Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Orthodox Church
Archpriest Steven C. Kostoff
4285 Ashland Ave, Cincinnati OH 45212 - (513) 351-0907
Coronavirus Updates, Links, and Schedule Changes

Most Recent Updates on Reopening the Churches

POSTED AUGUST 1, 2020

 

CORONAVIRUS HITS HOME - PRAYER REQUEST FOR THE GANSLES

To summarize some two weeks of updates, Katie Gansle tested positive, and the Gansles went into home quarantine mode. Dn Paul began experiencing symptoms, then Kris was taken seriously ill by it, and went into the hospital on July 27. She has had excellent treatment and appreciates the prayers and contact by all forms. The latest news is that Kris is expected to return home on Sunday, August 2, and will have some weeks of recovery and quarantine.

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JULY 28, 2020

To “bear one another’s burdens”

Dear Parish Faithful,

I received this letter from one of our parishioners, and with this parishioner's permission, I would like to share it with everyone else. For me, at least, it captures the spirit which we need to continue contending with the coronavirus'; but it is also open to the future and God's grace as we look forward to all worshipping together again "one day." 


As a Parish community we are called upon to “bear one another’s burdens” and for now this includes responsible prevention to keep others and ourselves as safe as we possibly can, no matter how inconvenient, uncomfortable or counter-intuitive it may be. How our Parish is handling this situation is “meet and right”. We miss one another and our community, as we should. All the more reason to abide by these rules and to protect one another. My heart aches when I am at Church in person just as much as in “Zoom” church. It’s so surreal...  I can say this has been a true lesson for me to not take the Divine Liturgy and all our services for granted. At the appointed time we will “in faith and love draw near“ in whatever form God wills. Only God knows what the future holds, truly something “too great and marvelous” for me to ponder. So for now, we will do all we can to stay strong in our faith, support one another, love one another and most importantly put our trust in God alone. 

_____


"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known:

I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." 

— Isaiah 42:16

 

- Fr. Steven

_____________________

JULY 18, 2020

Dear Parish Faithful,


Just received this letter and the attached article from Archbishop Paul that I would like to share with the parish. The article is a bit lengthy, and in the center there are some interesting passages from St. Basil as to how we approach "medicine" - though he was writing in the 4th c. There is a bit of Greek in there, but it should not be that obtrusive and the keys words are translated into English. The article, is a very articulate and "Gospel-centered" response to the controversy over the "mandating" of facial masks. Whatever your perspective, please set aside the time to read this thoughtful article by one of our diocesan priests.


Fr. Steven


Hello Fathers, the blessing of the Lord be upon you.
 
As you know the issue of wearing a mask has become a divisive issue in so many ways.You also know I have directed that masks be worn in our churches. I understand that a number of people may not agree with this.

I have been thinking about how to address this. When I was at the KC deanery meeting this past week, Fr. Joshua Lollar volunteered to put some thoughts together on this. I read this through and I believe it is worthwhile forwarding it to you for your prayer reflection and consideration. I leave up to you to decide if you want to share with your parishioners. I have no problem with you doing so.

I am sending this out on the RECTOR/ Priest in Charge list. If you want your deacons and other attached/assigned clergy to see this, feel free to forward this.

Fr. Joshua Lollar - One Priest’s Thoughts on Wearing a Mask (based on Patristic writings)


With love in Christ, 
+Paul 

_____________________

 

JULY 17, 2020

Coronavirus Assessment & Update from Fr. Steven

Dear Parish Faithful,

I would like to reassess just where we are as a parish as we continue to be deeply affected by the coronavirus. It has certainly been a long time since we have all been together, as our last full parish Divine Liturgy was on March 8. Perhaps it was being naive, but I was hoping that we would be much closer to reopening the parish - at least to a much greater extent - at this point in July. If I recall, these hopes go back to June 1, when our state did begin to open up a good deal, as did the parish. At that point in time, we had already passed through the harrowing months of March - May, and we were anticipating a "new spring." Unfortunately, and to our great disappointment and frustration, it was not to be. We are going through something like Phase II of the coronavirus, and we have had to act accordingly, being realistic rather than careless...

 

Read Fr. Steven's full letter to the parish, which was sent by email on July 17, 2020.

_____________________

 

JULY 2, 2020

A SOBERING UPDATE - A Call for Common Sense & Vigilance

Dear Parish Faithful,


Here is a recent update on the COVID virus from Steve Mayhugh.  Things are not looking up here in Hamilton County, as cases continue to increase. We will certainly not exceed our current level of 25 worshipers per service as this trend continues. And we hope that we will not have to take a backward step. It is essential, of course, that everyone follows the directive to wear a mask and maintain strict social distancing while in church. If anyone thinks that they have been exposed to the danger of the virus, then you need to graciously decline to come to church for awhile, even if you come up on the list again. 

