Monday, June 1, 2020

Opened wide are the doors to Christ!

Moscow, June 1 (Interfax) - At the blessing of Patriarch Kirill, Moscow churches will reopen to parishioners on June 6, the eve of the Trinity Sunday, after almost two months of quarantine.

The Christ the Savior's Cathedral and the Epiphany Cathedral at Yelokhovo will open on June 2, the patriarch's working group said.

Monk Paul of the Holy Mountain: "De-mystifying the vaccine for Corona virus"

(impantokratoros.gr) - It is with sorrow and wonder that we are observing an event unprecedented in world history [1]. In the name of “love” for the elderly and the more vulnerable, vaccination is being scheduled for all people worldwide, in order to exterminate the implacable “invisible enemy”, known as Corona virus SARS-Cov2 (COVID19):
  • A necessary legal framework that will abolish the right to individual choice and will “defend” the benefit-right to public health (Law 4675/2020 for Greece) [2]
  • An accompanying governmental authoritarianism to enforce it
  • Creating demand and expectation for the vaccine (terrorism-brainwashing by the media with the dilemma of “vaccine or social incarceration-isolation”)
  • Unilateral funding for the production of the vaccine, for controls by clinical trials, for mass-production in vast quantities and for delivery to every corner of the planet - at the expense of research for finding and producing specialized antiviral drugs.
These are just some of the steps in the protocol already being implemented in order to reach this milestone event. Businessmen, journalists, government officials, and international NGOs are almost daily propagating the vaccine like a magic wand that will supposedly allow humanity to return to the pre-COVID era. On the other hand, instead of the scientific community (with the exception of an excessively projected, vaccine-obsessed elite), stigmatizing this misinformation, it has been keeping a “fishy silence” about what people should really expect from the vaccine, with the exception of a few inspired instances, such as Professor Dr. Yannis Ioannidis [3]. In fact, this specific “pandemic” anything BUT justifies worldwide vaccination. Let's see why:

1. The particularly low mortality rate of the disease, but also its distribution by age, clearly denote that vaccination, whenever it becomes feasible, must be targeted. This percentage is fictitiously over-evaluated for the time being (~2.5%) : on the one hand, due to the over-representation of severely positive cases of the virus [4], and on the other, given that the death toll from COVID has also included the deaths of cases found positive for COVID but with other, underlying diseases (not the SARS respiratory syndrome) [5]. Recent studies which have estimated the number of deaths in relation to the actual number of people exposed to the virus – based on serological tests (antibody tests) in a specific geographical area – have determined that this percentage is of the order of magnitude of seasonal flu (certainly <1%) [ 6].

It should be noted that even if the epidemic returns, as is the case with influenza, the health system will deal with it more effectively, as now there is experience in managing the disease (more ICUs). Hence, mistakes of “Italy’s kind” will not be repeated, leading to a further reduction of the mortality rate. Based on the above, even if a safe and effective vaccine is produced (something especially difficult for corona viruses’ biology), it can be justified for administering it only to high-risk groups, as is done with the seasonal flu vaccine. Needless to say that it is not justified for administering it to children - who are in their vast majority asymptomatic, nor to people who have been exposed and are immune to the virus (positive antibody test), given that they already have what the vaccine would have given them.

2. Covid19 virus, as opposed to influenza, mainly affects people in the third and fourth age groups, where the phenomenon of immune senescence [7] occurs – that is, the reduction in size, quality and duration of their immune response-protection - which can occur, after being vaccinated. In other words, the vaccine-induced active immunity may not be capable of protecting the elderly, who are the par excellence “target” of the corona virus; hence, the finding of an anti-viral therapy should be a priority – assuming that the protection of the elderly is in fact what is desired.

3. Related to the above, is that with seriously ill patients, acute respiratory failure occurs through an immuno-pathological mechanism (a “storm” producing inflammatory cytokines and reducing CD4 and CD8 T-mediated immune response [8]). There are serious concerns that vaccination will exacerbate this immune complication in the event of a subsequent viral infection and will consequently worsen the patient's clinical course. A similar effect was observed with the FeCoV coronavirus vaccine, which affects cats and causes peritonitis. [9].

