FR. CHRIST'S PASCHAL GRATITUDE
Christos Anesti - Alithos Anesti!
This was one of the greatest Holy Week/Pascha celebrations and
experiences. I first thank my brother and co-celebrant Fr
Christopher Grecu for assisting with so much energy throughout the
week. Thank you Fr Christopher and
thank you Vlassis Vasiliadis for your hospitality and opening
your home to Fr Christopher during the week.
Our Choir, led by our very talented Dena Papadopoulos, led a very
in sync and in tune choir. Coupled with Serena Pantazopoulos
for Holy Tuesday evening's singing Kassiani's penitential hymn, needless
to say, we were moved. Our Protopsalti, Nick Tsiadis led
Noel Kelly and Dyonisius Porfiriadis in some of the most beautiful
Byzantine chanting we have ever heard. With Nick's ability to
chant Byzantine music in English, there was an increased understanding
and appreciation of our rich and beautiful Orthodox hymnography.
Together, our chantors and choir raised our worship experience to new
Our Esteemed Parish Council, under the leadership of President Tony
Palmieri, organized and provided good order throughout the week.
A great deal of work and "wo/manpower" goes into keeping good order and
we appreciate all their hard work.
The Ladies Philoptochos provided so many resources. Under the
leadership of President Alexis Limberakis, everything was
perfect. From all the flowers to the eggs, everything was perfect.
Thank you to Niki Thompson who organized this year's Church
cleaning, which allowed us to enjoy a clean and bright Church this
Paschal Season. In addition, we thank all the adults & youth who
came and helped:
Adults: Alex Andreadis, George Maalouf, Georgiann Eleftherakis, Joann
Kusturis, Cleo Xaras, Alexandra Perrot, Bill Sherneck, Presbytera
Youth: Maria Raptis, Christina Topalidis, George Topalidis, Evan
Palmieri, Christopher Palmieri, Aris Tsingiropoulos, Elaina Sosangelos
To our Sunday School director, Panayota Kevgas, together with her
assistant, Elaine Christie, we thank you for leading our youth in
so many meaningful events. Throughout Lent and Holy Week our youth
participated in countless readings, exposing them to scripture and
hymns, giving them the opportunity to speak in front of our faithful
during services. On the Saturday of Lazarus, our Sunday School
youth and parents folded 1800 palms for Palm Sunday. Holy Friday was a
true blessing for our youth as we spent a great deal of time talking
about Holy Week and Easter, having crafts, fellowship and confession.
With a record 20 Myrrhbearers surrounding our Kouvouklion/Epitaphion,
the Church was truly blessed to have these young ladies present and well
organized by Panayota and Elaine.
My right hands behind the Altar, our 60 Altar Boys worked harder than
ever in making the services solemn and smooth. Led by their
captains Jason Demetris, Nick Peters and George Topalidis,
together with parent leaders; John Gillespie, George Papadopoulos and
Jim Peters, our young men did an exceptional job. Thank you
gentlemen for the extraordinary hours of hard work and patience.
began a new tradition this year with the ringing of bells and rattling
of pots on Holy Saturday morning.
With His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos gracing us with his
presence and leading us in worship, we really brought in the
announcement of the Resurrection with boldness.
I thank John Touring
who secured the pans for us and Angeliki Demetris who secured the bells for us.
Looking forward to the celebration again next year.
I also thank the many parishioners who brought in their pans and
bells and participated. The
Church was truly filled with the energy of the Holy Spirit.
Don't forget to bring you pans and bells next year.
Finally, I remain humbled and in awe of the 1000s that came faithfully
through our doors throughout the week, worshiping and celebrating the
great works our Lord did for us. We are believers and I pray our
faith continues to grow and bring us closer to our Risen Lord, day in
and day out.
Christ is Risen friends - Truly He is Risen!
Lenten Pastoral Message
"Liberate all our senses from killing passions,
setting over them as a benevolent sovereign our inner reason. Let the
eye be averted from every evil sight, and the ear be deaf to idle talk.
May the tongue be purged of unseemly speech. Purify
these lips that praise You, Lord. Make our hands abstain from wicked
deeds, doing only such things as are pleasing to You, thus sealing with
Your grace all our members, and our mind."
taken from the Wednesday Presanctified Liturgies during Lent
Beloved, I believe the above words capture the real struggle of our
spiritual walk as well as the means by which we can be tempted.
I also believe if we were to indelibly etch that prayer on the
forefront of our every thought during this Lenten season and beyond, we
would begin to realize our true potential as Christians.
With Lent beginning March 3rd, let us embrace this opportunity of
spiritual growth and renewal. Let
us embrace this opportunity to recommit our lives to Christ and His
Church through worship and the tools of faith....
Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving.
Is our tool for Spiritual Warfare.
Exercising our physical and spiritual person to cleanse ourselves by
improving the areas of our Christian walk that we know to be weak.
Opens or strengthens our relationship with Christ.
We cannot have a relationship with anyone in our lives, unless we
communicate with them.
