By Nicholas Karakas
After all the weeks of being away from our churches and the absence of communion, I decided to attend my local church to pay homage to one of our major spiritual observances, Palm Sunday. Upon arriving, I found all the doors locked, even the few unobtrusive ones located around the sanctuary building.
My dejected, mournful feelings could not be denied as I thought, how this scoured devil was able to close thousands of Christian and Orthodox Churches and deny the taking of communion? My humble opinion is that the Hierarchs were too quick to lock up the churches, not look for and seek advice, on how if we lock up our churches, what other alternatives are available to safely allow the faithful to venerate Holy Week or any week? We must remember that necessity sparks innovation.
To allow our faithful that inner most desire to venerate our Christ, Panagia, all the Saints and Prophets, I would propose that icons be placed intermittently on an outside path where those of faith may be able to venerate them, light a candle and perhaps leave an offering. The Parish Council members could take shifts, 2-4 hours to keep worshippers safe and orderly and handle the contributions, thus arrangement could be, should be, employed through Holy Week. There are many reasons why we Orthodox should do this. It is in the Greek DNA as it brings us back many years to when we were kids and we crawled under the tomb of Christ.
It is important because we have another opportunity to see, visit at a safe distance with those who only visit church once or twice yearly. By closing down, we lose that most opportune visit.
We stand to lose even those lukewarm church attendees.
By not having a designated place to go to, we Orthodox lose the connectedness of feeling spiritually infused to Jesus as He suffered. The emotional abuses, the unyielding pain, the disgrace of our Christ, our Creator would be the denial of our right as parishioners to worship our faith. God gave us the mental capacity and with His help, our civilization has been able to achieve and produce myriads of blessings to all fellow human beings. Why would our Hierarchy think that we, clergy and those in the pews, could not overcome our ability to improvise an arrangement whereby Orthodox brethren may supplicate their Creator? Our Hierarchy failed us again.
Allow me this message:
The leader of the Israeli community and the Roman authorities collaborated that our Christ would be put to death by crucifixion. This somehow made no sense to His followers as they thought that He was going to free them from Roman occupation including from the corrupt Israeli leadership at that time. Instead, Jesus died a shameful and painful death, looking like a complete failure in his work and preaching. It appeared that God has abandon Him and where were His apostles? The abject feeling of being abandoned gripped Him as he managed an anguished cry, Father why hast thou forsaken me and then died?
Almost immediately, the surrounding area was gripped by an angry storm ostensibly on cue as the thick veil of the sanctuary some forty feet high is torn down and ripped apart from top to bottom. Try as we may, there is no natural explanation for this happening.
Yet all that happen during Holy Week, the sorrow, the torture, the weeping of the sadden followers and anguish can be soothed with the Resurrection of our Christ and His love of us all. He died to defeat sin for us, demonstrating the extraordinary and supernatural power of God.
May we thank God every day for Christ’s death on the Cross freeing us to renew our full access to our Heavenly Father.