My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

            As we enter Great Lent this year, we do so in a way that is most interesting. It was a year ago, on March 15th , the Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas, that our Metropolitan made the extraordinary decision to cease in person services due to the very real threat of Covid-19. All of the other Metropolises followed suit shortly after.  This was after many weeks of uncertainty of what should be done to protect the faithful as it became painfully obvious that this pandemic was serious and spreading.

Throughout the majority of Great and Holy Lent for 2020, our faithful were unable to attend services. By God’s Grace, St. Basil already livestreamed services, but other parishes did not. It was the most trying time of our faithful as the original hope was to only close for a few weeks and pray that we could celebrate Pascha in person together. That did not happen, and we did not worship in person together for some time after.

Now, for many months we have worshiped in person. At first with a handful, then 10, then 25, then 50, and then we added Saturday “At Risk Liturgies” for the faithful to come and worship safely. There is abundant hope that we may have more people able to worship together for Pascha of this year, even if not without safety restrictions still in place.

Now, as of writing this article, 10% of the American population has received the vaccine. Infection rates and deaths are lowering quickly, and this fills this Lent with a different feeling than the previous. Now, instead of entering with fear, we are entering with hope. We enter with joy that we will be able to not only livestream our services, but have parishioners attend the services safely thanks to the hard work of our Covid-19 Safety Committee and the willingness of our faithful stewards in participating in the safety measures.

Even with those measures, a number of our faithful still have not returned, and we respect their decision to wait until the conclusion of the pandemic. My invitation, though, for those who would like to attend Church, but have been nervous about the number of people on Sundays, is to come to one of the many Lenten Services this year.  None of these service traditionally have more than 10-12 participants.

Join us for Great Compline on Monday Nights at 6:00 p.m.

This service has some of the most profound prayers and hymns. From the Penetential prayer of Manasse to the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem, to the stirring antiphonal chanting of “For God is with us,” to the tear inducingly hopeful hymn of “Lord of the Powers,” the faith participant experiences all of the emotion of Great Lent in the somber dimly lit church .

Join us for Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts on Wednesday Nights at 5:30 p.m. and Friday Mornings at 6:30 a.m.

During Great Lent, with the exception of the Feast of the Annunciation, we are not permitted to offer the Divine Liturgy as we normally do. The Church, recognizing the spiritual need for the Eucharist to strengthen then faithful during their Lenten Journey prescribed this Special and moving Liturgy to offer that solace and strength. For those wishing to receive Communion, please do not eat anything (unless medically necessary) after 1:00 p.m.

Join us for the Salutations Service to the Theotokos on Friday Nights at 6:00 p.m.

During Great Lent, we turn to the Mother of God to give us her loving comfort as she intercedes to her Son on our behalf. This beautiful service features the Akathist Hymn split into four parts before being offered in its fullness on the 5th Friday of Great Lent. During each stanza that mirrors the Greek Alphabet with the first word of each stanza corresponding to the next Letter, we hear about the nature of our Lady and her love for us as chant unto her “Hail, O Bride unwed,” while exalting our God and chanting “Halleluia!”

Especially because these services were denied you last year by the Pandemic, it is my hope that you will take part this year and enliven your Lenten Journey in a powerful way!

 

Your servant in Christ,

Fr. Dimitri.