Antiochien: Church to publicly celebrate Pascha on leavetaking of feast in May

If conditions allow, and with God’s mercy, the Antiochian Patriarchate will publicly celebrate the Paschal service on the leavetaking of the feast on May 27, according to a new statement from the Antiochian Holy Synod. The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church made the same announcement earlier last week. The Antiochian Synodal statement reads: We pray, when conditions allow, and by God's mercy, to celebrate the Paschal service together on the day of the Leave-taking of Pascha (May 27, 2020), when the Paschal service is celebrated in its entirety and with our participation together. We hope that by that by time we will have triumphed over the pandemic and the life cycle be returned to normal. In order to prevent any confusion, the holy forty-days period of fasting ends at twelve o'clock at midnight of Saturday-Sunday, April 19. “As you know, we have been committed to halting church services, and we have requested from you to abide by these general measures taken by the whole world and to stay at home,” the Synod writes.

In this vein, the hierarchs also state that the services and prayers of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Pascha on April 19 “are to be held by just the priests and monastics in churches and monasteries, offered for the sake of all the people and for the peace of the whole world. In other words, the services are held behind closed doors, without the participation of any of the believers,” with the services livestreamed where possible. The Synod also calls upon its flock to strictly adhere to the measures of the relevant health authorities and to work together to help the needy and relieve the suffering of the victims of the coronavirus and their families.

Further, “The Church prays that the Lord may have compassion for His creation, remove this health distress from our world, strengthen the medical staff, nurses and all paramedic teams in hospitals and society, protect them from all harm, heal every patient, have mercy on all the deceased, and inspire all specialists, physicians and scientists to work on whatever protects life and the universe from all pandemics and evils.” The hierarchs also call upon their flock to “abide in the Divine joy which no suffering can impede” by intensifying their daily prayers and reading of Scripture and the writings and lives of the saints. “We pray and hope that this worldwide tribulation will end, and that it will not cause us any hardship, difficulty, or suffering. We ask you to be strong in the Lord, looking forward to seeing the joy after this storm… In this hope, we entrust you under God’s protection, hoping that you be steadfast in your prayers, so that we can cross this stage together, without carrying in us any pain and wound, other than our longing for the Savior's Body and Blood,” the bishops conclude. (Quelle: www.orthochristian.com, 6. April 2020)

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