If the nation as a whole would abide by these scientifically-sourced and common sense directives, we would not be facing the crisis that continues unabated. Every study shows how the simple practice of wearing a face mask and social distancing is effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19. This is not the time to go "anti-science" or embrace a "nobody tells me what to do" approach. Psychologically, as the nation "opened up," too many people were done with the virus and began acting irresponsibly as many images on the news make painfully clear. As a nation, we are being mocked in Europe for this carelessness, as these very images are being spread there; and we are now banned from travelling to Europe, joining Russia and Brazil on that banned list. On the home front, some states have to take a backward step and impose restrictions again on certain establishments and gathering centers. 

COVID-19 is neither a "conspiracy" nor a "hoax."  Therefore, let us "love one another" by thinking of our neighbor as we think of ourselves, as we continue to monitor this dangerous situation with vigilance.

- Fr. Steven

 

Hi Fr. Steven,


The link below is for yesterday's COVID update by the governor. He begins talking about Hamilton County at around the 7:30 mark. Looks like the number of patients in the hospital for long term care has increased since earlier in the month. We are still seeing about 2-5 new hospitalizations per day, but since those patients are not leaving the hospital, once admitted, the beds are starting to fill up.

I don't think its time to cancel services yet, but we may want to think about keeping the number of parishioners at the present level, or going back down to 10 or so, to ensure the required social distancing.

Governor Mike DeWine | The Ohio Channel

 
Thanks.

Steve

 

May - June Updates

In Reverse Chrtonological Order (most recent at top)

 

JUNE 26, 2020

 

COVID UPDATE AND CAUTIONS

Dear Parish Faithful,


Below you will find an update provided by Steve Mayhugh, our parish council vice-president. The news is "mixed," in that cases are increasing, but hospitalizations are not, and most importantly, neither are deaths from the coronavirus. Nevertheless, in yesterday's Cincinnati Enquirer, the headline read as follows:"'Don the mask': COVID-19 cases surging." And the article included this informative passage:

"Hamilton County recorded its highest one day total ever of new COVID-19 cases on June 18 with 332 new cases. Between June 16 and June 19, Hamilton County had more than 100 new cases a day. The county only had one day with 100 new cases in the four months prior to that. These figures include Cincinnati. The city of Cincinnati has seen a striking upswing in the illness caused by the novel coronavirus within the last week, culminating with a 100%-plus jump in new cases in one day...."

Apparently, "not out of the woods," yet. We will maintain our current practice of 25 worshipers per service until further notice. As a reminder, I have attached our "Guidelines for Limited Numbers of Worshipers During the Coronavirus." Please read through this again. I would say that the first four points on the list may be the most crucial. So be aware of them as you sign up to attend any of our liturgical services.

- Fr. Steven


_____


Hi Fr. Steven,


Looks like new cases have gone up considerably over the past 2 weeks:

6/11-6/24: 1,127
5/28-6/10: 463

I'm guessing that the increase is the result of more testing and businesses re-opening. So, the jump may not be as significant as it seems.

I have been keeping close tabs on hospitalizations and deaths, and those have not been trending upward. We've been holding steady throughout the month of June with about 5 people hospitalized per day, and deaths with 11 for the month. Only 1 death in the past week.

Hope this helps.

Steve

_____________

 

JUNE 13, 2020

 

Statement by the Chancellor and the General Counsel of the Orthodox Church in America

"The situation in society and the Church has improved because of the steps that were taken in response to the present pandemic, and so it seems fitting to take a moment a reflect on what has transpired in and for our Church..."

Read the full statement...

 

Two articles/reflections in response to Orthodox Ethos website

Dear Parish Faithful,

I want to share this "Letter of a Parish Priest to His Flock." Apparently, he is from the Diocese of the South (OCA). It is a very compelling letter with some excellent insights into our current struggle with the coronavirus. It nicely explains the issues of health and sickness in the Church; and how these twin realities are being confused in these troubled times. Yet, the article was clearly written with a definite purpose: to counteract some very unhealthy and uncharitable material that is swirling around social media as if it is the last word in Orthodoxy. It is not, but rather it is dangerous and spiritually unhealthy. There is nothing wrong with reasonable debate and even polemical writing. But there exist some Orthodox writers who seem to spend their time sniffing around for the latest heresy (within the Church), signs of apostasy or "compromise" with the world.

