Under quarantine, the familiar life of millions of believers in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has changed. In particular, many people, especially the elderly, have to stay at home, instead of going to churches. Those who can attend services are faced with a number of restrictions and regulations. Meanwhile, these restrictions maybe significantly increased if the scale of the disease expands. It may well come to a complete closure of churches for believers, and the government will encourage all parishioners to watch the services online, at home.
Under the current conditions, it is important, in my opinion, to proceed from the following points.
First, do not despair, because all these restrictive measures are exclusively temporary. The pandemic will end sooner or later, and the Church will again be able to resume its full-fledged activity.
Secondly, it is essential to remember these days for the rest of our lives. Many believers now openly admit that previously they did not really appreciate the opportunity to freely go to a church for common prayer and participating in Holy Communion. Now that we are deprived of this, the bitterness of our loss is especially severe. Which is understandable, given how many times we have deprived ourselves of the joy of close union with the Lord due to our laziness, neglect, and so on. Thus, it is very important that when everything is settled with God’s help, each of us will begin to cherish the opportunity to regularly go to a church and to take Holy Communion there from the bottom of our hearts.
Third, you should not think that the development of the pandemic will affect the basic principles of church life of believers or will somehow transfer the Church online. Yes, people can pray at home, but it is not possible to participate in the Church Sacraments, and even more so in the main Sacrament, Holy Eucharist, online, on TV, or a computer.
Fourth, the Lord teaches us by this temporary deprivation of an access to churches not so that we could sit quietly at home. Now is the time for genuine repentance and heartfelt prayer. That’s what you should do first, instead of looking for the next movie to watch on the Internet or spending all the time on social networks. It is crucially important. Indeed, the stronger our prayer and sincerer repentance, the faster the virus will be defeated and the doors of all our churches will open.
Fifth, do not forget that faith should be supported by deeds. There are no boundaries for mercy, and it cannot be measured by any universal volumes.
Now everyone can contribute to the common cause of fighting against the virus. For example, one could make do-it-yourself masks for other people. Or one can help older people buy medicine and food, give a lift to medical doctors to their workplaces, create and distribute antiseptics. There are many options. The main thing is not to sit in idleness, despondency or spiritual relaxation.
Indeed, as Elder Joseph of Vatopedi once said, trials should not terrify us and we should always have hope in God.