Decree re: Coronovirus Pandemia.

08:59 AM

To all the rectors and clergy of the parishes of the Canadian Diocese


During the first weeks of the Great and Salvific Lent, during days of fervent prayer and repentance, when we make special efforts to adequately meet the Resurrection of Christ, it was precisely during these days that our earthly world was faced with a difficult ordeal: the appearance of a destructive epidemic and the spreading of a disease-causing virus. We do not know how long this danger will last. Nor do we know if the “beginning of sorrows” about which the Lord warned His disciples not long before His passions on the Cross, have begun (Matthew 24:8). But we firmly know that many times, it seemed to sinful man, that the time of the Last Judgment was approaching, but by the indescribable and unending mercy of God, the life of our world continued – and continues to this day and hour. “Famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes” came and went (Mat., 24; 7), much more cruel and destructive epidemics than the one that is visiting us now. Even the seemingly common flu kills significantly more people than this new virus, the fight against which has just begun.

We will not repeat here again and again the rather simple hygienic rules, which today are successfully implemented by the civil authorities. They are completely assimilated by our flock, aware of the vital necessity of following them. At the same time the parish rectors are instructed, when necessary, to remind the flock of such rules both from the ambo, as well as with special parish leaflets. Our main, primary duty is to continue to perform the divine services in our churches. This especially concerns the Divine Liturgy, moreover, no deviations from the centuries-sanctified order of the Liturgy, including, in the order of the communing of the laity, are allowed. If the civil authorities, in the event of the situation worsening, prescribe any other rules for us, we will respond to their requirements. Now our business is to follow the word of Christ: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt., 26; 41).

– We have sinned and we have transgressed, and therefore Thy righteous anger has visited us, O Lord, our God; and the darkness of death has encompassed us and we have drawn nigh unto the gates of Hades. But, with compunction, we cry out unto Thee, our God, in our infirmities: Spare, o spare Thy people, and destroy us not utterly, humbly we pray Thee, hearken and have mercy.

– Remember that we are flesh, O Lord, whose breath, when it departs, shall not return, and mercifully turn aside Thy wrath that has justly taken hold of us, by which, as with a sword, Thou hast grievously visited us. Do Thou set aright the pain and appease the wounds that suddenly are destroying us. For the dead do not praise Thee, neither all them that have descended into Hades. But we, the living, praise Thee, and, groaning with pain in our hearts, we pray Thee, hearken and have mercy.

– More than all others we have sinned against Thee and we have transgressed, O Master, and if we have not acquired repentance, instead of repentance accept our offering. And having set Thyself to mercy, as Thou art almighty, free Thy servants from deathbearing sickness and grievous afflictions, groaning in pain we pray Thee, quickly hearken and have mercy.

We prescribe for all parishes of our diocese after the Divine Liturgy on Precious Cross week, on Sunday, March 9/22, to serve а moleben sung in time of Devastating Epidemic and Deathbearing Pestilence.

1. Services will continue according to the schedule.
2. The church school is closed.
3. Sisterhood luncheons are also closed.
4. It is necessary to limit the number of worshipers in the church according to the order of the civil authorities. Therefore, I ask members of the Church Council to come to services on Saturday morning or Saturday evening, so that on Sunday other parishioners have an opportunity to attend divine services.
5.The members of the sisterhood should also come on Saturday morning, or Saturday evening.
6.The most faithful parishioners should also come on Saturday.
7. Each priest should decide whether to give the cross for veneration after the Liturgy. In those cases when the cross is not provided for veneration, there should be a general blessing of the faithful in church with the cross.
8. Every effort must be made to obey the law.
10. The dates of the general unction services as well as Annual General Parish Meetings should be postponed until better times.

+Gabriel, Archbishop of Montréal & Canada
March 7/20, 2020