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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message March 7, 2021

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
Protopresbyter

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for March 7, 2021

Weekly Bulletin for March 7, 2021 Lenten Schedule 2021

Categories
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.

Christ.

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.

Anonymous

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.

Anonymous

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.

Amen.

Fr. Anthony Savas
Protopresbyter

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for February 28, 2021

Weekly Bulletin for February 28, 2021

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Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message February 21, 2021

Open to me the gates of repentance, O Giver of Life, for early in the morning my spirit hastens to Your holy temple, bringing the temple of my body all defiled. But as one compassionate, cleanse me, I pray, by Your loving-kindness and mercy.

Idiomela Hymn of the Triodion Orthros

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Starting tomorrow, we are entering into the heights of our liturgical life, spiritual experiences and discipline of prayer. The Triodion Period, given its name from the Book of Hymns which guide us through pre-Lent, Lent, Holy Week, Pascha and post-Paschal worship, is a month-long preparation for Great and Holy Lent. 

Lent is an opportunity for reflection, repentance, strength, focus, maturity, and mostly, love for Christ. The values gained and lessons learned are received not through a collection of obligatory actions, but rather a deep commitment to the soul and a strong desire to be in the presence of our Lord. 

Please take the time to intimately familiarize yourselves with the Gospel Lessons for the next four Sundays. They will set the pace, standard and direction of your Lenten Journey. 

Unlike last year, we hopefully and prayerfully expect to begin and end our steps to Pascha with a full complement of services with live worship throughout. I greatly look forward to preparations and planning for the Divine Services Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha. 

Sunday, May 2nd, the Day of Pascha will be here soon enough. Until then, let’s start with our spiritual “baby steps:” the Triodion Sundays.

February 21: Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14)

This Sunday emphasizes humility as a key attitude for repentance. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia, which means a change of mind. To repent we must not boast of our spiritual feats, but humble ourselves like the Publican who longs for a change of mind. We are called to learn this secret of the inward poverty of the Publican rather than the self-righteousness of the Pharisee who is convinced of his perfectness and not open to change because of his pride. There is no prescribed fasting for this week.

February 28: Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)

This Sunday teaches us about our need to return from exile. This parable shows us the mercy of the Father who with open arms receives his son, whose behavior he does not return, but is joyous of his return home. We are encouraged to examine ourselves in the period of Lent to purge ourselves of sin and “come home.”

The week that follows is called Meat Week (Kreatini) as it is the last week we are to eat meat. The normal rule of fasting are applied to this week, fast on Wednesday and Friday. 

Saturday of this week is the first Saturday of Souls where those who have fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection and eternal life are remembered at a special service “Saturday of the Souls.” Parishioners bring small dishes of Kollyva to the church and submit a list of first names of deceased ones to the priest. We commend to God all those who have departed before us, who are now awaiting the Last Judgment. This is an expression of the Churches love. We remember them because we love them.

March 7: Judgment (Meat-fare) Sunday (Matt 25:31-46)

This Sunday emphasizes the Last Judgment. We are reminded of our individual responsibility for love. We are encouraged not to eat meat this week, but we can eat eggs, cheese and other dairy products.

March 14: Forgiveness (Cheese-Fare) Sunday (Matt 6:14-21)

This Sunday emphasizes forgiveness and how we must forgive others if God is to forgive us so we can break the chains of sinful tendency which we inherit from the Adam and Eve. This is the last day of preparation as the traditional Lenten fast begins on the following day where no meat, dairy or eggs are to be eaten according to the Church tradition.

March 15: Great Lent Begins

Great Lent is the period that the Church has in her wisdom set aside for us to intensify our own spiritual growth through fasting, prayer and worship. If you follow the Church guidelines on fasting, make time to attend the services and intensify your own prayer life, you will be rewarded with a greater closeness to God.

Once again, I am ever-grateful that we will be together this year for worship. In time, God willing, everything else will follow.

With Much Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony Savas

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for February 21, 2021

Weekly Bulletin for February 21, 2021

Categories
Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message February 14, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Happy Valentine’s Day! Although we don’t hear about St. Valentine in the Church, he is a saint that is regarded in our tradition. I’d like to share some information about this holy Martyr.

The ancient martyrology of the Church of Rome marks February 14th as the remembrance of “the martyr Valentine, presbyter of Rome” (Valentinus means “vigorous” in Latin).

The Martyrdom of the Saint in Rome

Saint Valentine lived in Rome in the third century and was a priest who helped the martyrs during the persecution of Emperor Claudius II the Goth. The great virtue and catechetical activities of the saint had become familiar. For this he was arrested and brought before the imperial court.

“Why, Valentine, do you want to be a friend of our enemies and reject our friendship?” asked the emperor.

