17 March 2020

Now of All Times...



My husband and I have been discussing the state of things (read:  the Coronavirus pandemic) and the state of the Church.  We both agree:  this is NOT the time for the Church to run scared, close its doors, and act like the secular world -- full of panic and fear.  We are the Body of Christ.  We should be acting differently from the world.  What have we to fear? 

I have been reading various articles and official church documents, across the denominations.  The following is my opinion on it all: 

It is clear to me that the Protestant churches are completely under the thumb of the secular governments, and aside from encouraging their congregations to pray, are pretty much in full panic mode.  The Catholic Church is straddling the line and trying to take a sort of middle approach.  I think Pope Francis would be fearless if he were not constrained by the cardinals and bishops and the Italian government.  The Orthodox seem to be the most fearless, and although they do advise people to be wise and cautious, they also make the point that we ARE the Church -- the Body of Christ.

The Church of Scotland has cancelled its General Assembly, which wasn't even set to take place until May.  There's faith for you.  Or maybe not.  But then, what can you expect from a denomination whose national website also has a permanent page for church property up for sale -- as in, selling off disused church buildings.  The COS, and sadly, the Catholic Church in Scotland, are using the government and NHS guidelines when determining policy in the church.  To me, this says these two church entities place far more trust in the secular world than in the faith they are preaching.  I am ashamed.  You can read more about the sad state of affairs in the Church of Scotland HERE.



The Catholic Herald reported Saturday on the leadership issues that Pope Francis is now faced with.  Below are some excerpts.  Read the full article HERE:
"Drastic measures," Pope Francis said on Friday at the start of daily Mass from the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican, "are not always good."
***
The papal almoner, Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, opened his titular church and exposed the Blessed Sacrament on Friday, in defiance of Cardinal De Donatis's decree.  "It is an act of disobedience, yes.  I myself put the Blessed Sacrament out and opened my church," Cardinal Krajewski told Crux on Friday.  He also told Crux he would keep his church open, and the Blessed Sacrament exposed for adoration, all day Friday and during regular hours on Saturday.
"It did not happen under Fascism, it did not happen under the Russian or Soviet rule in Poland -- the churches were not closed," he said.
***
The fact is that the conditions were favourable to a show of papal willingness to step in and adjust the safety measures and be seen to do so in response to popular outcry.  This not only served as a message to the Italian bishops, but also to Italian authorities:  if you try to close the churches, expect a fight -- and not from ecclesiastical leadership.
Sadly, I do not believe anyone in Scotland would fight to keep the churches open.  Certainly, all signs are that the clergy and the churches are easily acquiescing to the dictates of the very secular and oftentimes aggressively anti-Christian UK government.

The OCA (Orthodox Church in America) issued the following synodal statement (in part -- read the entire statement HERE):
The Church is the mystical body of Christ.  Nothing can affect of change this sacred mystery.  Furthermore, nothing that is done in all reverence, piety, and fear of God in response to this virus should be construed as anything other than a prudent pastoral and temporary response to a situation that has the possibility of severe consequences.  As the body of Christ, we should meet the challenges posed by this virus with the assurance of faith, in oneness of mind, and in imitation of the Great Physician and Healer of souls and bodies, our Lord Jesus Christ.  All members of the Church should seek to console the anxious, assist those afflicted, and encourage those working in medical professions.  All faithful should pay special attention to those who might be at risk of more serious complications from this virus:  the young, the elderly, and those who already have respiratory or cardiac illnesses.  Indeed, no one should be stigmatized or ostracised because they have contracted the virus.

And THIS portion of the statement is crucial -- would that ALL Christian churches would adopt this attitude, INCLUDING the Roman Catholic Church.  The closing of Churches, suspension of Mass, and removal of the chalice is tantamount to telling the world that we do not actually believe in what we profess:  that the Communion wafers and wine are TRULY the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Again, I am ashamed of what so many of the churches are doing.  I understand the severity of the virus, but honestly, are we saying (to the aggressive, anti-Christian, no less) world that this virus is more powerful than God?  Think about this.  We are in a crisis of faith, people, and there is only ONE right answer.
We seek in these measures to follow the principles enumerated by His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogeia of the Church of Greece who said, "All measures that undermine faith and hope in God, anything that doubts the efficacy of Holy Communion and the mysteries is to be rejected.  Anything that honors the community of the faithful and our fellow man is an expression of love for them and for God."  In the midst of our Lenten journey to Pascha, beloved children in the Lord, we are given an opportunity, paradoxically, to honor and serve our neighbor as we struggle with this virus.  May our Great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, enable us to bear the struggle that is set before us, granting us the wisdom and discernment to know what is well-pleasing to him, and the strength to accomplish it.
There is no talk here of closing churches, suspending the liturgy, or denying Holy Communion to the Faithful.  That is as it should be.  Christians:  what do you believe?  What, truly, do you believe in this time of trial?  Who has the power here?  Is it our God, or is it the secular government, the media which induces panic at every turn, and the virus itself?  Now is the time to ask yourselves the hard questions.

The devil is laughing, my friends.

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