Holy Annunciation Orthodox Church
Holy Annunciation
Orthodox Church
15 Prospect Street, Maynard, MA 01752 | 978-897-7695
Theotokos, and Ever Virgin Mary
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Parish Service Hours

*Outdoor Service Guidelines*

Regular Schedule
**Adjusted Weekly During COVID-19**
Great Vespers:
Saturday, 5 PM
Divine Liturgy: Sunday, 9 AM

Feast Days
Vespers:
6:30 PM
Liturgy: 9:30 AM

Orthodox Church in America

International Orthodox Christian Charities

Photo of Fr. Robert

Message from Fr. Robert

Pastoral Letter - Lent 2020

The only constant in life is change—Heraclitus

How true these words are at this moment! Three weeks ago, I was preparing for the visit of His Beatitude, brother clergy, and deanery faithful and friends for our patronal feast of Annunciation, discussing our Lenten services with Matushka, plotting my baking, cleaning, and ironing schedule, preparing for the Spring Bazaar with Anna, trying to find new and enticing ways to get you to commit to confession and better attendance at the divine services. The current pandemic has relegated all of those plans moot.

Today, I write to convince you, nay, compel you to stay away from the treasure beyond value—the divine services. I never dreamed that I would do such a thing as shepherd of the Lord’s flock.

In his missive sent late Saturday night, His Beatitude requested that all services other than liturgy be canceled and that at the liturgies, only a minimal participation be allowed. This is hard news to read and hear, but essential to the protection of the most vulnerable in our midst. This mandate is rooted in the knowledge that only social distancing can flatten the curve of this epidemic. Big words. Important concept. What does it all mean?

The long and short of it is this: in any epidemic if we do nothing, there will be an immediate spike in infections. Such a spike overwhelms the medical system, no matter how robust it may be, and deprives needed care to those who have chronic conditions requiring regular medical attention (estimated to be in excess of 60,000,000 Americans). Hospital admissions are reduced to triage with medical personnel deciding who lives and who dies, a violation of the Hippocratic Oath to “first, do no harm.” As a result, medical care and equipment are at a premium; not enough specialists, nurses, care-givers, or beds, ventilators, protective equipment. Many deaths occur that are needless because the system cannot manage all of the cases from the epidemic with those who need care for other reasons. The only way to avoid such a scenario is to spread the number of infections from the coronavirus over a much longer time, thus, elongating or flattening the spike.

Thus, our civil authorities have enforced immediate social distancing by closing schools, libraries, restaurants, bars, gyms, town halls, suspending all civic events, and encouraging employers to allow all non-essential employees to work from home. Furthermore, mayors, governors, and our President have declared a limit on the number of people present at any gathering. Currently, the number is ten. In keeping with this mandate, His Beatitude has encouraged the following:

    • All parish and mission events and activities, including coffee fellowship, church school, and the rest, and all services other than the Sunday Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, the Vesperal Liturgy of the Great Feast of Annunciation, and the Presanctified Liturgies, are cancelled through March 31, beginning from today. This policy will be reviewed at that time.
    • Everyone in the parish or mission, other than the priest(s) (and deacon(s)), a reader, a server, and a limited number of chanters or singers (all of whom are physically strong and at low risk for COVID-19), is encouraged to remain at home, even at the time of the Divine Liturgy.

There is a part of us that wants to ignore this strong advice, to show the world that nothing will happen to us, to believe that we will survive, and/or those who don’t survive deserve to perish. Rather, I challenge you, dear brothers and sisters, to remember that we are bound to God and to each other through self-emptying, sacrificial, and unconditional love, the same love that God has revealed to us through his Son on the Cross. Our compliance with the mandate to stay home, not to assemble, as we have always done, is an act of the very same love, not a sign of moral weakness. Therefore, as your spiritual shepherd, I strongly ask each one of us to take the direction of His Beatitude to remain home as an act of selfless, unconditional love, a love for all, that all may know the love of God through our compassion for others.

As of this writing, the Church is closed to all except those invited by Matushka to sing and me to serve. Stay home. Pray. Watch video services from around the world. At the end of March, this directive will be re-examined. I will let you know of any changes.

Be well. Stay sane. Be holy. Pray.
If you are in need of help, contact me.
With love in Christ,
Fr. Robert

 


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