Then the saint replied “My lord, if you knew the gift of God, you would be happy together with your empire and would reject the worship of idols and worship the true God and His Son Jesus Christ.”

One of these judges stopped the saint and asked him what he thought about Jupiter and Mercury, and St. Valentine boldly replied, “They are miserable, and spent their lives through corruption and crime!”

The judge furiously shouted, “He blasphemes against the gods and against the empire!”

The emperor, however, continued his questions with curiosity, and found a welcome opportunity to finally learn what was the faith of Christians. Valentine then found the courage to urge him to repent for the blood of the Christians that was shed. “Believe in Jesus Christ, be baptized and you will be saved, and from this time forward the glory of your empire will be ensured as well as the triumph of your armory.”

Claudius became convinced, and said to those who were present: “What a beautiful teaching this man preaches.”

But the mayor of Rome, dissatisfied, began to shout: “See how this Christian mislead our Prince.”

Then Claudius brought the saint to another judge. He was called Asterios, and he had a little girl who was blind for two years. Listening about Jesus Christ, that He is the Light of the World, he asked Valentine if he could give that light to his child. St. Valentine put his hand on her eyes and prayed: “Lord Jesus Christ, true Light, illuminate this blind child.” Oh the great miracle! The child saw! So the judge with all his family confessed Christ. Having fasted for three days, he destroyed the idols that were in the house and finally received holy baptism.

When the emperor heard about all these events, he initially thought not to punish them, but thought that in the eyes of citizens he will look weak, which forced him to betray his sense of justice. So St. Valentine along with other Christians, after they were tortured, were beheaded on 14 February in the year 268 (or 269).

The Relics of the Saint in Athens

After the martyrdom some Christians salvaged the body of the saint and put a bit of his blood in a vial. The body of the martyr was moved and buried in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla, a burial place of most of the martyrs. Over the years, somehow he was “forgotten” since almost every day there were buried in these catacombs new martyrs for several decades. The memory of Valentine’s martyrdom however remained robust, particularly in the local Church of Rome. Officially the memory of St. Valentine was established in 496 by Pope St. Gelasius.

Fifteen centuries pass and we arrive at 1815, at which time the divine intention was to “disturb” the eternal repose of the saint. Then the relics were donated by the Pope to a gentle Italian priest (according to the custom of the time). After this the relics are “lost” again until 1907 where we find them in Mytilene in the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady. It seems that after the death of the priest that a descendant of his had inherited the relics who had migrated in Mytilene, which was then a thriving community of West-European Catholic Christians. There they remained until 1990 when they were moved to Athens in the Church of Saints Francis and Clara’s Italian community, where they are today.

Saint Valentine the Greek

We should first say that there is not sufficient information on the national origin of the saint, though there are some other (shades of) evidence that the saint was of Greek origin. Few example, the earliest depiction of the saint bearing the inscription «O ΑΓΙΟC BAΛΕΝΤΙΝΟC” in Greek, is in the Church of Our Lady the Ancient (Santa Maria Antiqua) of the 6th century which was the parish of Greeks in Rome. The church particularly venerated saints who were Greeks and generally from the East. The decoration and renovation of the church was ordered by the Greek Pope John VII (705-707) and finished by his successors, including the last Greek Pope Zacharias (741-752). But perhaps it is no coincidence that after seventeen centuries, the remains arrived in Greece. The issue here still requires research.

Saint Valentine: Patron of Lovers

Apart from the historical data we have for Valentine’s life, there is accompanied various legends, such as from those who say he is the patron saint of lovers.

The saint had a reputation as a peacemaker, and one day while cultivating some roses from his garden, he heard a couple quarrel very vigorously. This shocked the saint, who then cut a rose and approached the couple asking them to hear him. Even though they were dispirited, they obeyed the saint and afterwards were offered a rose that blessed them. Immediately the love returned between them, and later they returned and asked the saint to bless their marriage. Another tradition says that one of the charges against Valentine was that he did not adhere to the command of the emperor which stated that men who had not fulfilled their military obligations were not allowed to marry; meanwhile the saint had blessed the marriage of young Christian soldiers with their beloveds.

Besides all this, the likely choice of him as the “saint of lovers” is to be associated with the pagan festival of Lupercalia, a fertility festival, celebrated by the Romans on February 15. Others connect the celebration of this feast with the mating season of birds during this period. Certainly, however, the saint has nothing to do with the commercialism (marketing) of flowers, gifts and secular centers which trivialize Eros, this great gift of God.

