Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message March 10, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow’s Gospel reading is Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the Last Judgment. It reminds us that while trusting in Christ’s love and mercy, we must not forget His righteous judgment when He comes again in glory. If our hearts remain hardened and unrepentant, we should not expect the Lord to overlook our transgressions simply because He is a good and loving God. Although He does not desire the death of a sinner, He also expects us to turn from our wickedness and live (Ezek. 33:11).

The time for repentance and forgiveness is now, in the present life. At the Second Coming, Christ will appear as the righteous Judge, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). Then the time for entreating God’s mercy and forgiveness will have passed.

As Father Alexander Schmemann reminds us in his book Great Lent (Ch. 1:4), sin is the absence of love, it is separation and isolation. When Christ comes to judge the world, His criterion for judgment will be love. Christian love entails seeing Christ in other people, our family, our friends, and everyone else we may encounter in our lives. We shall be judged on whether we have loved, or not loved, our neighbor. We show Christian love when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit those who are sick or in prison. If we did such things for the least of Christ’s brethren, then we also did them for Christ (Mt.25:40). If we did not do such things for the least of the brethren, neither did we do them for Christ (Mt.25:45).

As tomorrow is the third week of the Triodion (pre-Lenten) Period, it is the last day for eating meat and meat products until Pascha, though eggs and dairy products are permitted every day during the coming week. This practice of limited fasting prepares us gradually for the more intense fasting of Great Lent. For all of you who are new to the Church, please take the time to discuss your Lenten goals, fears, and expectations with me. Send an email, send a text, or give me a call.

Great Lent is a time of spiritual strengthening, healing and revitalization. It is not meant to be a time of frustration, rejection and obligatory practices. Everyone of us comes to this time of year equipped with differing experiences and time spent in this kind of sacred preparations. The important thing is that we dedicate this time to our relationship with God. 

Great Lent will begin next Sunday evening with the celebration of Great Vespers of Forgiveness. The church will turn the page from pre-Lenten lessons and practices and head straight into the beauty of the Great Fast. May it be fruitful and edifying.

With Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas