The Lord bless!
Dear and faithful Orthodox Christians,
As we begin the holy Nativity Fast, I thank Our Saviour that we have had the opportunity to worship together in the Divine Services over the last months both in Saint Nicholas Cathedral, as well as through our streamed Services from the Cathedral and Father Sergey’s home ministry.
Yet it is with some sadness, as I said last Sunday, that we must again significantly reduce attendance to meet the recommendations of the Provincial Health Authorities. We will, therefore, return to the practices we followed back in March. Only Father Protodeacon George, and I, together with a few chanters and server will attend Church in-person. This is not at all what any of us hoped for, but with God’s help, we have worked through these constraints in the past and will support each other at this time as well.
I ask and encourage everyone to participate, to worship, and pray together with us as we continue to stream all of our Services from the Cathedral or with Father Sergey through Facetime. For each family and individual parishioner to come in front of your icon corner, light a candle, and burn some incense during the Service. Remember that we should dress as we would if attending Church in-person, to stand and to cross ourselves, to attend to the hymns and readings, and to pray for one another, and for all in need.
We have each made our homes into ‘Islands of Holiness.’ As Metropolitan Gregory instructs us to emulate those Orthodox Christians who were nourished by the Faith in their homes in times of persecution in the past, and ‘to convert your living room into a Church, and let your family be the congregation. If you do, have no doubt, Christ will be there with you.’ And to not be discouraged if you live alone, but be comforted by how many Saints prayed individually to God in the wilderness, yet together with their Guardian Angel, ‘for no Christian is ever without their Guardian Angel.’
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing that Our Saviour is the bestower of every good thing, and that we are compassed about with the great company of Saints, let us with faith begin our journey together through the fast, and follow the road with patience to arrive at Bethlehem. And so let us spend this time with prayer, fasting, and repentance, remembering those in sickness, and those in need, and be assured that arriving in Bethlehem we shall behold that ‘great and marvelous mystery’ as Our Saviour comes to be born.