So Define “Essential”

I’m going to ask everybody’s forbearance today.  Ordinarily, we shut the blog down on Holy Tuesday.  But this Holy Week, like this entire Lent, hasn’t felt like a Holy Week.  I realize of course that that is probably my fault, in that I’m not spiritual enough; you know, the chief of sinners thing and all that.  Guilty as charged.   But I also think it’s because we cannot gather in the Church.  Gail and I have decided we’re going to continue to gather here, on the blog, until all restrictions are lifted.

Bearing this in mind, some of you have asked for my thoughts on the closing of our churches and I ask for your patience as I gather my thoughts.  But given this isn’t a Lent like any other, what follows are my scattered concerns.  They are not necessarily in any order so I beg forgiveness.

I’ll come right out and say it: I’m feeling really disjointed right now. 

There was a day when our bishops begged us to go to church.  There was nothing “non-essential” about it.  Even for those of us who were nominal Christians.  And then we are bombarded by videos of Arb Elpidophoros of the GOA saying that Communion should be open to non-Orthodox spouses. To be honest with you, I don’t know which way is up anymore. I don’t know how Orthodox Christianity –the institutional Church anyway–is going to be “orthodox” when we all come out of this pandemic.  Of course the Church shall prevail, Jesus Himself said that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.  So we should take solace in that fact.  

I for one don’t believe that our bishops issued these directives in a nonchalant manner.  Nor do I believe that they are so worldly that they are always looking for opportunities to bend the knee to Caesar.  Some are, but when the rubber hits the road, I believe that most of them are good and decent men.  And that they (like us) are conflicted about this pandemic.  And let’s be honest here, many of us laymen who are complaining the loudest were not all that observant in the first place.  A little humility is called for.

No responsible church leader wants to expose his parishioners to sickness or even death. We are not snake-handlers who take our lives so lightly that we wish to tempt God. That would be a grievous sin.

Regardless, I can’t help but shake the feeling that in being so accommodating, we missed the mark.  And I mean all of us.  I for one, am very disappointed in the great swaths of the populace who are meekly abiding by the authoritarian diktats of our secular rulers.  Last night, I saw Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey on Tucker Carlson; all I can say is that that poor fellow was completely clueless.  And then there’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.  I’ll say one thing for liberals, they sure do know how to put a pretty face on fascism.  In the eyes of too many of our compatriots, the Bill of Rights might as well be used as toilet paper.  Let’s just say that there is a little too much glee in some of these authorities’ faces as they prevent people from worshiping.  (And yes, don’t feed me that line of crap that “you can always worship in your house” –Stalin allowed that.  Is Stalinism our new benchmark?) 

And don’t get me started on the governors of Kansas and Kentucky.  I really don’t want to be a partisan here but in all the states just mentioned, the governors are all Democrats.   Where’s an Andrew Jackson when you need him?  He’d have taken a horsewhip to these elitist poltroons who have attached themselves as barnacles to the great populist Party he founded.

I would say this even if my own suspicions about the coronavirus, its origin, the modeling statistics put out by the various government agencies, and the mitigation steps weren’t standing up to scrutiny. Why? Because there’s a principle here, not just the First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly but because no government should want to restrict worship.

I’m particularly offended by the GOA Metropolitan of Chicago, who in a recent interview called those who protested his strictures “fundamentalists” and even went so far as to say that they were like the “scribes and Pharisees” who so vexed Jesus.  Is he not aware that the original scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus castigated were at base religious conmen?   Elitists who used their knowledge of the arcana of Scripture in order to oppress the common people and by doing so to solidify their standing in Judean society?  Not to belabor the point but to extract money from them?  Why is he not questioning the motives of the authorities who say that tattoo parlors and abortion clinics in Chicago are “essential” but the churches which he presides over “non-essential”?  We know what Mayor Dumbita Moonbeam of Murder Capital, Illinois thinks but can we at least get her on the record, to preserve her wretched words for history’s sake?   Are some of our religious leaders so timorous that they dare not question her because muh racism?   

