Happy New Year 2016!
My Dear Spiritual Ohana,
I extend to all of you my “best wishes” for a Happy but not too happy, Healthy and Fruitful New Year as we “ring in” 2016! Why do I say “not too happy?” St. Paisios of Mount Athos says states very beautifully why. He says: “I wish you many years — but not for them to be too happy, because happiness in the world isn’t really so healthy. When a man is too happy in this world, he forgets God and forgets death.” So the answer is that we could easily forget God when all is going too well and forget that our lives on this earth are meant to be only temporary.
As is with every year, we close out the previous year and have new beginnings with 2016. There is a “bitter-sweet” feeling as we commend 2015 into the past and into history. In 2015, as a faith community, we experienced an array of joyful times, sad times, triumphs, disappointments, health, health challenges, etc. These are all part of life!
What spectacular 50th Anniversary Celebrations we had in 2015! I will never forget the special year we celebrated at our Cathedral. I’m sure that it will remain a very significant memory in many of our lives.
To all our dearly beloved who had many health and physical challenges, it has been an honor to pray with you, to anoint you and be with you during those times. I have seen the Glory of God working in your lives, witnessing from time to time, God bringing needed healing, as He wills, to whom He chooses to, often with the help of Panagia’s intercessions and prayers.
In this 2016 year, it is my continued hope and desire for all of us to grow in our relationship with our Loving God, connecting with Him Who gives us our ultimate purpose and meaning for existing and Who is our Source of Life and Fulfillment. Our relationship with Him ought not to remain static, distant and disconnected, but to be dynamic, ever moving from “glory to glory,” growing closer and closer to Christ.
I have resolved in this 2016 Year to make specific improvements, tweaks and adjustments in attempts to benefit all of you. It is my desire in my ministry to you that we work in synergy with one another toward being involved and invested in the ministries of our faith, that is, to use our God-given gifts and talents to help one another grow together in Christ. I would like us to explore, encounter and perhaps rediscover, especially, the depth and meaning of the Divine Liturgy and various aspects of our worship and faith through sermons, messages and sharing in fellowship.
One of my immediate goals, beginning this month, is to change the appointed time of my sermons to be right before Holy Communion so that I can reach and speak to more of you than I have been able to, than when I spoke after the reading of the Holy Gospel. I feel it is very crucial for me, unworthy as I am, to help foster, within each and every one of you, a relationship with God which is very connected and very real. I truly want each of you to know what your purpose and meaning are as being part of the Body of Christ, His Church!
I list a few achievable goals for us in 2016:
- Comprehend the depth and meaning of the Divine Liturgy
- Youth Groups to be active and for young people to connect
- Adult Religious Education to continue 10 Point Program with Fr. Alex, start a new series of classes led by Dr. Robert Arakaki (his Biblical Basis Series was exceptional), allow others to teach
- Altar Boy Recruitment & Training
- Chant Group Development
- Ministry Teams & Strategic Planning Implementation
With Love & Service in Christ,
Sunday after Holy Cross; Nikitas the Great Martyr; Philotheos the Righteous; Bessarion of Larissa; Righteous Father Symeon, Archbishop of Thessolonica; John the New Martyr of Crete; Afterfeast of the Holy Cross; Porphyrios the Actor