My Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Lord,
Christ is Risen!
The past several weeks have been stressful on everyone, not just in our Cathedral Community, but throughout the globe. The current global situaiton has truly shaken humanity to its core. We are daily, sometimes more than once per day, being expected to react to news from our political leaders. This has created additional stress for us as we attempt to plan for the holiest season of the year.
Great Lent this year has truly been a life-altering season, not as we had hoped, but life-altering nonetheless. This year, you are receiving my Pascha letter later than normal, as every day our situation has changed in regard to social distancing and other limitations placed upon the Church. Even now, as I write this, plans are being made which still might change before Holy and Great Pascha. Please be patient, and together we will get through the next weeks in unity and to the glory of the Risen Lord.
As you most likely know, Holy Week services this year in the Cathedral will take place with only a few necessary participants inside the Cathedral. Out of an abundance of caution, and with the advice of countless medical professionals, you will experience Holy Week and Pascha this year in the privacy of your home, watching online using your computer. This year, you will light your candles and sing Christ is Risen alone with your family, rather than at the Cathedral. This year you will not be able to receive Holy Unction or Holy Communion, as you would normally.
I want you to know, I understand this is a painful thought, and for many even a scandalous decision. How could we possibly stay home for Pascha and not receive Holy Communion? Our consolation is in our Orthodox Christian Tradition and history. Each year during Great Lent, the Church recalls the life of Saint Mary of Egypt, who lived in repentance in the desert for forty years without Holy Communion. This is our desert. For four hundred years, our ancestors prayed secretly at home during the occupation. This is our occupation. This year, in the spirit of Saint Mary of Egypt and our ancestors, we will quietly remain home and celebrate Holy Week and Pascha privately. This is our sacrifice.
There is HOPE! There is always HOPE! Even though we will not all gather at the Cathedral, we will all still celebrate the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. The Resurrection of Our Lord does not depend upon our Church attendance. He is still risen, and we must keep that in the front of our minds, this year more than any other. When this passes, and it will pass, we will again gather in the Cathedral and celebrate Divine Liturgy. We will again gather for Holy Unction. We will again light our candles, and by God’s grace we will exit the desert stronger in our faith than before.
I have included several resources for you to enhance your “at home” Holy Week experience. I will “see you” online at https://StNicholasTarpon.org/livestream for services.
NEXT YEAR IN THE CATHEDRAL!
Christ is Risen!
Reverend Protopresbyter Athanasios C Haros, Dean
St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Tarpon Springs