On May 28th, we reported on how the Orthodox Church in the United States appears to have forsaken faith in Christ for fear of COVID-19. This situation is of course, not limited to Orthodoxy, as almost every church congregation throughout the land has acquiesced to the “experts” who insist that this virus is somehow more powerful than God, or are at least distracted by the secularist gosepl: “nothing is more important than your health” and its underlying premise: “there is no life beyond this one. No resurrection. Religion is just something nice to do.” Now, the all-knowing, all-seeing Dr Fauci attempts to strip Christ away from Christians in the most brazen way possible, through stopping Holy Communion.
Now the attacks against Christianity are being driven more and more strongly by so-called Christians themselves. Because of the Almighty Coronavirus, it is now being urged to abstain from the following religious actions:
- singing in church
- going to church
- praying in or even outside a church
- receiving Holy Communion in church OR outside
These truly preposterous ideas are being promoted by leaders in the two oldest Christian confessions – Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.
Now, while these two groups are certainly historically at odds theologically, they have both carried the torch for this lovely and life-giving and life-defining faith for two thousand years. Historically, both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church maintain the claim that they reach back all the way to Christ Himself and His apostles, and this is true, even though Rome’s theological perspectives have wandered somewhat since 1054. The two churches are separated, but still able in extreme circumstances, to commune each other’s adherents. They both share deep traditional values and points of view.
But now with COVID-19 as the new god to be feared, leaders of both groups are cowering in fear.
It should be noted that it did not seem to start out this way. Look here at the original letter concerning the virus outbreak and compare it to now.
However, since then, the appearance of any faith at all has deteriorated,as many of us knew it would. The Orthodox Church in America recently posted on their own website a bit of most unfortunate guidance – which should never have been approved, discouraging singing in Church – something which is one of the primary pillars of our liturgical life. Singing in the church is prayer. Prayer in the Orthodox Church is singing. So in effect, the faithful are being stripped of prayer. The key comments run this way:
All this means that as we prepare to reopen our churches, we must carefully consider the high risks associated with choral singing. For Orthodox churches, such high-risk activities also include any form of chant, the exclamations of the clergy, the reading of scripture or other texts with raised voices, and even the faithful singing along with “Lord have mercy.” This is difficult news for many of us.
When we return to church, how will we strive to protect one another? Reducing the number of clergy and singers to a bare minimum seems like an obvious starting point. One isolated chanter replacing the choir will undoubtedly help reduce risk. Beyond this, will we embrace more silence in our services? Will we suspend congregational singing completely, as others have done?
There is answer to this question “how will we strive to protect one another?”, and it is fairly obvious for the believer, but we will come to this later.
The level of insanity was raised a very significant notch, and came to light from the head doctor of President Trump’s coronavirus task force. Dr Anthony Fauci, supposedly a Catholic, but acting absolutely godless now, got quoted in a Roman Catholic / Jesuit magazine prominently, saying that Holy Communion itself is now considered “dangerous.” Is this hype? Let’s look:
Yesterday, Breitbart News picked up an article in the Jesuit-run magazine called America,
From Breitbart News (emphasis mine):
Dr. Anthony Fauci has urged Christians to wear masks, practice social distancing, and forego singing and receiving communion during worship services to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In an interview with the Jesuit-run America magazine published Wednesday, Dr. Fauci said that churches should “limit the number of people, so that you don’t have people in the pews right next to each other,” and the faithful should “absolutely” wear masks.
Regarding the distribution of communion, Fauci said he does not think there is a safe way to go about it and the practice should be abandoned until further notice.
“I think for the time being, you just gotta forestall that,” he said.
Fauci, who identifies as a Jesuit-educated Catholic who has distanced himself from “the concept of organized churches, religions,” said that at the moment he believes that receiving communion is too risky, even if it involves only the distribution of the consecrated bread without the cup.
“As many times as a priest can wash his hands, he gets to Communion, he puts it in somebody’s hand, they put it in their mouth,” he said, “it’s that kind of close interaction that you don’t want when you’re in the middle of a deadly outbreak.”
Fauci said he thinks that religious practice should vary from place to place, according to the intensity and extent of infections.
