Tuesday, March 24, 2020

ROCOR Chicago adopts OCA Diocese of the South model

It seems the skeleton crew model in churches with live streaming has become the primary model in these coronavirus days. Some dioceses has shuttered entirely of course, but they are in the minority.


(ROCOR-Chicago) - According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention COVID-19 is present in all 50 states and is being spread within the community, that is, the virus is now native to local communities in all states in our diocese and is being conveyed person to person. Although the rate of spread is not the same from state to state, circumstances are changing rapidly. New orders are issued on an almost daily basis. In order to provide protection for the faithful, and to further emphasize the serious risk of this disease, the Diocese must impose a uniform rule for all it's parishes.

Given the above, it is incumbent upon the Diocese of Chicago & Mid-America to act in the best interest of its faithful. It is crucial that the Divine Services continue in each parish and monastery of the diocese if at all possible. But because community spread is rampant now, and because Italy has provided us with an excellent example of the negative outcomes we can expect if this virus is not taken seriously, and because the diocese cares for both the spiritual and temporal health of its faithful, beginning on Monday, 10/23 March, 2020, with the blessing of Archbishop Peter, public services will no longer be held in the diocese until further notice. Divine Services will be conducted by the smallest number of clergymen and support staff possible, but with a hard cap of 10 individuals maximum. Those who wish to commune may do so at home by making an appointment with their parish priest. The faithful may not commune in any other way than with a home visit or a visit to a medical facility. A Public Health Protocol will be sent to each of the priests and must be followed in the case of a home/medical facility visit. The frequency of partaking of Holy Communion for each of the faithful is strictly at the discretion of the parish priest. It is expected that in these extraordinary times the faithful would likely partake less often than they might if the churches of our diocese were open as usual. This is especially true for those who are not ill. As the pandemic develops there could be very many ill that our priests will have to care for. Those who are not ill need to consider the strain this pandemic will take on our clergy as they care for the sick and dying. It is inappropriate for the faithful to quarrel with the priest about the frequency of partaking, but of course all such civil discussions are welcome. The priest should, if necessary, prepare more of the Reserve Sacrament at any of the Saturday or Sunday Divine Liturgies during this pandemic. The faithful will be communed only with the Reserve Sacrament – the Mysteries consecrated at the Divine Liturgy will not be brought from the church to the faithful under any circumstances. The civil authorities are under much pressure now, and now is not the time to have a First Amendment debate with a law enforcement officer who pulls a priest over who is carrying a chalice with the Divine Gifts in his car. Discretion is the better part of valor and we will exercise discretion – not seek to antagonize the civil authorities in this way. There will be no exceptions to the above. Those with questions are asked to contact Fr. Gregory Joyce, Diocesan Secretary with questions or for clarification. Fr. Gregory will discuss all issues with Archbishop Peter.

It should be known that three physicians who are practicing Orthodox Christians assisted in the creation of this policy.

31 comments:

  1. The firm response that the neurotic Orthodox deserve - now is the time for clarity, and not silence in the face of those crying "help help, I'm being repressed!".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8ukak8P2vY

    "...now is not the time to have a First Amendment debate with a law enforcement officer who pulls a priest over who is carrying a chalice with the Divine Gifts in his car..."

    Not that the neurotic Orthodox who analogize between communist state persecution and these rational & temporary measures have much of a clue of at to what our constitutional protected rights around religion and freedom of assembly actually mean.

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  2. It is sad that AB Peter has surrendered to the spirit of secular humanism. Thank God that the other ROCOR jurisdictions have not followed suit...and the Serbians have stayed strong. I have found a Serbian Church to attend.

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    1. I’m sure you are upset that Orthodox churches are closing, but it is for the sake of public health. People can get sick anywhere, including in church. I don’t think you can get sick from Holy Communion but there are many other ways to spread illness.

      If we knew exactly who was sick and who wasn’t it would be easy to simply isolate them and carry on, but we have a lack of thorough testing in the USA. Because of this we have many people walking around with little to no symptoms, unaware that they have the virus but still spreading it to other people.

      Because of the current situation the only way to stop the spread of the virus is a) good hygiene and b) social distancing, which may mean a shutdown of ALL gatherings, not just religious gatherings. Nobody is being singled out here.

