GLORY TO GOD! OUR CHURCH IS OPEN AGAIN!
Dear Parishioners & Friends,
When we celebrated Holy Pentecost, we prayed to the Holy Spirit to fortify us and rejuvenate our souls. What a wonderful opportunity, now that the ban on church services has been lifted, for us to make a new beginning in our spiritual lives, starting with the way we attend the services! By coming on time. By confessing and receiving Holy Communion on a regular basis. By educating ourselves about the meaning and importance of the services. If we can instill this into ourselves and our children, what great spiritual benefit we could attain! How pleasing to God we would be! Through this, we can enhance our spiritual life, and, together, as a parish family, attain the heavenly kingdom.
Below are the health and safety guidelines that all must adhere to at the services.
First and foremost, if you are feeling poorly or have a fever, please refrain from coming to the service and pray at home watching the live stream.
1. Wear a face mask.
2. Maintain social distancing by staying 6 feet apart, except for family members (e.g. husband and wife, parents and children.)
3. Upon entering and leaving the church, please disinfect your hands with the hand sanitizer available in the narthex.
4. Individual confession will only be conducted at the Vigil Services and before the beginning of the Liturgy. There will be no individual confessions at any time during the Liturgy. This includes right before Holy Communion. For the time being, as blessed by Metropolitan Hilarion, we will continue to perform a general confession before Holy Communion.
5. Holy Communion will be given as usual. At this time, we ask that you refrain from kissing the Holy Chalice after receiving the Holy Gifts.
Please always remember: “The Eucharist is our source of sanctification and a share in the life of the Lord, and can in no way transmit any infectious disease or any other evil.” (See this Statement from the Sacred Community on Mt. Athos for more about Holy Communion: https://orthochristian.com/131061.html?)
6. Zapivka after Communion will be prepared using individual paper cups along with the usual prosphora.
7. Everyone is encouraged to continue venerating and praying at our holy icons and relics. White cloths saturated with alcohol are available at each icon area for you to wipe the icons before and after you venerate.
Regarding our children: We are very blessed to have many children attending church, and we love them dearly. All children – even the youngest ones – for their spiritual growth and physical safety, must be taught to stand quietly with their parents during the service. Keep in mind that children benefit no less than adults from participating in worship and by receiving Holy Communion! Families should stand and pray together off to the side and not in the center of the church. Children must not run back and forth in the nave or go to the restroom or downstairs unsupervised. Young children who need a break may be taken downstairs by a parent or other responsible adult if necessary. Under no circumstances are children allowed to be outside, downstairs or in the narthex unsupervised. Please do not allow your children to climb around the candlestands, the Crucifix or the two large icon kiots (frames) housing the Mother of God and Christ, where there is delicate and expensive woodwork and gold leafing. This is both dangerous to their safety and inappropriate behavior. Help your children to take part in the service by encouraging them to make the sign of the cross when appropriate, sing Otche Nash and say a prayer before Holy Communion. Parents should accompany their young children to Holy Communion and, of course, all should be standing together at the front of the church after communing and zapivka for the final appearance of the Holy Chalice!
As always, you are welcome to order any private services, such as molebens or panihidas. Also, sorokousts may be ordered at the candle counter. Our bookstore will again be open every Sunday after the Liturgy. As well, your ongoing support of our General, Benevolent and Flower funds truly allows our parish to flourish!
On a personal note, I am so excited and looking forward to seeing all of you in church! But I do pray that things do not “return to normal”, and, instead, that we truly learn to cherish our wonderful Orthodox Faith and always remember not to take our Faith and our Church for granted. Let us be compassionate and benevolent, striving to be good Christians in everything we say and do!
With love in Christ,
Fr. Serge Lukianov