Aug 27, 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
May the Blessings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you!
On this very evening, Aug. 27, and tomorrow morning August 28, let us rejoice in the celebration of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God with joyful anticipation as we look forward to the beginning of the Church New Year which is celebrated according to the traditional Julian Calendar and falls on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, of the modern Gregorian Calendar which we use.
I hope and pray that our whole parish family, clergy, and faithful parishioners, will embrace this particular Church New Year with joyful anticipation of a new beginning as our parish grows in numbers and faithfulness and, as we welcome Subdeacon Peter James, Lucine and Sophia into the sacred fellowship of our Church.
As God wills, and with the blessing of Bishop Nicholas, Subdeacon Peter will be ordained to the Diaconate and then to the Holy Priesthood to serve our Holy Church as we move forward with profound optimism that our church will grow in faith, piety, and spiritual life.
Since the beginning of our church community in 1977, we have embraced the understanding and commitment that the Orthodox Christian Life of each and every member, is a life dedicated to the purification of our hearts, minds, and souls, so that we as brothers and sisters in Christ will invisibly embody and reveal the love of Christ through our lives. Toward this end we have emphasized the importance of personal and liturgical prayer and have kept an energetic schedule of divine services.
Without a doubt, our Merciful Lord has blessed and sanctified the rigor of our dedication to the Divine Services, and He has confirmed His ever-increasing presence in our community with a renewed sense of joy and a steady influx of enquiries and new members.
Just a few days ago I received a text from Subdeacon Peter telling me that he was, at that very moment, visiting the Holy Monastery of St. Catherine at the foot of the Holy Mount Sinai. During this visit Subdeacon Peter was able to climb Mount Sinai and stand at the summit where our Holy Father and Prophet, St. Moses the God Seer, spoke with God and received the Divinely revealed Law and Holy Traditions which have been preserved for all time in the Sacred Books of the Old Testament. In my heart I perceive that Subdeacon Peter’s zeal for direct knowledge of God compelled him to visit Mount Sinai and confirms his commitment to the spiritual life that our parish has always pursued. Certainly, this zeal should give all of us great confidence and joy to know that we will soon work together, always struggling to climb the Ladder of Divine Ascent and attain the vision of God shared by the Saints.
Subdeacon Peter’s visit to Sinai brought to life the memories that Matushka Xenia and I have of our visit to St. Catherine’s Monastery in 1980. Our very early morning ascent of the Holy Mount Sinai was the most profound memory of this pilgrimage, and it still remains vivid in our minds and hearts. We began our ascent of Mount Sinai at four AM and arrived at the top of the mountain in time to witness the last moments of the glorious and sacred sunrise. The ascent of the Holy Mount Sinai, participation in the services, the reverence of pre-iconoclastic holy icons, the fragrant relics of St. Catherine and the life-giving burning bush, coupled with our visit to the cell of St. John Climacus, left indelible impressions and opened our eyes and hearts to the truth that Life in Christ is a continuous struggle to climb the Holy Mountain of Salvation on the ladder of our Saving Faith, in Jesus Christ our Lord, which is embodied in the Divine Services and the lives of the Saints throughout the ages.
While Subdeacon Peter was visiting St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, he was hosted by Hieromonk Justin who was a good friend of mine many years ago prior to his being accepted into the Monastic brotherhood of St. Catherine’s Monastery. I had not seen or spoken to Fr. Justin since 1989 when he left Holy Transfiguration Monastery to join the Sacred Monastery of St. Catherine, however, the memory of Fr. Justin “Sinaites”, has always remained in my heart and prayer with sure and certain knowledge that he has been praying for us at the base of Mount Sinai. Yesterday I received, via email, a warm and loving message from Fr. Justin which inspired me and gave me an unquenchable hope that confirmed my profound optimism for the future of our Holy Parish in the confidence that Subdeacon Peter and his family have been called by our Lord to serve our Holy Parish, and to strengthen and continue our Holy Work.
With love in Christ,