Beloved in Christ,
“By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
My hope and prayer is that you are all well, recognizing that we find ourselves in the midst of a worldwide crisis full of temptation, through which all of humanity is suffering,
As we face these great challenges, it is worth mentioning that throughout the history of our collective church life, these events are nothing new. In the third century, throughout the Western Roman Empire, a pandemic ensued (some say it was an outbreak of ebola) which claimed many lives and instilled fear and panic among its citizens. As a result of the panic, many selfishly abandoned their loved ones concerning themselves only with themselves and behaved in unheard of and unseen ways.
However, during the time of that pandemic, there was a group of people who didn’t succumb to the panic and fear. Those were the Christians. The last pagan emperor Julian wrote in a letter, “the recent increase in the number of Christians is caused by their moral character, even if thought to be insincere, and by their charity towards strangers and concern over the graves of the dead”. He continued, “The impious Galileans (Christians) help not only their poor but also help us: everyone has noticed our own lack of care for our own”.
We mention this historic case as an example of similar circumstances to today. As difficult and worrisome as these circumstances are, it is an opportunity for us to witness to our faith, to behave selflessly, to perform acts of mercy, empathy, and love towards our fellow man. Rather than creating stockpiles of resources, let us be charitable. Rather than panic, let us spread peace, the peace which our Lord has given us, (John 14:27), let us be responsible and manifest “good discernment”.
Speaking of good discernment and responsibility towards our society and community, we have been compelled to make difficult and painful decisions. All clergy naturally invest their energy and efforts to boost awareness amongst their flock, maintaining the sacramental life in the Church as a necessity. The Holy Eucharist is both an icon and a fragmental manifestation of the Kingdom of the age to come and as such best describes the Church. It brings the participants to the proper understanding of the Mystery of the Church.
As a result of constantly changing decisions by governmental authorities, we are compelled to oblige by discouraging the gathering of our faithful at the Divine Liturgy, and all services, in a preventive effort to stop the spread of the virus. This does not mean that the Divine Liturgy and sacramental life of our parish is at a standstill. I, as your priest and intercessor before the altar of our Most High God, will continue to serve the Divine Liturgy with commemorations for the health and salvation of all of you and those whom you love, beseeching the Lord to end this struggle that we might return to His Holy Church, praying together and functioning fully as a Parish once again. Until then, I ask that you accept this new circumstance in humility and patience, with the knowledge that you are included in the liturgical prayers, just the same as those who are justifiably absent. We read in the prayer of St. Basil the Great whose Divine Liturgy we celebrate during this period of Great Lent; it reads, “Remember, O Lord, the people here present, and those who are absent for justified reasons; and according to the abundance of your mercy, have mercy upon them and us…”
Please know that Holy Communion, as the “fountain of immortality” and our “daily bread” is still available each and every day and at any time. Just contact me directly to arrange a time to meet in the church.
Finally, I encourage you to keep your faith and hope in God’s mercy strong. Please do not succumb in spirit, but rather increase your private prayers for the salvation of the world and for deliverance from this crisis. The Lord will hear our supplications!
After the rain, the sun shines brighter,
After the storm, the skies are clear,
After tears, one laughs more brightly.” (Njegos)
Yours in Christ,
Predrag Bojovic, Protopresbyter
P.S. You can contact our office or myself at any time, as well as any of the parish board members. We are here to go through this difficult trial together as a family!
Church Office – (626) 288-7343
Fr. Predrag’s Cell – (224) 388-2605
Simeun Radojevic – President (626)482-7097
UPDATE TO ALL CLERGY REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS, COVID-19
March 19, 2020
As America faces this unprecedented global Coronavirus, Covid-19, and committed to providing guidance during this crisis and fulfilling our common duty to ensure the safety of everyone, we are providing this update to our clergy.
Since at this time, our federal, state and local government guidelines and restrictions do not allow us to congregate in larger numbers, and in order for us to do our part in combatting this pandemic, we have established the following updated provisions for all parishes of the Western American Diocese, effective immediately and until further notice:
- All parishes must cancel all non-liturgical activities and social functions.
- For us, the Eucharist is an essential parameter of our faith. The Church is conceived as the place where a man can get a taste of his eternal destiny, which is the communion in God’s very life. The Eucharist as sacrament offers this foretaste. Any distancing from this sacrament is certainly painful for every Orthodox Christian. Thus, beginning this Sunday, March 22, and until further notice, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated only by the priest and two chanters/readers. Since it is Great Lent, the priest may prepare a second lamb, as we would do for the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts, which then can be used on weekdays in order to give the faithful access to the Life-Creating Mysteries of Christ, and not deprive them from the Sacrament in a troubling time. This must, however, be done in accordance with the guidelines previously set forth.
- Other liturgical services will be served in the same manner, with only clergy, and two chanters/readers. Funerals will be done in accordance with the guidelines established by the authorities and industry directors.
- As in your own personal prayer rule, so also in all services, add special prayers asking God to deliver us from this impending threat of the Coronavirus; that He sends His angel to watch over us and protect us, and grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Let us also ask that He bless the ministry of all the clergy, and guide the hands of physicians, nurses, and caregivers, and inspire the scientists and researchers in search of a vaccine, who together are laboring to bring healing and relief to those who are suffering from this virus.
- Parishes who use technology to Livestream the divine services must consult with the bishop regarding their proper use and distribution.
- All measures to ensure the cleaning and sanitizing of all church facilities must continue according to the standards and guidelines of the CDC and your local Health Department.
- Though we are not permitted to congregate, we must nonetheless embrace this time as an opportunity to do all that we can to increase our care for one another and for our people and the greater community around us.
Let us remind ourselves and our faithful that the Church is that to which we all surrender ourselves in humble obedience. She gives us our name, our identity, and so many blessings, nurturing us in the commandments of Christ and leading us to His Kingdom. The Church, also, tells us when to fast or when not to fast, and we listen and do our best to obey Her instruction. Likewise, when the Church now gives us the instructions set forth here, we listen to Her and must do our best to obey Her instructions.
May our Lord grant that we continue our Lenten journey with faith and courage as we make these necessary sacrifices in humble obedience for the physical and spiritual well-being of all.