Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message November 13, 2022

Presbytera Andrea and Dimitri at the Washington Monument

I have perceived much beauty
In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight;
Heard music in the silentness of duty;
Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.
Nevertheless, except you share
With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell,
Whose world is but the trembling of a flare,
And heaven but as the highway for a shell,
You shall not hear their mirth:
You shall not come to think them well content
By any jest of mine. These men are worth
Your tears: You are not worth their merriment.

Wilfred Owen, The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings from the Nation’s Capital! 

Any chance to walk the Mall, visit the National Monuments, and tour the shrines of our Federal Government is indeed a blessing and honor that any American Citizen should seize, given the opportunity. Though we are in Maryland for our son’s sporting event, we made sure not to miss introducing him to the stately beauty and enduring dignity that is Washington DC. Indeed, any day in our Nation’s Capital is a blessed day. And to be there on Veteran’s Day transforms the day from national pride to heartfelt thanksgiving. 

As we walked the area of the National Mall, we listened to the speakers, and partook of the events at the WWII, Korean, and Vietnam War Memorials. Vets, from all branches and eras walked in groups and stood as individuals, gracefully receiving our “Thanks for your service,” as we negotiated our way through the walkways. We felt a great sense of gratitude, seeing these proud Veterans, knowing that the marble buildings, bronze statues and sculpted artwork, all assembled to symbolize American pride and history, though permanent and stately, are only reflections of the actual people who have stood to defend our Nation. 

Every one of those Veterans has seen violence, experienced fear, heard sounds, smelled smells, and seen horrors that should never have scarred their minds or inflicted their bodies. They were placed in harm’s way, upholding the ideals and principles of our forefathers, so that the freedom and dignity of man could be protected and upheld.

While politicians come and go, governing philosophies rise and fall, red turns to blue, and blue turns to red, our collective Republic stands as one Nation Under God. To be sure, as debates are held and votes are taken in the chambers of Congress, every American should walk the streets of Washington DC and experience all that unites us, rather than dwell on that which divide s us. Abraham Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address reminded his listeners that both sides of the Civil War read the same Bible and prayed to the same God. His call to a collective consciousness is still important today.

It is also the reminder, that God is not forgotten in this great Land. It is here, between these two, blessed shores, where His Name is lifted, cherished, witnessed and glorified. Our St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church community is largely made up, as the children of immigrants. Our parents and grandparents strove to get here, so we could live and thrive here. We should never have to be reminded that their sacrifices and dreams should not be taken for granted. But sometimes we need a slight prodding. A walk through the sights of Washington DC can serve as such a reminder. That walk on Veteran’s Day is that much more vivid and powerful. 

Thank you to my grandparents who immigrated to this country. Specifically, thank you to my Papou Nick Zakis who gained his US Citizenship by serving in the Army. Thank you to my father-in-law, Steve Zoumadakis who served in the Korean War. Thank you to the Veterans of our St. Anna parish, both those living and who have passed. And to all men and women of the US Armed Forces. Bless the memories of those who never made it home and strengthen their families. God bless our incredible country, and every diverse person who calls it home. 

With Much Love in XC, 

Fr. Anthony Savas