To the faithful and beloved children of St. Spyridon Russian Orthodox Church in Union with Old Rome:
During this Lenten season, which leads to the bright Resurrection of Christ, we also find ourselves at a point in time in which many are stricken with fear at the spread of the new coronavirus or COVID-19, as it infects and affects people all over the world.
Since many are asking how to approach the present situation/circumstances, I write to you during this second week of the Great Fast to share the comfort and solace of Christ and our Church, and to offer our parish’s particular response and course of action.
The Church of Christ has faithfully withstood and survived countless illnesses, diseases, epidemics, and plagues, both small and great, throughout her history. Each member of the Church knows that s/he is not part of a worldly or man-made institution, but rather of the Mystical Body of Christ. In the Church, we are fed the food, not of men, but of angels. We are inspired by the truth, not of this world, but of God Himself. We are ruled, not by worldly fear which grows and begets more fear, but by the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding, and brings unfailing comfort, whether in times of peace or peril (cf. Philippians 4:7).
In the present moment, therefore, I urge you to remember: Do not fear, for [God] has redeemed you; [He] has summoned you by name; you are [His] (Isaiah 43:1).
Do not allow earthly concerns to shake you from the firm foundation, which is an unhindered faith in the Living God, Who heals the sick and restores the broken-hearted.
The present situation may be a cause of despair to many around us, but in the Church, and in our Christian lives, we continue undeterred in all that God has delivered into our hands for the salvation of our souls.
Our local, commonwealth, and federal governments have issued [and will continue to issue] various instructions and protocols for managing and controlling the spread and effects of this new health challenge. We urge all of our faithful to be acquainted with these practical instructions, and to adhere to these instructions calmly and sensibly, carrying on otherwise in faithful peacefulness with the matters of day-to-day life.
Additionally, as travel restrictions, quarantines, and other measures are set in place, we urge the parishioners of St. Spyridon Russian Orthodox Church in Union with Old Rome to adhere to governmental directives in quietude and calm. In all such things we should be examples to the world of the pious trust in God that leads not to undisciplined alarm, but rather to a continuance of life in an untroubled spirit and undisturbed reliance on the Divine Will.
During the early development of the COVID-19 crisis on our island, it was our desire, intent, and purpose to continue the celebration of our rites, customs, and Divine Services in our Temple in Trujillo Alto. However, the Administrator of Centro Transicional a Vida Independente de ASSMCA, which is a Commonwealth of Puerto Rico governmental agency, contacted The Very Reverend Protopresbyter Dr. Peter DiLeo-Vuliç to inform us that the ASSMCA Trujillo Alto Center will be under quarantine [...].
DURING THAT TIME, WE WILL NOT HAVE ACCESS TO OUR TEMPLE FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE DIVINE SERVICES.
Although we will not have access to our Temple [...], we will continue our common prayer and community life through the Internet. We also urge our faithful to maintain regular contact with the clergy and each other through continued telephone, text-messaging, chats, email, and other available technologies, thereby encouraging one another, building up one another, and meeting one another’s needs (cf. I Thessalonians 5:11).
Do not be afraid!
As we sing so frequently in these Lenten days,
S nami Bog! (God is with us!)
Remember our God is merciful and loving; and He is quick to hear, heal, and save.
With every blessing, and in the love of Christ,
His humble and unworthy servant,
and least among monks, yet, Prince-Abbot