The other essay, The Holy Church, Holy Communion, and an Orthodox Ethos, from one of our new bishops, Alexis - which offers a profound understanding of the Church and Eucharist - has the same purpose. Social media is a tempting and attractive platform on which to launch judgmental attacks that serve no good purpose. To hide behind the rhetoric of "speaking the truth" is also ingenuous, because we are "to speak the truth in love," and there is no sign of love/charity in a good deal of these condemnatory writings. However, that is not the main point; which is that both articles are a fine articulation of what we are facing in the coronavirus and how and why we have reacted as we have.

His Eminence, Archbishop Paul sent them to all(?) the priests in the diocese, leaving it up to us as to whether or not distribute them. I, for one, think that they are very much worth reading.

Fr. Steven

 

JUNE 8, 2020

CONTINUING TO EXPAND

With the blessings of Archbishop Paul, we will be able to expand to twenty-five worshipers by next weekend (June 13-14). I will contact those of you who have signed up in the next day or two.

 

CONCERNING THE EUCHARIST

Here is a recent and very thoughtful and pastoral letter from Archbishop Paul on why the decision was made to temporarily change the means by which we have administered the Eucharist under these trying conditions of late caused by the coronavirus.   I expect  everyone to read this letter by His Eminence. He also touches on the issue of wearing masks to church, which we will continue to practice for the immediate future. The letter is well-stated and pastorally-driven on both counts. The main point is that everyone must say to her/himself: This is not about "me," and what I think or believe. It is about my/our brothers and sisters in the Faith, and how we must respond pastorally to a wide range of responses, anxieties and fears. I will write further in the upcoming days concerning any change in our practice here in the parish.


You will notice that there exists a Comment section following the letter. Please feel free to voice your opinion or reaction with His Eminence upon reading his letter.


https://www.midwestfamily.org/reflections/bishop-pauls-reflections/masks-and-other-changes/

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MAY 5, 2020

DIRECTIVES FOR REOPENING THE DIOCESE

  • Bishop Paul's Pastoral Letter to the Midwest Diocese;
  • Watch for further announcements from Fr Steven regarding our parish schedule and procedures as we begin the process of reopening.

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MAY 1, 2020

PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE HOLY SYNOD OF THE OCA

 

April Updates

 

APRIL 25, 2020

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

"God has raised him from the dead - Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."

- I Thess. 1:10 (The earliest written text we have attesting to the resurrection of Christ)

No New Directives - Have not heard anything from Bp. Paul yet about any new directives effecting our liturgical life in the church.

Parish Stewardship - We have been receiving a steady flow of pledges throughout the last couple of weeks. Please either send your pledge to the church or to our treasurer, Darren Payne.

Next Zoom Class- We will have a zoom class on Wednesday, April 29, at 7:00 p.m. It will continue our discussion of the Resurrection of Christ, on balance a rather exciting theme (IMHO).

The next class is entitled: "I COR. 15:1-11 - The Resurrection and Holy Tradition." In other words, we will take a close look at that particular text from the Apostle Paul to uncover what he reveals about the resurrection and its central place in the Holy Tradition of the Church. Join us for what should be a stimulating discussion!

__________

 

APRIL 18, 2020

Dear Parish Faithful,


If you do not have the OCA Pascha service book for later tonight, here are two approximations to the service as we will do it. The first is the Reader Service version of Nocturn and Matins. Everything is included except for the Litanies. We thank Kris Gansle for sharing the link.

Ralph explains the second form. That carries the service as we will do it, though probably a bit fuller.


https://www.oca.org/holy-week-pascha-pentecostarion-services


Dear Father Steven,

I may have found a version of the OCA Pascha Service Book, that has been set up in a different format, but might be essentially the same. (I don’t have the OCA book to compare.)


This is a PDF done by St Symeon’s in Birmingham in 2016. It does not have any introductory notes or explanation as to its source, but in the appendix at the end (pp 194ff), it specifically references two different practices for Ode 9 of the Paschal Canon, citing John Erickson and Fr Paul Lazor. Perhaps if such a reference is included in the OCA Service Booklet, that might be a quick affirmation of the overall consistency of this book with what we are using.


https://www.stsymeon.com/files/Printable-Services/Pascha-Web.pdf

 

______________

 

APRIL 11:

NEW! - Extensive resources for following the Holy Week Services at home, compiled from the websites of the OCA and our Diocese of the Midwest

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Read Fr Steven's meditation, 'I am Lazarus':

excerpt:

"I am the 'friend' of Jesus - he or she whom he loved. For me Jesus has wept. Before my tomb, so to speak, he has wrestled with the cost of life-giving love. It is to call me forth into life, to strip from me the bands of death that Jesus has come into the world and given his life. So I am to read the  forthcoming account of the passion and death of Jesus with intimate personal involvement, knowing that Jesus is undergoing all this insult and suffering for love of me and to give life to me." 

