This Sunday, our churches were empty. They did, however, function behind closed doors. Priests and chanters performed the Divine Liturgy – as they do every Sunday. They asked God to enlighten us, to forgive us for our sins, and to protect us.
But while the churches were functioning, the faithful were missing. Not because they had something else more important to do. Not because the weather prevented them from attending – but because there is among us an invisible, insidious, dark enemy: the coronavirus – with countless soldiers at its disposal, so many that they cover the entire Earth, aggressively searching for opportunities to be transmitted from human to human.
An enemy that does not distinguish men from women, children from the elderly, white from black, rich from poor, educated from uneducated, or nations from one another, or the rulers of countries from the ruled.
Before this enemy, all of us are equal. This enemy makes no distinctions at all.
In order for it not to succeed in its plans, in order for it to stop spreading, we must isolate ourselves from others. We must stop building human bridges for the virus.
Now, in times of trouble, people usually run to the churches, but at this time, we cannot. This Sunday, we turned our homes into churches. Literally into houses of prayer.
It must be noted that during the coronavirus crisis, the various ecclesiastical authorities around the world found it difficult to reach these wise decisions. They confused the issues of faith in God, Holy Communion, and scientific data.
They missed the forest for the…tree.
In the midst of this turmoil, however, our highest ecclesiastical authority, our Ecumenical Patriarchate, stood tall, with serenity, discipline, wisdom, and with a sense of responsibility and determination.
He thus protected both the faithful and the Church and its prestige. He has demonstrated, once again, his leadership qualities.
So did our Archdiocese.
Specifically, in a press release the Ecumenical Patriarchate stated, inter alia:
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate emphatically reiterates its appeal to everyone to limit their outings and travels to what is necessary, remaining in their homes for their own safety and the protection of the general public.”
And Archbishop Elpidophoros explained in his announcement:
“The Churches will continue to perform the appointed services, however the Faithful should pray from their homes and participate in these services through Internet broadcasts and multimedia. Clergy will continue to make visitations for those in need of sacramental and pastoral care.”
As I stated in last week’s commentary, everything is a matter of leadership. Everything.