Great and international is the temptation visited upon the world by the deadly epidemic of the coronavirus. As Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. Catherine on the God-trodden Mountain of Sinai, and as a Hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, many ask me why God allowed this great trial which has deprived us of church attendance and the reception of Holy Communion.
a) I humbly think that the All-Good God wants to sound the alarm of danger, because unfortunately we have all forgotten the divine benefactions and commandments that lead to the earthly happiness and heavenly blessedness to which He destined us—and for which He was crucified.
Unfortunately, we chose another path to happiness for ourselves; one based on material goods, and which separates us from spiritual ones, together with the virtues.
b) God allows such tribulations in order to show us that, no matter how greatly humanity progresses in science and technology, it is impossible for us to be saved if God Himself does not bless our works and ideas. This would explain why various forms of globalization, undertaken without recourse to His help, have descended into failure, perhaps even calamity.
c) In addition, many Christian confessions have veered from the core message of the Gospel, which was correctly interpreted by minds enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the highly lettered and spiritually proven Fathers of the Orthodox Church.
d) Despite the tribulation that the entire world is undergoing today, the love of God does not cease to visit the creature He fashioned according to His own image. The Orthodox Church thus holds out every hope that with our patience, this heavy trial, having passed, will leave behind immense spiritual profit. The world will awaken from the material lethargy from whose consequences it has suffered globally, and it will show forth love in action reflective of its primal worth, mutual support, and authentic peace between peoples. This begins with the inner peace that stems from reconciliation of the person with God, and by extension, with his neighbor and the natural environment in which God Himself placed him. This is where God gave him the command to love and work. Through sin, however, humanity altered and finally turned this environment against itself; only through love will it pacify it.
May God grant this by the prayers of all the Saints, especially the fathers and mothers of the God-trodden Mount Sinai who sacrificed themselves in the desert, through prayer and fasting, for the enlightenment and salvation of the entire world. Because the fervent supplication of one who prays with sacrifice has the power of nuclear energy to change our destiny… Saint John Climacus of Sinai, whose memory is honored every year on the fourth Sunday of Great Lent, elucidated the path to such sanctity in his Ladder of Divine Ascent, the famed work which is considered second in spiritual value only to Holy Scripture.
Having self-isolated for forty years in a cave deep in the Sinai desert, Saint John devoted himself to God through prayer and ascetic deprivation, and with the Grace of the Holy Spirit he studied the depths of the human soul and the spiritual medicines for its healing toward the benefit of all humanity. We however, being sinners although in repentance, are now called by need, not voluntarily like Saint John, to close ourselves in our own rooms and raise our hands toward the All-Good God to deliver us.
May our own humble prayers in the mystical chamber of our hearts to the Holy Trinitarian God “who sees in secret” be rewarded according to our requests “in the open” by the spiritual and bodily health of all people, and at the present juncture, by our deliverance from this invisible enemy, the terrible coronavirus epidemic.
With many prayers and much love in Christ, I wish everyone the blessings of the remainder of Great Lent while awaiting, with discernment, humility and great longing, the arrival of Blessed and Holy Pascha.