An Appeal to the Parishioners
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Man was created to live in close communion with God. Lack of faith and mistrust of God separated and continues to separate man from God. Disunity with God is absolutely disastrous for man. All of man’s troubles fundamentally proceed from his separation from and disunity with God.
God came down to earth in order to reestablish the union of man with God. This Union is reestablished through the mystery of Holy Communion of man to God when man partakes of the most Holy Body and Blood of God Himself. In this rests the entire purpose and meaning of the Divine Liturgy and ultimately, of our earthly life.
Man continually forgets this and immerses himself completely in earthly cares and vanities. But there is only one thing needful, in the words of God Himself. And in His great mercy, from time to time, God reminds us of this.
By God’s permission, various afflictions are visited upon mankind, including pestilences, in order to reawaken people, bring them to sobriety and instill in them repentance before God. During times of pandemics one should not avoid Church but on the contrary, flee to the Church for God’s help. From contact with the actual Living Body of God Himself or by the consumption of the Body of God it is not possible to be infected by anything.
We approach the Holy Chalice with fear of God and with Faith. “I believe that this is Your actual most Pure Body and Your actual most Honorable Blood” as we say in prayer before Holy Communion. We partake of the Most Pure Body and Blood of our Lord and God for the HEALING OF SOUL AND BODY. Whatsoever disease we may be afflicted with, the communion of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ can ONLY heal us.
During times of a rapidly spreading pandemic it is essential to carry out all the usual and necessary precautions. But this does not, and should not include avoiding attending of Holy Church Services and especially communion of the Holy Mysteries.
The civil authorities are not currently launching a persecution of the Church at this time and do not forbid serving God. Generally all events that include gatherings of large groups of people in close contact are forbidden at this time in order to mitigate the main reason for the propagation of the virus. Alas, in our case, like in most cases, there are rarely large groups of people in close contact, except on Pascha.
Therefore these prohibitions should not worry us excessively at this time.
But it would be rather careless on our part to disregard them. Just the fact that at this time the Holy Services are practically inaccessible to most of us should give us pause. How often are we reminded in sermons and counsels as to how important and priceless are these services to God in our pure Orthodox Church. How we need to value them and not miss them. And how often are these councils disregarded by us and not put into effect in our lives.
This present trial will pass, as the previous ones have passed. God willing, at least some of us will retain in our consciousness that perhaps we really should begin to approach our spiritual life more seriously. That perhaps we should not take these precious Services for granted and be negligent in taking full advantage of these lifesaving Gifts of God in the Holy Church while they are still available to us.