Monday, March 9, 2020

The Spread of the Coronavirus and its Consequences on the Life of the Church During Great Lent

Metropolitan Nicholas (Hatzinikolaou) 
of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki

February 27, 2020

There is a widespread upheaval these days which is on the rise around the world on the occasion of a new type of virus, which is unfortunately being reproduced and magnified by the media, with the Prime Minister even being forced to declare: "The biggest opponent is not the coronavirus but panic." Indeed this is more easily transmitted than viruses!

Protecting our health is certainly not a bad thing. Panic is the evil. Preventive measures and prudence have nothing to do with it. Inattention or exaggeration is the problem.

Unfortunately, the whole situation is a consequence of our animal welfare. Let us keep our composure, obey the instructions of those responsible and let us know an hour earlier that besides diseases, threats, viruses and germs there is also the presence of God in our lives and the protection of the Panagia. The virus of disbelief, atheism and the rejection of God is the chronic problem of our time and society.

This being said, I would like to say two or three things in your love, in view of the fasting period we are in, as well as the solemn services of Great Lent, no matter what the government ministries ultimately decide.

a) It goes without saying that it is imperative that we comply with all the hygiene, cleanliness and safety requirements that are prescribed to us, without ill-fated fears or worries.

b) We are already preparing for the fast of Great Lent. But for those of you with fragile health, physical weakness and chronic problems, it is a good idea to avoid the strict fasting conditions that you might have observed in the past. Fasting is primarily practiced by the healthy. When we are sick we need attention and discernment so as not to harm our health and our body, which is a temple of God.

Fasting, when done correctly, is something sacred, which is intended for the health of both the soul and the body. The great saintly ascetics and fasters of our Church lived healthy and reached old age. Nowadays we get sick from overeating and obesity, not the other way around. However, those who are sick should, in consultation with your spiritual advisors, avoid any exaggerations and extremes.

c) Those who have symptoms of the flu, coughing, sneezing, fever, perhaps some discomfort, sore throat, it is advisable to avoid coming to the services for as long as their health needs to be restored so that they can protect themselves and others from unwanted developments. The Church prays "for those who are sick in bed" as well as "for those who are absent for good cause," in other words, for those who are sick and those justly absent from congregating. The healthy pray for the ill from the church and the ill for the healthy and themselves from home.

d) Ultimately the best shield for our health and our good, along with medicines, doctors' recommendations, and government ministry measures, is the confidence of our lives and our health in God's hands. Our faith in His providence and love is the best medicine for every threat, every illness. "If God is with us, nothing can be against us."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.