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Friday, March 27, 2020

A Pastoral Letter Concerning the Coronavirus


Rejoice in the Lord and may you be in good health!

1. In these days we live in, days that are difficult for all people, I think more deeply about you, more than ever before. And in my humble prayer I especially remember you, the sacred flock, that has been entrusted to me by the Church of Christ with the command to shepherd.

I pray that our Jesus Christ will keep you safe from all harm, physical and spiritual, and will secure you in the faith and in His love. I ask that you pray the same for me.

2. Because the death-bearing virus is contagious for the whole world, it has become generally forbidden to meet and approach people, and so each of us have enclosed ourselves within our homes.

The state has therefore done very well to close down the schools, both the higher and lower levels, to save our children.

Even our Church, as an ever-compassionate Mother, does not ring her bells to call her children to the sacred churches to worship God. If she had done the opposite, indeed the Church would be blamed for not caring about the health of her children.

Because, as we understand it, when the faithful come to church and approach each other and overcrowd, the virus can be transferred from one person to another by whoever may have it.

It is not right to say that I will go to church and it is a good thing if I catch the virus, because this is a challenge to God to perform a miracle, for what we want. God however tells us in Holy Scripture, that He does not perform miracles for people where people by themselves can be kept from harm and save themselves.

3. But you will tell me: Is it possible for a Divine Liturgy to not be celebrated? Yes! It is not possible for us to be called a "Church", without the Divine Liturgy being celebrated; as I have told you many times, the Church expresses herself and is identified by the Divine Liturgy.

Precisely, therefore, for this reason, my Christians, a representative priest in our Metropolis celebrates the Divine Liturgy, with the doors of the church shut, only accompanied by a chanter and a sexton, and this Liturgy is broadcasted.

4. Do not be hurt, therefore, my Christians, because of these new austere measures of the state by which you cannot attend church and commune.

Our Christ knows that you love Him, and that you are not doing it out of indifference, but are doing it because that's the way things are, because this is how rationally it must be for the benefit of all.

Beautiful days will once again come and joyful times when Christians with their priests will celebrate the Divine Liturgy together. For, indeed, as the late holy Bishop of Edessa and Pella Kallinikos would say: "The Divine Liturgy is a celebration for the Orthodox!"

For now stay in your homes and read from your prayer books. Our God can be worshiped anywhere, "at all times and in all places," as we say in a certain prayer.

It is everything that we have a pure heart and that we love one another. Chrysostom says somewhere: "Adam was in Paradise and he sinned, yet Job was on a dung heap and from there glorified God!"

It is not the place, but how much our soul loves God and how well we get along with others. In our blessed homes, therefore, my beloved, let us stay, together united and as a loving family.

Do you see what has happened to us?

A virus, a coronavirus, as it's called, has gathered us all like children and shut us inside our homes! But we have many and beautiful things we can do in our homes.

Among other things do not neglect, my Christians, to read the Holy Gospel and the lives of our saints and to pray to our Panagia. I now remembered spontaneously a song we used to sing in our old Catechism schools: "In my poor little house in a small room, my sweet mother stands before the Panagia!" I liked this song very much and now that I remembered it I am weeping.

5. Because we are in the midst of Great Lent, as it should be, I ask, my Christians, that you forgive me many times over if I have disappointed or scandalized you, and at the same time from my heart I extend forgiveness to those who disappointed or criticized me. You are right, my Christians, in criticizing me for anything, but forgive me.

I also am struggling, without always accomplishing.

With you I also ask that our Lady the Theotokos will crush with her almighty hand the coronavirus and will destroy it. Amen.

With many blessings and much love in Christ,

† Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortynos and Megalopoleos

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.


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