On March 15, on the Second Sunday of Lent, St. George Parish family gathered for a nice celebration. Following the reading of the Hours the Divine Liturgy was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in the Russian language.
The Rector emphasized that the Gospel reading for this Sunday is telling about the healing of the paralytic. Before curing that ill man from his disease our Lord Jesus Christ forgave him his sins. This indicates that the main reason for our physical ailments and diseases is our sinful state. Due to sin man is facing death, and the diseases are the signs of that.
Then Fr. Igor discussed the present turbulent situation in the world created by the outbreak of coronavirus. He mentioned that many people, including the authorities overreact to the problem. But in any case we, Orthodox faithful, should keep calm and not be afraid because God is with us, and if He permitted such tribulation to occur, He must have a certain plan for us. The real pandemic in the world is sin, and because of sin we suffer from physical illnesses and from other sorrows. If we fight the sin, all our sorrows may diminish.
Regarding present outbreak of the virus we need to be cautious, to follow the basic rules of hygiene. If someone feels sick, he or she should not come to church. Otherwise, at this point, the church will be open and the services performed. His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh issued a letter to his Diocese in Great Britain regarding certain recommendations of how to behave in the church during this time of the virus outbreak. Those recommendations could be followed by our Parishes in the USA. He suggests that people should not kiss the icons, the cross or other holy objects but rather bow before them. Kissing the priest’s hand should also be substituted by a bow. As to receiving Holy Communion, we should follow our usual practice but we need to offer the zapivka in individual disposable cups (which we have done in our parish for a long time).
Fr. Igor also suggested that the bread for the zapivka should be distributed carefully, so each person should not touch the other pieces of bread but only the one he or she takes. He also mentioned that some partakers of the Holy Communion may choose to receive it directly on the tongue and without physical contact with the spoon (as it is practiced in some parishes or jurisdictions).
Since our congregation is relatively small, we may not be worried so much but to concentrate on the spiritual endeavors during this time of Lent. Interestingly, the very word “quarantine” derives from the Italian word meaning “forty days”. Thus some people forced to be in quarantine these days are given a special opportunity to spend this Lenten time with some important spiritual meaning.
During the Litany of fervent supplication the Rector added a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.
The choir prayerfully performed hymns to St. Gregory Palamas during preparation for Holy Communion.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English addressing the main thoughts of his Russian sermon.