4. The logic of eradicating an infectious disease through global vaccination, on the one hand presupposes the existence of a very safe and very effective vaccine, and on the other hand, most importantly that there be no other hosts of the virus in the natural environment. That is, man has to be the only species that can host the virus. This is true of the polio virus, but it does not apply to the coronavirus, because all research suggests that the virus originated from bats. Unknown and controversial remains the intermediate link (host?) which had transported it from the bats' caves of Wuhan city. In any case, the disappearance of the virus through global vaccination would only be temporary - in other words, a terrible waste of resources, inasmuch as it could transfer from its natural refuge (the bats or the intermediate host) to the human population at any given moment, capably mutated for bypassing the existing herd immunity and initiating a new pandemic.

5. Coronaviruses, being RNA viruses, mutate rapidly, gaining genetic and therefore antigenic diversity. This diversity, especially for coronae, also increases through RNA recombination, due to the particularly inconsistent mode of transcription of viral RNAs. Two types have already been identified for SARS-Cov2, S and L [11, 12]. It is doubtful that a vaccine can provide both equal coverage for all strains of the virus that emerge, as well as permanent protection over time, hence underlining one more time the importance and priority of finding anti-viral drugs against coronavirus. It is quite likely, therefore, that over time, a global vaccination evolve into regular global vaccinations.

Could this perhaps be the aim? Perhaps the corona is the long-awaited pretext for launching the universal transition to a hybrid human biology, where the human body will be protected, strengthened and ultimately dependent on platform technologies (genetic engineering, digital interfacing) through regular vaccinations-updates. But why all the rush for a vaccine that not only does not promise much, but is the cause for concern in the scientific community, especially if it is produced in a hurry and implemented en masse? Finally, do the pharmaceutical industries serve man, or does the opposite apply?

The reality is that ~ 99% of people infected with coronavirus survive. Emphasis (ie funding) should be placed on how to target the 1% of those who don’t survive, in spite of a host of pharmaceutical options (immuno-modulators, monoclonal antibodies, RNA polymerase inhibitors, proteases, etc.). Already, the first results from the form of hydroxychloroquine-azathromycin [13] as well as from a monoclonal antibody that targets the superficial glycoprotein S of the virus [14] are very encouraging.

Of course, part of an anti-viral strategy is also the development of a safe and effective vaccine. However, as analyzed, its forced production (1 year instead of at least 6 years) with so many gaps in the knowledge of the biology of the corona is not indicated - much less its mandatory mass implementation. It is a tragic scientific forfeiture (if not absurdity) in the age of Molecular Biology - whose aim is to provide Medicine with specialized (even personalized) treatments minimizing any side effects – that there is discussion solely about intervention in 100% of the human population, in order to “protect” 1% of it from a flu-like virus, with a suspicious pharmaceutical half-measure. Quite simply, this is a WRONG approach, certified by the fact that for so many years there has never been any global vaccination against the flu virus - which would have been far more plausible, inasmuch as it strikes all age groups.

Man, as a rational being with critical thinking, has the ability to voluntarily choose whatever is recommended by medicine and biotechnology in favor of his health, while simultaneously undertaking the consequences of those choices, given that interventions in the human body are rarely without side-effects. Vaccines are not exempt of this rule. [15] The choice of not being vaccinated does not endanger public health, as long as it does not abolish another person's right to receive the vaccine - and with it, any protection it provides. It is therefore self-evident that the final decision-responsibility for receiving a vaccine belongs to the person being vaccinated, since he will necessarily have to live with any complications that may arise. No eventual compensation can restore irreversible damages to a person’s physical and mental health. Consequently, that which is condemnable is every kind of complaisance that criminalizes a person's stance towards living in a body free of suspicious vaccines, and which transforms societies from democratic, to herds of undecided and expendable animals.

One can perceive from the aforementioned that the law pertaining to compulsory vaccination [2] and the related propaganda in favor of the vaccine – with the Covid19 virus pretext - have no scientific origin and reference. They do not defend but rather undermine the good of public health, and they enable the monstrous financial interests involved, as well as the obscure agenda of certain “big brothers” with power-loving appetites. Finally, they militate against the freedom of a person’s spirit and body. As such, they should be retracted at a scientific, legal and mainly at a spiritual level.