 

Continue reading...

______________

 

APRIL 10:

Read Fr Steven's new Introduction to Holy Week...

excerpt:

Christ's Passion Week "confronts us again with the most crucial challenge: 'to dare to be saints by the power of God ... To dare to have holy respect and reverence for ourselves, as we are redeemed and sanctified by the blood of Christ ... To dare to have the courage to grasp the great power that has been given to us, at the same time realizing that this power is always made perfect in infirmity, and that it is not a possession'." 

 

Continue reading...

______________

 

APRIL 6:

The Coming End of Great Lent, plus numerous updates
 

From Fr Steven:

Beginning today and through Friday inclusive, there are only five more days of Great Lent remaining. I feel assured in saying that this has to be the most unusual Great Lent we have experienced, even for those of us who have been around for awhile. I encourage everyone to persevere to the end, or simply to "stick with the program." It is good for both body and soul, and it keeps us connected to the church when we are feeling the effects of being disconnected. Next weekend, we celebrate the great events of the Raising of Lazarus and Palm Sunday - a festal interlude before Holy Week and Pascha. I do not know what the week has in store for us, but I hoping to be able to serve the Liturgy on Sunday for the Feast of Palms. I will keep everyone informed.

Continue reading...

 

Primatial Message of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon:

  • Read or watch a very personal message from His Beatitude
  • Includes online OCA Church School update & schedule for this week

 

The Sign of the Prophet Jonah in our days

  • A new message from Bishop Alexis of Bethesda

 

__________

 

APRIL 3, 2020

LIVESTREAMING OF AKATHIST HYMN, Friday, April 3 at 7:00pm

Dear Parish Faithful,

The Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos is prescribed to be served on the Fifth Saturday of Great Lent. We always do it on Friday evening "in anticipation." We will chant the hymn this evening beginning at 7:00 p.m. The service will be streamed, so if you would like to join us, please follow Ralph's directions below. I doubt you will be overwhelmed aesthetically, but we will do our best to present this beautiful and justifiably famous hymn in honor of the Mother of God in a respectful manner.

Fr. Steven

 

Dear Father Steven,

I believe I have everything prepared for video streaming on Facebook.

The main thing now is to get as many of our parishioners to like and follow our Facebook page as possible.

Please send out this link to the parish, and ask everyone to “Like” and follow our page:
https://www.facebook.com/Christ-The-Savior-Holy-Spirit-Orthodox-Church-136624613405303/

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

And now for something a bit more cheerful ...

Here is an article from the OCA webpage about the history behind the OCA's 50th Anniversary of receiving autocephaly:

https://www.oca.org/news/headline-news/50th-anniversary-of-the-agreement-on-autocephaly

______________

APRIL 2, 2020

Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council Issue Coronavius Statements

SYOSSET, NY [OCA]

Following from their Monday, March 30, 2020, special meeting, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon and the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America have today issued an Archpastoral letter concerning the Coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak, and Directives for the Clergy and the Parish, Mission, and Monastic Communities of the Orthodox Church in America.

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon convened by teleconference a special session of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America. Following from that meeting a Joint Communique of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Councilhas been issued, and can be read here. [PDF versions of all three documents may be found on this last link as well.]

________

 

March 28:

Online Retreat with Dr. Peter Bouteneff, Sat. April 4

Dear Parish Faithful,

I believe that many of you have read Peter Bouteneff's book How To Be a Sinner. Here is an online retreat based on his book scheduled for next Saturday. April 4. I heard his presentation in Dayton back in February with a few of our other parishioners. It was very well done, and I would recommend it. A good way to get your mind off of the coronavirus.

Full info and register online for the retreat here.

________

 

March 27:

Reflection from His Grace Bishop Alexis of Bethesda

Dear Parish Faithful,

I am sending this link from the OCA website to a very profound, challenging, though deeply comforting theological reflection from His Grace Bishop Alexis of Bethesda, actually fairly-newly consecrated. It is a genuine response written from a well-conceived Orthodox perspective. We are turning our homes into "prayer cells" if we are indeed using this time to learn how to pray more and with humility, in the face of our own fears and anxieties.

I realize that many of you are availing yourselves of streaming the Liturgy on Sunday morning as a way of some form of participation from the many sources making that streaming available. But I would also remind you to actually pray in an active way through the Typika or Reader Service. Again, I offer the pastoral suggestion that you pray the Typika together with me on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. I will have at least one other person - perhaps two - for that service here with me in the church since we cannot celebrate the Liturgy. Praying the Typika is more active, while "watching" is, by definition, more passive. Or, you can combine the two, as the Typika is less than thirty minutes, and you can then "tune in" to one of the streamed Liturgies where one is able to be celebrated.

