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.