“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23–24)
Dear Rev. Fathers and the Faithful of our God-protected Archdiocese
Since the beginning of this year, the world has been subject to a most difficult temptation and health trial, inflicted by the spread of the COVID-19, known as the Coronavirus. Our Antiochian Orthodox Church shares in these great dangers, that threaten human life, and our very way of living.
Life is God’s “Sacred Gift” and each pastor and faithful is called to safeguard and preserve this life in a way that pleases our Creator; both according to His will, and to the status of man—who is beloved and redeemed.
This virus is spreading rapidly, and the rest of the world is showing our nation how quickly and dramatic the spread can be. There is no question, this virus can spread and hurt. Thankfully, expert findings conducted by renowned research teams, specialised committees, and medical authorities confirm that the most effective way of helping is for each person in society to limit the number of gathered people.
It is for this reason we are complying with these rules, and implementing strict measures, in order that we may overcome this tribulation much sooner, and with the least implication on human life—the very gift that God has given us.
On Wednesday, 18/03/2020, the Federal Government announced the ban on “non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people”. Today, Friday 20/03/20, a new update was provided announcing tightened measures that enforces: “One person, per four square metres” and “in addition to that, you should continue to practice wherever possible the 1.5 metres of healthy distance between each of us.”
For that and with a heavy heart that I must instruct that parishes are instructed to continue Divine prayer with only the essential presence of clergy, servers, and choir.
What we must now do
In compliance with both the recommendations of the Federal Government, and the direction of the Holy Synod we declare the following to be enacted, immediately, and until further notice:
- Adherence to all general preventive health instructions and measures announced by the governments, and relevant international organisations.
- Suspension of all private and public meetings.
- Suspension of all activities, including festivals, excursions, events, fellowship.
- Parish priests to serve divine prayers, services, and Liturgy. Participation of limited chanters and caretakers of the Church.
Immediate steps we will take
- The clergy will carry everyone on through their prayers and they will mention the name of their parishioners during the Divine Liturgy. You can provide these to your priest and WILL be commemorated.
- ALL Great Lent and Divine services will be live-streamed by the Archdiocese and some of your parishes.
- We will provide you with updates when tangible information is provided.
- Funeral services are limited to the participation of the family of the deceased.
Immediate steps you will take
Your involvement with your spiritual life will change temporarily, so take advantage of the great treasure of time to be closer to your family and ensure to establish a Church in your homes (domestic Church) by:
- Establish your prayer corner with icons, incense, candles, prayer books, bible, prayer ropes and more.
- Read more to deepen your family’s prayer lives. Reading the Holy Bible, the lives of the saints, and the spiritual writings, because of their great benefit and comfort to us.
- It is a time for intensified prayer and fasting as we look for the Resurrection which is to come.
In everything else, I ask that you undertake reasonable precautionary measures, adhering to common sense, and the recommendations of local authorities, in order to preserve the health of the people and stop the virus’ spread.
These procedures are applied temporarily and exceptionally, and it will be reviewed and updated, along with the guidance of God, and through the labour of civil authorities and Holy Synod.
We pray for our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful God, to protect you all and to grant you healing of souls and bodies. Amen.
☦ Metropolitan Basilios
“Let us commend ourselves, one another and our whole life unto Christ our God.” Amen.
- About the Antiochian Patriarchate’s response to coronavirus
- About The Good Shepherd’s plans in the face of the coronavirus emergency