Friday, May 1, 2020

OCA worship directives

I thought I'd post the OCA's directives just for visibility. If anything can be said about the OCA, they always strive for transparent and comprehensive documentation.

(OCA) - In order remain vigilant in all ways, the churches should strictly maintain the following preventative measures:

1. Members of the Church should become familiar with the symptoms of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell), and, if these symptoms present themselves, both seek medical help immediately and self-isolate.

2. In terms of preventing the spread of this virus, the best advice is to follow CDC directives, which currently include: wash hands thoroughly and frequently, cover your coughs and sneezes, avoid sharing personal items, wear a mask, and maintain a social distance of six feet.

3. Churches must have hand sanitizer readily available at entrances, outside elevators, and other points of ingress They should be sure that restrooms are properly stocked with soap, and sanitized frequently, recorded with an accompanying log sheet.

4. Everyone except clergy and singers must wear facemasks in accord with civil directives (clergy may wear plastic face shields at the distribution of communion). I'm trying to imagine a plastic face shield at this moment. It brings up images of handling radioactive materials. "The Body and the Blood... and the isotope..."

5. Churches must be cleaned routinely between, especially objects that are routinely touched, like door handles, or furniture. Doors should be propped open so that door knobs or handles do not need to be used. It might, in fact, be more practical to have a designated person, an usher or greeter with gloves minding the door.

6. Icons, the blessing cross, and other sacred vessels should be venerated without physical contact.

7. When giving blessings, bishops and priests should not offer their hands to be kissed.

8. No service books should be distributed or left out for common use.

9. Unless zapivka can be offered in a safe, individual manner, it should not be offered.

10. Unless antidoron can be presented in a safe, individual manner, it should not be distributed.

11. Priests should modify their censing patterns and processions to limit exposure, or wear a mask during censings and processions in the Church building.


  1. I know it’s been said, but this seriously begs to question how the church views sickness and death, grace and sacraments.

    Do we only have church if its safe? How safe?
    What mortality rate is acceptable vs not? What if a local Muslim population threatens the Church? Isn’t the priest endangering his parish by continuing to worship?

    80,000 people died of the flu in 2017, far more than CV19 which is 60,000 including everyone who has died with CV19 in their system (CDC numbers are now dramatically lower for purely CV19 related deaths, 11,000 last time I checked).

    Should we be following these practices every flu season? If a parishioner dies of the flu do we hold the priest or parishioners responsible for not practicing proper hygiene? Did they catch the flu while receiving communion? Venerating an icon? Taking the priest’s blessing? Is Christ’s grace in a priest’s blessing, does it do anything? Are they dead because they worshipped in the House of the Lord?

    The answers are quite obvious if you agree with the Church’s practices for the last 2,000 years, but if I was a catechumen I would have a host of questions based on how the clergy are acting right now.

    From an outsiders perspective it would seem quite obvious that Christians preach victory over death and hope in the Risen Lord, but what they practice seems quite different now.

    1. Your stuck Sojourner in a passionate false dichotomy. How safe you ask?

      Well, when I drive my family to Church I know that if driving was a disease it would be, what (going from memory here), the 8th leading killer? Yet we do it. That said, we do wear our seatbelts - my youngest in a certified booster seat. Not only that, my society with my approval has deemed to require manufactures to make the vehicle's to a certain safety specifications (minimum crash test levels, seatbelts and airbags, etc.). Not only is this expensive, no one - neither the businesses nor my family have a choice in this matter.

      Another example - the church building itself. All sorts of code and fire safety requirements, and if the Body of Christ were for whatever reasons neglect these safety requirements the fire marshal (did you not say you were a firefighter Sojourner at some point?) would rightly have everyone removed, at the point of the sword if necessary (i.e. sidearm of local PD).

      You would set up these things and more about the day to day reason, praxis, and behavior of the Body as somehow against itself, faith, and "2,000 years" of what exactly I can't tell...a James Dean Christianity of some sort ;)

      The only people who "have questions about how the clergy are acting right now" are folks such as yourself who suffer from the Libertarian passion. These questions are not even consistent with your own life. You take your medicine when the doctor prescribe it, you put on your seat belt, and you don't inhabit a building that is not up to code or lacks a smoke detector.