In Christ,

Fr. Steven

 

A PRAYER FOR OUR TIME

Read Fr Steven's brief meditation, with a couple of very helpful attachments, including The Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina.

 

Assembly of Bishops launches COVID-19 Resource Center

NEW YORK – The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA announces a resource center for clergy and faithful during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Resource Center includes updated news from the various jurisdictions as well as practical guidelines and resources for families, ministry leaders, parish leadership, and everyone.

The Center can be accessed at http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/covid19 and will be updated regularly with new materials and expanded selections.

______________

 

MARCH 24:

 

FEAST of the ANNUNCIATION

Dear Parish Faithful,


Presvytera and I just concluded a modified version of the Great Vespers for the Feast of the Annunciation at the church. Tomorrow morning, I will do the Typika (Reader Service for the Feast). I am sending you the link from our Diocesan website so that you can do this service in your homes tomorrow, March 25. It is a beautiful and wonderful Feast. It is the Feast of the Incarnation - the great Mystery of God becoming man in and through the Virgin Mary, who is therefore truly the Theotokos!

Typika for Annunciation


Fr. Steven

* See also our Annunciation Festal Resource Page

________________________

 

NEW DIRECTIVES

Dear Parish Faithful,


"For God has not destined us for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live through him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (I Thess. 5:10-11)

 

New Directives - I am expecting to receive new directives from Bp.Paul within the hour. To anticipate, he will confirm what I stated yesterday, that all public liturgical services are to be suspended indefinitely. Not quite sure when that will take effect, but we will know soon.

UPDATE - Bp Paul's Letter to the Midwest Diocese: Public Services Suspend in Diocese of the Midwest

Can We Offer Assistance? - We are trying to figure out the most effective way of responding to anyone's particular needs. Please contact me if you need any kind of assistance - from a ride to a food delivery, etc. Many of you have readily responded to be on alert if a need arises. We have various parishioners committed in various parts of the tri-state area. We hope that everyone is fine, but if not, we want to offer assistance. We must "bear one another's burdens," as the Apostle Paul teaches. And remember the "phone ministry" I encouraged yesterday. Some people may just need that phone call and a concerned and caring voice.

Confessing Your Sins - I am more than willing to schedule a phone confession with anyone. Please send me a date and time and I will let you know if that works. 

Parish Pledging - More than a few parishioners have asked me about to fulfill one's stewardship pledge at this time. I spoke with our treasurer, Darren Payne, and we thought the simplest method was to either mail your pledge in to the church and Darren plans on coming down to pick up the bills together with the collected pledges; or mail your pledge directly to Darren, at: 7520 Hollywood Dr. West Chester OH 45069.

The Jesus Prayer - A reminder that Orthodox Christians around the world are saying the Jesus Prayer - according to their own time zone - between 10:00 - 10:15 p.m. 

Suggestions for Ongoing Communication - The governor's "stay at home" mandate is now in effect. Here are some good suggestions for staying "in touch" as a parish community, though we cannot communicate the best way, which is "face-to-face: 

  • Lenten recipes
  • Activities to do at home with kids
  • Crafts or hobbies to share..photos of personal art projects
  • Ideas of what to do around the house during our 'stay-at-home' days-DYI
  • Photos of the parish members in general..just a smiling face 😁
  • Ways to reach out to neighbors and parish members


Please send me any contributions that you may have to the above list. I will forward everything to the parish.

- Fr. Steven

March Updates

Updated March 22, 2020, 11:50 PM EDT

 

MARCH 21:

OHIO ORDERS 'STAY AT HOME' DIRECTIVE

"Today is the day we batten down the hatches." Order comes at a new stage in the fight against COVID-19.

Effective from 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 23, through April 6, DeWine said... the order requires all Ohioans to stay home or "shelter in place," with a few exceptions: The order allows people to leave their homes for "essential activities" like going to the grocery, seeking medical services, or seeking any supplies or services deemed "essential," outdoor activity like walks, and going to work. "You can leave home to take care of others," said DeWine. "You can take care of your neighbor, your family, your friend."

DeWine pointed to the health order document, which is available on the Ohio Department of Health's website, as a "blueprint" of what you're allowed to do under its directive. The website also includes an FAQ and additional information on Ohio's response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Compiled from reports on WSAZ and WCPO.

 

NEW - SERVICE OF TYPIKA for 3/22, for those not at the Divine Liturgy

  • Includes Epistle, Gospel, Prokeimenon, Alleluia Verses,
  • plus Troparia and Kontakion for this Sunday

 

MARCH 21:

WORLDWIDE PRAYER CHAIN

Dear Parish Faithful,

I received this just yesterday. It is up to you if you would like to join this Worldwide Prayer Chain.