      As for the Serbian Church, according to their website their dioceses in America are adopting similar policies.

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    2. Not where I live. I'll be attending the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on Wednesday and Divine Liturgy on Friday. The Churches should be open. To close a Church during a crisis is antithetical to the Orthodox phronema. If you wish to stay home...stay home. For those who wish to attend the Divine Liturgy and receive Holy Communion for the healing of both soul and body...they should have the option to attend.

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    4. It isn't the holy mysteries that can spread disease, it's the PERSON next to you. Or YOU next to them. It's a really lousy thing to have to miss church. So stay home, read the Bible and pray this goes away, not much else one can do is there?

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  3. Somebody of note, Fr. Cyril Hovorun, has finally said what needs to be said around this popular Eucharistic Doceticism we are seeing. Unfortunately he published in Fordham's "Public Orthodoxy", so many will dismiss it out of hand and I can hardly blame them given that publications source and record. I would quibble with him, in that the doceticism he is arguing against is sourced much more in the scholastic middle ages than the any pure Manichean, Eutychian, etc. of the early Church...as Schmemann said...

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    1. *sigh* I agree with you on this issue Jake, but don't play into the broader problem. Public Orthodoxy publishes many interesting articles as well as controversial views and no one need agree with all of them. When you say you can "hardly blame" people for dismissing it you give the fundamentalists who are hysterical over church closures credence, as they are the same persons who dismiss Public Orthodoxy out of hand. I'm sure to these fundamentalists Fr. Cyril Hovorun's article is just as objectionable as any of the articles you've disliked in the past. It is imperative that we be a Church that can internally speak to one another. The entire comment section of this site is a tragic example of what it looks like when that doesn't happen and everything within the Church becomes as partisan as today's politics.

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    2. I hear what you are saying Liam, but when it comes to Public Orthodoxy I would say that we need to be honest about just how secularized it is. Aristotle right now is working on a series of articles (perhaps they have already been published) how homosexualism is fully in line with the normative virtue tradition of the Church.

      As Fr. Schmemman (and Hopko) maintained, the liberal secularism of Fordham, and the conservative secuarlism of these Docetic "fundamentalists", are rooted in the same theology/philosophy - they are BOTH just two sides of the same coin.

      In other words, they both talk past each other because they both share the same fundamental and very wrong (i.e. not Orthodox, not of the Holy Fathers, etc.) presumptions that neither have the tools and inclination to examine.

      I agree with you, we need to speak to one another. However, the liberal/conservative divide (to choose a phrase) has this sort of self fullfilling feedback loop, based in the basic errors they BOTH suffer from. It is THIS that needs to be honestly faced up to if a conversation is to be had at all and Orthodoxy truly practiced and lived.

      Hope that makes sense...

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    3. Well first of all "homosexualism" isn't a word that anyone actually uses. So I imagine it is being used to be intentionally derogatory, which really has no place in the Church. Again, we would all do well to read what Dr. Papanikolaou actually has to say on the topic before pre-judging it.

      I hardly think that Fr. Schmemman ever spoke specifically about Fordham, so I wouldn't put words in his mouth. You may extrapolate that from his writings, but you'd have to actually argue that point.

      Clearly you think you possess a moderate third way more proper to the Tradition. That may or may not be the case. My entire point is that no one gets to simply assert that and be done. Dr. Papanikolaou understands himself as being true to the Tradition as well, just as any Orthodox person would. Conversation is how we get to the truth of Tradition, not by writing people off and disparaging them. If we all did that we would all only operate in our small, very limited bubble.

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    4. Now it's time for me to *sigh* Liam. Homosexualism is a very good word. I think I picked it up from a First Things essay years ago. It accurately puts the "ism" on a secular anthropology.

      Dr. Papanikolaou's has already published excerpts of these particular essays (can't remember where I read them - it may have been a link here), and given his 20 years or so body of work around theological anthropology, there is no "pre-judgement" on my part - his anthropology is secularized to the core.

      Your point about Schmemman is silly and merely rhetorical - he wrote explicitly on the very historical and philosophical/theological events that leads directly to the conservative/liberal (words he explicitly uses) divide.