The clime in which these schemes are developed and consolidated is fear. The Mass Media of Intimidation carefully create and maintain this clime. Fear is a mighty inner force of man; it can paralyze his will, but it can even steel it. The question is in which direction a person directs that fear. If he turns it towards God, the only One worthy of being feared (Luke 4: 5), then he will receive enlightenment in return, boldness and courage - according to His words: “be of courage, for I have overcome the world” (John 6:33). If a person remains focused on the phobias of this age, he will receive in return even more anxiety, confusion and cowardice, according to the Psalm: “they cowered in fear, where there was no fear” (Psalm 5: 5). The intentional persistence to de-sanctify the Sacrament of Holy Communion is not by coincidence; its purpose is to elicit and generate fear that will support the myth of the vaccine - as is the case throughout the ages, with all fictitious concoctions that lack any logical grounds.

Every time there is mention of saliva, spoons and the like - by those who have targeted Holy Communion -the miracle comes to mind of the born blind man (John 9). The Lord, with a “sanitarily unacceptable” action, restored the eyes of the blind man! He mixed His saliva (a means of spreading viruses and bacteria) with soil (a source of millions of germs) and “smeared” the clay mixture over the eye sockets of the blind man (mucosal conjunctiva: a point of entry for germs and the onset of infection). We are familiar with what ensued, just as we know that no science is able to reproduce that result. Quite simply, if it had taken place today, apart from the Pharisees of that time, among Jesus’ accusers would also be certain narrow-minded infectious disease specialists. 

I pray from the depth of my heart that God will make them worthy of experiencing the Power of the Sacrament. The Lord is there, and invites them. He will never obligate them ...

Hagiorite Monk Paul
Biologist, MD Molecular Biology and Biomedicine
Vouleftiria, Holy Mountain.
______________________


References:

1. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/TheOptimist/Articles/coronavirus-vaccine-development-gavi
2. https://www.e-nomothesia.gr/kat-ygeia/nomos-4675-2020-phek-54a-11-3-2020.html?q=4675
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwPqmLoZA4s
4. https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1113.long
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4BGMn3Xg2Y&feature=emb_logo
6. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.14.20062463v2
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2265901/
8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S205229752030024X
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16322745
10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eradication_of_infectious_diseases
11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7108124
12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7108196
13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7102549
14. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-16256-y

EP sends letter to primates to discuss communion method

(Orthodox Times) - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent a letter to the primates of Orthodox Churches in which he said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate aimed to coordinate in a uniform manner a communication with the Orthodox Churches on the way the Holy Communion could be offered to the faithful.

In the letter he wrote on the 17th of May, the Ecumenical Patriarch pointed out that, during the period of the pandemic, the Church accepted that the services be performed without the presence of the faithful for their protection.

However, he noted that, in the meantime, many unprecedented views were heard on how to offer the Holy Communion to the faithful: “We cannot remain indifferent to this,” he said. He also highlighted that the Orthodox Church has been abiding by the guidelines given by health and political authorities and that it would continue to do so provided that the essence of our faith is being respected. “The Church can be understanding with all matters on its way to the Cross. But it will never abandon the Cross as long as the Eucharist is called into question,” he added.  In addition, he pointed out that the Eucharist was the revelation and experience of the mystery of the Church: “The Lord Himself, by giving us His Body and Blood through the Eucharist, welcomes us to His Kingdom in Heaven.”

Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch concluded that he would communicate with the primates of the Orthodox Churches in order to listen to their thoughts on the matter. As a result, they will be able to follow the same spiritual path and to deal with the matter concerning the receiving of Holy Communion that has been lately challenged.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Learn About the Assembly of Bishops Live on AFR


Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Response to “On administering Holy Communion in a Time of a Plague”

This was sent to me and deserves a read. You can read the Calivas article here.

We can all agree that we are living in unusual times. However, the nature and extent of the illness that we face, and the proper response of the Church, is a matter of much disagreement. We have seen various responses to the COVID-19 epidemic: calls to close our Churches as infectious vectors, and demands to open them as places of spiritual healing. Directives a) ordering the cessation of sacramental life as part of an effort to “flatten the curve,” and cries for access to the divine grace that flows forth from those very mysteries; b) calling for the restriction of “at-risk persons,” and serious questions about the validity of such controls, c) instructions to liturgists to wear personal protective equipment during the celebration of the divine services and the distribution of the holy Mysteries, and uncertainty about the fitness of such practices. Who has been championing what and on behalf of whom?

