Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I pray you are enjoying what has been a most lovely, sunny and warm day today. Next Sunday evening, we will begin our Lenten Journey with the Sunday Great Vespers of Forgiveness. Within that service, Great Lent will begin and the entire tone and meter of the Church will set our hearts, minds, bodies and souls on a path toward enlightenment, discipline, prayer and connection – connection to God, connection to each other and a connection to the Cross.
In order to enhance your Lenten efforts, I wish to invite you and your families to another Lenten Challenge; similarly to what we did two years ago. Through our St. Anna Altar Fund, we have purchased enough copies of Fr. Evan Armatas’ book, “Toolkit for Spiritual Growth – A Practical Guide to Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving” for our entire parish.
Unlike last time, when I asked you to purchase “Tending the Garden of our Hearts,” a copy of this book will be waiting for you, as Stewards of St. Anna, beginning next Sunday. We will be distributing them from the St. Anna Book Store. This simple, yet inspirational guide will walk you through the primary pillars of Lent; prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and hopefully inspire you to incorporate a newly-discovered awareness and inspiration that will transform your every day living.
The author has graciously written a brief introduction to the book specifically for our parish and offers his encouragement and support of our efforts to grow in Christ through Lenten praxis.
I will also be including information on Ancient Faith Publishing’s Five-Week Study Guide to the book. This will help you as individuals and as families to generate discussions and learn together.
We started a tradition of these Lenten Family Challenges, and I am grateful to continue this practice, as it was enthusiastically received. I still hear of people discussing the lingering and positive effects it had on families.
So, remember, if you are a Steward of St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church, please come by during services and pick up your free copy at the Bookstore.
Why are we not mailing these to every household in the parish? Well, postage is an obvious answer. The not-so-obvious answer is, quite frankly, that it’s time I start actively inviting you to church once again.
Great Lent is the perfect opportunity to test these waters. There are many, many services available to you throughout the week. Literally every day but Thursday, there is at least one service taking place LIVE at the church. Please, re-introduce yourselves to an active, Orthodox Christian life of liturgical participation. We were shocked and disappointed when our worship was taken from us. Let’s now answer that pain and frustration with a joyful return.
No, the pandemic is not over. We are not out of danger and we must remain vigilant and aware. But our dedication to safety, the expansion of vaccinations in the state, and our continued awareness of local, governmental standards is at the point where we need to start thinking about our plans to return to a vibrant worshipping community.
Masks are still obviously required. We are still unable to offer hospitality of food and beverage fellowship. The choir is still unable to chant and participate. There are still reminders that things are different and require our attention, sacrifice and patience. That said, your church is waiting for a full and vibrant effort on all our part in anticipation of Holy Week and Pascha.
I am so very excited to see you all, pray together and celebrate our love for Christ with a unified voice.
Come, get your book. Sit with your family, or dedicate time with yourself, to learn, grow, stretch and flourish in your Faith.
May our Loving Lord guide your every step and effort in the coming weeks.
With Much Love in Christ,
Fr. Anthony Savas