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Churches and Coronavirus #419902 03/09/20 01:28 AM
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Alice Offline OP
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I am removing what I thought would be an interesting topic, since apparently it came across as controversial to some here, and that was not what I intended.

Have a blessed Lent all,
Alice

Last edited by Alice; 03/10/20 12:26 AM.
Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419903 03/10/20 02:28 AM
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Here is an excellent pastoral letter from Anglican Church in North America Archbishop Foley Beach:


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

The global spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus, has become a focus of attention and concern for many of us. Many bishops, diocesan leaders, and experts in the field of medicine have consulted with the Province since this disease was first reported.

Drawing on their deep wisdom, I offer these points, which speak to both the physical and spiritual concerns that naturally occur at a time like this:

1. Trust God.

In the midst of uncertainty, we trust God. He is sovereign over human history and over our lives. He is the Lord, "our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). And he is loving and merciful. Psalm 100:5 assures us, "For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations."

We witness to our Christian faith when we resist panic, knowing that our times are in the Lord's hand (Psalm 31:15). No one can snatch us out of the Father's hand (John 10:28-29). And so, "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

The Book of Common Prayer offers on page 269 a list of suggested Psalms on many helpful themes, including God's sovereignty, providence and mercy, trust in God, and living faithfully in times of trouble. If reading from the Psalms is not a part of your daily prayers, try turning to one of these psalms each day to keep your heart focused on the Lord and his presence and care.

2. Be informed.

There is much on the internet from unhelpful extreme perspectives that encourage either panic or complacency. Neither is appropriate. Pay attention to health advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your state and local governments.

The CDC website provides a wealth of information about the disease and appropriate steps for individuals, churches, schools, and businesses to take.

You may wish to subscribe to the CDC's COVID-19 newsletter to get regular updates. Go to their newsletter subscription page and choose the newsletter entitled, "Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)."

Avail yourself of your own state's Department of Health website for the most up-to-date information, treatment, and infection control measures for your particular region of the country.

3. Be prudent.

Wash your hands! Wash them frequently and thoroughly, for a minimum of 20 seconds using soap and warm water. There is no substitute for this. While alcohol-based hand sanitizers can kill bacteria, they have not been shown to be adequate against COVID-19 or other viruses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently warned Purell's manufacturer to cease advertising it as an effective agent against viruses. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

For cleaning surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops, etc., the CDC and our experts recommend using bleach (1 part bleach to 100 parts water).

If you have symptoms of a cough, disease, or a fever within the last 24 hours, please stay at home. Infectious disease specialists in the Anglican Church in North America have emphasized how vitally important this is, though COVID-19 can also be spread by people who have not developed symptoms of illness.

If you are returning from known areas of higher prevalence of COVID-19, we encourage you not to attend church for two weeks. The list of affected areas and the period of self-quarantine will likely change in the weeks ahead.

Prudence and care, especially for those who are susceptible to this and other viral illness, will require extraordinary leadership in the weeks to come. The diocesan bishops of the Anglican Church in North America will be developing plans and guidance to be used in their own dioceses. You may be receiving guidance from your bishop about any temporary changes that may be warranted in your church's worship during this crisis. These are godly men that work carefully with the clergy and experts under their care to find the most appropriate course of action for the parishes under their watch. Knowing that sometimes difficult decisions may have to be made, I ask you to pray daily for the men and women involved in these diocesan processes and to carefully listen and follow their direction.

4. Act in love.

Reach out to your neighbors, particularly the elderly and those who are vulnerable or alone.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, our strong tower of defense in time of trouble: We offer you praise and heartfelt thanks for our deliverance from the dangers which lately surrounded us and for your gracious gift of peace. We confess that your goodness alone has preserved us; and we ask you still to continue your mercies toward us, that we may always know and acknowledge you as our Savior and mighty Deliverer; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Thomas the Seeker] #419904 03/10/20 02:38 AM
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Encyclical of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and the Eparchial Synod on the Covid-19 Pandemic (Coronavirus)

March 6, 2020

To the Right Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The appearance of the Covid-19 Pandemic (Coronavirus) throughout the world and in the United States has created fear, anxiety, and genuine concern. All of these need to be taken seriously and no one’s fears should be dismissed out of hand. Already, religious bodies are responding in similar ways, but ways that are not necessarily consistent. In order to assist the Faithful in their own response, this statement is meant to guide and inform us all.

