Wednesday, March 18, 2020

COVID Update 3/18 - With Caution, Trust and Prayer

Dear Parish Faithful,

"In my distress, I cry to the Lord, that He may answer me." (Psalm 120:1)

"My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:2)

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever." (Psalm 136:1)

Attached is His Grace, Bp. Paul's directive for our Diocese of the Midwest. My own parish directives, based on what is written here, follow immediately below.

Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea, directing a physician, with Christ Pantocrator.

We continue to navigate a less than friendly landscape as we struggle with our best response to COVID-19. My position is to approach this will all-due seriousness and then formulate directives accordingly. If we are to "err," it will be on the side of caution. One thing we are not going to do is to "tempt" God by "proving" our faithfulness by making careless decisions. The Apostle Paul teaches there is such a thing as "zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." (Rom. 10:2) We are dealing with a scientific/medical/biological issue with this virus, and we need to trust our health care professionals who are working tirelessly to limit the effect of this pandemic as much as that is humanly possible. We should also pray for our doctors, nurses, health care workers, and all others who are on the "front line" in this battle.

Be that as it may, the plan, at least tentatively at the moment, is to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, March 22, at 9:30 a.m. We will be severely limited in that only 10 persons are able to be present. This is the directive of Bishop Paul, our diocesan hierarch (based on the most current guidelines of the CDC). This allows for "social distancing," one of the crucial strategies meant to limit the spread of the virus. Trying to figure out the best way to do this is difficult, but what I have come with up is the following: I would ask those of you who are willing to come to the Liturgy to inform me, and I will compose a list. I will draw from this list on a weekly basis (anticipating that this will continue for many weeks to come). As it is, that number ten is further limited in that room must be made for the priest, at least one deacon, and two-three choir members. Perhaps the reader will be drawn from among the choir members.

To again state the obvious, anyone who feels the slightest bit ill should not consider coming to church at the present moment. Be aware of what health professionals are warning about the "age factor." The older we are, the more threatening is the virus. Anyone with any type of medical condition that compromises one's immune system should also apply common sense and not come to church. This is crucial not only for you, but also for your neighbor.

Again, send me a note indicating that you would like to come to church on these Sundays when we must limit our numbers.

For the moment, that is my pastoral directive. If anything changes, I will alert the parish immediately.

In Christ,
Fr. Steven