Precautions and Changes in Response to Coronavirus (Last Updated: March 17, 2020)
SERVICES AT ST. MARY'S
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As per instructions from the Archdiocese, please read the following announcement:
From now until further notice all services will be live streamed, with clergy, servers, and chanters numbering no more than 10 persons. This includes Orthros and Divine Liturgy on Sundays, the Akathist on Fridays, and the Festal Evening Liturgy on Wednesday, March 25. This does not include the Presanctified Liturgy, which will not be served.
Please avail yourselves of our live-streaming service on our parish website: www.stmaryorthodoxchurch.org.
With kind regards and prayers for your health and security,
Letter from METROPOLITAN JOSEPH
March 17, 2020
Greetings and blessings to you and your families in the Name of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!
As we cautioned in our encyclical of last week, we are in the midst of a rapidly changing situation, and it was likely that we would be asked to make more sacrifices to contain the spread of the coronavirus. With yesterday’s announcement of the new CDC recommendations by President Trump, that time has sadly come. With pain of heart, but also hope in our Lord, I ask the clergy and faithful of our Archdiocese to abide by these new directives that we may do our part in combatting this pandemic:
- Beginning today, all parishes are instructed to cancel all non-liturgical, in-person activities including schools, business meetings, and social functions.
- All liturgical services will be served with only clergy, servers, and chanters. No liturgical service can total more than ten persons.
- Churches should remain open during the week as much as possible for people to offer individual prayers and light candles.
- Priests are instructed to limit services to only the Akathist/Medayeh and Sunday Orthros & Divine Liturgy as well as the liturgy for the Annunciation on March 25th as outlined by the Department of Liturgics.
- All parishes are encouraged to take advantage of the technology at our disposal to livestream the divine services and offer education to the faithful.
- The Archdiocese will provide service texts for the faithful to pray at home during this time of social distancing. Please see the Liturgics section of our website (http://www.antiochian.org/liturgicday) for the new offerings.
- All measures to ensure the cleaning and sanitizing of the church must continue even though we are limiting our numbers of faithful in attendance.
- Funerals must be limited to the guidelines set by our civil authorities.
- Baptisms should be postponed except for cases of emergency.
- Finally, we pray that by implementing these measures in coordination with our civil authorities, we can hasten the time when it will be safe to return to a full liturgical life in church, and, God willing, save lives at the same time.
While we hoped that these kinds of measures would be unnecessary, I ask that we keep in the mind the example of the monastic rule kept by the brotherhood of St. Zosimas described 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.
Although our time of social distancing is not quite the same type of asceticism, let us treat it as a sacrificial offering of love to God and our neighbor. We hope that this will be a time reminiscent of the home churches of the early days of Christianity and that there may be a hidden blessing of families being together to pray and nurture one another in the Faith. Let us continue our work of prayer, repentance, and almsgiving during this time, and beseech God to grant us to come together once again, as those monks of the Sinai desert, to commemorate His Life-Giving and Saving Passion and Glorious Third-Day Resurrection.
With great paternal love and fervent prayers for the health of the souls and bodies of all of our faithful, I remain,
Your Father in Christ,
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America
As per instructions from the Archdiocese, please read the following announcement.
From now until further notice all services will be live streamed with clergy, servers, and chanters numbering no more than 10 persons. This includes Orthros and Divine Liturgy on Sundays, the Akathist on Fridays, and the Festal Evening Liturgy on Wednesday, March 25. This does not include the Presanctified Liturgy which will not be served.
Please avail yourselves of our live-streaming service on our parish website: stmaryorthodoxchurch.org/live.
Visit the Archdiocese Website at https://www.antiochian.org/dashboard?name=COVID-19 for additional information and resources.
With kind regards and prayers for your health and security,
March 16, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We are in times that resemble pandemics throughout history and we are called now to take special precautions to protect our loved ones, our neighbors, and ourselves. In this light we at St. Mary's are taking extreme measures to cooperate with the Archdiocese directives and our local authorities to rise to this challenge. As the response to the pandemic evolves and affects the life of the Church, we will update you as soon as possible.
As we respect science and medicine as good reason demands, we also rely on the grace of the All Holy Trinity and the prayers of the saints and each other to weather the storm.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
While we must not give way to unmitigated fear, caution is called for. Take care of yourselves. Shelter at home. Follow the rules of good hygiene.
Pray for one another. Stay in touch with one another. Unity gives us strength. Community is a source of encouragement and comfort. Do not hesitate to call the Church office if any extraordinary needs arise. We will do all within our power to help. St. Mary's is blessed with a close knit and compassionate congregation. We are in this together. Love one another.
"Behold how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)
Although we cannot know the future, our faith teaches us that it is God who holds the future. Use this time of social distancing and increased solitude to pray that our All Compassionate Lord will ease the suffering of our world and to bless all efforts to stop the spread of the virus and care for the sick. Pray for all those who are working on a vaccine and save and preserve all who are working on the front lines to ease the suffering of humanity.
Above all, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might" (Ephesians 6:10). Don't give into fear, give in to faith and rejoice that God is and always will be with us. God is good.
In closing, I want to ask specifically for the intercessions of St. Corona of Damascus (2nd century) who is known as the Protector from Pandemics. "Holy St. Corona, pray to God for us!" It is probably unnecessary to point out how synchronicitous this is!
With deep love and affection,
March 10, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Christ is in our midst!
With that proclamation in mind I want to address the current COVID-19 situation. The Archdiocese has provided some guidelines for us to follow. They are marked by good common sense. At St. Mary's, we will be implementing the following precautions and changes:
The method of receiving Holy Communion will not change. Through the centuries in the midst of plagues the Church has maintained the fervent belief that we are partaking of the “medicine of immortality,” the Body and Blood of Christ. The chalice has never been a cause or source of disease.
Coffee Hours and Potluck Dinners
In the interests of the health and welfare of our community and the greater community around us, all coffee hours and Lenten Potluck dinners after Presanctified Liturgies will be suspended until further notice.
Eucharistic Items, Icons, and Kissing
All Eucharistic items, chalices, spoons, etc. will be cleaned after every service. Icons placed for veneration will be as well. It has been suggested that instead of kissing them we should simply bow. The same goes for the Kiss of Peace where we usually have given a handshake, a kiss, or a hug.
Instead of venerating the Cross after the dismissal, I will give a piece of Holy Bread to each one. I assure you that my hands will be sanitized before doing so.
Personal Hygiene and Precautions
We’re trying to find hand sanitizer to place in the narthex for use coming and going from services.
Please use common sense. Wash your hands often for at least thirty seconds. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm and not your hands. Use throw-away tissues and then dispose of them.
If you feel sick, watch the services online and if you want Holy Communion, call me and I will come to you.
Let's join in prayer for everyone affected and for the world as we struggle to face this evolving crisis together. Please take care of yourselves during this crisis. May God send mercy and healing to us all.
With deep affection,
Your servant in Christ,