There is nothing that anyone can say that is more reassuring and comforting to one who is experiencing this most profound human grief than to be reminded that truly God is with us at all times and in all places.
As your priest, I am here to tell you we shall overcome. We are God’s children who He loves. Wherever we are and wherever we go, God is there. There is no place where God is not.
The Christian high holy days of Great and Holy Week are spiritually uplifting and emotional. As Orthodox Christians, not only do we observe them with reverence, but we definitely experience them in all their majesty and solemnity; we attempt to experience, as much as humanly possible, what our Lord felt and went through His last few days and hours on earth. We, however, as His followers, learn from Him how to be more loving, more patient, more forgiving, more obedient, more prayerful, more faithful, more courageous, more resolute, and holy.
Our faith, my good friends, is not a theory but a way of life. A fruitful life filled with promise and hope. No matter what we experience in life, whether it is one of sorrow or of joy, we imitate and emulate our Lord in everything. We are emboldened by our Lord’s Divine Life for He is our most perfect and most excellent example. In Him, we see Perfect God and Perfect Man.
I know what you now feel and how much you miss attending the divine services of our Church, as well as, receiving the sacraments, but believe me, it is only for a brief time. We are going through this difficult and excruciating time together. I too, miss your presence terribly, but that does not deter me from praying for you, it does not diminish my love for you, and/or to continue to serve your spiritual needs. We are always united in Christ and in the Spirit. Nothing can ever come between us. After all, we are brothers and sisters in Christ!
It is important to remember that the real Church is indeed the body of Christ. In other words, Clergy and Laity together. What we refer to as the ‘church’ is only the temple (ναός), the place of worship (λατρεία). Although we are not together in the place of worship, the church, we are not really apart. We are assuredly united in prayer and worship. It is the love of God and for each other, that unites us to one another. We feel His presence in our homes, in the place of work, and in our daily lives.
Allow the grace of the Holy Spirit to fill your heart. When our heart becomes the dwelling place of God we truly feel the fullness of His presence. Like Saint Paul, we say, “I no longer live, but God lives in me.” The ultimate and noble goal of every Orthodox Christian believer is to be one with Christ. When this happens the eyes of our soul will be opened to witness a divine epiphany that can never be described in human words. It will be our own personal metamorphosis.
Preparing ourselves spiritually, through prayer and fasting, during this holy season, and Great and Holy Week, we look forward to the Day of the Resurrection. We look forward to our Lord’s triumph over death and evil. To share in the joy of the Heavenly Host, as well as all of God’s Creation. To experience the great joy of salvation and the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of God is the absolute Kingdom of Joy, of Life, of Light, of Love, of Eternal Peace.
I ask you to unite your prayers with mine during this Great and Holy Week and let us not diminish its importance and holiness with negative thoughts, self-pity, disappointment, and sadness.
May we all have a Blessed Pascha! (Kalo Pascha!)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George