All of us are sad, very sad, that we have been prevented from celebrating services and offering sacraments in our St. Nicholas Church like we are used to. The worst part is, we have no idea how long this crisis is going to last. I have been contacted by a few parishioners, friends, and family members who have asked:
DOES THIS MEAN THAT WE MIGHT MISS HOLY WEEK AND PASCHA???
Well, we don’t know, do we? I will tell you this, however, it is certainly possible! I hope not. I pray not. I’m praying very hard that we will be blessed to salvage, at least in some way, Holy Week and Pascha, but it may not happen. I’m sorry. My heart breaks at this thought. You may ask, “Is there anything we can do to improve things?” Absolutely! First of all PRAY! Pray in your domestic church, your home, for the epidemic to lift and the churches to open. This should go without saying. “What else?” 1. Wash or sanitize your hands often. 2. Put distance between yourself and others. 3. Stay home if you are sick, or are ordered to do so by the civil authorities. 4. Cover coughs or sneezes with tissues or by using the inside of your elbow. 5. Wear a face mask if you are sick. 6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. These are vital directions given to us by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and others. “But surely there must be something more that we can do?” Yes there is. Please consider the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
“By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
This literally means that by exercising the virtue of patience, we will be saving our lives! If the disciplines of quarantine and loss of divine services prompts feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, etc., then we lose our spirit of peace within, and literally endanger our lives. Listen to what the “Shepherd” says:
“Be patient and understanding” he (the Shepherd) said, “and you will overcome all evil works and will accomplish all righteousness. For if you are patient, the Holy Spirit that dwells in you will be pure, uncontaminated by some other, evil spirit. Living in a comfortable space, the Holy Spirit will rejoice and be glad with the vessel in which he lives...but if an irascible, angry tempter draws near, immediately the Holy Spirit, who is very sensitive, is distressed because he does not have a clean space in which to live and he will depart...For the Lord dwells in patience, but the devil lives in in an angry, irascible temper” (The Shepherd of Hermas, c.100 AD, Mandate 5:1-3).
We need to be patient -- patient with our government, patient with our hierarchs, patient with our priests, patient with our family members and with everyone in general. Cultivate patience because patience will make us whole. Don’t forget what St. James the Brother of God says:
“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith produces patience. But let patience complete its work, that you may be perfect and whole, lacking nothing” (James 1: 3-4).