Saint Valentine and Orthodoxy

Many, however, raise the objection that St. Valentine is not mentioned anywhere in the calendar of the Orthodox Church. Indeed on 14 February in the calendar of the Church there are commemorated Saints Auxentios, Maron and the martyrs Nicholas and Damian. The explanation is simple: in ancient times hagiographic directories, biographies and martyrologia were written to be primarily used locally in their own character, and the fame and reputation of a saint locally does not mean that it extended also throughout the Church. So there may be saints honored widely in one region and completely unknown in another, e.g., St. Demetrios, who is famous throughout the Eastern Church, yet in the West is not honored at all, and is almost unknown, but this does not mean that he is not a saint. Another example of the modern Church: St. Chrysostomos of Smyrna († 1922) who in Greece is known, yet in Russia is completely unknown, but this does not mean that he is not a saint. (compiled from various sources)

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for February 14, 2021

Weekly Bulletin for February 14, 2021

Categories
Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message February 7, 2021

O wise Haralambos, you were proven an unshakable pillar of the Church of Christ; an ever-shining lamp of the universe. You shone in the world by your martyrdom. You delivered us from the moonless night of idolatry O blessed one.
Wherefore, boldly intercede to Christ that we may be saved.

Hymn of St. Haralambos

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This coming Wednesday, February 10th is the Feast of the Hieromartyr Haralambos. Please be aware that during the Tuesday morning Seniors Liturgy, we will chant the hymns and proclaim the readings of St. Haralambos in anticipation. I wish everyone who celebrates this great Feast a joyous day filled with grace, love and warmth.

The Hieromartyr Haralambos, Bishop of Magnesia, the martyrs Porphyrius and Baptus and three women martyrs suffered in the year 202.

Saint Haralambos, Bishop of Magnesia (Asia Minor), successfully spread faith in Christ the Savior, guiding people on the way to salvation. News of his preaching reached Lucian, the governor of the district, and the military commander Lucius. The saint was arrested and brought to trial, where he confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols.

Despite the bishop’s advanced age (he was 113 years old), he was subjected to monstrous tortures. They lacerated his body with iron hooks, and scraped all the skin from his body. During this the saint turned to his tormentors, “I thank you, brethren, that you have restored my spirit, which longs to pass over to a new and everlasting life!”

Seeing the Elder’s endurance and his complete lack of malice, two soldiers (Porphyrius and Baptus) openly confessed Christ, for which they were immediately beheaded with a sword. Three women who were watching the sufferings of Saint Haralambos also began to glorify Christ, and were quickly martyred.

The enraged Lucius seized the instruments of torture and began to torture the holy martyr, but suddenly his forearms were cut off as if by a sword. The governor then spat in the face of the saint, and immediately his head was turned around so that he faced backwards.

Then Lucius entreated the saint to show mercy on him, and both torturers were healed through the prayers of Saint Haralambos. During this a multitude of witnesses came to believe in Christ. Among them also was Lucius, who fell at the feet of the holy bishop, asking to be baptized.

Lucian reported these events to the emperor Septimus Severus (193-211), who was then at Pisidian Antioch (western Asia Minor). The emperor ordered Saint Haralambos to be brought to him in Antioch. Soldiers twisted the saint’s beard into a rope, wound it around his neck, and used it to drag him along. They also drove an iron nail into his body. The emperor then ordered them to torture the bishop more intensely, and they began to burn him with fire, a little at a time. But God protected the saint, and he remained unharmed.

Many miracles were worked through his prayer: he raised a dead youth, and healed a man tormented by devils for thirty-five years, so that many people began to believe in Christ the Savior. Even Galina, the daughter of the emperor, began to believe in Christ, and twice smashed the idols in a pagan temple. On the orders of the emperor they beat the saint about the mouth with stones. They also wanted to set his beard on fire, but the flames burned the torturer.

Full of wickedness, Septimus Severus and an official named Crispus hurled blasphemy at the Lord, mockingly summoning Him to come down to the earth, and boasting of their own power and might. The Lord sent an earthquake, and great fear fell upon all, the impious ones were both suspended in mid-air held by invisible bonds, and only by the prayer of the saint were they put down. The dazed emperor was shaken in his former impiety, but again quickly fell into error and gave orders to torture the saint.

And finally, the emperor sentenced Saint Haralambos to beheading with a sword. During Saint Haralambos’ final prayer, the heavens opened and the saint saw the Savior and a multitude of angels. The holy martyr asked Him to grant that the place where his relics would repose would never suffer famine or disease. He also begged that there would be peace, prosperity, and an abundance of fruit, grain, and wine in that place, and that the souls of these people would be saved. The Lord promised to fulfill his request and ascended to heaven, and the soul of the Hieromartyr Haralambos followed after Him. By the mercy of God, the saint died before he could be executed. Galina buried the martyr’s body with great honor.

(From the Orthodox Church in America)

Fr. Anthony Savas

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Bulletins

Weekly Bulletin for February 7, 2021

Weekly Bulletin for February 7, 2021