St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Ottawa

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

Pastoral Message II: Great Lent 2020

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Pastoral Message II: Great Lent 2020

“Lent is not a period of self-torture, punishment or paying back debts to God. Lent is the period governed by brotherly love and the feeling of God’s love and of His overwhelming light. Lent is the period in which Divine Grace fills us, that we forget to even eat our bread! Lent is when our daily bread becomes the food of the angels – praising God – and feeding the brethren, love” (Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo).

As I greet you in the beginning of this Great Lent, I prostrate and ask for your forgiveness. Please forgive my weaknesses and shortcomings. Some of you have requested my time, my presence or attention and I have failed to serve many times. If in that or any other way I have sinned against you, forgive me.

As I reflect on the first 3 months as an unworthy pastor of this loving parish, I admit that I’ve had a roller-coaster-like quarter of a year: First of all, in terms of pastoral demands and the challenges of such a big parish and second in terms of constant swings between disappointments and blessings. In my weakness, I admit that I’ve had some disappointments especially in regards to the responses to my calls to activate and vitalize the ministry teams in the parish which came below the expectations I had. However, the Lord in His mercy and goodness, keeps showing me through your love and kindness that I should rely on Him and that my worries are not real and that He will provide in due time as we grow gradually and steadily together. Thank you for your love, brothers and sisters; I am blessed to serve you.

When I wrote to you my previous pastoral reflection, last Christmas, I said that I’d like us as a body to focus on Joy, Hospitality and Adoption. As I write today, I will not come with new titles, but rather invite you to join the Church, the bride of Christ, in her journey to Pascha. As Metropolitan Paul says in the quote I started with, Lent is a time of joy and love. Let us embrace this.

Make sure you forgive and ask for forgiveness. Make sure you learn how to fast in a way that teaches you humility and helps you learn how to love and serve. Make sure to come to Church services more and to read the scriptures constantly during Great Lent. You are invited to participate in this journey, to be conformed into the life of Jesus Christ. You are invited to all together fight the passions and the ego and acquire humility and virtues. We are invited to repent. All that through fasting, prayer and acts of love. Don’t allow yourself to be lazy. Embrace the journey. I cannot wait to pray with you almost daily for seven weeks. May it be blessed!

Blessed Fast! Please forgive me the sinner and remember me in your prayers. ‘Kil sini w into b kher. ‘


Fr. Nektarios Najjar

Pastor and Dean

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