Mary of Egypt

“The Standing of Mary of Egypt” on last Thursday is the culmination of Lent. In the Church for two months now, we have been taught examples of piety: the repentance of publicans and fornicators, icon worship and hesychasm. Like the Tree of life in the middle of Paradise, the Cross of the Lord is brought to us for worship in the middle of the Lent. As a guide to heaven, “The Ladder” of St John is recommended. And as the highest example of repentance (not for imitation, but for admiration) – the life of St. Mary. The fragile female nature was capable of impossible feats, surpassing the greatest men of desert. Her story fits into a few paragraphs, but can you imagine 47 years in the desert without food and clothing? What willpower and desire to please God helped her endure the external and internal fire? On the day of her memory – on the 5th Sunday of Lent – the Canon at Matins commemorates the righteous Job and the poor Lazarus: “As Job in leprosy, eaten by worms, so Lazarus before the gates of the rich prayed: blessed is the God of our fathers. And no one gave him even a crumb from the rich man’s table, but he received instead the bosom of Abraham.” Because none of our sacrifices, nothing earthly, can compare with what God has prepared for those who love Him. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who, had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13: 45-46). This pearl is Christ. To be with Him, true Christians are willing to bare with suffering, privation, and even premature death. The main thing is that both life be Christ and death be gain (Epistle to the Philippians, 1: 21).

Instructions to the rectors of parishes and courtyards, Abbots and Abbesses of monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church in connection with the threat of spread of coronavirus infection

The document was approved by the decision of the Holy Synod of March 17, 2020 (journal # 30).

For the sake of pastoral care of people, as well as in response to the request of the sanitary authorities, while maintaining a firm faith in God’s good Providence and in Divine omnipotence, the following rules are adopted, taking into account the canonical and liturgical Traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Until the epidemiological situation changes for the better and the diocesan administration gives appropriate instructions to terminate this instruction in full or in part, the following must be done in parishes, Patriarchal, Episcopal and monastic buildings, as well as in stauropigial and diocesan monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Concerning The Communion Of The Holy Mysteries Of Christ

1. Bearing in mind that the offering of a Bloodless Sacrifice can never be canceled, because where there is no Eucharist, there is no Church life, and also that the Holy Body and Blood of Christ are taught for the health of both the soul and the body (see, for example, the prayers of St. John Chrysostom, the 7th and 9th of the Preparation to Holy Communion), taking into account, however, the historical practice of the Orthodox Church in the conditions of epidemics[1], — Communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ is to be done with wiping the spoon with an alcohol-soaked cloth after each communicant (with regular renewal of the impregnation) and then dipping the spoon in water with respective disposal of water.

2. The water after Communion must be served separately for each participant in disposable glasses.

3. Use disposable sanitary gloves to distribute the antidoron.

4. Cloth for the communion of the laity must be used only to protect the Holy Mysteries from possible falling on the floor and for wiping the spoon only. Wiping of the mouths of the communicants must be with paper napkins which will be burnt. The cloths should be boiled and washed with due reverence after each liturgical use.

5. Communicants should refrain from kissing the Chalice.

Concerning the performance of the sacraments of Baptism and Anointing

6. Strictly adhere to the practice of changing and consecrating water for each individual case. In this regard, the sacrament of Baptism is performed only individually with intermediate disinfection (wiping) of the font (baptistery) with a disinfectant liquid.

7. For anointing with oil, use a cotton swab (instead of a string) and a paper napkin (instead of a sponge), followed by burning.

Concerning the performance of the sacrament of unction

8. When anointing the sick in the temples, use for each parishioner individually disposable cotton swabs, which must be burnt.

Other instructions regarding the performance of services, pastoral practice, and parish life

9. Instead of presenting the cross for kissing at the end of the divine Liturgy and other services, it is recommended to place the cross on the heads of parishioners.

10. Returning to the statutory practice, which has been changed in recent years, anointing at the all-night vigil is performed only in cases when the litias and the consecration of oil are performed. When anointing use for each parishioner separately a disposable string (a cotton swab) with subsequent disposal. In other cases, perform kissing of the gospel or a festive icon (cross) after the polyeleos only with the blessing of the priest and wiping the gospel and icon (cross) after each kissing using a disinfectant solution.

11. Clergymen are advised to refrain from offering their hands for kissing.

12. Use disposable hygiene gloves to distribute the prosphora and consecrated bread at the all-night vigil.

13. Pay special attention to the cleanliness of utensils and liturgical vessels, wiping them after each liturgical use and thoroughly washing them with boiling water.

14. Suspend the work of Sunday schools, as well as parish sections and activities until further notice.

15. If possible, the social services of parishes and monasteries should help elderly parishioners to deliver food and essential goods to their homes.

General instructions

16. Abbots should instruct employees of parishes and monasteries to strictly observe general hygiene measures, including hand disinfection during the day (at least once every 2 hours).

17. Provide frequent airing of churches, parish and monastery premises.

18. Regularly treat the surfaces of  temple furniture (including places for writing notes, candle boxes, etc.), as well as door handles with disinfectant solutions.

