Let us make this Covid-19 pandemic the basis of a renewed foundation in our spiritual life
For all of us, this pandemic can serve as a good jumpstart for our faith. Since most of us can not attend services in our parishes, this is the perfect time to build up the domestic church. Since we can’t take our children to services, let us bring the services into the midst of our family life.
We can start by lighting our lampadas (oil lamps) before our family icons, and if you do not have an icon corner, now is the perfect time to set one up. Activate the domestic church by saying the morning and evening prayers together. They are available in our personal prayer books. If you don’t already have these important service books, go online to any of the numerous Orthodox supply websites, and order some for your family.
In the meantime, start praying together as a family, as well as individually. One very traditional Orthodox practice, for example, is the reading aloud from the book of Psalms. There is much peace and spiritual strength to be gained when reading from the Psalter. It is equally important that each family member privately nourishes their souls through reciting the “Jesus Prayer”.
When joining with family members in these home services, we should also read the assigned scripture readings, all of which are available online, or by consulting your parish calendar. For those on the Julian Calendar, I provide these daily readings on my blog, “The Morning Offering”, hosted by Ancient Faith Radio.
As well, the family can read aloud from the lives of the saints, and from the many spiritual and inspirational Orthodox books that are published by the Church’s countless publishing houses, available in our parish bookstores, or from the online stores. Our own monastery has an online gift shop, where you can order any of these items from the safety of your home (https://vashonmonks.com).
Meanwhile, let us all take this pandemic as an opportunity to repent before God, while committing ourselves anew to living the gospels, and making Christ the center of our lives. Remembering the words both of the Apostle Paul who counseled the Christians of Ephesus to “redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16), and those of another saint of our times, Blessed Seraphim of Platina, who said: “It is later than you think – hasten, therefore, to do the work of God”.
With love in Christ,
Photos: The Friday Presanctified Liturgy celebrated in our monastery’s temple.
Saturday April 4, 2020 / March 22, 2020
Fifth Saturday of the Great Lent: Laudation of the Mother of God. Tone eight.
Great Lent. Food with Oil
Hieromartyr Basil, presbyter of Ancyra (362).
Martyr Drosida (Drosis) of Antioch, and five virgins (104).
Venerable Isaac, founder of the Dalmatian Monastery at Constantinople (383).
Martyrs Callinica and Basilissa of Rome (2nd c.).
Venerable Euthymius of Constantinople.
“The Izborsk” Icon of the Mother of God (1657).
St. Paul, bishop of Narbonne, Brittany (3rd c.) (Celtic & British).
New Martyr Euthymius of Mt. Athos (1814) (Greek).
New Martyr Basil (Zelentsov) bishop of Priluk (1930).
New Martyr Schema-abbess Sophia of Kiev (1941) and her priest Demetrius Ivanov (1934).
The Scripture Readings
24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
The Earthly Sanctuary
9 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Limitations of the Earthly Service
6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
27 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”
28 So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Mary and Martha Worship and Serve
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Keeping the Word
27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”
28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!