“Let Us Not Be Afraid! Let Us Be Full of Zeal and Courage!”

The Polish Council of Bishops’ Exhortation to Their Priests and Monastics During the Pandemic

On Tuesday, November 3, the Polish Council of Bishops met in Warsaw under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland. Among other matters, the hierarchs discussed the life of the Church in this extended time of pandemic.

As a fruit of their discussion, the hierarchs issued a message to the priests and monastics of the Polish Orthodox Church, calling on them to both observe sanitary and hygienic standards and to stand brave and strong during this time, remembering their priestly and monastic oaths to die to themselves and ever serve the Lord.

In this way, the clergy and monastics can offer an example of faith and hope to all the faithful of the Orthodox Church.



The earthly life of man is subject to constant changes. Today, these changes affect our spiritual, economic and social life. God’s permission, seen in the coronavirus pandemic, has disorganized our Church life. Therefore, in our message to you, venerable brothers, priests, monks and nuns, we wish to sensitize all of you to the seriousness of the situation which may, unfortunately, change every day and disturb the existing order.

In view of the above, it is extremely important to be deeply aware and responsible, all of us, for the work of God entrusted to us during priestly ordination and the monastic tonsure. When we took an oath to God on the Holy Gospel, we vowed that, regardless of objective external conditions, we would be ready to carry out a pastoral ministry full of sacrifice, remembering the Savior’s words: Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock (Acts 20: 28).

At a God-appointed moment in your life, you heard Christ say, “Come and follow Me” (cf. Mark 10: 21). You followed Him willingly to serve Him, regardless of the changes in the world. Knowing also that everything changes, and only Jesus Christ remains always the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Heb. 13:8). As our Lord, He is the foundation upon which we build our pastoral life. And if that’s the case, then you mustn’t be threatened by changing living conditions. It is He, Jesus Christ, Who constantly reminds us: Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid (Mt. 14:27). In Him, therefore, lies our strength and the strengthening of our spiritual struggles. It is from Him that we derive spiritual energy for our new and tireless pastoral work. For Christ is the Son of the living God (Mt. 16:16). Every priest and every monastic follows this path. It also reveals the essence of pastoral work. No one and nothing can cause fear in an Orthodox priest who, on the reverse of his first priestly cross, bears the words: Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Tim. 4:12). These virtues turn fear into faith in the wisdom of God’s unsearchable judgments. And let the monastics read the testament written on their monastic paraman: From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:17).

Let us not be afraid! Let us be full of zeal and courage! We bring to our faithful and to the world around us the joy of the Resurrection of Christ. He has defeated death. Thus, He will also overcome the trial of the pandemic. After all, we have many examples of this from the history of our Church. Such an example is our holy places, such as the Holy Mount Grabarka and others, where our ancestors, with deep faith and hope, gathered in crowds around the Christ the Redeemer Icon and other icons, thanks to which they saved their lives and returned to their homes in good health.

Let us strengthen the weak in faith by giving the faithful our personal priestly example. Let us strengthen our pastoral work in the “little church” of the Orthodox family. Let us be active in parish life. Let us make our catechetical and charitable work more dynamic by helping the sick, the poor, orphans, and all those in need. Let us devote ourselves more to prayer, both individual and communal. Let us devote even more attention to our youth. Let us also include our Church brotherhoods of the Orthodox Youth, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, St. Athanasius, and others in our active work. All of them are called to help promote Orthodox culture, the spiritual wealth of our Church, and the preservation of the rich family customs of our ancestors.

Without violating the principles of our faith and tradition, let us all follow the sanitary and hygienic requirements and recommendations of the administrative authorities. Following them will help us get through these most difficult trials. Let us also remember the words of Christ: If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Mt. 17:20).

Brother priests! You are the spiritual reapers! Christ has sent you into the field where He sows with your hands. The priesthood is the daily sacrifice of ourselves and our families to God. A priest is one who teaches and admonishes, in season and out of season, when he is strong and on his sick bed, day and night, by word, action, prayer, and example, so that the Word of God may spread as widely as possible and help those who fear trials, pandemics, or various other diseases.

Brother priests! We address these words both to you and to ourselves. Let us remember that salvation begins here and now. Heaven and hell begin in the soul of the living, not the dead. Therefore, earthly life is the proper time to work out our salvation. By God’s grace, salvation comes from the depths of our hearts, with our faith, love, and hope leading us to Heaven. May the trials of today serve to strengthen these virtues: faith, love and hope, that they might sanctify the world around us.

Full of love and faith, let us pass these truths on to our faithful.

Almighty God, bless us to serve Thee and Thy Church as faithfully as possible!

God’s blessing be with us all.

