During the present period of temptation, in which government and civic responses to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic require many of our faithful to remain at home and for many churches to celebrate services ‘behind closed doors’ without a large group of faithful present, in order to comply with government requirements, our Diocese is working in various ways to ensure that the period of enforced isolation at home (whether as a self-quarantine or broader societal measures) does not throw our faithful off the track of Lenten prayer and ascesis, nor absent them from the reception of the Divine Mysteries. Last weekend we made available various texts and hymns for the Sunday of the Cross (together with our previously-provided Lenten spiritual reading, here and here; and on Monday we hosted the first in a series of live-streamed Lenten talks with Bishop Irenei, providing access to spiritual discussion and teaching during this period).
Present restrictions in almost all parts of our Diocese continue to make it impossible for faithful to travel to their parish churches this Saturday and Sunday for the customary Vigil and Divine Liturgy of the fourth Sunday of Great Lent, which is dedicated to the sacred memory of St John of the Ladder. For this reason, we are providing materials here for those of you in such circumstances, such that from home you can be joined to the prayer of the temples on this sacred day; and we also repeat our instructions on how you can receive Holy Communion within the context of present restrictions.
What you will find on this page, as resources for this weekend and the days ahead:
We have assembled on the present page (below) a number of resources in order to enable you to join your prayer at home to that being offered in our temples by the clergy. You will find below:
- The texts from the Lenten Triodion for the fourth Sunday in Great Lent, dedicated to St John of the Ladder (in English and in Church Slavonic).
- The texts from the Menaion for this Sunday, dedicated to the Holy Martyr Sabinas (in English and Slavonic).
- The complete Ladder of Divine Ascent by St John of the Ladder, which is one of the main spiritual works associated with Lenten reading (provided in English on this site, with a link to the full text in Russian).
- A collection of Readers prayers and short at-home services compiled for use during the present period of pandemic (English).
Through the use of these materials, you can pray the hymns and readings dedicated to the sacred commemorations of these days, thus joining from your home in the services that are being offered this weekend in all our churches — even in those where the services must be ‘behind closed doors’. Even in isolation, there is the means of unity in prayer!
Please simply scroll down on the present page to find these resources, which you can read on-line or download.
What you should do in order to have access to the Holy Mysteries in the present week:
It is essential that all our faithful understand that none of our parishes has ‘closed’ during this difficult period, nor have our Divine Services been ‘cancelled’! It is true that in many places, government restrictions mean that at the moment we cannot have public services as a matter of law; in those places our clergy are nevertheless celebrating all the Divine Services as scheduled, doing so at different hours and behind closed doors, with only a Reader or chanter assisting them and without an assembly of congregated faithful. While this is of course not the ideal of our worship, it means that the Services are not being abandoned, and that the prayers our fathers offer for us and for the whole world are in no way silenced in this time of need!
It also means that the Holy Mysteries are still celebrated, and that you have access to them.
In our parishes where public services are not at present possible, the Priests are celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the above way and consecrating the Holy Gifts of Christ’s precious Body and Blood in a manner similar to that done for the Presanctified Liturgy: consecrating these sacred Gifts and preserving them in the Altar after the conclusion of the service. Our Priests are then making themselves available to you throughout the whole of Sunday and indeed the whole week, either to receive you one by one or in small family groups of two or three at the church, or by coming to you at your home (depending on local circumstance and local government mandates on travel, etc.). This means that no one needs to be deprived of the life-creating Mysteries of Christ in these hard times!
In order to receive Holy Communion in such circumstances, it is important for you to be proactive and contact your parish priest, so that you can arrange a time to come to your parish church individually, or with your immediate family, to say confession and receive Holy Communion. Given the necessities of this situation, the Priests have been blessed to welcome people to receive the sacraments in this manner not only on Sunday, but throughout the week. We also explicitly welcome Orthodox faithful from other dioceses or jurisdictions whose parishes do not have such provisions in place, to contact the clergy of our parish nearest to you in order to make arrangements to receive the Mysteries in this way.
Lenten Triodion: Hymns and Readings for the Sunday of St John of the Ladder (English and Slavonic)
Here we provide the hymns, readings and prayers of the Lenten Triodion for the present days, first in English and second in Church Slavonic.Lenten-Triodion-Sunday-of-St-John-Klimakos-English
Menaion for this Sunday: Martyr Sabinas of Egypt (English and Slavonic)
Each day of the year, the Church appoints special hymns and prayers for the saints whose commemorations fall on that specific date (collected in the Menaion). Below, we provide the texts for the main saint whose commemoration falls on this Sunday, together with the Lenten commemoration of St John — namely, St Sabinas, the martyr in Egypt. The Menaion text is provided first in English, and below it in Church Slavonic.Menaion-March-16-English
The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St John – Complete text (English and Russian)
The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St John of Mt Sinai, to whom the present fourth Sunday of Great Lent is dedicated, is considered one of the chief works of ‘Lenten reading’. While it is not specifically appointed to be read on this day, in monasteries and other settings the Ladder is read throughout the whole of Great Lent, in smaller segments interspersed throughout the daily Lenten Divine Services. We provide the text here for those who may not have a copy at home. The complete text is embedded here in English; a link below provides the complete text in Russian on an external web site.Ladder-of-Divine-Ascent-English
RUSSIAN: To read this complete book in Russian, click here: преподобный Иоанн Лествичник: Лествица.
Reader’s Services and Prayers for Home Use, Compiled for the Time of the Coronavirus Epidemic (English)
As before, we provide again here a small collection of prayers assembled elsewhere for use in the present time of the caronavirus epidemic. These may easily be used throughout each day as a source for prayer at home in this time of trial.Reader-Service-For-the-Time-of-the-Coronavirus