For Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, and the honor, and the worship, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Sixth Prayer of Saint John of Damascus

Master, Lord Jesus Christ our God, Who alone have authority to forgive men their sins, in Your goodness and love for men overlook all my offenses whether committed with knowledge or in ignorance, and make me worthy to receive without condemnation Your divine, glorious, spotless, and life-giving Mysteries, not for punishment, nor for an increase of sins, but for purification and sanctification, and as a pledge of the life and Kingdom to come, as a protection and help, for the destruction of enemies, and for the blotting out of my many transgressions.

For You are a God of mercy and compassion and love for men, and to You we send up the glory, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Seventh Prayer of Saint Symeon the New Theologian

From lips tainted and defiled, from a heart unclean and loathsome, from an unclean tongue, and out of a polluted soul: receive my prayer, O my Christ.

Do not reject me, nor my words, nor my ways, nor even my shamelessness, but give me courage to say what I desire, O my Christ; and even more, teach me what to do and what to say.

I have sinned more than the harlot who, on learning where You were lodging, bought myrrh and dared to come and anoint Your feet, my Christ, my Lord and my God.

As You did not repulse her when she drew near in her heart, neither, O word, reject me, but grant that I may clasp and kiss Your feet , and dare to anoint them with a flood of tears as with most-precious myrrh.

Wash me with my tears and purify me with them, O Word.

Forgive my sins and grant me pardon.

You know the multitude of my evil-doings, You also know my wounds, and You see my bruises.

But You also know my faith, and You behold my willingness, and You hear my sighs.

Nothing escapes You, my God, my Maker, my Redeemer, not even a tear-drop, nor part of a drop.

Your eyes know what I have not achieved, and in Your book things not yet done are written by You.

See my depression, and see how great is my trouble: take from me all my sins, O God of all, that with a clean heart, a trembling mind, and a contrite spirit I may partake of Your pure and all-holy Mysteries by which all who with sincerity of heart eat and drink You are quickened and deified.

For You, my Lord, have said: “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me and I in Him;” wholly true is the word of my Lord and God.

For whoever partakes of Your divine and deifying Gifts certainly is not alone, but is with You, my Christ, the Light of the Triune Sun Which illumines the world.

That I may not remain alone without You, the Giver of Life, my Breath, my Life, my Joy, the Salvation of the world, I have therefore drawn near to You, as You see, with tears and with a contrite spirit.

Ransom of my offenses, I beseech You to receive me, that I may partake without condemnation of Your life-giving and perfect Mysteries, and that You may remain as You have said with me, thrice-wretched as I am, lest the tempter find me without Your grace and craftily seize me and, having deceived me, seduce me from Your deifying words.

Therefore I fall at Your feet and fervently cry to You: as You received the prodigal and the harlot who drew near to You, so also have compassion and receive me, the profligate and the prodigal, as I now draw near to You with a contrite spirit.

I know, O Savior, that no other has sinned against You as I have, nor has done the deeds that I have committed.

But I also know this: that neither the greatness of my offenses, nor the multitude of my sins, surpasses the great patience of my God, and His extreme love for men.

Despite our offenses, You purify and enlighten with the oil of compassion those who fervently repent, and You make them children of the light and sharers of Your divine nature.

And You act most generously, for what is strange to Angels and to the minds of men You often tell to the repentant as to Your true friends.

These things make me bold, my Christ, these things give me wings, and I take courage from the wealth of Your goodness to us.

With rejoicing, yet with trembling, I who am but straw partake of Fire and, strange wonder!, I am ineffably bedewed, like the bush of old which burnt without being consumed.

Wherefore with thankful mind, and with thankful heart, and with thankfulness in all the members of my soul and body, I worship and magnify and glorify You, my God, for You are blessed, now and ever, to all ages.

Eighth Prayer of Saint Symeon Metaphrastes

Lord, Who alone are pure and incorrupt, Who through the ineffable compassion of Your love for mankind assumed our whole nature through the pure and virgin blood of her who supernaturally conceived You by the coming of the Divine Spirit and by the will of the Eternal Father; O Christ Jesus, Wisdom and Peace and Power of God, Who in assuming our nature suffered Your life-giving and saving Passion – the Cross, the Nails, the Spear, and Death – mortify all the deadly passions of my body.

You Who in Your burial spoiled the dominions of hell, bury with good thoughts my evil schemes and scatter the spirits of wickedness.

You Who by Your life-giving Resurrection on the third day raised up our fallen first Parent, raise me up who am sunk in sin and suggest to me ways of repentance.

You Who by Your glorious Ascension deified our nature which You had assumed and honored it by Your sitting at the right hand of the Father, make me worthy by partaking of Your holy Mysteries of a place at Your right hand among those who are saved.

You Who by the descent of the Spirit, the Paraclete, made Your holy Disciples worthy vessels, make me also a recipient of His coming.