Join a worldwide common prayer chain, that I think originated from Mount Athos, that asks everyone from 10:00-10:15 every evening to offer up the Jesus Prayer - "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon your world." Each time zone around the world will offer the prayer in their own local time of 10 pm, so that we form a never-ending prayer chain around the world.

The Jesus Prayer is at the very heart of Orthodox prayer, as the invocation of this sacred Name makes present the Lord Jesus Christ. The traditional wording of the prayer has been creatively changed so that the prayer embraces the whole world that is now in danger. Although our gatherings in church are for the time being few and only comprising the smallest of groups, this prayer will also keep us connected through that mystical thread that only prayer can attain when offered in faith and love.

And here is a wonderful text from St. Isaac the Syrian, the great "mystic" who was able to find genuine words of consolation in difficult times based on his close relationship with God:

Even if all ills and evils and dangers should surround and frighten you, give no heed to them, neither take them into account. If once you have set your faith in the Lord Who is Himself sufficient for your protection and your care, and if you are following after Him, take no thought again for any such thing, but say to your soul: 'He suffices me for all, to Whom I have altogether committed myself.'  

Fr. Steven

 

MARCH 20:

IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH:

Dear Parish Faithful,

"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mk. 8:34)


Archpastoral Directive: To reinforce one final time, only ten persons are allowed to be present at the service on Sunday. These ten have already been informed. Please use the available resources for praying at home as a family. Please keep His Grace Bishop Paul in your prayers as he is under a great deal of pressure. Please keep me in your prayers as I, too, must continue to make decisions with the well-being of the parish in mind.

Diocesan Resource Page: This is a pretty complete resource page now available for all of the faithful of the Midwest Diocese. There are reflections touching on issues raised by the coronavirus, including an edited version of a reflection I wrote last week about Holy Communion; and a full selection of the various services that we can say in our homes, all available to be printed.  https://domoca.org/coronavirus-resource-page/

Keep in Contact - A very good time to use our parish directory to keep in touch with each other through phone calls or emailing. Let us "love one another" as we exclaim in the Liturgy and not overly isolate ourselves.


Scriptural Readings for Sunday:  Epistle:   Heb. 4:14-5:6        Gospel:  Mk. 8:34-9:1

Reader: Erin Lockridge

 

Read Fr Steven's classic meditation, The Cross: 'To Refresh Our Souls and Encourage Us', with a new preface for the Coronavirus crisis.

___________________

 

MARCH 19:

Read Fr Steven's newest post: Prayers and a Paragraph

 

CONFESSION BY PHONE:

Dear Parish Faithful,

I hope everyone is feeling well and making all of the difficult adjustments to daily life with as little pain as possible. We are told to expect a significant "spike" in the growing number of coronavirus cases these next four days or so. Be vigilant and be safe!

I wanted to raise the issue of Confession in this note. I am perfectly willing to do confessions over the phone (something I have done before and which other priests are also planning). So, if you already have a time slot scheduled, I am hoping that you would be willing to keep it. For this coming Saturday, numerous slots are open. Please contact me at your convenience.  Also, weekday appointments may also be made.

May God be merciful!

Fr. Steven

 ___________________

 

MARCH 18:

From Fr Steven: COVID Update 3/18 - With Caution, Trust and Prayer

Dear Parish Faithful, Please add this specifically-prepared prayer to your already existing personal prayer:

O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in thine ineffable goodness, look down upon us, thy people gathered in thy Holy Name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. Thou knowest our weakness. Thou hearest our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who lovest mankind, deliver us from the impending threat of the Corona Virus. Send thine angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians and preserve those who are healthy. Enable us to continue to serve our suffering brothers and sisters in peace that together we my glorify thy most honorable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages or ages. Amen.

___________________

 

MARCH 17:

From Fr Steven: UPDATES: Statement from Holy Synod, Schedule Changes, more

Holy Synod Issues Coronavirus Statment; Metropolitan Tikhon Addresses the Faithful

Bp Paul's Directives for the Diocese of the Midwest regarding Coronavirus:

"My beloved brothers and sisters, perhaps this is the time more than ever that we need to turn to the idea of the family as a little church to help us through this crisis. Have your families become a little church as you are called to be. We have put prayers for various services on the Coronavirus resources page of the Midwest Diocese website. Come to experience the breaking of bread at your meals as eucharistic events. Turn your homes into a 'house of prayer'.”

