Dear Beloved in Christ,
God is with us!
I would like to share with you some greatly beneficial words from Gerondissa Efpraxia at St. John the Forerunner Monastery in Goldendale, WA. She has had to take the painful measure of prohibiting pilgrims from visiting the monastery during Lent. Here are her consoling words…
“Allow me during these difficult times that humanity is going through (which for us Orthodox Christians is doubly painful with the exclusion from the holy services of our Church and especially not being able to participate in the Holy Eucharist) to communicate with you once again, as a medicine for our pain from the physical distancing due to the restrictive measures that are being imposed.
“As Fr. Nikolaos Gianousas from the Holy Metropolis of Kastoria, Greece, writes: ‘The Church, which is the Body of Christ, has taken on Herself the accountability to NOT commune the faithful. Therefore, this non-communing is not a weight on our souls. However, it is heavy and distressing to want to commune and to not be able to…’
“The Kingdom of God is within us. Therefore in our little “home churches,” let us increase our personal struggle and let us bombard our God with our prayers. God is not stingy with His Divine Grace, of which He bestows upon whoever desires.
“Beloved brethren, with humility, repentance and hope in the loving Will of God, let us ascend Golgotha together as fellow travelers, looking toward the Holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ, through which we will reach with His Grace the much yearned for Holy Resurrection.”
It is a painful Lenten season indeed. Yet we must see God’s will through this. He has allowed for a season without the Eucharist, and He will not abandon us in our time of need. He will continue to bestow His grace. Furthermore, as Fr. Gianousas said, the Church has taken the burden upon herself for whatever you lack from not receiving the Eucharist. Therefore don’t fret for not receiving—God can supply what is needed even without the Eucharist.
As a small measure of consolation from your priest, I also would like to offer the following. The blessed bread which we receive at the end of the Divine Liturgy is called Antidoron, meaning “instead of the Gifts.” Traditionally it was given to those who were not communing. Since none of you are communing, I would like to offer that you may bake prosphora and drop it off at the church to be blessed at one of the Liturgies. (Please use a Ziploc bag with your name on it.)
If you don’t know how to bake prosphora, but would like to take half of a loaf home, please contact me, and I will coordinate with one of our prosphora bakers.
Once the loaf is blessed, you may take it home and cut it into small pieces. (Be careful to ensure that all crumbs are tossed into earth where no one walks.) Each morning before you eat any food, say a prayer and receive the piece of blessed antidoron. To make it last longer, you may freeze the cut-up pieces and set a piece out each night to thaw.
Most importantly, let us continue in fervent prayer, asking God for His mercy upon His world, so that this pandemic will subside—through the prayers of St. Haralambos, St. Panteleimon, St. Nikiforos the Leper, St. Luke the Surgeon, and all the saints.