You Who are to come again to judge the World with justice, grant me also to meet You on the clouds, my Maker and Creator, with all Your Saints, that I may unendingly glorify and praise You with Your Eternal Father and Your all-holy and good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Ninth Prayer of Saint John Damascene

I stand before the doors of Your sanctuary, yet I do not put away my terrible thoughts.

But ,O Christ our God, Who justified the Publican, and Who had mercy on the Canaanite woman, and opened the gates of Paradise to the Thief, open to me the depths of Your love for mankind, and as I approach and touch You, receive me like the Harlot and the woman with an issue of blood.

For the one easily received healing by touching the hem of Your garment, and the other obtained release from her sins by clasping Your sacred feet.

And I, deplorable as I am, dare to receive Your whole Body; may I not be burnt, but receive me even as You did these.

And enlighten the senses of my soul, and burn up the indictments of my sins, by the intercessions of her who bore You without seed, and of the Heavenly Hosts, for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayers of Holy Communion

I believe, Lord, and I confess, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Moreover, I believe that this is Your immaculate Body, and that this is Your precious Blood. Wherefore, I pray to You: have mercy on me, and forgive me my transgressions, those voluntary and involuntary, those in word, those in deed, those in knowledge and those in ignorance; and make me worthy to partake of Your immaculate Mysteries without condemnation, for the remission of sins and life everlasting. Amen.

Approaching for Holy Communion, read the following verses from Saint Symeon Metaphrastes:

Behold, I approach for divine Communion;
Creator, burn me not as I partake;
For You are Fire, which burns the unworthy.
But, rather, cleanse me from every impurity.

Of Your Mystical Supper, Son of God, receive me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of the Mystery to Your enemies; nor will I give You a kiss, as did Judas, but like the thief I confess You: Remember me, Lord, when You come into Your Kingdom!

Be awe-stricken, O man, beholding the deifying Blood;
For it is a lighted Coal that burns the unworthy.
The divine Body both deifies and nourishes me;
It deifies the spirit, and wondrously nourishes the mind.

You have smitten me with yearning, O Christ, and by Your divine zeal You have changed me; but burn away my sins with immaterial Fire, and make me worthy to be filled with delight in You; that, leaping for joy, O good One, I may magnify Your two comings.

Into the brilliant company of Your saints, how shall I the unworthy enter? For if I dare to enter into the bridal chamber, my garment betrays me, for it is not a wedding garment, and I shall be bound and cast out by the Angels; Lord, cleanse my soul of pollution, and save me, for You love mankind.

Master, Who loves mankind, Lord Jesus Christ my God, do not let these Holy Things be to me for judgment because of my unworthiness, but rather may they be for the purification and sanctification of soul and body, and as a pledge of the life and Kingdom to come. For it is good for me to cleave to God, to put my hope of salvation in the Lord.

And again:

Of Your Mystical Supper, Son of God, receive me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of the Mystery to Your enemies; nor will I give You a kiss, as did Judas, but like the thief I confess You: Remember me, Lord, when You come into Your Kingdom! Remember me, Master, when You come into Your Kingdom! Remember me, Holy One, when You come into Your Kingdom!

Prayers of Thanksgiving After Receiving Holy Communion

When you have had your due and rightful part in these life-giving and mystical Gifts immediately give praise and great thanks and with a fervent soul say to God:

Glory to You, O God. Glory to You, O God. Glory to You, O God.


I thank You, Lord my God, that You have not rejected me, a sinner, but have made me worthy to partake of Your holy Mysteries. I thank You that You have granted me, although I am unworthy, to partake of Your most-pure and heavenly Gifts. Master Who loves mankind, Who died and rose for our sake, and granted to us these awesome and life-giving Mysteries for the well-being and sanctification of our souls and bodies, let these Gifts be for the healing of both soul and body, for the averting of every evil, for the enlightenment of the eyes of my heart, for the peace of the powers of my soul, for faith unashamed, for love unfeigned, for the fullness of wisdom, for the observing of Your commandments, for an increase of Your divine grace, and for the attainment of Your kingdom. Preserved by them in Your holiness, may I always remember Your grace and no longer live for myself, but for You, our Master and Benefactor.  And thus, when I depart this life in the hope of eternal life, may I attain everlasting rest, where the sound of those that keep festival is unceasing, and the delight of those who behold the ineffable beauty of Your countenance is unending.  For You are the true joy and inexpressible gladness of those who love You, Christ our God, and all creation hymns You to the ages. Amen.

Of Saint Basil the Great

Master Christ God, King of the ages and Creator of all things, I thank You for all the good gifts You have given me, and especially for the communion of Your pure and life-giving Mysteries.  I therefore pray to You good Lord Who loves mankind: keep me under the protection and in the shadow of Your wings; grant that even to my last breath I may with a pure conscience partake worthily of Your Holy Gifts for the remission of sins and for eternal life.  For You are the Bread of life, the Source of holiness, the Giver of good things, and to You we send up glory, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen. 

