In connection with the rise of new coronavirus cases in the country, Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuevsk, Head of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry, addressed believers on his Facebook page. In his message, His Grace Bishop Panteleimon expressed his opinion on how Orthodox Christians should behave in such a difficult situation.
Dear brothers and sisters!
Maybe the second wave [of coronavirus] has begun, or perhaps it is a new rise in the first wave, but my heart feels uneasy for some reason again. Again, invisible shells seem to be bursting around us, and one or the other of our acquaintances is fighting this illness.
What shall we do?
I think that we must follow the recommendations of doctors, act according to our conscience, not lose our heads, and most importantly, we must keep peace in our hearts and calmness in our souls.
Our main deed is inner work. This is the main means of salvation during the time of troubles, wars, and epidemics.
This work consists in living before God, Who is with us both in health and in illness, at home and on the street, in hospital, and, of course, in the church.
We are called to rejoice always, to pray incessantly, and to thank God for everything.
How can we not rejoice if we believe in the good providence of God? How can we not always pray if we are aware of our extreme weakness? How can we not thank Him when He pours out His mercy on us so generously!
We have so much to do within ourselves, to work so much to cleanse our heart!
We should learn to hear and do the will of God, learn to understand and love people, use our time correctly, and not waste it.
We should learn to recognize Christ in the Sacraments of the Church, understand and love the beauty and truth of His Gospel words, learn to talk with Him in prayer, and not just repeat other people’s words.
We should learn to recognize the actions of the evil one, avoid temptations, tolerate sorrows kindly, understand the meaning of suffering, and learn to sacrifice ourselves.
We have a whole world inside, a whole universe! Thoughts, feelings, memories, the voice of conscience, a sense of duty, visual images, melodies, words, the memories of the scent of a blossoming meadow, of our worries, moments of happiness, revelations and of our departed loved ones.
Various forces work within us. Our hearts, according to Dostoevsky, are the battlefield of God and the devil.
Our inner state influences our perception of the external world: people and events. Our mood is more dependent on the internal state than on some external reasons.
We all know how changeable our mood can be. The outside world does not change: we are surrounded by same people, same problems, and by same difficulties and joys. But suddenly sometimes we feel bad: our mood darkens, see everything in black and white. But sometimes, it is as if the sun is out, [we feel] that everything is good!
We can indulge in the free flow of thoughts, we can succumb indiscriminately to the movement of various feelings and be only contemplators of what is happening inside, without resisting anything, but this will lead to evil taking over us.
Some people, who are in despair, think that it is impossible to change themselves, they get used to their inner disorder, and try to find joy in external pleasures. But if you don’t arrange your inner life, everything will end in disaster!
Do not agree with the evil that is within you. Fight with yourself.
We still have time to turn our attention inside our heart and turn it towards Christ.
This main deed will increase immunity, help maintain sobriety and calmness in our troubled times amid the discord of different opinions.
I ask for your prayers, my dears!
P.S. I consider it important to remind all of you about the insidious properties of the new virus. I beg you to wear a mask, if there are people near you, wash your hands more often. If you feel not well, weak, or have even a slight increase in temperature, if you have headache, any symptoms of illness, it is imperative to isolate, that is, not to come to work, university, to a church, not to visit your friends, but go to see a doctor, and get tested for coronavirus. It is very important to remember that we may unwittingly be the cause of illness and suffering for others. There is no need to reassure yourself that now the virus is less painfully tolerated: I know of very severe cases. There is no need to justify your refusal to take protective measures by the fact that everyone must sooner or later get sick [with this virus]. You need to be careful, and if you really get sick, it will not be because of your irresponsibility, but because God allowed it, in spite of all our precautions.
P.P.S. I am sure one will go through this sickness easier in this case.