In this season of lent, in the midst of seclusion and suffering imposed by a virus, I believe God has gifted us an opportunity. An opportunity to relearn the importance of the home church.
Don't squander this time. This time of fasting from the commonness of the Eucharist. Join us, yes, in our services streamed and shared online. But also, light a candle, burn incense, and -- in front of even just one small icon -- dedicate time to prayer at home. Take hold of your royal priesthood and let your prayer life be incarnational. To help you, our diocese has published a wonderful resource for living “Holy Week From Home” (READ MORE)
This is a fasting season. Each of us, like St Zosima has been tasked with spending Great Lent apart and in the wilderness of an uncertain and arduous desert. But we will return together at that eventual Pascha. And that absence from Holy Communion, our liturgical worship, and each other will cause our hearts to grow fonder for our community.
This is a miraculous opportunity to relearn what is essential - seize it! Keep watch and pray as individuals and as families and nurture that experience. Do the typika service. Sing or read the akathist service (what joy is punctuated there). Seize this hour of prayer for yourself.
See the gift God presents in these times of trouble - we are never left alone. Learn that first hand through the cultivation of a domestic prayer life.
Beloved brothers and sisters, we must continue to find ways to be prayerful, authentic and communal. Fortify your home parish, as we collectively fortify our community online.
Finally dearest brothers and sisters, it is now more than ever vital that we become the eucharistic presence in our world. Christianity does not just stop no matter the calamity. What we have received in our hearts and our being since the moment of our baptism, Christ Himself - He through our hands, sweat, and even blood must be distributed creatively to the many for the life of the world. Take care of those around you - and continue to move away from yourself until you are in the service of those who live solely by the grace of God.
I hope and pray that each of you are well physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I love you all. And know that when I am serving in our now empty church, I carry each and every one of you before the altar. - Fr Paul
Mary of Egypt and Seclusion
In obedience to our Bishop , the health authorities and to the weakest among us we must suspend public services for the time being.
These are Holy times - this is the daily bread God has allowed us to have, and to be satisfied. Take it, and find sustenance in it. While the Eucharist is and will remain the center of our community this forced situation is very similar of Lenten custom practiced by the monastics that St. Zosimas describes in the Life of St. Mary of Egypt: "After crossing the Jordan, they all scattered far and wide in different directions. And this was the rule of life they had, and which they all observed — neither to talk to one another, nor to know how each one lived and fasted. If they did happen to catch sight of one another, they went to another part of the country, living alone and always singing to God, and at a definite time eating a very small quantity of food. In this way they spent the whole of the Great Fast and used to return to the monastery a week before the Resurrection of Christ, on the eve of Palm Sunday. Each one returned having his own conscience as the witness of his labor,and no one asked another how he had spent his time in the desert. Such were the rules of the monastery.”
God has given us the opportunity to relearn the importance of the home church - and dare I say, to even fast from the commonness of the Eucharist. St Mary only had it a few times in her entire life. Don't squander this time watching liturgies on your computer to supplement the loss of our liturgical worship . Rather go, light a candle, burn incense, and in front of even just one small icon, dedicate time to prayer (specifically those prayers we sent out yesterday). Take hold of your royal priesthood - let your prayer life be incarnational. Further, this is a fasting season, each of us, like St Zosima has been tasked with spending Great Lent apart and in the wilderness of an uncertain and arduous desert - but we will return together at that eventual Pascha, and that absence from Holy Communion, our liturgical worship, and each other will cause our hearts to grow fonder. This is a miraculous opportunity to relearn what is essential - seize it! In the meantime, keep watch and pray as individuals and as families, nurture that experience.
Do the Typika service, sing or read the Akathist service (what joy is punctuated there). For those who would still prefer a live stream of the services, we are working on that as well - but again, seize this hour of prayer for yourself. See the gift God presents in these times of trouble - we are never left alone, learn that first hand through the cultivation of a domestic prayer life.