The martyric foundation of the holy Orthodox Church, built upon the courageous offerings of countless men and women in the fulfillment of their selfless and self-sacrificial service to Christ for the communication of the holy Gospel has seemingly been radically altered in the briefest of historical moments and without any serious theological thought or reflection. Now, it would seem that our highest goal is to preserve our earthly lives, for which we ought to thank hand-sanitizer, N95 masks, and nitrile gloves, rather than to fulfill our apostolic obligations—of which we will be accountable before God. Certainly, it cannot be argued with any degree of seriousness that “by the self-preservation of our mortal selves, religion has been defended, the faith spread, and the Church strengthened.”1 Yet this seems to be exactly what certain Orthodox hierarchs and “scholars” throughout the USA believe, and is an ideology they seem eager to promote to the faithful.

Now that the stay-at-home orders are expiring, and state and local authorities are again granting permission for public gatherings, lengthy directives for disinfecting our parish facilities have surfaced, as well as new guidelines for the celebration of Divine Service. In some cases, these ‘reopening’ guidelines include provisions for altering the method of distribution of the holy Eucharist. Specifically, this includes permission for the use of multiple spoons, disposable spoons, and even “family” spoons. Additionally, these guidelines include instructions for the celebration (or simple postponement) of other sacraments, such as Baptism, Marriage, as well as the Burial of the Dead, with various suggested alterations in practice.

Mt. Athos begins phased opening for pilgrims

(Orthodox Times) - Mount Athos will reopen on June 1 following the decision by the Holy Community.

However, the entry permits will be issued sparingly in terms of administration. Fifteen entry permits will be issued for each large monastery while there will not be more than five people in the sketes.

In the relevant encyclical, it is also mentioned that pilgrims will not be able to spend the night in other monasteries, but a short pilgrimage tour may be allowed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Blessed repose to the servant of God, Fr. John Guy Winfrey

A very enjoyable man to speak to with the added glorious benefit of Texan roots. Most decidedly a very surprising and sad event for his family, friends, and parishioners. My prayers for all who were blessed to have known him. Please consider helping with their GoFundMe.

(Antiochian) - Christ is risen! With great sadness, yet with hope in the Resurrection, Fr. Thomas Zain, Vicar General of the Antiochian Archdiocese, announces the sudden passing of Fr. John Guy Winfrey, 58, the pastor of St. Katherine Mission in Burleson, Texas. Father John’s passing on Monday, May 25, 2020 marks the third death of a priest of the Archdiocese in the past week.

“Father John was a good friend who goes back to the beginning of my priesthood in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Although a few years older than me, he came to St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary with his wife Beverly and three young children – Danielle, Gregory and Mary – when I was a new priest. We formed a lasting friendship and shared a love of liturgics. I was blessed to sponsor him in ordination and he became my successor at St. Mary Church in Wilkes-Barre when I moved to Brooklyn. Later, he became the priest at St. George Church in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan so we would always get together when I would visit my family. Finally, he returned to his home state of Texas to start a mission parish a couple of years ago.

“Father John’s love of Texas was only behind his love of God and his family. He was a great asset to our Archdiocese as the compiler and professional typesetter of many books including our Holy Week book, the funeral service book and the more recent editions of the Liturgikon, all for no charge. We were in the middle of working on many projects including a new service book for the clergy of the Archdiocese. No one can replace his graphical skills coupled with his knowledge of liturgical typesetting in English. This is a huge loss for our Archdiocese. May God rest Fr. John’s soul with the saints and may his memory be eternal!”

His ​Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, primate of the Antiochian Archdiocese, offers his condolences to Kh. Beverly and their children and grandchildren. He asks that the clergy and laity pray the Trisagion Prayers of Mercy for Fr. John for the next 40 days.​

SERVICE SCHEDULE

The schedule of services is as follows:

Vesting of Fr. John on Wednesday, May 27 at 3 p.m.

Funeral Service of a Priest on Wednesday, May 27 at 6 p.m. at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2020 NW 21st Street in Fort Worth, TX 76164

Orthros and Divine Liturgy for Ascension on Thursday, May 28 at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. 
Funeral Service at 11 a.m. all at  St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, with Interment following at Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ Monastery in  Kemp, TX

NOTE: His Grace Bishop Basil reports that the State of Texas has no number limit to a congregation, but each household must social distance at least six feet apart.

Nothing improves a pandemic like intercommunion. Or something.

