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. We have previously been making additional Lenten spiritual reading available on this web site, in order to make fruitful use of extra time at home (see here and here); and on Monday we will host the first live-streamed Lenten talk with Bishop Irenei, providing access to spiritual discussion and teaching during this period.
We also realise that present restrictions in many parts of our Diocese make it impossible for faithful to travel to their parish churches tonight and tomorrow for the customary Vigil and Divine Liturgy of the third Sunday of Great Lent, dedicated to the Veneration of the Cross and, this year, also the sacred memory of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. 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.
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, in commemoration of these holy days. You will find below:
- The texts from the Lenten Triodion for the third Sunday in Great Lent, dedicated to the Veneration of the Life-Creating Cross (in English and in Church Slavonic).
- The texts from the Menaion for this Sunday, dedicated to the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (in English and Slavonic).
- 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 manner 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 come and receive the Mysteries in this way.
This is a time for the faithful to come to church — only not all at once!
Menaion for this Sunday: The Commemoration of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (English and Slavonic)Menaion-9th-March-40-Martyrs-English
Lenten Triodion: Hymns and Readings for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (English and Slavonic)Lenten-Triodion-Sunday-of-the-Cross-English