Of Saint Symeon Metaphrastes

You Who have willingly given me Your Flesh as food, Who are a burning fire to the unworthy, do not consume me. No, my Creator; rather penetrate into my members, all my joints, my organs, and my heart. Burn all my iniquities like thorns; cleanse my soul, make holy my thoughts, make firm my knees and my bones as well. Illumine my five senses and make vigilant my entire being with the fear of You.  Watch over me always; shield and protect me from every deed and word which corrupts the soul.  Cleanse me, purify me, and put me in order; adorn me, give me understanding, and illumine me.  Show me to be the dwelling of Your Spirit alone, and not the dwelling place of sin; so that when You enter into the home of Your communion, every evil doer and every passion will flee from me as from fire.  As intercessors I bring to You all the saints, the chiefs of the bodiless hosts, Your Forerunner, the wise Apostles, and moreover Your immaculate and pure Mother; accept their prayers,   My compassionate Christ, and make Your servant a child of light.  For in Your goodness You alone sanctify and enlighten our souls, and to You, our God and Master, as is right we send up glory every day.


Lord Jesus Christ our God, let Your sacred Body be to me for eternal life, and Your precious Blood for the remission of sins.  Let this Eucharist be to me for joy, health and gladness.  And at Your dread Second Coming make me, a sinner, worthy to stand at the right hand of Your glory; through the intercessions of Your all-pure Mother and of all the saints. Amen.

Anonymous Prayer to the Mother of God

All-holy Lady, Theotokos, light of my darkened soul, my hope, shelter, refuge, comfort, and joy: I thank You, for you have deemed me, the unworthy one, worthy to partake of the most-pure Body and precious Blood of your Son.  You who gave birth to the true Light, enlighten the spiritual eyes of my heart; you who conceived the Source of immortality, revive me who am dead in sin; you who are the lovingly-compassionate Mother of the merciful God, have mercy on me and grant me compunction and contrition in my heart, humility in my thoughts and the recall of my thoughts from captivity.  And grant me, until my last breath, to receive without condemnation the sanctification of the most-pure Mysteries for the healing of both soul and body.  Grant me tears of repentance and confession that I may hymn and glorify you all the days of my life.

For you are blessed and most-glorified to the ages. Amen.

Hymn of Symeon the Just

Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)

The Trisagion Prayers

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us of our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Your name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

If the Divine Liturgy was that of Saint John Chrysostom the following Troparia:

Grace shone forth from your mouth like fire, illuminating the inhabited world. You treasured for the world the virtue of being unmercenary, and revealed your sublime humility. Thus by the words you taught us, father John Chrysostom, intercede with Christ God to save our souls.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

You received divine grace from heaven, and from your lips you taught all to worship the one God in Trinity, venerable John Chrysostom, the all-blessed. We extol you worthily, for you are an instructor who reveals divine things.

Now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The Church is revealed to all as a brilliantly lit heaven, leading the faithful in the way of the light. Standing therein we cry aloud: make firm the foundation of this house, Lord.

However, if the Divine Liturgy was that of Saint Basil the Great the following Troparia instead:

Your teaching has spread over the whole world, for it has accepted your words that gave a divine explanation of doctrine. You have made clear the nature of things and set a rule of life for men. Holy father and kingly priest, intercede with Christ God that He may save our souls.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

You appeared as an unshakable foundation of the Church, dispensing an inviolate dominion to all mortals and sealing it with your doctrines. O revealer of heavenly things, venerable Basil.

Now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The Church is revealed to all as a brilliantly lit heaven, leading the faithful in the way of the light. Standing therein we cry aloud: make firm the foundation of this house, Lord.

Following the Presanctified Divine Liturgy of Saint Gregory the Great the following Troparia:

As one endowed with discretion of speech, you proved to be a most excellent dispenser of the word of God, hierarch Gregory. By your life you set before us the virtues, and you shine forth with the brilliance of holiness. Righteous father, entreat Christ God that we may be granted mercy.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We praise you the Dialogist as is fitting, for you are a divinely-inspired harp of the Church, and a God-possessed tongue of Wisdom; you emulated the zeal of the Apostles, and you manifestly followed in their footsteps. We thus say to you: rejoice, father Gregory.

Now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The Church is revealed to all as a brilliantly lit heaven, leading the faithful in the way of the light. Standing therein we cry aloud: make firm the foundation of this house, Lord.

Concluding the prayers:

Lord, have mercy. (12)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

More honorable than the Cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim, the one who incorruptibly gave birth to God the Word, truly the Theotokos, we magnify you.

Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy on us and save us.


Fr. Anthony Savas