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Ask Stavroula: Is It Right to Keep the Public away from the Church?

The National Herald Archive

Dear Stavroula,

This was the first time we experienced such a cold Anastasi, the first time we didn't truly experience Holy Week. They decided to close our churches and ban Holy Communion. And now we have learned that our priests are being watched and punished if they dare to do their duty properly, to receive the faithful. Where did this come from? I wonder what the relationship is between those who make the decisions and those in relation to the Church and Christianity. Is it right to keep everyone away from the Church, away from God? Is the prohibition of Holy Communion aimed at striking irreparably on our faith? And you who write in the newspapers, why don't you complain about all this?

Maria

 

Dear Maria,

I will not write you my personal opinion, because I believe that in a case like the one we have all been dealing with lately, the point of view of each of us individually is not as important as the point of view of the experts.

For me, this is a principle that I always try to make in my life, that is, to listen to the experts, when I have to make serious decisions on issues that I feel I do not fully grasp. And I will give you an example. It’s been two years since I visited Greece to see my loved ones, my parents, my brother, my dear friends, and I miss them very much. I was sure that this summer I would return to my homeland and rest while enjoying the sun and the sea. But things did not turn out as planned. And because now a possible trip can be dangerous for my family's health, when the time comes for me to travel, I will ask my specialist, my doctor, and follow his advice. Because my desire is one thing and my own and others' security is another.

So even in the current situation, I think it's good to follow the positions of experts. And in this case, experts are the leading infectious disease specialists, such as Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras and the church leaders, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.

The doctors suggested and the state took some protective measures that, as it turns out, work. Greece seems to be one of the countries that has faced the risk of this terrible virus effectively. The people of the Church also agreed to these measures.

But what do the experts tell us about our faith?

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew argues that there is a need to limit large gatherings and to keep people at home to protect themselves and others. As he characteristically said: “What is in danger is not faith but the faithful, it is not Christ but our Christians, it is not Christ the Lord but we humans. Our faith is deeply rooted in our culture. Our faith is alive and no extraordinary situation can diminish it.”

The Archbishop of America believes that the science and reason given to us by God requires us to use all available means to protect ourselves and our families. “God is everywhere,” he reminds us through his posts, “so even if you feel limited because of COVID-19 and avoid visiting the Church for a while, until the crisis is over, you can worship God in spirit and truth everywhere.”

In conclusion, I share the position of Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras: “People's faith is an inner experience, it is an attitude of life.”