In many Churches throughout the world yesterday, Presanctified Liturgy was either celebrated behind closed doors, or was cancelled all together. We were blessed to offer Presanctified Liturgy at our host parish last night, but I was inspired by one comment by a mother shortly before the beginning of Liturgy. “The fact that I’m running to church tonight to commune my family in case it’s the last time during our most holiest time of the year, tells me that the devil is working on overtime to keep us out and us faithful really need to step it up.”
Over the years of my ministry, I have come to the realization that the single common sin in every human being is pride. This longstanding tradition of pride goes way back to our ancestors in the Garden, as we have learned during Great Lent by reading daily from Genesis. In the case of Adam and Eve, pride drove them to falling into the temptation from the devil, and more than anything else, Great Lent is about defeating the pride so that we can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Since our current health crisis is going to be our partner on our Daily Lenten Journey, I will endeavor to remain focused on our journey while not ignoring the reality of the Coronavirus. We’ve all been asked to practice social distancing, and many of our Church throughout the world have actually closed their doors. For some this has been a source of scandal, while for other it has been a relief from anxiety. Either way, it will be imperative that we do not allow these few weeks of social distancing to permanently change the way we interact as human beings, let alone as churches.
In times of crisis, our faith is not only challenged from within, it is challenged from others. While we normally encourage faithful to attend Church at difficult times, and to brings friends and relatives who need God’s healing, today we are encouraging faithful to remain home for the health and safety of others. For those who stay home, this does not mean they have lost their faith in God, nor does attending Church deny the truth of science. As Orthodox Christians, we welcome the partnership of faith and science.
Today we begin our third week of our Great Lenten Journey desperately in need of focus for our souls. The world is overwhelming our hearts with fear and panic about a virus we ultimately no nothing about. Keep washing your hands. Stay out of crowded places and pray for those working to keep us safe. I suggest we refocus our heart and minds toward something other than this virus. I say this because if we desire, we can experience God this week.
As the Coronavirus (COVID19) continues to wreak havoc throughout our nation and world, the Orthodox Church continues to stand faithful to Christ. She offers words of peace and comfort amidst so many unknowns as health officials continue to learn more each day. Church throughout the world, and here in America, have decided either to close completely or at minimum reduce schedules.
The past few days have been eye-opening for me in regard to the attitude of the society in general toward the Orthodox Church. Attempting to remind our Orthodox Christian faithful of the safety of Holy Communion, our host parish became the recipient of viral (no pun intended) attacks on social media. These attacks ranged from mild name-calling to accusations of trying to kill our parishioners. So after nearly 100,000 views with hundreds of such comments, I decided to remove the post.
I’m taking a break, sort of, from Great Lent to talk about the increased situation in regard to Coronavirus (COVID19). I maintain that Holy Communion is safe and faithful have no need to fear any illness being transmitted through Holy Communion. Maybe a bit of compassion and love will serve to draw others closer to Christ rather than away from Him.
Yesterday I wrote about starting over after we sin. Adam and Eve started over after they were removed from the Garden. Cain started over after killing his brother. We are encouraged to start over when we sin, not to pretend our sin had no effect, but to recall that God loves us and continues to give us a new chance.