(NCR) - In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis March 27 characterized the worldwide trauma as: "God's call on people to judge what is most important to them and resolve to act accordingly from now on." Can this occasion also be a time of deeper communion among us?

Catholics, Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox hierarchs, pastors and faithful agree that the Eucharist, the body and blood of the Son of God, is the most precious gift of God to the church.  It is of paramount importance to us!

Nevertheless, while sharing the same belief in the supreme importance of the Eucharist, we still refrain from sharing the bread and cup with each other because of doctrinal divergences.

Perhaps this pandemic is an occasion for those committed to fostering the unity of Christians to consider a leap forward: Would the Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches consider an expansion of sacramental sharing, especially eucharistic sharing, on a reciprocal, ordinary basis?

A basis for such consideration can be gleaned from the common declarations and statements already issued by the churches. For example, the 1996 Armenian and Catholic Common Declaration stated that the leaders of the two communities, Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Karekin I, recognized "the deep spiritual communion which already unites them and the Bishops, clergy and lay faithful of their Churches."

"Because of the fundamental common faith in God and in Jesus Christ, the controversies and unhappy divisions which sometimes have followed upon the divergent ways in expressing it … should not continue to influence the life and witness of the Church today," said the declaration...
Complete article here.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopened to public

(Pravmir) - Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre has reopened to visitors after a two-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The church, situated in Jerusalem’s Old City, is the site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, entombed, and resurrected.

The Christian authorities managing the site closed it to visitors in March to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but clerics maintained prayers inside the shuttered church throughout its closure.

On Sunday, church authorities limited entrance to 50 people at a time, and required that those entering the cavernous site maintain social distance and avoid touching any of the church’s stones, icons or other religious items.

A typical day before the virus outbreak would bring thousands of faithful who kissed or placed their hands along the church’s surfaces.

As priests from the various Christian denominations entered the church, a handful of faithful waited outside for the basilica’s church to open for the public.

Israeli authorities have gradually reopened schools, houses of worship and markets as the spread of the virus has slowed.

Israel’s health ministry has reported over 16,700 confirmed cases of the disease and 279 deaths.

More than 14,000 have recovered.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Fighting abortion without dehumanizing the opposition

From the Antiochian Archdiocesan publication The Word, an article entitled "Fighting the Right War: Protecting the Lives of Our Unborn Children" by Chris Humphrey, Ph.D.


It is a commonplace among military historians that the Allied armies of the First and Second World Wars prepared in each case to fight the last war. The steady advance of troops towards the enemy made sense, before the First World War and the Maxim machine gun put an end to that. Trench warfare made sense, before the mechanized blitzkrieg, or "lightning war," of the Second World War made lines of trenches useless.

The same is true when we think of great evils, of moral conflicts in which many, many lives are lost. If you want to depict a really wicked enemy in some piece of fiction, someone whom everyone knows they should hate, you make him a Nazi, a relic of the past. In the Twentieth Century, Nazism and Communism both offered alternative views of human beings and societies, and justified atrocious crimes against humanity on grounds of an over-arching theory (a master race in the first instance, or a "new man" created by dialectical materialism in the second). These were the only serious social-political contenders against the European Christian view of man and society. Nazism killed about 6 million Jews, as well as others, and the Communist system under Stalin killed somewhere between 20 and 40 million people, while the Chinese Communist government killed about 65 million of its own people in the last century, and continues, for example, to run concentration camps, and to murder prisoners of conscience for organ transplants today.

These great evils have been nationalist ideologies. What of today, however? Are there Nazis anymore? Is there a comparable, great moral evil, at least in scale?

To look for popular, dehumanizing, nationalist ideologies today, however, is to try to fight the last war. Over the last fifty years, the contender for the minds and hearts of the developed world has not been a replacement political ideology, but secularism (an attempt to "disinfect" society of religion). Not surprisingly, the rejection of God and of a Christian view of humankind in public expression has opened the door to a "cafeteria" paganism and subjectivism. So Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, wrote infamously that, "at the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life." Here is subjectivism in a nutshell.

In casting off the "shackles of religion," secularism leads not merely to ignorant nonsense, but to dehumanization. Where are the victims, comparable to those of Nazism and Communism? It may be a surprise to learn that more individual human beings have been killed in abortion than in any other way, in all of history, and most of that killing has taken place in the last fifty years. (The bulk of that killing has taken place in China and India. Together they are responsible for 24 to 25 million abortions a year.)