Translation by OrthoChristian.com

The Polish Orthodox Church


See also
The Church Will Never Alter Her Beliefs or Practices Out of Fear The Church Will Never Alter Her Beliefs or Practices Out of Fear
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This world has shown, in these past few months, what really governs it — and it is not wisdom or compassion, or science, or truth. It is fear.
Pandemics of the Past Pandemics of the Past
Priest Valery Dukhanin
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This is what Laurentian Chronicle (Codex) says: “A most curious wonder has manifested itself in Polotsk: The heavy stamping of feet was heard at night, something was moaning in the streets, demons that looked like people were rushing about. Whoever came out to see what's going on would get imperceptibly stricken with the plague by the demons, and would die from this, so no one ventured out of their dwellings.”
Christ Said: There Will Be Pestilences… Christ Said: There Will Be Pestilences…
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Pandemics have shown how weak and feeble man is. But they have also revealed that there is no sense in living for the earth alone.
Address Concerning the Coronavirus Address Concerning the Coronavirus
Met. Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine
Address Concerning the Coronavirus The Address of Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine Concerning the Coronavirus
Metropolitan Onuphry (Berezovsky)
Nebuchadnezzar for us today is the Coronavirus. We must tolerate and suffer through it and correct our lives. We must, first of all, pray to God, and repent of our sins, because they are the reason that this spiritual Nebuchadnezzar is taking us prisoner.
What the Pandemic Teaches Us What the Pandemic Teaches Us
Met. Athanasios of Limassol
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From Conversations With Parishioners
Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol
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.
Patriarch Ilia of Georgia: I had a vision that man can defeat the coronavirus Patriarch Ilia of Georgia: I had a vision that man can defeat the coronavirus Patriarch Ilia of Georgia: I had a vision that man can defeat the coronavirus Patriarch Ilia of Georgia: I had a vision that man can defeat the coronavirus
In his Sunday sermon, His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia urged the faithful not to be afraid of the coronavirus and not to lose heart, because man can defeat the disease.
Constantine Moore11/18/2020 8:26 pm
I would like to know when will the Orthodox Church outlaw the using of the new calendar which some churches are using. This is not our orthodox calendar. They should be using the Julian calendar!
John11/9/2020 7:59 am
Dear Brother in Christ, Chance! I submit that your questions are of the sort only a sober spiritual father can answer. There is a fine line between following one’s conscience—which for most of us is still distorted and deafened by sin—and pride. The danger you face here is that you are using human reasoning and that does not always coincide with God’s will. What you say regarding your vaccine concerns is correct, for example. At a minimum, its reliance upon human fetal tissue is enough to avoid it, and the bishops in Australia and New Zealand recently wrote a letter—joint with catholic and Protestant leaders—denouncing the mandatory vaccination regime there on those grounds. Nonetheless, your specific case is your specific case, and our faith is not one of generalities. What direction God has given to those blessed bishops may not be what He gives to you. Insofar as your concern for you and your family, be of good cheer: St Paisios tells us that we should stand against the mechanisms of the antichrist and, in his time, that was identity card numbers. In ours, it is nano-vaccines and electronic markers. He goes on to say that the faithful person who, in good conscience, denies the mark (or anything related to it), will be fed directly by God, while those who take it will actually find themselves starving, as they run out of food. They lose both their souls and their bodies, and he says they will look frightening in appearance on the last days. Of course, we are just talking about this vaccine now. But I believe the Orthodox principle stands: ask your spiritual father. If you do not have one, pray three times, the Fathers such as St Theophan and St Nicodemus of Athos say, and then go to a priest and accept his answer. Any truly Orthodox priest (not a Uniate or schismatic) will do. Even if his answer is “wrong” God’s Grace will protect you and your family because of your faith and humility. It is unfortunate many of us do not believe in the simple but unspeakably powerful grace of the priesthood and end up following everyone who claims special erudition—but that is another story. It is perhaps this belief alone that is sufficient to save us in the final times. May God be with you!
Chance Pardoner11/7/2020 5:38 pm
Your Eminences, humbly and out of anxiety for my children I ask you, what if the so-called pandemic turns out to be a form of psychological warfare waged by powerful, ungodly forces. There is a good deal of evidence for this, and I beg all in authority in the Church to at least do a little investigating. And soon the ungodly authorities will order us to take the new DNA-altering vaccine. I may comply to keep my job to feed my family. I am old, and any suffering it might cause me would be nothing less than I deserve for my sins. But my young children? Should I allow them to receive a vaccine for an illness that they have over 99% chance of recovering from, a new kind of vaccine that will alter their genome and that my grandchildren would inherit? A vaccine that is less than 50% effective at best, and that would have to be taken in multiple doses annually? A vaccine that could be stealthily used by ungodly authorities for other purposes, and that makes a good deal of financial profit? I have submitted to sanitary and hygienic regulations, even in church. But I am not sure I want to comply with submitting my family to receiving the new vaccine when it is available very soon. Your Eminences, should Orthodox people resist the novel vaccine or comply? I beg you all to speak to this issue!
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