Let us begin the Fast with joy! Let us prepare ourselves for spiritual efforts! Let us purify and cleanse our flesh! Let us abstain from passion, as we abstain from food! Let us rejoice in the Spirit and persevere with love!
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Each year, the clergy reminds the faithful of the importance of attending the Divine Services, especially during Great Lent. In fact, many times, I, myself, have encouraged the parents to remember that children are never too young to be brought to Church for services. The sooner we introduce them to the Church, her services, and her wisdom, the sooner we begin the process of "becoming" an Orthodox Christian. In order for Orthodoxy to make sense, our children need to experience all that the Church offers. The reason that small children often cry, when approaching the Holy Chalice, is that they are afraid; they equate it with going to the pediatrician. For the child that comes rarely, and never sees the priest, it is a strange and sometimes horrifying experience.
This year, I would like to extend an invitation to each of you, and most especially to the parents. Make it part of this year's Lenten commitment to attend more services, or attend more often. When Holy Week comes, block out all other activities. Make it a point to attend every service you can with your children. Be creative so that you can keep little ones directed and occupied. Locate service books for children who can read. Explain what's going to happen. Bring them to the Salutations (Chairetismoi), on Fridays. Talk about what Holy Week and Pascha were like when you were growing up, and explain to them all that Holy Week is a way of re-living the last days of Christ’s earthly ministry.
Just as you plan to take your children to the various athletic practices and games, or ballet or piano, etc., make plans to attend the Divine Services with your children, as often as possible. By doing so, you are doing your part in making sure the liturgical traditions of the Church are being handed down to the younger generations.
We find time for everything imaginable… let us find time to make a spiritual investment.
Wishing each of you a blessed Lenten Period, and praying that it will be one of spiritual renewal, I remain
With love in Christ,
+Archim. Nektarios Cottros
Ἔφθασε καιρός, ἡ τῶν πνευματικῶν ἀγώνων ἀρχή, ἡ κατὰ τῶν δαιμόνων νίκη, ἡ πάνοπλος ἐγκράτεια, ἡ τῶν Ἀγγέλων εὐπρέπεια, ἡ πρὸς Θεὸν παρρησία· δι' αὐτῆς γὰρ Μωϋσῆς, γέγονε τῷ Κτίστῃ συνόμιλος, καὶ φωνὴν ἀοράτως, ἐν ταῖς ἀκοαῖς ὑπεδέξατο· Κύριε, δι' αὐτῆς ἀξίωσον καὶ ἡμᾶς, προσκυνῆσαί σου τὰ Πάθη καὶ τὴν ἁγίαν Ἀνάστασιν, ὡς φιλάνθρωπος.
Ἀγαπητοί μοι ἐν Χριστῶ,
Ἔφτασε ὁ καιρός τῆς Μεγάλης Τεσσαρακοστῆς καὶ αἱ ἡμέραι ὅθεν οἱ ἱερεῖς ὁμιλοῦν περί σημασίας συμμετοχῆς ὅλων εἰς τὰς Ἱεράς Ἀκολουθίας. Μάλιστα, καὶ πολλάκις, ἔχω ἐξηγήσει ὅ,τι διὰ τῆς συμμετοχῆς τὰ παιδιά θὰ μάθουν τὴν Ὀρθόδοξον Παράδοσιν καὶ θὰ ἀναπτύξουν τὸ Ὀρθόδοξον φρόνημα. Διά τῆς συμμετοχῆς, τό λειτουργικό πλοῦτος δέν εἶναι κάτι ξένο, ἀλλὰ μέρος τῆς ζωῆς.
Καί πάλιν καὶ ἐφέτος, σᾶς καλῶ μἐ τά ἱερά λόγια τοῦ Κυρίου: «Ἔρχου καὶ Ἴδε!» Ἐλάτε, διὰ νὰ συμμετάσχετε μἐ τὰς οἰκογένειες σας, καὶ νὰ ἀναπτύξετε τὰς πνευματικάς σας δυνἀμεις. Ὅπως φροντίζουμε διὰ τὰς κοσμικάς ἀνάγκας, ἄς φροντίσουμε καὶ διὰ τὰς ψυχάς μας καὶ τὰς ψυχάς τῶν παῖδων.
Ἐπὶ δὲ τούτοις, εὐχόμενος Καλό Ἀγώνα καὶ Καλή Μετάνοια εἰς ὅλους, διατελῶ
Μετ’ ἀγάπης ἐν Χριστῶ,