A Blessed Resurrection to All!
“Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless one. Your Cross, O Christ, we venerate, and Your holy Resurrection we praise and glorify. For You are our God; apart from You we know no other; we call upon Your name. Come, all faithful, let us venerate the holy Resurrection of Christ; for behold, through the Cross, joy has come to the whole world. Ever blessing the Lord, let us praise His Resurrection; for having endured the Cross for us, He destroyed death by death.” ~A Prayer Proclaiming the Resurrection
Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
I find myself completely changing the message for the April Shorelines from what I originally intended. I envisioned us going through the more typical dynamics of this Holy Season as we normally do. Instead, we have taken on a Great Lenten Journey, like no other, in our life times! It has been one of the most challenging times having the presence of Corona Virus Pandemic, on such a large, global scale. It is as if the entire world has joined us in our Lenten Journey in that all the normal, typical routines and operations of the world have been shut down. In our journeys, as Orthodox Christians, we who choose to step back from our regular way of life and take on Great Lent with all the ascetic practices of fasting, increased prayer, and repentance as an appointed time to return to being in communion with God and rediscovering what our true purpose in life is suppose to be, which is to follow the natural instinct built into each one of us to desire an inseparable bond with our Creator, in Whose Image and Likeness we are made.
I believe this has been one of the most powerful experiences of Great Lent I have ever experienced, as I feel it is for many of you as well! Although we are experiencing so much tribulation, challenges and uncertainty of what our near future holds, we have the opportunity to really put all our hope and faith in God and turn to Him with gratitude amidst our difficulties, challenges and crises, clinging to Him with all our might! If something really good comes out of these times, it is that we are placing our dependence upon God, and we love our fellow human beings with care and good will toward one another even as we physically distance ourselves from one another, to allow the virus to dissipate rather than spread.
It has been difficult and “heart-wrenching” not having the opportunity to worship together with all of you in the Church. I miss your physical presence, but it has been a blessing to be able to worship with some of you through phone conferencing, as we recently passed through and completed the course through the middle of Great Lent. As I write this, we are following our State Officials’ directives, namely our Governor’s and Mayor’s, to stay at home and work from there. I feel this order is for our own good, in the long run, so that we will likely return to normal, sooner than later.
As I write to you, I face the uncertainty of whether we will be able to go through Holy Week and Pascha together this year, at least communally in the Church. I am leaning towards the reality that we will not be able to, this year. However, if we are unable to gather together in the Church, we will plan to have some of the services via the modern platforms of communications available to us. Stay tuned for updates on what we will do. Thank you for your patience throughout all the unexpected changes that came upon us so quickly!
Please stay well by respecting the physical distancing set in place for our safety. But do not forget anyone who may be isolated and alone in these times; reach out to each one with a phone call, a card, a video call or chat, etc. If we each can take moments in these days to do so, we can really make a difference in another person’s life.
I believe that God is with us and remains with us throughout life’s challenges, no matter how difficult they may be.
I found great comfort in the following words of wisdom from St. John Chrysostom. I hope these also bring consolation to all of you!
“Everywhere, wherever you may find yourself, you can set up an altar to God in your mind by means of prayer.” ~St. John Chrysostom
I wish all of you a Blessed and Fulfilling Pascha, knowing in your hearts the Love and Glory of our Mighty God for you and all of humankind!
A Blessed Resurrection and Pascha to All!
With Love in Christ,