Master, ruler-of-all, who in wisdom have fashioned all creation, who through your unutterable forecare and great goodness have led us to these most-holy days for the cleansing of souls and bodies, for control of passions, and for hope of resurrection, who by means of forty days handed your servant Moses the divinely inscribed tablets, grant us also, O Good One, to fight the good fight, to complete the course of the fast, to keep the faith undivided, to crush the heads of the invisible dragons, to be shown victors over sin, and without condemnation to attain to and to worship also the holy resurrection.
for blessed and glorified is your all-honorable and majestic name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
It certainly doesn’t seem like it, but these are definitely most-holy days, in which we are being cleansed–in which we learn to control our passions and smash the idols of our lives. It is in these very days of denying ourselves, practicing the asceticism of “social-distancing” on behalf of those vulnerable whom we may infect, that we will lead us to the resurrection.
There are many, many of our own faithful, who are nervous, angry, disappointed, or anxious over the steps we are being asked to take to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and all this is perfectly understandable. With the knowledge of these various reactions, the OCA has published Resources for Coronavirus Outbreak, which all are commended to make use of. Additionally, there are a myriad priest, theologians, and churches who have begun streaming services, sermons, lectures, discussions, and other resources so that all the Orthodox faithful can still connect with the life of the Church and one another.
There have been numerous calls to prayer at home. Some are doing lay vespers, and akathists. some are doing moliebens in times of pandemic. Some are saying the Jesus Prayer, and asking others to join. In all news, events, and discussions throughout the last week, one thing has been pouring from my heart more than prayers for salvation, more than prayers for healing, and more than prayers for guidance and patience. It is an overwhelming gratitude to God that I live here and now; that he has led us to these most-holy days. What I want to suggest, loved ones, in addition to those calls to prayer above, is that we give thanks for these most-holy days.
- Let us give thanks to God for these days for they are most holy.
- Let us give thanks to God for the medical community who are fighting this fight on our behalf.
- Let us give thanks for the ones who are practicing social distancing in acts of love and ascesis on behalf of the most vulnerable. By so doing they cast down love of self and all idols, and look to God for comfort and salvation.
- Let us give thanks for the ones who are not abiding by the tenets of social distancing for they are teaching us through action the truth of the Lenten Prayer of Ephrem that we look to our own faults and not judge our brothers.
- Let us give thanks for our neighbors, families, and friends who are struggling alongside us and doing the best they can.
- Let us give thanks for the panic and the bare shelves because we are learning to rely solely on God for his provision and care.
- Let us give thanks for the discomfort of being in constant close proximity to our family or roommates. We learn in concrete terms how to die to self and live for others.
- Let us give thanks for technology, which allows our fathers, teachers, families, and friends to speak to each other, teach one another, and even offer smiles and words of encouragement regardless of the distance.
- Let us give thanks to God for our bishops, pastors, and archpastors, to whom we give obedience for this act of giving up one’s will is holy.
- Let us give thanks to God for those who help, those who serve, those who pray, those who encourage, those who visit the sick and distressed at risk to themselves.
- Let us give thanks for good stories, for the arts, for the act of creating, singing, telling stories.
- Let us give thanks to God, loved ones, that our distractions are being destroyed, and we can turn to him in prayer and song; that he is granting us sobriety.
By giving thanks we know peace. By giving thanks we know the providence of God. By giving thanks we offer the world back to God and he, filling it with himself, gives it back to us as life. By giving thanks for these things, we trust God with ourselves, our loved ones, and our society.
In everything give thanks.