 

SCHEDULE UPDATES:

  • Wed. 3/18 Presanctified Liturgy CANCELED
  • Fri. 3/20 Akathist Hymn CANCELED
  • Sat. 3/21 Great Vespers CANCELED
  • NO COFFEE HOUR, CHURCH SCHOOL, OR YOUTH GROUP
  • SUNDAY LITURGY LIMITED TO NO MORE THAN 10;
    • Watch for messages from Fr Steven on Sunday Liturgy attendance.
  • We will serve the Vesperal Liturgy for the Feast of the Annunciation on Wednesday evening, March 25.

___________________

 

March 16, 2020

Read Fr Steven's reflection and update, An Unforeseen Lent, with counsel and helps for keeping Great Lent during the coronavirus crisis.

 

Initial Coronavirus Posts and Updates

March 11-15, 2020

 

IN REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

 

From Fr Steven, Sunday, March 15, 8:19am:

Attached is the service that should be prayed at home, this weekend, by those who are unable to come to church:

NOTE: This can be prayed in your icon corner, and is the same as the "Readers Service" which replaces the Divine Liturgy when Fr Steven is traveling and a substitute priest cannot be found.

 

From Fr. Steven, March 14, 1:43pm:

Dear Parish Faithful,

I continue to monitor the tense situation with the coronavirus and  I am in conversation with professional healthcare personnel and other Orthodox priests. At the same time, I feel a moral and pastoral responsibility to the parish and our larger community, to protect everyone's well-being.

Therefore, taking my lead from the directive of Archbishop Alexander Golitsin of the Diocese of the South, we are going to drastically limit the number of participants at tomorrow's Liturgy. 

If you have not received a personal phone call from me, please do not come to the Liturgy here tomorrow morning.  

I continue to believe that we should serve the Liturgy, which is offered on behalf of the entire parish, our city and "all humankind."

In Christ,

Fr. Steven

 

NOTES:

 

Posted March 13, 2020:

Statement of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America on the Corona Virus

Read Fr Steven's message: Further Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, and Pastoral Directives

 

Posted March 11-12:

Statement from Bp. Paul concerning the Coronavirus. - A reminder to keep our interior eye on Christ as the "one thing needful."

Letter from the chancellor of the OCA regarding COVID-19 or coronavirus. We should all heed the practical "common sense" contained in this letter.

Also:

Read Fr Steven's message, Holy Communion and the Coronavirus - A Pastoral Response.

Permanent Links and Resources

Christ wakes from sleep, stills the raging storm
Christ wakes from sleep, stills the raging storm
Christ wakes from sleep, stills the raging storm

 

JUNE 26, 2020

PARISH GUIDELINES

 

MAY 6, 2020

DIRECTIVES FOR REOPENING THE MIDWEST DIOCESE

  • Bishop Paul's May 5 Pastoral Letter to the Midwest Diocese;
  • Watch for further announcements from Fr Steven regarding our parish schedule and procedures.

 

PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE HOLY SYNOD OF THE OCA

__________

Extensive resources for following the divine services at home,

compiled from the websites of the OCA and our Diocese of the Midwest

Explore our PASCHA TO PENTECOST RESOURCE SECTION

All Services will be streamed live on our Facebook page

Daily Scripture Readings and Lives of the Saints

Service of the Typika (Readers Service, General Text) 

Changeable Liturgical Texts - from the OCA website

Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

Fr Steven's Meditations and Counsel through the Coronavirus Crisis

Parish Health Care Workers - Scroll down for the list of our parishioners on the front lines, and remember them in your prayers!

CONFESSION BY PHONE:

Dear Parish Faithful,

I am perfectly willing to do confessions over the phone (something I have done before and which other priests are also planning). Please contact me at your convenience.  Also, weekday appointments may also be made.

May God be merciful!

Fr. Steven

 

Special OCA Page:

Resources for the Coronavirus Outbreak:

  • Includes Health Resources from the CDC and WHO,
  • Guidance from OCA Clergy & Hierarchs,
  • Links to Orthodox parishes and monasteries offering live-streamed services,
  • Online resources for doing Readers Services at home,
  • Family educational resources,
  • and much, much more, with additions to come in the days and weeks ahead.

Special Diocese of the Midwest Page:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Page:

  • Includes Statements and Updates from our Hierarchs
  • Preventive Measures from the CDC (Center for Disease Control)
  • "The Little Church" - Lenten Services for the Home
  • Livestreams for Divine Services
  • Pastoral Reflections from Diocesan Clergy
Parish Health Care Workers

Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea assisting a physician
Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea assisting a physician
Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea assisting a physician
Updated April 6, 2020

 

PARISH HEALTH CARE WORKERS

Dear Parish Faithful,

Here are the health-care workers in our parish who are on the "front lines" of the battle with the coronavirus. Please keep them in your daily prayers.

If I have inadvertently forgotten a name, please accept my sincere apology and contact me to remind me of your role.