19. Regularly treat with disinfecting solutions icons located in the Church, which are applied to the parishioners.

20. Clergymen, clergy, and employees of parishes and monasteries should be responsible and attentive to their well-being. If you feel unwell, immediately inform the rector and seek medical help.

21. Abbots and rectors are required to measure the temperature before the start of the working day (for example, using a non-contact thermometer) for priests, clergy, and church employees who interact with a large number of parishioners.

22. Explain to parishioners that the implementation of the imposed regulations and restrictions should be performed as following the words of the Holy Scripture:” do not tempt the Lord your God ” (MT. 4:7). Also explain to parishioners that in case of symptoms of flue or other infectious diseases, they should refrain from visiting churches for the sake of love for their neighbors and care for them.

[1] – in particular: communion of patients with infectious diseases after other communicants (or even at a separate service) with wiping after each communicant with a cloth and then burning it; the use of a separate vessel for the patients and the spoon, washing them in vinegar with the pouring of the latter into a dry well

STATEMENT OF THE HOLY SYNOD IN CONNECTION WITH THE SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS INFECTION

The document was adopted at the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on March 11, 2020.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church is concerned about the spread of coronavirus infection in the world and its consequences for millions of people, many of whom are not only facing the threat of infection, but have also experienced the socio-economic consequences of this disaster.
Members of the Holy Synod express their condolences to the relatives and friends of the victims of this disease in China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and other countries.
Blessed before the Lord are the works of doctors and volunteers who develop and implement medical and preventive measures aimed at helping the sick and preventing the further spread of the disease.
During the times of epidemics, the Russian Orthodox Church has always carried out its witness service, not denying anyone of spiritual care and full participation in the Holy Sacraments. We call for restraint, sobriety and prayerful calm, and we draw attention to the fact that a believer should not give in to panic and fears associated with the spread of unverified information about infection.
At the same time, it is unacceptable to treat coronavirus infection lightly, ignore medical prescriptions, ignore preventive measures, exposing yourself and others to the risk of infection.
The Holy Synod considers it important to consistently and strictly observe sanitary and hygienic measures of a preventive nature in parishes and monasteries, especially in those regions where the epidemiological situation is officially recognized as severe, including the wider use of sanitary solutions to disinfect icons and the use of disposable drinking cups.
If a coronavirus infection spreads in a particular region, additional preventive measures should be applied in consultation with the clergy.
The Holy Synod calls on archpastors, pastors, monastics and laypeople of the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify prayer for overcoming the disease and for giving strength to doctors who are struggling with it.

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Message from Metropolitan Sergius of Singapore and South-East Asia, Patriarchal Exarch of South-East Asia

To the Most reverend archpastors, honorable clergy, venerable monastics and pious faithful of the Patriarchal Exarchate of South-East Asia

My beloved in the Lord!

My sincere feelings and pastoral responsibility impel me to address you, my dear ones.

The deadly disease is striking more and more people in another trial permitted by God on Earth. Those especially suffering are the nations within the canonical responsibility of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Southeast Asia.

In its many centuries of history, the humankind has repeatedly confronted similar suffering. The Church has always remained with its people, courageously grieving together with them, helping to overcome the difficult trials, and imploring our Lord and Savior to help in a speedy cessation of the epidemics. The faithful took upon themselves additional fasting, carried out processions and special services of supplication.

Our Christian love and compassion urge all of us to strengthen our prayers for people in grave peril.

I call upon all Orthodox Christian communities of the Patriarchal Exarchate to conduct the special service of supplication (Moleben) for a speedy recovery of the sick and for the cessation of the spread of the disease.

With the intercession of the Most Pure Lady Theotokos and all the Saints, may God have mercy on us all!

With love in the Lord,

SERGIY

Metropolitan of Singapore and Southeast Asia

Patriarchal Exarch of Southeast Asia

MEETING of the Lord. Encounter Love

For three Sundays we have been preparing for Lent of repentance, considering its biblical examples at the Liturgy. However, neither the story of Zacchaeus, who distributed half the estate to the poor (LK. 19: 1-10), nor the story of another publican who initiated the Jesus prayer (LK. 18:10-14) are as impressive as today’s parable of the prodigal son (LK. 15:11-32). This one contains the whole history of our salvation, from the fall of Adam to eternal joy in the Father’s house. It is sad that the way to God for many passes through the country of swines, and only troubles make us remember that we have a Helper and a Protector. But it is even more terrible that formal righteousness kills love, and, because of envy, itself refuses the feast of eternal life, leading to spiritual suicide.

The reason is that the formalist, alike Pharisee, while fulfilling the commandments, wants justice from God in return. But… he doesn’t need God himself! While God wishes love from us. Because He is a Person, not a soulless karma. And what is love? Here it is: “I want not your possessions but you”(2 Cor.12:14). Love forgives everything, covers everything, and pays for everything; you should not expect “justice” from love. The father’s love for the unlucky son cost him a large part of his estate and tears, while the Heavenly Father paid for his love for us with the blood of His Son. Since He did not condemn either the prodigal or the publican, we can only imitate them in repentance and forgive everyone, remembering: “All that you have done to people, you have done to Me” (see Mt.25: 40, the Sunday of the Last Judgment).