      In other words your the hypocrite Sojourner, not Christ's humble hierarchy and their priests.

    2. Always helpful with the speck in my eye brother :)

      The fact that you have to give me a political label and view any political affiliation as intrinsically evil is ironic given you sound suspiciously like a leftist identity politics mouth piece. Not a libertarian, not a republican, not a democrat, frankly I don’t vote since its always between the “lesser of two evils” these days.

      Also love that you sound like a Protestant 90% of the time and have said yourself that your catechism is from Tolkien and C.S Lewis, but when your idea of (politics passing as) “Science” starts dictating how the church should behave, you’re accuse anyone who disagrees of being secular/Protestant minded.

      Also i’m really laughing here, truly, because when the doctor prescribes medicine I don’t need, I don’t take it, and the building I live in is hardly up to code.

      Also your fascism is showing, that’s not how Fire Marshals work, and not just because mine happens to be die hard believer in the Constitution.

      Am I a hypocrite? Absolutely, most of us are these days, if you think you’re not then you haven’t been to confession lately. And shame on me for being dumb enough to keep getting down here in the mud to wrestle with pigs when I know better.

      There are priests and bishops in Greece and other Orthodox countries speaking out against this, and going to jail for upholding the tradition and the liturgical life of the Church. It’s easy to call me names and treat me contemptuously, but God help you if you’re going to hurl insults at them and call them Libertarian hypocrites.

      To be clear, the highest law of the land, the Constitution, is being illegally disobeyed right now by people who take an oath to uphold it. But you’re okay with that. I can admit i’m a hypocrite and a passionate person, I hope you can admit you’re a virtue signaling fascist posing as a humanitarian.

      It angers you that anyone is questioning the orders that have been handed down from on high and you’re indignant that anyone would recklessly disobey; you would prefer armed men enforce these rules for the greater good.

      If wanting the 1st Amendment to be upheld, and wanting churches to be free to do what they’ve been doing for 2,000 years (through literal plagues) makes me a hypocrite in your eyes, I’m okay with that.

      Again my church is still open and having regular services, thank God, and i’m grateful that none of our priests are sick, our choir is still singing, and our parishioners are still coming for regular confession and communion. The old people are fed up with being locked in their homes and frankly are the bluntest in discussing this, they’re not afraid God bless them.

      But for the bishops who seem willing to keep their churches closed for as long as the government orders them to, I think serious conversations need to be had, but I realize dialogue angers your leftist sensibilities.

      And again, I honestly want a real discussion to be had about these practical measures that are being discussed such as the priest wearing a face shield while serving the Body and Blood of Christ. How often should that apply? It seems to apply now because there is anywhere from a .05- 1% chance of death in the case of infection.

      If we’re applying new practices, new standards, what are we basing them on? Theology? Science? And once again, the implication seems obvious, if the priests dont take these measures, someone can come to church, receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and then die as a result.

      So if the priests dont take these measures next flu season, and someone dies of the flu, are we going to blame the priest? The Church? Christ? Or is this going to be the new normal? Because it is new, and it is not normal, drink the cool aid all you want but the Church has never done this before, so i’d like to talk about it, sorry if that offends you.

    3. "...die hard believer in the Constitution....truly, because when the doctor prescribes medicine I don’t need, I don’t take it, and the building I live in is hardly up to code...."

      We know, Constitutional Orthodoxy, we get it...and to think, most readers of your posts thought you were a mere Old Calendar True Orthodox.

      I thought I found a video of you guys here:

      But it turns out all those guys still have their seat belts on and airbags enabled...they are not truly free in Christ like the True Constitutionalist Orthodox are.

      Can you post a video of you kick starting your Harley? I can't drink the well from which you drink, but it will be enough...

    4. You know Jake if you can’t have an intellectual debate or an honest conversation, you should really put more effort into your stand up, I like to at least chuckle when a troll waves the white flag and resorts to personal attacks.

