2 THE SHEPHERD • SEPTEMBER 2023 • SAINT SPYRIDON GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH OF SAN DIEGO This past month I was out for dinner with three friends. At the table behind us was a family celebrating an elderly man’s 97th birthday. We asked him what was the secret to getting to 97 and he said, without a beat, “getting through 96!” His response reminded me that getting to to- morrow requires not taking today for grant- ed. As the ancients observed, we need to live today to its fullest because we are not prom- ised tomorrow! Every day we have the abili- ty to forgive someone or to offer help. More poignant, today could be our last day to open our hearts to share love and to forgive. In a recent Daily Prayer message, Father Stavros shared a story about a parishioner at the end of his life. John had been diagnosed with cancer and died only six short months after the two met. At one point in their short lived friendship, John asked Father Stavros if he could go to Confession, something John had never done before. During the confes- sion, Father Stavros shared how John looked at the icon of Christ and said: “Lord, You are my everything. I think of You when I wake up, I think of You when I go to bed, I think of You during my cancer treat- ments. I think of You throughout the day. You are my everything.” Father Stavros shared how he helped John walk his last mile, but how John showed him how to walk with faith. Father Stavros reminded us that it takes us all a long time to get to the point where we can honestly say “Lord, You are my everything.” He shared that he himself is still working towards the day when he will say “Lord, You are my ev- erything,” and called on his readers to reflect on where they are on their journey. I have thought about where I am in my jour- ney. I can honestly say that I believe in Him and that He is the truth in my Life. I know that as I struggle to find my True Self, I find more of Him in my thoughts. I go to Him in times of trouble but I still have times of doubt. I have truly felt Him protecting me but I still struggle to see Him in all those I encounter. I truly believe that God puts peo- ple, good and bad, in our lives to help us in our walk to Him. While I am not yet at the point where I can truly say “Lord, You are my everything,” I do have that end in mind and pray that with His grace I will be able one day to say those words without doubt or reservation. I also pray that He will show us the way together and that in our collective experience we can continue to walk towards our destination finding strength in those who have gone before and shown us the way by their example. Many Blessings, Jim Gilpin Parish Council President FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL PRESIDENT Usually in this September article we are re- porting our plans for study but due to un- foreseen circumstances, we have not yet quite finalized for how and when we will meet this year. It may only be via Zoom with starting date and meeting time still to be determined. Even so, we continue to grow in our faith, in Christ and in His Word, and to work on be- ing “better doers of the word and not hearers only.” (James 1:22) As we were reminded in a recent homily, our faith grows as we follow Christ’s example and imitate His love, a love that “is patient, kind, not self-seeking…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.” (1Cor:13) We learn and grow through hearing the Word in our Sunday liturgies and in the daily readings of the Epistle and Gospel that our Church provides for us. As we heard last month in the Gospel reading for the Holy Transfiguration, we must “listen to Him” (Matt.17:5) – that is, not just passively hear, but actively allow the message of Christ to enter into our hearts and minds and to change us. Wherever we are, whatever our circumstanc- es, we always have our part in the mission of the Church to “be followers and spreaders of His Word,” as Sr. Vassa mentions in her book Reflections with Morning Coffee. But we do not have to do this alone – we can do it together in our ministry as Women of the Word and always with and in Christ. A foot- note in our Orthodox Study Bible helps us to understand “Christ Himself is present in each believer and in the Church always, both per- sonally and in the Holy Spirit, for neither can be separated from the other.” (OSB p.1327) We pray that this year will be one of growth and continued maturing in the faith. And whatever we decide on our meetings and schedule, we know that “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” (Romans 8:35) For the most recent updates on our group, you can contact (call or text) Susan Miserl- is at 619-243-9864 or email susanmiserlis@ gmail.com With Love in Christ, +The Women of the Word Bible Study Group WOMEN WORD OF THE Memorial donation gifts have been given to the bookstore. We would like to thank James and Mary Mastorakos for their wonderful donation in memory of Manny Pegas , and we would like to thank Michael and Marilyn Yeatts for their generous donation in mem- ory of Dodge Galanos . They will both be missed by so many of us for years to come. May their dear memories be eternal. The Church has always celebrated the begin- ning of the New Year on September 1st. The bookstore would like to send warm greetings to all our parishioners for the beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year. With the be- ginning of the New Year, it is our hope that many more of us will be motivated to broad- en our understanding of the fullness of the Orthodox Christian faith. New Rome Press has published a new twelve volume book se- ries titled Friends of Christ. Each volume is beautifully illustrated and contains the lives of Saints commemorated each month. The books are created to be utilized by both chil- dren and adults. Real events of history in- spire everyone to love the Lord and His won- drous deeds in these books. The September volume includes the lives of: Saint Mamas, Venerable Efrosynos the Cook, St. Cornelios the Centurion, St. Efymia the Great Martyr, and Sts. Efstathios and his family. Why not start off the Ecclesiastical New Year with this September volume? It is a great time to introduce your child to more Saints of the Church! As St. Seraphim of Sobolev reminds us: “Do not adapt your faith to your life, but your life to the faith”. We look forward to seeing you in the book- store! God bless you all! Stephanie Mourafetis, Mary Mastorakos, Pat Tsopanoglou, Collette Pepelis, and Fran- cesca Captain BOOKSTORE