      No, I (nor Schmemman nor Hopko) don't believe in a dialectical "middle way" - though a transcendtal "third option" might be correct. No, "Conversation" nor "dialogue" is how we "get to the truth of Tradition". Christianity is not a "dialogue" between autonomous Selves. It is first and foremost a narrative and story - a hierarchical 'faith'. The Devil is the one who makes us believe in "dialogue" - we were literally talked out of the Garden. Christianity is the unexaminable first assumption - first experience - that which itself can not be examined by the dialectic and dialogue.

      If you want to truly speak to one another in the only way we can, then you will have to examine the dialectical assumptions behind the secularism of BOTH the conservatives AND the liberals such as Dr. Papanikolaou...

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    5. I'm glad you have it all figured out Jake. Clearly First Things is a solid academic source to reference for the use of a word that again.... no serious credible person actually uses.

      Again, you're interpreting Schmemman and Hopko in a particular way to fit current events. You're welcome to do that, just be clear about it when you do. It isn't fair to put words in the mouths of dead men.

      It astounds me that you can (rightfully) argue with people all over this site that we need to take the coronavirus seriously, not deny the science behind it, and reject adopting docetic views of the Eucharist; then proceed to say something as absurd as "dialogue" being from the devil! I'm happy to seriously debate ideas but you're more interested in shutting people down because you possess the truth of the faith! Yet I'm the one succumbing to a notion of "autonomous Selves" ?! That is downright laughable. Based on how you write, throwing in a few key buzz words from authors I can guess, I suspect you resent people like Dr. Papanikolaou because he actually has an academic education and years of study in these areas, whereas you do not.

      I thank God every day my first exposure to Orthodoxy was not via the internet. Sites like these make Orthodoxy look less like the Church and more like an asylum.

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    6. Liam, don't be ridiculous. Watch the Hopko video posted on this very site just a few days ago, or read Schmemann's "For the Life of the World" - I am repeating what they explicitly addressed and said! Schmemann is "the" Orthodox sacramental theologian of the last 100 years and these very issues are the core of his whole biblography and life's work! Respectfully, you don't appear to be even aware of these facts. It looks as if your the one who has only "buzzed" around this subject my friend.

      As far as the rhetorical and spiritual arena that is "the internet", I would suggest that you 'buck up Christian soldier' if you want to speak and dialogue it's going to get rough. You will be challenged and even "changed", and if your not then your speaking is in vain. It's the narrow way, not the broad, and there is much conflict and suffering along the way. If you all you want is to slavishly follow an academic personality such as Dr. Papanikolaou you can do that, but then you should expect that those of us who have actually studied and read Schmemann, Dr. Papanikolaoun and the like to not agree with you and Aristotle's anthropology...

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    7. Ah! So apparently dialogue is not of the devil after all... since you now articulate a view of dialogue that most people would accept. It is about being challenged and potentially changed... again contrary to what you've stated previously.

      I'm not sure why it is such a challenge for you to understand the simple point I've repeatedly made. I'm fully aware of who Fr. Schmemann is and I imagine I've studied him more thoroughly than you. You can expound on his teaching and apply it to the present (as I've said), that is everyone's right to do. I was merely pointing out that Fr. Schmemann never specifically singled out Fordham as you did, and applying his categories to institutions and personalities today isn't as clear as you seem to imagine. It takes interpretation. I would love to have Fr. Schmemann's take on the state of things in 2020 but unfortunately we are left to imagine what that might be through the lens of his work. It is truly strange that you seem to think you have the singular insight into what he would have said, which again seems to confirm my previously stated suspicion regarding your training.

      I've never suggested I slavishly follow Dr. Papanikolaou anymore than you've suggested you slavishly follow Fr. Schmemann. I agree with both on many things and disagree on a good many others. I expect that anyone widely read in Orthodox theology and possessing even slight theological training would do the same. The difference between you and me is that I endeavor to give everyone their proper due and find common ground.

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    8. Liam, truly why would you bother to point out that "...never specifically singled out Fordham as you did..." since he died going on 40 years ago?? Schmemann DID explicitly address (again, it was central to his lifes work) the essence of Fordham - the *secularism* (his word) at the core of its project/theology, just as he pointed out the secularism at the core of the conservatives - your "fundamentalists". The language has changed slightly from the 70's, and the quaint question of women's ordination has been updated to the new-and-improved questions around the ordination of homosexualists and "trans" humans - but the secularism and scholastic metaphysics at core of these anthropological and sacramental dilemmas remain the same as they were 100, 200, 500 years ago. This is not an "extrapolation" at all, as only the shallow/surface details have changed - there is no significant change for all the reasons Schmemann explicitly framed in his work. His "take on 2020" would not be any different than 1970 because the foundation the religious situation and "trends" are not different in any important way. Perhaps an over familiarity with thinkers like Dr. Papanikolaou leads to what some have called an "up-to-date-ism", historical "progress", and the like.