Likewise, that applies ever so much with our Lord and Savior Jesus
The Greek word used when referring to giving
Alms in scripture is “eleimosini”,
which means “mercy”. So,
beginning with our families, extending it to our neighbors and beyond,
let us begin practicing eleimosini to those who are needy and suffering.
These three essential aspects of the Christian life are found in the
Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3) and are to be lived daily.
The Church, through her Sacred Services and spiritual life,
offers us the opportunity of askesis (spiritual exercise) and of
becoming more Christ-like¸
imitating Christ in all things.
Join me and the entire Church family on our Lenten Journey to the joy of
our Lord’s Resurrection by attending as many services as possible.
With peace, love
and blessings from above,
Rev. Father Christ Kontos
There is perhaps no greater a message regarding the celebration of our
Lord's Pascha than the words of St. John Chrysostom in his Paschal
Homily. All too often Pascha
sneaks up on us and before we know it, we find ourselves in Church,
Saturday night, with great anticipation awaiting the "unwaning light "
and the words "
λαβετε φως - Come receive the light".
Friends, let us contemplate on the following words
that we may be encouraged to prepare to receive our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ this Pascha. As
we celebrate Christ's holy Resurrection and the words:
Christos Anesti - Christ is Risen,
resound in our hearts, I encourage you to embrace
Christ who dispels all darkness and despair and replaces it with light,
love and hope.
With brotherly love and pastoral blessings,
Rev. Father Christ Kontos
If anyone is a devout lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and
If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy
of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings;
for they shall suffer no loss. If anyone has delayed until the ninth
hour, let them draw near without hesitation. If anyone has arrived even
at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He
gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who
has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the
first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.
He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether
first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice
The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of
Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been
Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!
He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating
this, Isaiah exclaimed: "Hades was embittered when it encountered
Thee in the lower regions".
It was vexed, for it was abolished!
It was vexed, for it was mocked!
It was vexed, for it was purged!
It was vexed, for it was despoiled!
It was vexed, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of
them that have slept.
To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages. Amen.
This month's Pastoral Message is dedicated to
questions parishioners have had about the blessed Iconography Phase we
have entered to finish the spiritual transformation of our Church.
Your questions answered by Father Christ
Why Iconography and stained glass?
Throughout the years,
I have visited the most beautifully erected and decorated Greek Orthodox
Churches in the world at Mount Athos, the Holy Lands of Jerusalem,
Bethlehem, and beyond. I have prayed in these Churches and experienced
greater spiritual strength through the surrounding iconography and
elements that go into the interior design of a Greek Orthodox house of
My prayer has always
been that one day, all of us, the faithful of St. Luke Greek Orthodox
Church, this generation of St. Luke’s youth and adults and future
generations, will be able to experience the fullness and spiritual
growth once the interior of our Church is further adorned.
How much will it cost and why now?
The cost to complete
this project is $1,000,000. It is a great deal of money and will be
completed with donated funds, there will be no borrowing. I know that
our parishioners are some of the most committed and faithful in their
Greek Orthodox faith. This project has been in the works for close to
five years. During that
time we have built a new Education and Cultural Center and gone through
the worst economic recession in history.
While there may never
be a “good time” to complete this project since there are many people
still suffering and we are paying down the mortgage on our new center,
which serves the many needs and ministries of our youth and adults, now
is the time to complete the House of God which sustains our spiritual
life through Worship and the Sacraments of the Church.
Our windows need to be replaced and our Church is half adorned.
I have sought and
received the blessings from Metropolitan Evangelos.
Our iconographer, George Papastamatiou is prepared to complete
the iconography which he started in 1998 and our stained glass artist,
Nadya Penoff, is ready to move forward.
Nadya has told me that this will be her last major project after
30 years of creating stained glass windows for Orthodox Churches and
wants to make it her crowning achievement.
How long will it be until we get
We cannot start until
we reach total funding. My
prayer is to raise the necessary funds to move forward by The Nativity
of our Lord-Christmas-of this year and complete this sacred work by
Christmas, 2014. With your prayerful consideration, I have faith it will
How can I participate?
consideration and consultation with the Beautification Committee, I have
established “Giving Levels” to allow everyone to participate according
to their means.
Quite frankly, if we
are blessed to have a small number of very committed and generous
parishioners to donate at the Seraphim, Celestial and Eucharist levels,
the project will go forward in short order.
However, a donation
at any level is a God-Send and all donations; no matter how small or
large, will make a difference.
Will benefactors be recognized?
All benefactors at
all levels will be recognized in a prominent wall display that will list
We will be discussing
the display with our artists in the next few months.
A richly designed
book will also be created to display all the icons and donors.
A permanent website
will include vivid photographs of each icon and window along with
explanations of each scene. To reinforce the permanency of our legacy,
donors and their families will be recognized with pictures and videos,
if they so choose.
Will it be possible to meet the artists?
and Nadya Penoff will make a presentation on iconography, stained glass,
and spirituality to the community on Sunday, December 8th.
I am available to discuss any questions you might have and would
welcome your thoughts.
You can reach me via email:
Fatherck@gmail.com or call the office: 610-353-1592.
Join me as we embark on this spiritual transformation
by becoming an integral part of this lasting legacy of our Church.
Peace and blessings,