Abortion, like genocide and other crimes, has been around a long time. The modern novelty has been technology. Mass killing by the Nazis was made possible by the railroad and road transport, and followed the example of the earlier Armenian genocide. The atom bomb dropped on Japanese cities was a technological marvel. Suction machines were first used to destroy unborn children in utero in Communist Russia in 1922, and spread to the West. Currently in the U.S. there are about a million abortions a year. Entrepreneurial abortionists have been able for decades to perform a series of such suction abortions in rapid succession. Now chemical abortion promises to make the self-induced abortion common, and more difficult to trace...

Complete article here.

Episcopal Assembly appeals to governors for fair treatment

(AOB) - Today, the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America met via video conference and determined that a direct appeal to several Governors be made to insist on the equitable treatment of religion in the reopening of certain States.

In the appeal, the Hierarchs of the Executive Committee noted that the “founders of our country wisely protected the free exercise of religion precisely because of the vital role played by communities of faith in providing their members faith, hope, and comfort, and their communities love, service, and charitable outreach during times of trial such as these.”

They also noted that “religious institutions provide for social and emotional cohesion, important rites of passage, and participation in the mysterium of human existence that expresses meaning and purpose, and are as vital to the common good as the reinitializing of the economic engines that provide the means of material life.”

Finally, they appealed that “religious institutions of all faiths be given the same consideration that those economic engines are being given, as guaranteed by the Constitution, and that our rights of assembly be commensurate with those of the businesses, associations, establishments, and other societal institutions that are engaged in reopening at this time.”

The letter concluded with an assurance to observe “all recommended public health best practices, as well as all legal requirements that pertain to the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Members of the Executive Committee who convened today:

Chairman, Archbishop Elpidophoros, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
First Vice-Chairman, Metropolitan Joseph, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Treasurer, Archbishop Michael, Orthodox Church in America
Secretary, Metropolitan Gregory, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA,
Bishop Irinej, Serbian Orthodox Church in North, Central and South America
Metropolitan Nicolae, Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas
Metropolitan Joseph, Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia
Bishop Saba, Georgian Apostolic Church in North America
Metropolitan Tikhon, Orthodox Church in America

Friday, May 22, 2020

White House: Houses of worship are essential

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday said he has deemed churches and other houses of worship “essential" and called on governors to allow them to reopen this weekend despite the threat of the coronavirus.

“Today I’m identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services," Trump said during a hastily arranged press conference Friday. He said if governors don't abide by his request, he will “override" them, though it's unclear what authority he has to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had prepared reopening guidelines for churches and other houses of worship weeks ago, but the White House had refused to release them until Thursday when Trump abruptly changed course.

“I said ‘You better put it out.’ And they’re doing it,” Trump said Thursday at a Ford Motor Co. plant repurposed to make ventilators in Michigan. “And they’re going to be issuing something today or tomorrow on churches. We got to get our churches open.”

Thursday, May 21, 2020

It's Vyshyvanka Day!

(Life in Ukraine) - The Day of Vyshyvanka is a new Ukrainian nationwide celebration intended to preserve ancestral traditions of creating and wearing embroidered ethnic clothing.

This holiday is celebrated on the third Thursday of May.

The Day of Vyshyvanka is original and self-sufficient, it doesn’t have any state or religious bases. One sparking idea gave start to national holiday in 2007.

Since then Ukrainians have specific day to put on embroidered clothes when going to kindergarten, school, university or work place.

Short history of Day of Vyshyvanka

Nationwide action ‘Day of Ukrainian vyshyvanka’ was launched by a student of history, political science and international relationships faculty in Chernivtsi National University Lesya Voroniuk in 2007.

She noted that students often wear embroidered clothes in University and suggested choosing single day to wear vyshyvanky altogether.

The first Day of Vysyhyvanka took place in 2007 when several dozens of students come to University in Ukrainian ethnic embroidered shirts.

In course of the following years festival reached nationwide level. Ukrainian diaspora and supporters of Ukraine from all over the world joined as well.

Why celebrate Vyshyvanka Day?

The main goal of such event is preservation of Ukrainian values and their popularization among youth and country’s population in general.

The holiday doesn’t include any mandatory measures except for wearing vyshyvanka. Still there can be concerts, parades, competitions, events and fairs on the initiative of students, professors, public and cultural figures.