      Again, no offense, but you claim familiarity while not addressing the actual central thesis(s) at all. I don't posses a "singular" insight, though it is insight whereas you only claim to have one. Put your cards on the table, your theological training and reading, and refute my reading of Schmemann ;) Really, put up or shut up because your signal to noise ratio is not very good!

      All that said, you might not believe me, but I have enjoyed our dialogue! ;) :)

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    9. Fr. Cyril's arguments are pure sophistry. He doesn't really believe the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ.

      He says "like ancient docetists, they believe that the Body of Christ is exempted from the laws of nature." So when Christ passed through the closed doors where the Apostles were, was his Body exempted from the laws of nature, or no?

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    10. "...So when Christ passed through the closed doors where the Apostles were, was his Body exempted from the laws of nature, or no?"

      No. Christ's human body was not exempt from the laws of nature (i.e. his "natural" human nature). On the contrary. Our created human nature is not fundamentally in opposition to divine nature, such that it needs to be annihilated,"transubstantiated", or otherwise made what-it-is-not to perform miracles such as walking through walls (Christ), walking on water (Peter), or moving mountain (all of us if we had faith). This is what various forms of dualism and nature vs. divine dualities/theologies such as Doceticism say.

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  4. https://inklesspen.blog/2020/03/17/christians-in-times-of-epidemic-then-and-now/

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    1. An irenic, if still wrong chain of reasoning based on the false analogy that state sponsored persecution (of either the early church, communist, etc.) and this particular plague are comparable, and thus require the same ecclesiastical and sacramental behavior/response.

      I feel for the good father, I really do. He ironically at the end states how he is trapped:

      "I’m just a rigorous over zealot, I guess, so what do I know…"

      And he is, he is trapped in his false analogizing, and there he will remain until/if he is able to see this within himself, or something from the outside forces a fundamental questioning...

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    2. There is a difference between putting your own life at risk by confessing the faith, and needlessly putting other people's lives at risk through reckless actions. For example, if you are driving at 100 mph on a busy highway, you can’t justify that action by saying that you are going to church.

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  5. Thanks for straightening him out, Jake. I'll let him know to send you a thank you note.



    We need more priests and bishops like Fr. Zacharias. In this fallen world of secular humanism, it is refreshing to see that there are still a few priests and bishops who truly care for the spiritual health of their flocks. I am also grateful to the many Serbian and ROCOR Churches who have not shut their parishioners out from receiving the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ during this most holy time of the Great Fast and Pascha.

    St Mark of Ephesus pray for us.

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  6. On a related topis:

    https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2020/03/23/transubstantiation-popish-invention-or-maybe-patriarch-dositheos-got-it-right/

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    1. Thank you for posting this! What an excellent resource for those questioning the nature of communion. Definitely saving this.

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    2. Dr. Tighe, I too want to thank you for posting this. Wow! What a Trans-sub-polooza! What a festival of essentialist metaphsysics!

      I am to be unapologetically counted among the "anti-Latin rabble" no doubt about it :) Much can be said. I found his assertion that because the recent council in Crete affirmed (just taking his word on this) the council of 1672 council of Jerusalem that Dositheos acceptance of transubstantiation is Orthodox. Even if Crete was a real council - and just ask a person in a MP jurisdiction about that - it would not necessarily follow.

      I would want to spend more time with his citation of St. Gregory Palamas, fe sur - I am not at all sure it means what he said it means. However, simply because he did some etymological work and found a small amount of the use of the term among some eastern Fathers - St. Cyril *of course* being one (those who have done a dive into patristics know what I mean here) - does not mean that Orthodoxy accepts or is the same as RC scholastic transubstantiation doctrinally and/or in spirit.

