I send my blessings and comfort to our people in this season of Great Lent.
The daily developments in the Coronvirus/COVID-19 pandemic are troubling to witness, and are affecting everyone in our society. Our church cannot be unmoved by these developments. In issuing the following directive, the Eastern Diocese has been guided by medical and other professionals, our sister churches, and His Holiness the Catholicos of All Armenians.
1. Liturgical Services: This Sunday, March 15, the Holy Badarak will be conducted as usual so that we may offer our prayers as a people before the holy altar of the Lord. At the same time, those faithful who prefer not to attend church—out of concern for their own health and welfare, and that of their families and society at large—are emphatically urged to stay home. A separate directive will give guidance for the weeks following March 15.
2. Non-Liturgical Events: It is our strongest recommendation that, at least until Easter (April 12), all non-liturgical events in the parishes should be cancelled.
3. Resources from Medical Authorities: We recommend that you follow the directions given by your local authorities, as well as the important information linked here:
4. Prayer of Healing: I am asking all of our faithful, particularly those who are unable to attend church, to offer the following prayer:
“Lord our God, enthroned among the angels, as you gaze here below from your holy heights, look down on all of us, your servants, who are suffering through the fear, uncertainty, pain and death surrounding the current pandemic. Take away every sickness and pain, and restore health and hope to all those who are ailing. Glory, lordship and honor to you, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
“Տէր Աստուած մեր, որ նստիս ի վերայ քերովբէից, եւ հայիս յանդունդս, հայեա՛ց ի մեզ ծառայս քո ի բարձրութենէ սրբութեան քո. հեռացո՛ ի մէնջ զամենայն ախտս եւ զամենայն ցաւս, ե տո՛ւր զառողջութիւն եւ զյոյս զամենայն աւուրս կենաց մերոց։ Եւ քեզ փառք, իշխանութիւն եւ պատիւ այժմ եւ միշտ եւ յաւիտեանս յաւիտենից. ամէն։”
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Naturally, the Diocese will issue further directives as the situation develops.
But most of all, in this season of the year, and amid such an unprecedented situation, let us recall the mystery of Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross. Imagine the fear and despair of his followers, in whom Christ had instilled such hope. From their limited human perspective, the sight of Jesus hanging on a cross was an unmitigated disaster. And yet, somehow, in a way they could not yet perceive, the Crucifixion became for all humanity the doorway to the Kingdom of Heaven, with all of its glory and eternal joy.
Let us pray that almighty God, in His own time and mysterious manner, will guide us past the pain of the present moment, to bring life and hope to all humanity.
With my prayers,