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Message of Fr. Panayiotis on the Coronavirus pandemic

Dear friends and parishioners,

We are faced today with a serious health crisis, the pandemic of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  I am writing to encourage you to not lose heart, but turn instead to God in Faith and Love and face the crisis as a person/people of Faith. God is with us even through the most difficult situations. He became one of us to live and share our life, our struggles and all the weaknesses of our fallen humanity. He stands by us to help us through every difficulty; “God is with us!, we sing in the Compline Service during this Lenten period. Let us trust in His Love and Mercy!

As we pray that this tribulation may be quickly resolved and people’s lives may be spared by this new disease, we are also called to do our part so that we may help contain the spread of the disease. 

My greatest concern is for those who are more vulnerable to this virus, especially the elderly and those with other health issues. I pray that they may be protected by God in a very special way.

As common sense dictates, we need to follow the directives of the CDC (The Center of Disease Control) and take precautions to protect ourselves and others around us:

1. If you feel unwell, please stay home and take care of yourself and seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Avoid spreading what may be lethal both to you and to others.

2. Keep washing your hands with soap and water (or hand sanitizer) and keep some distance from others, especially if they exhibit symptoms of sickness, such as coughing, fever and shortness of breath.

3. Limit your activities which may involve crowds and crowded areas. Stay home as much as possible and avoid crowded spaces until this tribulation has passed.

Here is a Link to the CDC page on COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Temporary Adjustments to Liturgical practices

1. Veneration: We ask that you venerate and honor holy icons without touching them. We also ask that you honor and greet others, including the clergy, without touching them, until the disease is contained.

2. Distribution of Antidoron (Blessed bread): 

Since this past Wednesday (03/11), we have changed the way we distribute antidoron. You will be able to receive from a tray without touching other pieces that you will not eat yourself. Priests will resume with the distribution of antidoron (as normal) once the disease is contained.

3. Holy Communion:

Holy Communion will be distributed in the same way as always. There will be no change in this.

We believe that the greatest miracle on earth occurs every time we kneel and pray that the Holy Spirit may descend upon our offering of bread and wine to God and transform these physical elements in a mystical way to the Body and Blood of our Risen Lord. This becomes the lifegiving Body and Blood of Christ given to us “for the forgiveness of our sins and for life eternal”. 

This virus crisis may be challenging our faith in this very central and essential tenet of the Orthodox Christian Faith, but the lifegiving Body and Blood of Christ is unable to transmit any kind of disease. On the contrary, it transmits Life Eternal to those who approach it “with the Fear of God, with Faith and Love”. This has been the Faith and practice of all Orthodox people before us, even through all kinds of health crises, plagues and diseases for the last 2,000 years. 

If you find yourself struggling with any of these issues or have any questions and would like to speak with me privately, please call me and we can discuss it. You can call the church office at 770-924-8080 and leave me a message. I will respond as soon as I am able.

Please continue to pray for the forgiveness of our sins and for the mercy of God for us all. Let us hope that this new tribulation will be removed quickly by God’s mercy.

In Christ’s Love,

Fr. Panayiotis

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