    5. Your right, I should have left your Harley out of it... ;)

      On a serious note, to make a small beginning towards understanding the unexamined Libertarian presumptions/instincts behind your thoughts on this subject, and the "inverted ideology" in your thinking on just about all subjects since I have been reading your posts here (e.g., especially, you canonical findings), see:

    6. Sorry Jake, not Impressed when Rod is your go to, and as usual your straw man arguments are uninspired. Crazy republicans did something, I must be exactly like them because I don’t agree with you. At no point have I said not to use common sense sanitation practices during flu season; but I wanted to have a conversation about priests wearing face shields while giving out communion. I’ve never seen such a thing, imagine the audacity of wanting to have a serious conversation about a new development.

      Does it keep you up at night knowing that there are people who don’t see things the way you do? It must be exhausting coming up with labels and excuses for people not being as smart as you.

      You should write epistles to all the churches and monasteries that are still open and let them know that they’re not following your gospel.

      Again, I just got out of liturgy and this is how I’m wasting my time, arguing with an internet troll, shame on me.

    7. Your not going to start crying in your beer now are you?

      NOW you want to have a conversation?!? Let's see, according to you the EP is a mere heretic and unionist, half of Ukraine are schismatic, and during this pandemic...let's see, ALL of the worlds heiarchs are unreasonable faithless boobs for humbly following ALL the worlds governments and epidemiologists with prudence and knowledge (however imperfect, as it always is).

      Just who is left for you communicate, to communion, with?? The Constitutionalist Orthodox? I give you less then a year before you punch whoever they are in the nose as well ;) LOL!

    8. And there it is, you’re not capable of a conversation because anyone who doesn’t see things your way is beneath your contempt.

      What a sad little man you must be behind all that venom and bitterness.

      Oh good news though, CDC is learning how to count better, CV19 deaths down by 30,000 so far, but don’t let data and good news stop you; keep goose stepping to the hype narrative.

    9. How quickly we forget the words of the Pascha.

      Seriously, is this what y'all have time to do during the Paschal season? Hurl insults at each other? Debating different points of view is one thing, but y'all are doing nothing but attacking each other.

      "Let us call brothers even those who hate us..." and yet, we have Orthodox (who should already regard each other as brother) hurling insults. Lord, have mercy.

  2. What about silver and brass,,,,,it had been found that both possess excellent anti microbial properties,,,,ergo everything that is held or touched should be silver,copper,brass etc. This is crosses,,,chalices,,, spoons,,,door handles,,,push plates,,,etc. In preparing the Eucharist there is already a point where the hands are washed,,it started out as being real, then became symbolic,,make it real again,,,,also is the preparation of the antidorion hygenic,,,,,being there I think not,,,,wash hands,,wear gloves,,wear hair net,,use clean knife,,and a clean cutting board,,,,I have seen altar boys with dirty hands, using last week's knife, coughing over the bread,,,time to tighten up things

    1. I honestly can’t tell if you’re serious but the idea of a priest or bishop wearing a hair net is pretty hilarious, looking forward to a picture of a face shielded hair net wearing gloved up priest, ha.

    2. You just do not understand do you. The syriacs do,,no shoes in the altar,,special slippers,,,, keep the altar clean,, keep it holy ,,,,, not like the time bishop Nikon showed up for vespers retaking of cigarette smoke,,,yes reading of it,,,,should he have been allowed to enter the altar,? We need to take hygiene seriously

  3. Christ is Risen. I don't often Post in the comments section of websites. But I figured that it is worth pointing out the following. There are prominent Bishops within the Orthodox world, that opposed the church closings. Most prominent being the famed and pious Metropolitan HIEROTHEOS VLACHOS. I must admit, I don't know where to come down on this debate that has a arisen within world Orthodoxy. But I do believe it to be unfair to label those who disagree with the decisions of most of the synods within World Orthodoxy, as some how belonging to some sort of political party. I think there are some fair and legitimate concerns concerning whether this is in keeping with Orthodox Christian teaching. It is worth noting, that the churches of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Georgia never closed down their churches in their respective countries. Mind you those countries governments did impose lockdown orders. I post here now, a link to an interview with the metropolitan I mentioned above. It is worth reading.