  • Sarah (daughter-in-law of Peter and Di Carter,  an ER doctor and she is pregnant)
  • Jessica
  • Sarah
  • Adam (brother of Anthony Flick)
  • Courtney
  • Shannon
  • Hanh
  • Joshua
  • Tony
  • Amy
  • Arthur
  • Amanda
  • Joe
  • Katie
  • Michaealanne
  • Michael
  • Wagih
  • Radu
  • Jeff Rohal  (Kris Gansle's brother)
  • Kirsten Sutherlin (Kris Gansle's goddaughter and cousin)
  • Susan (presvytera's sister)
  • Emily (my daughter's close friend)
  • Lauren (my niece)
  • Jessica (my son's girlfriend)
  • Linca (Presvytera's sister-in-law)


In Christ,

Fr. Steven

 

Theotokos, Our Refuge

Click to view/download medium-size JPG image file
Click to view/download medium-size JPG image file
Click to view/download medium-size JPG image file
May 18, 2020

 

Dear Parish Faithful,

Christ is Risen!   

Indeed He is Risen!

Here is a beautiful new icon "written" by an iconographer who desires to remain anonymous. You can read his short note to Mother Christophora below. The icon, in turn, was sent to us by Mother Paula of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, PA. 

- Fr Steven

  • Download the full-size file, 2614x3509 pixels, PNG image format, 10.2MB; suitable for printing:
  • Theotokos-CovidIcon.png

 

Dear friends, 

Thought you would like to see this beautiful icon recently painted. Our local iconographer sent this photo to share.

Yours in our Risen Christ,

Mother Paula

Mother Christophora,

Attached is a photograph of an icon I have finished for the covid-19 pandemic.
I have sent this to a number of people in the hopes that they will in turn send it to others.
It is my hope that it may be a comfort to many.  I do not need my name mentioned, as I want ownership to be by no one/everyone.  There are no end use restrictions and it can be reproduced  if one desires.  

I hope you will like it, and if you do, that you will make it available to as many as possible.

 

Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

View Full Size
View Full Size
View Full Size

 

The Morning Prayer
of the Last Elders of Optina


O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming
day brings to me with spiritual tranquility.
Grant that I may fully surrender myself
to Thy holy Will.

 

At every hour of this day, direct and support me
in all things.

 

Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day,
teach me to accept it with a calm soul
and the firm conviction that all is subject
to Thy holy Will.

 

Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions.
In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget
that all is sent down from Thee.

 

Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely
with every member of my family,
neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.

 

O Lord, grant me the strength to endure
the fatigue of the coming day and all the events
that take place during it.

 

Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe,
to hope, to be patient, to forgive
and to love.

 

AMEN.

 

Download the PDF version

Order the plaque from Uncut Mountain Supply

 

Icons of Saints interceding for us

The Theotokos & St. Nikephoros before our Crucified Lord

(SOC-EAD) - During this pandemic, as we collectively experience the global outbreak and exponential spread of the coronavirus, the Venerable Nikephoros the Leper appeared to someone in Greece and told him: “Tell the people not to be afraid of the virus. And, in the event that someone gets infected, tell them to pray to me and I will help them.”

 

Rendered at the hands of iconographer, Archimandrite Evsevije (Meandzija), a Serbian post-graduate student at the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, this new icon for our times, represents the Theotokos and St. Nikephoros praying before the Crucified Lord to save humankind from the coronavirus.

 

Read a brief life of St Nikiphoros here.

St Nikiforos the Leper (†1964)
St Nikiforos the Leper (†1964)

 

Saint Nikiforos (1887-1964) is a saint of our time.

 

Born in Greece in 1887, he suffered from leprosy and was sent to live in a leper colony at age 13. He joined the monastery of Chios in 1916 at age 24. He bore his ailment and its disfiguring effects with patience, chanting in the church and praying ceaselessly. He was given the grace to prophesy and work miracles. When he fell asleep in the Lord on January 4, 1964, his relics emitted a fragrant scent. He was glorified as a saint in 2012.

 

St Nikiforos, The Leper and Wonderworker (Zoë Press)

St Nikiforos the Leper - Paraklesis & Akathist Booklet (Zoë Press)

New Icon of St Nikiforos the Leper (Legacy Icons)

 

Assembly of Bishops COVID-19 Resources

 

Assembly of Bishops COVID-19 Resource Center

NEW YORK – The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA announces a resource center for clergy and faithful during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Resource Center includes updated news from the various jurisdictions as well as practical guidelines and resources for families, ministry leaders, parish leadership, and everyone.

The Center can be accessed at http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/covid19 and will be updated regularly with new materials and expanded selections.


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