What the Pandemic Teaches Us

From Conversations With Parishioners


The Church has its own way of overcoming challenges

We will do what humanly depends on us, and we thank those responsible parties, scientists, politicians, and the government—those who elucidate for us how to behave in this difficult situation. Without ignoring the objectively difficult reality and being people of the Church, we certainly have our own way of helping us judge, evaluate, and use for good those trials that we meet along life’s path. Therefore, let us relate to this trial prudently, observing all measures—societal, scientific, and others—but first of all with trust in God, the Mother of God, and the saints of our Church. The Church always teaches us and calls upon us to pray in difficult times.

Only prayer can change the course of events!

This critical situation can be overcome. It can be overcome through prayer. We need to pray a lot. We need people who by the strength of their prayer can reverse the world situation, because in the end, only prayer can change the course of events. All other measures are the work of human hands. They are good and useful, but prayer can truly, in a moment of time, change everything and dissipate this trial, which, by the way, has a positive side, because it teaches us many things.

What does the pandemic teach us?

It teaches us our weakness. It teaches us the vanity of human things. It teaches us that everything we see around us is transitory. We should understand that our main aspiration should be the Kingdom of God. As the Lord says in the Holy Gospel: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God. Everything else will be given to you by the Lord of glory, Christ. The Kingdom of God—this is what we’re truly in need of. Therefore, the Church calls us to the podvig of prayer—prayer coming from repentance and humility.

So let us repent of our sins, of the sins of the whole world! Let us offer God the power of prayer, living in a humble and repentant heart. Then the Lord will have mercy and change the course of history.

If we pray, then everything changes. If we don’t pray, then we walk a human path, where it’s unknown how it will be and where it will lead us.

Churches are open. Whoever wants to, come!

The churches [in Cyprus.—Ed.] remain open. The Divine services in them will not stop. Our priests and we are all in the position the Lord has placed us in. As pastors of the Church, we offer prayers, services, and the Divine Eucharist for the entire world. Whoever wants to, come! Those who feel a difficulty, a lack of strength, or something else, let them act in accordance with their understanding of the situation. We don’t have the right to judge anyone. We pray for the entire world, for the whole “Adam,” for the whole of mankind.

Someone may ask: But won’t we, those who come to church, get sick? We will get sick and we will die. Who told you that we will be immortal in this world? Did you really need the coronavirus to find out that we will die? Did you really need the coronavirus to find out that we will get sick?

Do you remember what the holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste said? Let us do good with zeal! Since we’re going to die anyway, it’s better to die honest with ourselves and pleasing to God.

Let us have the remembrance of death, of which our compatriot St. Neophytos the Recluse said that the fear of God unto the remembrance of death is a good higher than all other goods, for it reminds us that we will depart from this vain world and stand before the Lord.

We’re all heading for Pascha

What does the Church give us? Fearlessness: victory over the fear of death. Biological death awaits us all, without exception, but not spiritual death: It does not threaten a man who believes in God. “He who believes in Me shall never see death,” says the Lord (cf. Jn. 8:51). That is, he who believes in God will never see death; biological—yes, spiritual—no. But this is what scares us—spiritual death, our eternal separation from Christ. It terrifies us. We hope this will not happen to us, because biological death is temporary, but this is an eternal parting!

Whatever we are, saints or sinners, we will all enter through the gates of biological death. Whatever we are, we are all moving towards Pascha, to the Resurrection of Christ, Who trampled down death, which we hear about on Pascha night. Let none fear death. The Lord delivered us from the fear of it by His death. There is no more death; there is eternal life, Christ, and the Kingdom of God unto the ages.

It is with such faith that we will pass through the trial that has been sent to us—without panic, without fear, without human thoughts. We will go, calling upon the love of our Lord Jesus Christ for help.

The love of God triumphs over fear

We know that our life in this world has an “expiration date.” But we also know that death is a transition from vain things to eternal things, to the eternal Kingdom of God. Today’s crisis is a judgment of our faith, our life, our thoughts, and the quality of our connection with God the Father.