As Orthodox Christians, we know that God uses material means to communicate His blessings and presence to us. The grace-filled presence of Icons, Relics, Holy Water, blessing crosses, objects (such as flowers), and even the blessing hand of a priest, convey to the believer God’s grace and energy.

The same material elements that can convey the blessings of God are also subject to the broken nature of our fallen world. Science and our God-given reason demand that we employ every means available to protect ourselves and our families against the spread of Covid-19 and any other disease. In a crisis such as this, we need to exercise vigilance as a community, lest our churches become points of transmission of the disease.

The sacrament of sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, is not simply a material element but the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we counsel those feeling unwell physically to refrain from liturgical assemblies until they are certain of their diagnosis. Taking the basic steps of wellness as recommended by the health authorities is not only sensible, but wise and considerate of others. In truth, it is an act of love.

Clergy and Laity alike should employ best practices like thorough and meticulous hand-washing and frequent cleaning of the liturgical space and objects (e.g., hand cross, icons, etc.). Those belonging to vulnerable groups (the at-risk elderly, those with suppressed auto-immune systems, and those who suffer from chronic illnesses) should protect themselves by refraining from attending church services during the crisis. Also, everyone traveling internationally, please refrain from coming to church services for a period of fourteen days (the timeframe of incubation). Thanks to the marvels of technology, anyone can take full advantage of following services on the TV or the internet, and the clergy can visit them at home to administer the Sacraments.

In addition, no one should be criticized for making the choice to refrain for a time from their participation in the traditional liturgical practices of our Holy Church. These measures do not change the traditions of the Church but are rather temporary precautions during this time of crisis. We should strengthen one another, as the Apostle Paul says:

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (I Thessalonians 5:9-11)

As we encourage and strengthen each other, let us also offer our prayers to the Lord our God, that this pandemic might end quickly, and that, through the prayers of His Holy Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary, He will, as we pray in our litanies of fervent supplication:

«… τοῦ διαφυλαχθῆναι τὴν ἁγίαν Ἐκκλησίαν καὶ τὴν πόλιν ταύτην, καὶ πᾶσαν πόλιν καὶ χώραν άπὸ λοιμοῦ….»

“… protect our Holy Church and our city and every city and land from pestilence….”


With paternal prayers and blessing in Christ,

Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419906 03/11/20 08:03 PM
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Christ is in our midst!!

Alice:

I am so sorry that you chose to take that step. I, for one, thought it was both timely and an act of Christian charity to all of us that you shared that link. Times like these are when we should share what we are doing as "best practices"--a phrase we often use in my profession when we gather for continuing education. And continuing education of each other is something that is a charitable act in times such as these.

Please re-establish that link.

Bob

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419913 03/18/20 02:14 PM
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Alice Offline OP
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Well, at this point, where many of us are on a semi-quarantine because our places of employment have closed down for atleast two weeks, we also have the unprecedented move, in compliance with state officials (I am in Florida, the same has happened in my hometown of NY) of not being allowed to go to church *at all*.

Our priests said that they never thought that they would have to say the message of "Don't come to church". :-(

They are, however, still having all the scheduled Liturgies and Lenten services and broadcasting them live on youtube so we can participate from home. (It brings the word 'couch potato' to a new level)... ;-)

In any case, praying that we shall all get through this. May God be with all of us, be especially close to the sick and suffering, be a rock of comfort for believers, and soften the heart of unbelievers to turn to Him.

Alice

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419914 03/18/20 02:46 PM
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I like this one from a Franciscan friar in Ireland:


Lockdown

by Brother Richard Hendrick



Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Sing.

