Information on the COVID-19 Coronavirus for the Faithful

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From Father Christopher to the Faithful

Dear friends and faithful of Holy Cross,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

2 Timothy 1:7 - For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.

We now are beginning to open the church to the faithful, with gratitude to God and to His servants Archbishop Alexander, our Chancellor and Deans who are guiding us in this careful, step-by-step process. Patience, humility and selfless mutual love will remain vitally important in this process. We are all under strict and important rules, but they are not overly burdensome. Here is some basic information:

  • The current stage of our re-opening allows us to increase our service attendees to 34 persons per service.
  • Those who replied to the parish survey saying they wish to come are being assigned to specific services. Only those who have been assigned to each specific service will be able to attend that service!
  • We will maintain 6' social distancing standards.
  • Everyone that attends is required to wear a face mask or covering while in attendance. Children under 8 do not need face masks.
  • Please make sure your mask covers your mouth and nose. Also, while I know everyone is eager to sing, we have been asked to keep congregational singing at a minimum right now. There have been a lot of studies about choral singing and the spread of the virus.
  • We will continue the practice of refraining from kissing icons, hands, each other, etc.
  • There will be no social gatherings at church following the services
  • Confessions can be heard by appointment, maintaining social distancing guidelines.
  • All attendees will be directed to wash their hands when they enter the church building.
  • Those who are sick or immunocompromised should not attend services.
  • Anyone who is providing care for COVID-19 patients should not attend services.
  • During this time we will only have one chanter singing the services and others are not to sing.
  • Parents with young children are expected to keep their kids close to them and make sure they are social distancing.  I realize this is difficult with young children but we need to make sure that we can abide by the guidelines while in church.  If you think that this will be too difficult then one suggestion is dividing the family up between two service options to allow for the children to stay home while one parent can come with the older children during this initial phase.

All of these precautions are given to make sure that we are able to keep people as safe as possible.  There is no guarantee that someone can’t get COVID-19 while in church.  Please be mindful of one another during this time.  It is important to understand that all of this precaution is meant to prevent any possible spread at church and if someone who comes does test positive then it means that the church will have to close for 14 days. While we all long to reconnect to the Sacraments and be ‘in-person’ with one another we need to do all that we can to minimize the risk and show grace both to those who are able to attend, and to those who are still unable to attend.

The services will continue to be live-streamed on Facebook for the foreseeable future.

All of this is being done out of selfless love of neighbors, not out of panic or fear. We need to remember that all of this caution and suspension is solely to protect those who might get sick because of contact. Let us all practice the self-denial to which Jesus calls us, to serve others and not insist on what we want. Bring it to the Cross and lay it there and, through obedience and love, take up this Cross with Christ.

O Lord help us to treat everything that happens to us with peace of soul and firm conviction that Thy will is present in all.

In XC,

Fr. Christopher

Documents, Resources and Links From Father Christopher

On this page is a "Prayer of Protection from the Coronavirus" to add to your daily prayers.

A pastoral letter from Archimandrite Gerasim who is the administrator for the Diocese of the South encouraging us during this time to continue to focus on Christ and Pascha even if that looks very different this year.

A great article that I thought was a good word for all of us to hear as we may be struggling with the thought of not being able to have the Pascha that we had hoped:The Pascha No One Wants.

Directive from Archbishop Alexander

Statement of the Synod of Bishops of the OCA

Please take some time to listen to the homily from the Annunciation as an encouragement to continue our Lenten effort and be open to what God has for us during this time.

Here is the homily from the Sunday of the Adoration of the Holy Cross in which I address how our Orthodox Faith, and the teachings in Lent, prepare us for times such as these, and how even when we are unable to come to church in person, we prepare a temple for Him in our hearts, and He dwells within us always.

Abbot Tryphon, of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington, writes about clergy protecting their people, reorienting our gaze from the secular world to the eternal, without blaming others, remembering the grace that pours out upon us even in services we are unable to attend, uniting us to Christ.

Elder Zacharias writes encouragingly on how "the plague is helping me," how to see the goodness of God in all the things that are happening now.

Ornament

Prayer of Protection
from the Coronavirus

For the Faithful to Offer at Home in the Morning.

O Lord our God, Thou who art rich in mercy, and with careful wisdom directest our lives, listen to our prayer, receive our repentance for our sins, bring an end to this new infectious disease, this new epidemic, just as Thou didst avert the punishment of Thy people in the time of David the King. Thou who art the Physician of our souls and bodies, grant restored health to those who have been seized by this illness, raising them from their bed of suffering, so that they might glorify Thee, O merciful Savior, and preserve in health those who have not been infected. By Thy grace, Lord, bless, strengthen, and preserve, all those who out of love and sacrifice care for the sick, either in their homes or in the hospitals. Remove all sickness and suffering from Thy people, and teach us to value life and health as gifts from Thee. Give us Thy peace, O God, and fill our hearts with unflinching faith in Thy protection, hope in Thy help, and love for Thee and our neighbor. For Thine it is to have mercy on us and save us, O our God, and to Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, to the ages of ages. Amen.