The holiday itself stimulates every conscious citizen of Ukraine to a very simple act – just wear vyshyvanka before going to work or study.

However, this act has a deep psychological context as it comes to expression of national and civic position, cultural education and spiritual consciousness.

The experience proves that during Vyshyvanka Day people are always in high spirits with smile on their faces. Symbols of strength, prosperity, beauty and ancient amulets are encoded in this ethnic clothes.

Friday, May 15, 2020

What the Romanians are doing

I plan to use the term "cult units" wherever possible from now on.


(Basilica.ro) - Considering that, from May 15, 2020, the state of emergency and the applicability of the Military Ordinances that limited essential aspects of the public religious life of the faithful cease, following consultation with the Romanian Government, the Romanian Patriarchate sends the following instructions to the cult units of the Romanian Orthodox Church regarding the access of Orthodox believers to places of worship and cemeteries, and their participation in divine services:

Access of the faithful to the places of worship
  1. People who have access to the church, for individual prayer and Confession, will respect the distance of 2 m, waiting in a single row. The distance of 2 m between two people is to be observed from entering until exiting the church.
  2. It is recommended for seniors, people with significant health problems and persons from high-risk groups to stay at home during divine services. These persons are asked to go to church before or after the liturgical services are officiated in the open air, to pray individually, confess and partake of the Holy Mysteries inside the place of worship, according to a schedule agreed in advance with the parish priest.
  3. People with COVID-19, people with symptoms of infection, people in quarantine, as well as people who have come in contact with an infected person cannot enter the church or attend any divine service. They are urged to remain at home, so as not to spread the disease. However, they can watch the services at home via television or the internet (online). Confession and Communion for these persons will be performed at home or in hospital, in compliance with all applicable health regulations.
  4. Access to the place of worship for persons with symptoms of respiratory infection (cough, sneezing, rhinorrhea) is not allowed.
  5. The order, discipline, hygiene and observance of these measures will be ensured by designated employees or volunteers of the respective church.
  6. Lay believers may also participate in the Divine Liturgy and other divine services during the week, on Sundays and holidays, celebrated in the open air, near the place of worship.
  7. At services performed outside places of worship, the distance between believers will be of 2 m in any direction.
  8. The use of protective masks is mandatory for all participants in the divine services, except for church ministers who offer prayers, preach or sing at the chant stand.
  9. The places of worship will be open daily to the faithful throughout the week so that the ministering priests can answer all the requests of the faithful regarding Confession, Individual Communion and the reading of prayers for different needs. Thus, the crowding of believers at the Saturday and Sunday services will be avoided.
  10. The Confession of the faithful and the reading of prayers inside the church will be scheduled in due time, to avoid crowdings. Both the spiritual priest and the confessing believer will use a protective mask and maintain a sanitary physical distance of 2 m. It is recommended, given the small size of most churches and the secrecy of Confession, that only the priest and penitent remain in the church. The remission of sins by the spiritual father will be pronounced from a distance, without touching the penitent.
  11. The Holy Sacrament of Baptism and the Holy Sacrament of Marriage will be performed in the place of worship with a maximum of 16 participants (church ministers, recipients of the Sacrament, their parents and godparents). They will observe a distance of 2 m in the church. The Sacrament of Baptism will not be performed for several children at once. After each Baptism, the baptismal font will be emptied of water and disinfected. At the Sacrament of Marriage, the common cup (“the cup of salvation”) will be offered only to the bride and groom (according to the ordinance of the Holy Marriage Service).
  12. The funeral service will be performed in the church (maximum number of 16 people) or the open air, respecting all the sanitary norms, a distance of 2 m and other legal provisions in force.
  13. Romanian Orthodox believers who cannot physically participate in Church services can watch or listen to the Divine Liturgy and other divine services officiated at the Patriarchal Cathedral on the Romanian Patriarchate’s Trinitas TV and Radio or other broadcasting stations.
  14. Sick believers at home or in hospitals can receive Communion for the sick with strict observance of the sanitary rules, according to the exceptional guidelines for these cases.
Use of liturgical space
  1. It is not necessary to touch/hold the handle when entering and exiting the church. Where possible, the front door should be different from the exit door to avoid the intersection of believers.
  2. At four-hour intervals, according to the authorities, the place of worship will be well ventilated.
  3. Disinfection solutions will be placed at the entrance to the church, and every believer who enters the church will disinfect their hands.
  4. During the pandemic, the touching or kissing of holy icons and relics, as well as kissing the hand of the servants of the Holy Altar, will be avoided. Still, reverence for the holy icons and relics will be shown by bowing down, accompanied by the sign of the Holy Cross. Respect for the hierarch and the priest will be shown by a bowing of the head.
  5. Until the situation is normalized, no agape meals will be organized in the church or its annexes.
  6. There will be only one person wearing a protective mask and gloves at the church gift shop. This person’s direct contact with the faithful in the church should be avoided. As a safety precaution (where the place for the gift shop is not an enclosed space), it is recommended to install a plexiglass protective panel with an opening at the bottom.
  7. For access to the candle stand room, crowding will be avoided by keeping your distance.
Conducting services, measures for celebrating the Divine Liturgy
  1. The number of servants at the Holy Altar must be relatively small (for example, a hierarch, two priests, two deacons and two sextons), to be able to keep a certain distance of 2 m between them.
  2. A maximum of three chanters will perform the liturgical chanting at parishes and six chanters at cathedrals. They will keep the sanitary physical distance between them.
  3. Liturgical objects used for divine services will be cleaned before and after the services. The pews and floor will also be cleaned.
  4. For the Universal Orthodox Church, there are no sacred (sanctified) objects for single-use, but for perpetual use (Chalice, disk, star and spoon), objects that are cleaned before and after every use. In the practice of the Universal Orthodox Church, the use of the common spoon in the Eucharist has not been a source of contamination for any Orthodox believer in the past or the last two months of the pandemic.
  5. Therefore, the Romanian Orthodox Church, according to its centuries-old liturgical tradition, cannot accept, even in times of pandemic, the use of the single-use chalice and spoon for Communion of the faithful during the Divine Liturgy. In this regard, with the approval of the majority of members of the Holy Synod, consulted in writing on May 11, 2020, the manner of general Communion of believers during the Divine Liturgy, during a pandemic, will be decided after June 1, 2020, in consensus with the other Orthodox Churches.
Access to cemeteries
In cemeteries, believers must follow the rules of a distance of 2 m between people, except for family members or those who live together in the same house.