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419916 03/18/20 08:40 PM
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Christ is in our midst!!

The Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown follows the Catholic Diocese of Scranton in cancelling ALL public liturgical functions and meetings for the indefinite future as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Funerals and baptisms are to be restricted to immediate family only. I am assuming that confessions and anointings will be by appointment only. (Just saw one priest on our news who is doing "drive by" confessions--he sits about 6 feet from the place a person drives to and gives absolution.)

Bob

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419917 03/18/20 09:19 PM
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Alice Offline OP
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Utroque: that was beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

Bob: I like the concept of 'drive through' confession.

Be well,
Alice

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419918 03/19/20 03:36 PM
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Alice:

I wouldn't mind it unless one had to shout one's sins before absolution.

Bob

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419922 03/26/20 05:09 PM
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Christ is in our midst!!

My prayer is that all of you are doing well as you are sheltered at home.

Bob

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419923 03/26/20 11:16 PM
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As well as can be expected.

Bishop Granier of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, PA, has just announced that there will be no services for the faithful throughout Holy Week including Easter.

What has happened to the courage of the Martyrs of Abilene who said "We cannot live without Sunday?":

Revelation says that they cry out from the Heavenly altar "How long, O Lord".

How long with the Hierarchs be ruled by fear rather than by faith?

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419924 03/27/20 03:18 AM
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Rob Morris, a Lutheran Pastor in Connecticut writes:

I am concerned how many times I have seen pastors and church leaders write or say "Of course, if local officials tell churches not to meet, then that's what we'll do."

My beef isn't with the choice itself, but with the "Of course". Local officials have told churches not to meet in various places and at various times all around the world and throughout history. Sometimes those motives are good, right, and salutary. Sometimes not so much. Sometimes love demands we comply. Sometimes not so much. My concern is that the primary hinge for this decision not be one solely of risk/health. When churches meet illegally (think the early church facing Roman persecution, or Shusaku Endo's Silence and the persecution in 17th-century Japan) - pastors are asking their members to risk their lives and perhaps even the lives of their whole village to gather. No one could say it is the healthy choice to gather, and you could argue they are unlovingly risking others' lives as well. Should they simply cease to meet because of love or risk? Given that I believe Health is one of our largest 21st century idols, I am concerned how quickly churches have closed as soon as Health is invoked. I could go on at length on that topic, but no one signed up for that. smile

I am not impugning or second-guessing anyone else's decisions. It may be the right choice not to meet... but I hope that decision always and fully remains with the church, not the state. And I hope that decision never becomes a matter "of course".

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419926 03/27/20 05:41 PM
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Dear Thomas,

Read this from an Abbott of a monastery in Mt. Athos. It may calm your heart a bit.

For EVERYONE, the spirituallyl enlightened eloquence of these thoughts to ponder while we are in isolation are truly edifying and consoling:

https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/20...ztoaO4_U5RJA0I1cO7ryBV33Ifd8K65z0iv8h9Bc

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419928 03/27/20 06:07 PM
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P.S. I have been watching my former parish on Youtube for services:

The priest there does Tues and Thurs Compline service which is absolutely beautiful (his voice is known to be one of the absolutely best in the entire Archdiocese, and is chanter also has a wonderful chanting voice for English).

Wednesday he does Presanctified, and Friday, the Salutations to the Theotokos.

He starts all these services at 7PM. Perhaps some here might have the opportunity to immerse themselves into these beautiful services at home. If anyone cares to check it out, (I promise you that you will not be disappointed) the services and chanting are primarily in English:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb_BjNoBTabJY3mMtvjBRAQ

Re: Churches and Coronavirus [Re: Alice] #419929 03/27/20 06:34 PM
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P.P.S....Here is another beautiful translated message from a Metropolitan in Greece to give consolation to your soul about churches not being open to the public:

https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/20...DOvY_qRHdftKTj9QgUc-d3Y0cHsaIyQ2cJVBrwHQ

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