Lovech, Bulgaria, December 24, 2020
There are two pandemics raging now, and that of the human psyche is a greater force to be reckoned with than the coronavirus. If hospitals are needed to treat those infected with COVID, then churches are needed to treat the human soul, according to His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
It is good that churches will remain open for Nativity in Bulgarian, for “how can the hospitals be closed when people are in such need of spiritual treatment,” His Eminence said in an interview with Dnes yesterday. The interview is also published on the official site of the Bulgarian Patriarchate.
There are many countries that are closing their churches now, but this is a mistake, because the infection does not spread in churches, His Eminence believes. The National Operational Headquarters reported that there were no recorded cases of infection after the Paschal holidays, the Metropolitan noted.
Thus, “naturally, we call on believers … to pray and experience God’s grace, especially at the greatest service—the Divine Liturgy. And then he will leave with joy and hope and it will be easier to overcome all difficulties,” His Eminence, encouraging his flock.
Met. Gabriel also noted that special prayers to end the pandemice are read during the proskomedia and during the litanies at every service in his diocese. “History has shown that the terrible epidemics that raged ended with prayer, repentance, and faith. So the most important thing is to pray to the almighty Lord to save us, to seek His help through repentant prayer.”
As for the feast of Theophany, Met. Gabriel explained that it will be decided in consultation with local authorities whether the cross will be thrown in the water, but all the important liturgical rites, including the Divine Liturgy and the Great Blessing of the Waters, will definitely be served.
And encouraging his flock for the upcoming feast of the Nativity, His Eminence said:
We must prayerfully celebrate the Nativity of Christ, because when a person has difficulties, he usually feels a greater need for God’s help. It is prayer that helps and saves us. That is why the feast is so great and why we welcome it with joy and humility, imitating the great humility of the Son of God, Who was born in a manger and not in a castle or palace. To see how much God loves man and wants to save him. If God is with us, there is no one against us, only that we are often against God. If not in faith, then in works we are far from Him and do not live the way He teaches us. We do not have this virtue and love for God and people. This is the wall that separates us many times and which with God’s help we can destroy. Therefore, let our joy and hope be even greater, that the Lord would hear our sincere and repentant prayer, giving health and rescuing from this pandemic, by blessing our people…
Let us strive to do good deeds and the Lord, seeing our virtue, will forgive our sins and deliver us from all evil plagues and troubles. It has been proven many times in history and let us move on to the new 2021 with such light and hope. May God bless everyone, give much joy and longevity, as well as many good and successful deeds.