This pastoral message is an excerpt from our March 2021 Echo.

“Shine within our hearts, merciful Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge and open the eyes of our minds that we may comprehend the message of Your Gospel. Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that having conquered all sinful desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, thinking and doing all those things that are pleasing to You.” - from the prayer read before the gospel in the Divine Liturgy

Dear Sts. Constantine and Helen Family,

Our theme for this month's ECHO is education.

When our Lord sent out the Apostles to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father
and the Son and the Holy Spirit, He also enjoined them to teach them all the things that He had commanded
them. This teaching responsibility was handed down by the apostles to the bishops who oversaw each
worshipping community, "rightly dividing the word of Truth". The Bishop in turn shared this responsibility with
the priests whom they ordained and placed in each parish to shepherd the "reasoned endowed flock", and the
priests in turn chose others, deacons and lay teachers, to continue the sacred task of instructing the faithful. It
appears that educating -and learning- are at the heart of what we do when we gather together to be the Church
of Christ. We really never stop learning what it means to be a Christian.

It is said that as the Virgin Mary grew up in a wondrous manner within the Temple she would listen to the
reading of the Torah and all of the sacred scriptures and would apply everything that she heard (through the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to herself. By the time the Archangel Gabriel would come to her to announce the
Good News of her supernatural conception (by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit) of the Son of God, she was
quite prepared to say, let it be done to me according to your word, having already come to the understanding
of what God's plan would be for her in His plan of salvation for the whole world.

This month we begin, once again, the most sacred time of the year known as Great Lent or Μεγάλη Σαρακοστή
(the Great 40 Days). Interesting, Great Lent began as a period of preparation and instruction for the
catechumens only, who would then be joined (through Holy Baptism and Chrismation) to Christ and His Church
at Pascha. Wanting to share in the increased praying, fasting, almsgiving, and instruction in the Faith, the rest
of the faithful soon dedicated themselves to this on a yearly basis, as well, leading up to the Lord's Passion,
Death, and glorious Resurrection.

In this ECHO you'll find an article by Fr. Deacon Jim about learning the great lesson of patience (pgs. 4 and 5).
You'll find Dino's short message to parents and teachers about the most effective teaching method: one's own
example (pg. 12). You'll also find informative articles by our Philoptochos, Sunday School, Parish Council, and
many others sharing the wonderful works of ministry that continue to be offered month atier month here in
our spiritual home. Let us take all of the lessons (and opportunities to learn) contained and promoted within
this month's newsletier to heart and say along with the Mother of God, Lord, let it be done to us (and by us)
according to your Word...

A blessed and instructive 40 days to all!  

Rev. Fr. Theodore Petrides