St. John Chrysostom Clergy Syndesmos Pre-Lenten Retreat

Αγαπώ, Begins with Α and ends with Ω,  Love is the beginning and end of all things!  ☺

I want to thank His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios for His Eminence’s support and prayers for the clergy brotherhood of the St. John Chrysostom Syndesmos of the Direct Archdiocesan District during the Pre-Lenten Retreat.  His Eminence’s obligation to the Eparchial Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate took His Eminence to Constantinople.  Nonetheless, His Eminence was present with us through His Eminence’s prayes and by the presence of our Chancellor, His Grace Bishop Andonios.   

Much gratitude also must be given to His Grace for guiding us to invite Fr. Stefanos Alexopoulos to be our retreat presenter, and for His Grace’s continual support for our priesthood in Christ by the financial support of these retreats through Direct Archdiocesan District Council Budget.  Furthermore, many compliments must be given to the presenter, Fr. Stefanos Alexopoulos for tremendous presentations on the following themes:  Unlocking the Treasures of Liturgical Life; Revitalizing the Liturgical Experience; Exploring and Restoring Liturgical Structures.  All the clergy that participated in this retreat enjoyed spiritually the fruits of these presentations.  The great success of this Pre-Lenten Retreat could not have happened without the work and support of the Executive Officers and of the committee:  Fr. Elias Villis, Fr. Nicholas Samaras, Fr. Demetrios Calogredes, Fr. Demetrios Kazakis, Fr. George Livaditis, Fr. Louis Nicholas and Fr. Harry Pappas.

Reflecting on the retreat, there are a few thoughts that come to mind.  First, these retreats are for the continual education necessary for the priest.  This assists in one’s renewal.“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” (Pr. 1:5)  Second, the spiritual gatherings of the priest encourage unity, which is of the utmost importance in helping one another fulfill the Gospel of Christ.  “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3)  Third, the presentations by Fr. Stefanos, through his research and academia, are profound resources for the priest in helping to make real and alive the experience of the Divine Liturgy for all the celebrants, clergy and laity.  The evolution of the Liturgical experience in the life of the church is seen as ongoing.

At the conclusion of the Pre-Lenten Retreat, the body of the clergy asked His Grace, to discuss with the Hierarchy, implementing the laity to offer the “Amen” at the conclusion of the prayers of the Anaphora.  The choirs or chanter could sing or chant the hymn softly with the priest’s voice being heard by all saying the Anaphora and the faithful offering at the appropriate time the Amen or the Amen, Amen, Amen.

With the continual work of the St. John Chrysostom Syndesmos a few other matters were mentioned:  1)  Making sure we pray for each other with the diptychs  2)  Offering articles, pictures, stories and any materials that might be appropriate for the Syndesmos Newsletter to Fr. Samara  3)  Beginning, a collective effort (possibly through google docs.)the writing of a catechism by each clergyman writing about one subject and then compiling these works into a catechesis.  

In conclusion, we need to congratulate one of our brothers, who has been elected as Metropolitan of Chicago, The V. Rev. Archimandrite Dr. Nathanael Symeonides, Άξιος!  Thank you to all the clergy who participated in the Pre-Lenten Retreat and I beg for your forgiveness for any shortcomings that might have revealed themselves during the two days together.

Respectfully In Christ,

Fr. John K. Lardas