MUSING OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: IT IS AN EXTRAORDINARY PASCHAL SEASON

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Source: Orthodox Christian Laity

Christ is risen!

As Bishop Maxim, shepherd of the Western Serbian Diocese, says in his Paschal Message (please find 12 minutes to listen to it), Spring and liturgical Easter are unapproachable this year because of the coronavirus.  But, can we “say that the world doesn’t experience spring? … No!  Can we say Christians do not experience Pascha?  Not at all.  Our faith is that the Holy Spirit constitutes the Church also in the time of coronavirus.”

Those of us who could and had the equipment, knowledge and ability, experienced the Pascha Services via live streaming or other social media opportunities. To understand the factors and logistics involved in developing, presenting and implementing these internet opportunities, read the study prepared by Alexei Krindatch entitled “On the Eve of Easter 2020: Corona Virus and U. S. Orthodox Parish Life”. You will be amazed at the complex factors involved in presenting the liturgical services via the internet.  Thank God that thousands of you took advantage of this outreach.

Those of us who could and had the equipment, knowledge and ability, experienced Pascha as never before.  During Holy Week, I attended 12 different churches, east, west, north, south, of different jurisdictions.  Midnight Pascha Services at St Sophia Cathedral, Washington, D.C., overwhelmed me.  When the clergy brought forth the Light of Pascha, the Church was full, full of the saints… I felt they were marching in place.   Hundreds of icons were placed on the seats of the pews.  It was a powerful experience.

Please take the time to view the video posted on the Assembly of Bishops website April 21 entitled A Video Compilation of Pascha (Easter) from Home During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic.  Thousands of us celebrated in our special way, but we all proclaimed “Christ is Risen!”

During the Lenten Period Season, Young Adults developed and continue to participate in the Telos Project (See the invitation posted on the OCL site). How is this ministry progressing?

The physical distancing, for the good of all, as a response to the coronavirus, has created financial challenges for our parishes.  How shall we, as the Body of Christ and as a Eucharistic Community, respond?  Where will the initiative come from to help parishes in need?  Will the Assembly of Bishops take a leadership role?  Parishes are eligible for government help as outlined in the financial assistance packages developed by the Federal Government (see the article “Financial Guidance For Parishes During the COVID-19 Pandemic”).  Will our individual stewardship pledges, if we are able, increase to help our parishes meet the challenges?

Finally, as we await Pentecost, this is a good time to print and read the document issued through the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD – Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church.”  It is an overview of our Orthodox social ethos based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.  It suggests that the female diaconate be reinstated to assist in helping us participate in transforming the cosmos through individual and corporate participation in loving communication with our neighbors.

The document consists of 82 articles and 62 printed pages. You will find it a comprehensive study calling on us as the Church to manifest “the saving love of God given in Jesus Christ to all creation: a love broken and seemingly defeated upon the cross, but shining out in triumph from the empty tomb at Pascha…a love often rejected, and yet longed for unceasingly, in every heart.  It speaks to all persons and every society, calling them to the sacred work of transfiguring the world in the light of God’s kingdom of love and eternal peace.”

As we have more time to read, I would also like to recommend three publications for your consideration:  1) THE TIME HAS COME: Debates over the OCA Autocephaly Reflected in St Vladimir’s Quarterly, St Vladimir ‘s Seminary Press, 2020It is a timely publication, as the Orthodox Church in America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly in November 2020. 2) Creation as Sacrament: Reflections on Ecology and Spirituality, by John Chryssavgis,  t&tclark, London and New York,  2019.  This is very timely as the environment takes a breather during the time of coronavirus. 3) A scholarly monograph by Dr Paul L. Gavrilyuk, Georges Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance, Oxford University Press, 2014  It is a narrative of 20th Century Russian Theology.

Like all nonprofits in the time of the coronavirus, OCL is experiencing financial setbacks.  If you find our ministry worthy, please consider making a donation via PayPal (click here).  Thank you. 

George Matsoukas
OCL Executive Director

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