      The elephant in the room is the Latin west's hook-line-sinker acceptance of Augustinian negative notions of nature, which makes transubstantiation *necessary* on a moral evaluation of created natures lack of ability to 'carry' (to choose a term) the divine, and then an essentialist metaphysical theology to "fix" this incapacity of created nature, so that the divine can "get into" it (in this case, the elements of the bread and wine). Now I am the first to admit that the too much has and can be made of the Augustinian west vs. "idealist anti-metaphysics" Greek east, but the Augustinian sacred/profane split that is then bridged in the Eucharist by transubstantiation is simply not needed in the Orthodox East, even as a matter of metaphysics, as the Greek/Christian synthesis around all things (including bread and wine) are created good, undergo ontological "becoming" through time, unto a "restoration" (apokatastasis) end (telos) in the Eschaton is another way of framing reality entirely.

      In other words the order of theology - the terms and "problems" you begin with and attempt to solve - is different to the Greek mind, and so this static essentialism is not necessary.

      I think these current sacremental controversies (celiac & viral) reveals what happens when your Eucharist theology moves into essentialism because you assume that the "natural" elements of bread and wine are oppositional to the divine. As Christ says, if we had faith we could "move mountains", and this would be entirely natural - no substantial change to any aspect of who/what we are (body, soul, mind, spirit, etc.) would be necessary. Whatever happens to the elements in the anaphora, a negation of their nature *substantially* (whatever your explanation {such as 'accidents'} for the Docetic result is) is unnecessary and does not occur - and this is IMO what the main thread in the Greek east holds, despite Dr. Kappes allegation that this is "Nestorian wish" ;)

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    4. This may interest you as well, Jake (and others):

      https://www.amazon.com/Immaculate-Conception-Eugenicus-Professed-Existence/dp/1601140681/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=christiaan+kappes&qid=1585317509&sr=8-1

      Its argument, or part of it, is that just about all the opponents of "Unionism" (and the Council of Florence) accepted the "Immaculate Conception" in fact, if not in name, and that they were all conversant in, and appreciative of, "Scholasticism." Fr. Kappes (a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis) hold degrees in Scholastic Theology from the Angelicum and in Greek Patristic Theology from the University of Thessalonika. He recently published a book on the debate over the epiclesis at the Council of Florence.

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  7. all i see is a bunch of pharisees here, debating the law and the rubrics yet where is the christian compassion? where is the christian compassion? i see nothing about the people,,, setting up support networks i.e. teams of people calling people to see if they are ok,,,, teams of people with emergency supplies on call to help their fellow parishioners etc.... it is all focused on the fact that each and every service needs to be served, and also look at me i will be there in the front pew regardless of what the risks to me or the risk i bring in with me. if we were true christians would we be more concerned about the both the physicsl and spiritual welfare of our flock? who is checking on the elderly,, who is ensuring the medicines and food are supplied etc. come on, let us get real here,, this is an oppoetunity for us to rise to the occasion -- to create spiritual and physical support models for our youth, young mothers, elderly,,,, i see no caring here,,, i see dogma,, strict, dogma -- and i gieves me that christian compassion has not found a place in our colledtive hearts. is this what Jesus would want us to be doing? it is akin to nero fiddling while rome burns,,,, we focus on precise liturgics while the physical, mental and subsequent spiritual situation of our faithful deteriorates. whee is our christian outreach --- it seems that we like to hide behide liturgical rubrics and not face the reality of the world and seek to make a positive difference through our outreach ministry ,,,,,, God gave us all the talents,, why not use them?

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  8. I am learning to become a better witness in my great sin. Pray for me and those around me in service and those i serve.

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  9. Serbian bishop Milutin of Valjevo has been infected by the coronavirus along with two of his priests. It had previously been reported that he was hospitalized due to high fever and now the exact cause has been found. May the Physician of souls and bodies grant a speedy recovery to his grace!

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  10. "Go home my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the LORD ’s anger has passed.” – Isaiah 26:20


    Incidentally, this is directly from the Biblical Canticles chanted during Great Lent.

    If people are going to churches and spreading the virus, they won't be remembered as "martyrs of the faith", but perhaps more sadly as idiots. I have no doubt that Christianity in general will soon be pruned of many idiots. May God protect us all from this fate.

    Thankfully, the Divine Liturgy appropriately continues through the work and prayers of our now cloistered monasteries. May God protect these monasteries, and may God protect us all.

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