Patriarch’s Statement of Corona Virus


I have refrained from commenting on the
Corona Virus Pandemic because it is vital that everyone listen to the medical
community at this time.  It is also essential
for us to understand that our governments have authority over us, and we are called
to obey them as long as their demands are not contrary to the Word of God.  God is speaking through these voices of
wisdom.  Whether we are in complete
lockdown or merely restricted to our homes, and even if we don’t understand why
this is all happening,  we must humble
ourselves and submit to those who have authority. 

Archbishop Bates

As Christians, we again need to reflect
and focus on the Lord.  Just a few weeks
ago, we entered the season of Lent.   
For liturgical Christians, we went to the Ash Wednesday liturgies, and
the priest put ashes on our heads to remind us of our mortality, powerlessness,
and constant need for repentance.  Little
did we know then that this “tiny and unseen” virus would spread from mainline
China and result in the lockdown of nations in Europe and create severe social
distancing practices in countries around the world.  Little did we know that the economy of the
world would hang in the balance and threaten hundreds of large international
businesses.   Little did we know that
many of our friends and neighbors would be facing a long stretch of
unemployment.  This “tiny unseen” virus
has affirmed the truth we proclaimed on Ash Wednesday.

The Corona Virus has taught the West
things that many in developing nations face daily.  This year among our brothers and sisters in
East Africa, massive floods and a plague of locust have left sections of the
countries in famine.  Many lost
everything they had (which was so little). 
Many died and lost loved ones.  In
the Philippines, a volcano erupted, and the result is still impacting the
communities in Luzon.  Over and over
again, the Philippines face natural disasters. 
These disasters not only destroy material objects but take human life.  Usually, it is the very young and the elderly
that are most affected.  Of course, there
are other disasters around the world happening even as I write this letter.

All of this reminds us that our humanity
is weak, fragile, and mortal.  It tells
us that the God of all creation shares in this humanity by being human.  The One who holds the universe together and
for whom the universe was made is in the midst of us.  The end of Lent is not that we are hopeless
but rather that through participation in our humanity, particularly our death,
and through our sharing and participating in His death, there is a new creation
where we will proclaim He has Risen and death is conquered and the strife is

Now we pray.   I believe this season of isolation, will
result in a powerful growth in the things of the Spirit.  It will cause us to have a new love for the
liturgy, praise, and communion with our Church family.  I hope it causes us to realize the importance
of the Sacraments and sacramentals that we can easily take for granted or
ritualize.  I hope that it will draw us
to understand the desperate situation we are in and bring us from that
desperation to a deeper renewal of faith, hope, and especially love.  Could it be that from this, we will have a
more profound love for God and each other? 
Could it be that we will have an awakening in what it means to be in
Christ Jesus?

Finally, it is time for us to look
around us and see those who need help. 
There are many, particularly the elderly and those who suffer from
chronic or severe illnesses, who need us. 
Are there ways we can serve not only those in our church but in our
neighborhoods.  Many will be unemployed
for some time.  Is there a way we can
reach out?  It has always been the
ministry of the church.

I want to thank those priests who have
made the Eucharist available, sometimes in creative ways.  I want to thank those who are live streaming
the liturgies so we can all participate. 
As the father to fathers, I am so proud of each bishop, priest, and
deacon.  You have proved to be good and
faithful servants.

Remember not to be afraid, for He is
with you always.  He will never leave you
or forsake you.  It is not a time of
lament but a time to allow a song of praise and thanksgiving to grow in your
heart and flow from your lips.



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