“It depends on where you are,” he said. “If you are in a region, a city, a county, where there is a significant amount of infection, I think with distributing Communion, I think that would be risky. I’m telling you that as a Catholic, it would be risky.”
In recent weeks, there have been numerous confrontations between religious and civil leaders regarding the proper jurisdiction of each when it comes to the practice of the faith…
Yes, and there need to be many, many more confrontations.
There is absolutely nothing right about this. Christians historically came to the very front lines of pestilences and pandemics from the earliest times of the Church. Is it possible that now we have “matured” to the point where we really do not care about Christ and the world to come, but about preserving our comforts here and now? It certainly looks like it when these kind of publications are being made and disseminated from centers of religious authority.
Now, this has to be understood: It is very likely that neither the writer of the OCA piece nor even Dr Fauci himself, think they are really against Christianity (though, perhaps in Fauci’s case, I am being too generous), though I bet they are both VERY bothered about the conclusions they are drawing, especially Robin Freeman of St Vladimir’s Seminary. The tone of her piece suggests strong discomfort with the things she writes.
Yet, she should be trusting that gut feeling rather than human logic. Logically, she is absolutely sound. Logically, it is important to stop pandemics in whatever means necessary, and it would certainly be putting others’ lives at risk to insist that EVERYONE go to church no matter how they feel.
However, no one is saying that. The pro-going to Church crowd simply wants to go and be left alone to do so, as is their Constitutional right in the United States. We choose the way of faith. That faith has not failed anyone, and it is probably safe to say that even the priests and clergy who came down with the virus and died from it do not regret their actions and would willingly take the same risks again, because following Christ is more important than any earthly danger. Death comes to us all, anyway, and what better way to go than in service to our Creator?
The other factor is that God’s grace does not obey human logic. In the communities that stayed open in the United States, no one has suffered. Indeed, in the Church, nothing can happen. This is God’s turf, more than anything else, especially in the Orthodox Church. Those who respect this find that there is grace and strength in Church that is not available anywhere else, and this is the place where Life is given, not taken away.
We should absolutely be singing in Church. I do. I am shoulder to shoulder with my fellow singers all through this crisis, same as I always was. None of us have gotten sick. We follow the guidelines given by the authorities in Moscow, so I have a document allowing me to attend the church since I serve there, but otherwise, nothing is different. Those who feel safer not going simply are not with us. That is fine; no one makes any judgements about them. But those of us who want to be in Church, come.
This is admittedly different in Russia than what I am hearing about in the US, and I pray that I am wrong. But in Russia, for Pascha (Easter), people were climbing into parish churches through the windows to be in the service because it mattered to be there. And this, against the decrees of the Mayor, and even of the Patriarch!
But in the US, in places like Denver, Colorado, where there never was a closure order, both the ROCOR parish (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) and the OCA catholikon are reportedly empty even though services are going on, or the people have to sign up to get into the church. The report of the empty OCA parish was heartbreaking, especially as I used to serve them as choir conductor, and even more so because I warned them years ago that there would be such a test on their faith as what has now come to pass.
It is better to obey God rather than men. There are parishes and monasteries in the United States which have decided to place their fates in their Lord’s hands. Two such communities that I know about have experienced no ill effects. In Russia and Ukraine and in the United States, there are indeed some clergy and faithful who have contracted the virus and some who have succumbed to it.
But what of that? Christianity promises that this life is not the only existence we have. The witness of the Church and Judaism before it have proclaimed this as fact for at least 3,000 to 4,000 years. Witnesses of saints who have fallen asleep in the Lord still happens, and is a present reality in some places. And yet the Church listens to and willingly surrenders her position as the Light of the World to the likes of some scientists and doctors who have their own agendas, scaring as many people as they can in the process.
This is utterly preposterous, and heartbreaking. While there is cause for anger, that anger needs to be turned into prayer and action in light of God’s will. Prayers for the confused hierarchs who have been and are being deceived by the “authorities”, prayers for our people who go and who do not go, for an infusion of new faith and purpose. I have gone through this myself. Just read my previous pieces where I was trying to find the balance. However, I know now that there is no way to balance things like this. It is either His way or not. For this Christian believer, the choice is clear.
We end with another offering from Jonathan Companik, who appears to have nailed this situation earlier than many of us.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.