*

The social-philanthropic or charitable activity of parishes and monasteries will be adapted to the new social and medical needs, respectively supporting people who cannot travel for food or medicine, but in compliance with all hygiene and protection measures established by the authorities.

The present measures aim to protect our health and the health of those around us. Life and health are gifts from God, but we have to preserve and cultivate them with permanent responsibility.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Austria takes cue from Liturgy of St. James for communion

If you are curious how this is done, see the below video.



(Orthodox Times) - The religious services will be conducted with the participation of faithful from May 15. After consulting with the competent authorities, the Metropolis decided to implement a number of hygiene rules with the aim of conducting religious services without difficulties with the participation of faithful.

The Metropolis decided that the Holy Communion would be offered according to with the Typikon of the Divine Liturgy of St. James while emphasizing that the priests will be given details.

The Metropolis of Austria also announced that during the services the ratio of one person per 10 square meters in the temple will be strictly observed, with the faithful keeping at least a 2 m distance between them, wearing masks. The church employees will clean and disinfect regularly the surfaces and various equipment.

Before entering the church there will be antiseptic while the Metropolis recommended that vulnerable groups stay at home.

Moreover, if due to the size of the church, a small number of believers can participate in the services, it is recommended to organize the participation by registration.

Regarding the Holy Communion, the Metropolis stated that we share the body and blood of Jesus Christ to be in communion with Him. “So we firmly believe that the Holy Communion is the source of Life and Health of soul and body and it will never be a way of transmission or cause of any disease. We consider it very important, after many weeks of isolation, to allow the faithful to participate in the Divine Liturgy again so that they can receive the Holy Body and the Holy Blood of Christ.”

However, it was pointed out, “Of course we do not disregard the lack of faith, that is, trust in Christ, something we can see that it exists around us. It was, therefore, decided to follow the centuries-old tried and tested practice of the offering the Holy Communion, according to the liturgical and canonical tradition of the first millennium of our Church and the typikon of the Divine Liturgy of St. James, which we sometimes perform annually in our local Church. This centuries-old liturgical practice will be implemented temporarily for a limited time in our churches.”