    1. Truly He is Risen!

      Thanks for the article! You can add Ukraine (or at least the canonical Ukrainian Church) and Belarus to that list of churches that haven’t closed last time I checked :)

      Personally I think it’s pretty shameful how some bishops are handling this, but I realize these are difficult and confusing times; and most are just doing what they think is best or what they’ve been told is best.

      The data continues to come out showing that this isn’t what we were led to believe, it’s not a world ending plague; but no matter how much good news comes out, we’re still going full speed ahead towards a new way of life, modeled after Chinese policy and models that have been completely wrong. It’s a bizarre time.

      I’m just grateful it hasn’t effected the children, and regardless of the media panic, we’re going to be okay.

      If you haven’t seen Fr. Peter Heers’ new podcast, he talks extensively about all this, it’s worth your time.

  4. "....No priests, elders and eldresses, even the most grace-filled, clairvoyant, etc., can know completely how we should act in moments of social disaster and turmoil. The first to determine the right action is His Holiness the Patriarch, and after him, the bishops. Secular authorities can also be given good reasoning from God about what we need to do in one or another dead-end situation. And when people stop listening to spiritual and secular authorities, even if they are guided by the best intentions, the road to hell is opened. The punishment itself has come due to a deep-rooted habit of decrying authorities....Priests have placed and are placing themselves at great risk by hearing confessions. At greatest risk are those who don’t avoid the people, those who humbly offer themselves as a sacrifice to the sickness in feeble hopes that the sick parishioners will stay home. But their hopes were not justified....Great Monday. Morning. The gates of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra are closed. Standing before them is an angry crowd, demanding that the Lavra be opened. The protesters behave themselves very aggressively, cursing and swearing....we have forgotten about the living God, replacing Him with frequent Communion, feasts and pleasant fasts, rites, cross processions, and pilgrimages....We—the clergy and church servants—get sick more often than anyone. Have pity on us! After all, the Lord has said to us all: “I will have mercy and not sacrifice!”...."

  5. This post misses the biggest hair-raiser in these directives: priests are required to record the names of people who attend services.

    1. "Precise records of who comes on which day will have to be kept so that those who attended can be contacted if necessary." That seems prudent to me, what do you think about it?

    2. I'm worried about more "Brenden Eich" situations. But answers to a few questions could resolve it for me. For instance:

      Will these records ever be turned over to state officials, and in what circumstances? Will parishioners be informed that their active participation in church services is being recorded? What is the extent of the tracking -- I assume if I attended a liturgy, that my name would go on the list -- but what about confession? How long will the lists be retained? What kinds of measures will priests take to protect these lists? What kinds of information will be included in these lists?

      I've already received some communication from the local churches, about services starting back up, and none of them have mentioned the tracking policy.

    3. Maybe that's the good news, parishes will just ignore it anyway ;) The appendix also place the attendance records separate from the "directives" as instead a "caution to be considered" by bishop/diocese/parish.

      And I definitely understand coming IT how once an organization collects personal data, they also are subject to privacy legislation regarding storage, retention etc. (though my region has an exemption for nonprofits).

  6. As a former (and no doubt future - we rotate) treasurer, depending upon how you give, your tracked by the parish and its and your bank. For many (probably most), their phone is geolocating them all the time (and possibly their car). Your clergy & fellow parishioners are witness to you being physically present.

    Since the organizational/tech skills of clergy/typical parish helpers are very often quite limited, it is safe to assume any and all record keeping is haphazard, probably analogue, but at the same time "unsecured".

    When did *communion* and *communication* in Christ become "anonymous" or subject to "privacy"?

    1. That definitely casts a new light on it, which I hadn't considered ... our phones, banks, and cars are already surveilling us. So why not the priests?

    2. What will we do when theeeeyyyyyy replace our priests with exact copies!!!