The Church remains a prayerful servant of the living God, regardless of any human calculations and covetousness. It gives hope that God is over all—not so that we would neglect human efforts, but so that we would overcome the fear of death. It is overcome by love. Perfect love casts out fear. He who loves God fears nothing. He is not darkened by any trial in this world, because the love of God conquers fear and gives a sense of eternal life.

Without the light of Christ, the darkness is unbearable

In our Metropolis, in the cathedral, and in other churches, Unction will be served every Thursday either before or after Great Compline for the healing of soul and body. The Church gives us medicine unto eternal life. Together with biological and chemical man-made medicines, the Church gives us the holy Sacrament of Unction, to give strength to our souls and bodies to pass through whatever happens to us—both life and death—maintaining our inner peace.

Death was put to death by the death of Christ, as the Holy Fathers of the Church say. Let us hope in Christ. Let us call upon the Most Holy Theotokos and the Holy Fathers, and move forward with faith and peace of mind. Thus we will comfort our brothers. Think of what hopelessness, what fear, what insecurity, what fear lives in the hearts of people who are not enlightened by the light of Christ! This is a true tragedy—life without God! This is a tragedy—life without the holy Church! Man cannot live without Christ. Without the light of Christ, the darkness is unbearable!

Therefore, all of us who believe in Christ and call upon His holy name will bring hope, joy, peace, calmness, tranquility, and courage to the hearts of our brothers, calling upon the presence and love of our Lord Jesus Christ for help.

Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol
Translated by Jesse Dominick



Chrysostomos 4/1/2020 11:32 pm
Paul, why are you commenting on an Orthodox site if you are not Orthodox or don’t understand the Orthodox way? FYI, we Christians pray for everyone—even our enemies—even those who hate our guts—even Trump and Clinton and yes, even evil bankers. That doesn’t mean at all that we agree with them or what they do; rather, we realize we are in no position to judge them. God allows them to do what they do to us, in our belief, because He wants to bring us to salvation. He wants us to also realize our own weaknesses and faults and that, because of them, we are no better than they, no matter how “wrong” we might think they might be. Not realizing this weakness, as His Eminence explains, is precisely what gives rise to things like this virus. Moreover, we believe God doesn’t care at all about all of these earthly things anyway—who is right, who is wrong, who is creating viruses and who is financing them, etc.—He cares about how we will react. He makes real men and women in the furnace of adversity. In particular, He wants to know will we react with love, as our salvation depends upon us doing so. His Eminence is simply demonstrating this, in action. You’d do well to give him a reread so you might actually learn what Christianity is about.
Chrysostomos 4/1/2020 10:47 pm
I have always said Athanasios is “my bishop” even after leaving Cyprus. Now readers here can understand why. What courage! What faith! What blessedness! And while Russia and Cyprus (and the Orthodox world) have many blessed bishops, we are fortunate, right now, to have at least two—Geronda (Starets) Athanasios and His Eminence Onuphry—who are vocally and spiritually helping us cope with this situation: and today on the same OrthoChristian page! May God grant these men many years! May we one day measure up to deserve them as our hierarchs! Glory to God in all things!
Paul4/1/2020 9:49 pm
Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol thanked power hungry politicians, bureaucrats, and "scientists." Why not also thank the big investment banks, who sure know what to do with the treasury during a big scare. Does the truth about this hysteria teach us anything? Apparently not.
Baboi George4/1/2020 7:41 pm
\\o// Ask ourselves this question:"WHY THIS PANDEMIC DURING THE MOST IMPORTANT LENT IN CHRISTIAN CALENDAR"- ?? Is our God trying to tell us we're going away from mission and values set by our Master Jesus Christ ! The important thing to learn from this episode is to stop the infighting among the Christian brothers and submit to the WORD of God in the Bible..... May the LORD have mercy on us and help us to sustain this evil of jealousy between humans while on the earth + [Member of the Indian Orthodox Church,London,U.K.}
Here you can leave your comment on the present article, not exceeding 4000 characters. All comments will be read by the editors of OrthoChristian.Com.
Enter through FaceBook
Your name:
Your e-mail:
Enter the digits, seen on picture:

Characters remaining: 4000

to our mailing list

* indicates required