Thursday, February 27, 2020

Preparing for Coronavirus - a Spiritual Response

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is rather clear now that the novel Corona Virus, which seems to have first infected humans in China last month, will spread throughout the world. That includes us sinners here.

First: the absolutely worst thing we can do us panic. We are Orthodox Christians. We understand that some day we will die. This virus is unlikely to be the cause of that. We must pray for those who are suffering. We must pray for our civil leaders. We must pray that the Lord grant us peace even in unpeaceful times. The Lord will not leave us in such a situation. In fact He will be closer to us than ever.

Second: We urge our parishioners to follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and to ignore uneducated conspiracy theories on the internet, which abound now. There are some good things on the internet of course, but also lots of junk. The key web site at the CDC for this information is here:

CDC Coronavirus Site

The Washtenaw County Health Department has more information about the local situation and prevention here:

Washtenaw County Coronavirus Site

Look at the links above. Remember – panic is the greatest enemy. Is it a pandemic? To be quite honest it does not matter whether it is called a pandemic, an epidemic, an outbreak, or something else. Calling it a pandemic does not make the virus stronger. The news media, for whatever reason, seems hellbent on causing widespread panic in the population about this. Do not fall to to this temptation. It is a virus. The same virus family that causes the common cold, SARS, and MERS. Those at greatest danger are the very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems – exactly the same group that is at greatest risk for the annual flu.

Wash your hands, cover your cough, seek medical help if you are sick and stay away from others if you are sick.

Third: A quarantine seems not unlikely. There was a quarantine in Italy when the virus emerged there and their health care system is similar to ours. This is not a cause for panic, but rather a cause for preparation. It would be prudent to have adequate food and medicines on hand for 30 days (the quarantine for this virus has generally been 14 days) just in case. Stock up on non-perishable food items and medicines that you need, including over the counter medications. Try to get a 90 day supply of crucial prescriptions like blood pressure medications if you need those. Now is the time to prepare for a potential quarantine. Perhaps it will not happen. In that case you have a little extra food and medicine. Perhaps it will. In that case you are prepared.

Will we cancel services? We might – if the CDC recommends this. But that would only happen if a quarantine is declared in our area. It could happen – but it probably won’t.

Should you wear a mask to services? That is up to you. We would not mandate that unless the CDC recommends we do that.

Will there be other things that effect how we worship in public during this time? There might be, but we will follow the advice of the experts and get the bishop’s blessing before we do anything.

DO NOT PANIC! Do not be pulled in by the apoplectic media screaming heads. Pray. Ask the Lord to give us all what is best for our salvation. Such things do not happen without the opportunity for spiritual growth and we should take that opportunity! It seems unlikely that the arrival of the virus and the beginning of Great Lent are completely spiritually unrelated. Let us redouble our efforts to draw nearer to the Lord at this time of year as we prepare ourselves for the feast of feasts and the day of days: the Pascha of the Lord!

If you need ANYTHING and you can’t get someone to help you call one of us. Clergy have always served the people zealously during such outbreaks – God willing we will do the same.

In Christ,

Fr. Gregory & Fr. Moses