For it is not with presumption that I approach thee, O Christ God, but I come trusting in Thine indescribable goodness, lest that through long absence from communion with Thee I may become the prey of the invisible wolf. – exerpt from a prayer of St. John Chrysostom (pre-communion prayers)
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Standing on the precipice of the door of my heart and staring out into the abyss of the world I clearly see the devil in his darkened array calling out to those who influence men for evil. There are no new tricks, only new tools by which to temp men and pull them down into the dreary slumber of sin. We are no different from the men who came before us, though we think ourselves more enlightened and more civilized. Lord have mercy +
Orthodox Christians for thousands of years have endured suffering, whether by the hands of others or by our own hands. The one, by martyring righteous and right-believing Orthodox Christians and the other through contemplation of one’s own sins, confession, and repentance. Both martyrs, yet under deferent circumstances. Why would someone deliberately embrace suffering and death?
We have modern doctors and pharmaceuticals that can ease pain and suffering. We have access to information and can separate fable from fact; scientific facts. In light of diseases, are we not smarter than our brethren of antiquity? We have the ability to apply our modern knowledge to all aspects of our life, including the Church. So, why not? Would it not be foolish to listen to and apply this to our life in Christ?
The world and its leaders have given the Church guidelines in order to combat the spread of disease, yet they lack the understanding of Holy and Divine things; the sacramental things of the Church. For what has the world to do with the things of God? “Either we are fools for the world because of Christ or we are fools for Christ because of the world.” says, St. Nikolai Velimirovich. The world’s lack of understanding becomes apparent as we review the Orthodox Christian ethos concerning the Holy and Divine things.
*The excerpt below was sent to me by a dear friend who’s father is a priest.
The Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is for the healing of both soul and body. It does not carry disease.
The Communion spoon
The Most Holy Theotokos carried Jesus Christ in her womb. The Communion spoon holds the Holy Eucharist and symbolizes our Panaghia. It does not carry disease.
The Holy Icons
Icons are imbued with Divine grace. Some of them stream holy myrrh. Many Icons have been responsible for the miraculous healing of terrible ailments, staving off natural disasters, and holding back attacking armies. It is okay to touch and kiss them. They do not carry disease.
The Hand Cross of the Priest
The Holy Cross is the sign of Christ’s victory over sin and death. It is okay to kiss it. It does not carry disease.
The Hand of the Priest
Your priest is an Icon of Christ Himself and he consecrates the Holy Eucharist. You may kiss his hand. It does not carry disease.
Antidoran (“instead of the Gifts”) is blessed bread and should be handled carefully so that no particles fall to the ground. It is considered sacred because the Lamb taken out of it, was consecrated and became the Body of Christ. It does not carry disease.
The people of God gather together to worship him in truth and love. They are sanctified with divine grace. Everything in the Holy Temple is sanctified with divine grace. There is no need to vandalize the Church by placing social distance markers on the floor. There is no need to cover your face with a mask like a thief in the night. There is no need for the priest to wear a face shield during Holy Communion. Even the dust that gathers on the floor in the corner of the Church is sanctified. St Gabriel the Fool for Christ of Georgia tells us: “If you knew how much grace and blessing comes in the Divine Liturgy, you would even gather up the dust from the ground of the Temple and wash your faces with it.”
As Orthodox Christians, it’s actually very much within the ethos of the church to watch not only ourselves but the spirit of the age to ensure that we aren’t deceived. As St. Paisios of Mt. Athos writes regarding resisting the spirit of the age,
They’re silent out of indifference. In these difficult days each must do what’s in their power. And leave what’s out of their power to the will of God. In this way our conscience will be clear. If we don’t resist, then our ancestors will arise from their graves. They suffered so much for the Fatherland, and we? What are we doing for it?.. If Christians don’t begin to witness their faith, to resist evil, then the destroyers will become even more insolent. But today’s Christians are no warriors. If the Church keeps silent, to avoid conflict with the government, if the Metropolitans are silent, if the monks hold their peace, then who will speak up?
Let us then brethren, be wise as serpents and peaceful as doves (Mt.10:16), praying always for our clergy, especially our Hierarchs to stand against the spirit of this age. Let us write to our beloved Hierarchs and encourage them to continue to embrace Holy Tradition, even in the face of uncertainty and civil pressures. We are strangers and sojourners in this land (1 Cron. 29:15) and we pledge allegiance to one God, one Lord, one Christ; Jesus the Lord of all. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. (Mark 12:17)”