Doing Lent in the Shadow of Coronavirus

Last Friday, our parish shared the painful news that–in light of the novel Coronavirus’ proliferation–we would be asking our brothers and sisters to refrain from attending divine services, in accordance with instruction from our archbishop. At the time, most of us–including our priest and laypeople–were stunned at the news. Over the last five days, as the Coronavirus threat has captured the attention of the world, virtually all the Orthodox bodies in America have arrived at similar conclusions–with many of them canceling divine services altogether, for the sake “flattening the curve” through social distancing and saving lives. (Read our priest’s sermon on this topic.) At this point, it feels like we no longer need to defend this decision to ask people to not come to services (though we nonetheless invite you read the full epistle of Metropolitan Tikhon, addressing the whole flock of the Orthodox Church in America, as it processes the current situation.) Still, many people are reeling from the unprecedented action and are–understandably–grieving the loss of normal church life in this season of Great Lent.

How Are We Keeping “Church Going” in These Unusual Times?

  • Lent is Still Happening The call to Fast, Pray, and Give Alms remains front and center for Orthodox Christians this year as in any other!
  • Liturgy is Still Happening  The Great Offering “on Behalf of All and For All” will be made each Sunday and Feast Day. Each baptized parishioner and catechumen will be mentioned by name in those services–please take real consolation in that! Father Justin has tapped a few people (no more than 10) to serve in the altar, sing, run technology, and serve as doorkeepers. Our schedule for the rest of March is:
    • Wed., March 18 6pm Presanctified Liturgy
    • Fri, March 20 11am Presanctfied Liturgy
    • Sun., March 22 9am Cross Matins & 10am Liturgy of St. Basil
    • Wed., March 25 11am Vesperal Liturgy for Annunciation
    • Fri., March 27 11am Presanctified Liturgy
    • Sun., March 29 10am Liturgy of St. Basil
  • Livestreaming of Liturgy & More  We have already shared a couple livetreamed videos on our parish Facebook Page but have also begun Livestream via our new St. Athanasius YouTube Channel, so you can pray along with us and hear the offered sermons and reflections. (We are using both sources for different things at this point–so please check them both!)
  • Materials for Domestic Worship are now available and variable texts updated weekly.
  • Expanded Hours at Church for Prayer, Lighting Candles, and Visiting with Priest 
    • Open Church Hours (12pm to 8pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday)
    • Pastoral Visits & Confessions by Appointment (“phone Confessions” are a reasonable adaption) (contact Fr. Justin at 859-361-2823)
    • Confessions with Short Communion Service (2-6pm each Friday) by appointment to individuals or households (not in large groups)
  • Home Visits by Clergy/Phone Visits by Others (in process!)
  • “Virtual Coffee Hour” on Sundays (in development–stay tuned!)

While we cannot invite visitors into our physical space for services, at this time, we invite you drop in for prayers during our “open hours” listed above. We also invite you to connect virutally, through the livestreaming options and by praying along with our community. Finally, we encourage you to reach out to our priest, Fr. Justin (859-361-2823.) It is vital that everybody in this crazy season–parish members and newcomers–be able to contact the priest for support, prayer, and a listening ear.

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