Think of it: churches are considered “non-essential” but not liquor stores.  Or cannabis retail outlets.  The President of the United States mobilized two of our Navy’s hospital ships to handle the predicted overflow of hospitalizations in New York City and Los Angeles because medical resources were (supposedly) going to be at a premium.  Perhaps even a breaking point.  But local judges allowed abortion clinics to remain open. Can you see why some of us were a little leery about this whole pandemic thing?

It all came to a head for me a few days ago when Fr James Bernstein sent me this photograph, with the caption “remember when people thought Communion was essential?”

You will notice that hygiene was the last thing on these men’s minds.   There was no ecclesial decorum on that fateful day.  Leave aside the fact that bullets were whizzing by, I can assure you that disease from festering wounds and lack of proper latrines was rampant.  (Thank you as always, Fr James for adding some clarity to this subject.) 

Yes, the issue is complex. It is possible that this is “the Lent that we deserve”.  It’s possible that we Orthodox in America have been too cavalier about receiving the Eucharist.  Having said that, God knows what He knows and this entire crisis may be for our benefit.  Personally, I think that this is a dry run for a future persecution.  Look at how quickly we buckled, how eagerly we hunkered down in our houses.  What is next?  Will be so willing to turn in our guns?  To receive a “vaccine number” (Bill Gates’s ultimate wet dream)  injected into us so that we are considered safe to have a job and to go to the grocery store?  Shades of the Apocalypse. 

Let us also consider what it is that we have lost and quite possibly will never have again. It is important to remember that once the jackboot is on the neck, it is rarely removed by its own volition.

There’s a saying:  “man plans, God laughs”.  Perhaps this is the Good Lord’s way of telling us that we got our priorities all bass-ackward.   I won’t speak about the other denominations but a blind man in a dark cave can see that we Orthodox have gotten things so wrong for so long that we were well on the way to becoming a mere afterthought here in America.  Instead of taking care of the depleted pension fund, the GOA primate decided to double down on the bankrupt shrine in Lower Manhattan.  The Archons saw dollar signs; they honestly thought that this would be a tourist attraction.  (I won’t even speculate on the missing funds and/or who got their cut over the last decade.)  As for the apparatchiks in Syosset, they were all-too-ready to get their precious autocephaly “recognized” by the Phanar, even if that meant them giving up our autocephaly.  (Talk about bombing a village in order to save it.)  Antioch and ROCOR seem to be holding the fort –for now. 

So maybe we can see some silver linings in the present pandemic, ecclesiastically speaking.  Patriarch Bartholomew’s entire archpastorate, predicated as it was on Byzantine triumphalism (i.e. papalism) now appears to have come grinding to a halt.  His triumphal tour of America is cancelled.  As for the various episcopates here in America, how many are going to be solvent next year?  Their churches have been emptied by design; will they be filled up again?  I hope so.  But I doubt it.  What will happen to the parishes which were already struggling in the best of times?  Will 79th Street or Englewood be able to continue to ask for the same remittances?  Will Istanbul and Damascus be able to rely on what their American eparchies sent them previous to the pandemic?   Somehow I doubt it.  The Bulbanian-American ATM machine is empty.

Let us put our cards on the table:  the people in the pews are going to have to ask themselves if they would rather pay their priests or their bishops.  And that’s the people who come back to their parishes.  And a fair amount of them aren’t even going to have jobs or pension funds.  It’s going to come to either the priests or the archdiocese.  The choice is going to be that stark.  The first parish council member to suggest an extra food festival will probably be tarred and feathered.  As for the GOA, the Archons aren’t going to pony up any more money as a lot of them took a major hit in the stock market. 

Maybe, just maybe, the Orthodox here in America will just rise up and say “Enough!”  Enough of Byzantine nostalgia, enough of carrying water for Greece or Syria, enough of a glorified Taj Mahal that in the final analysis was nothing but a slush fund masquerading as a “national shrine”. 

So let’s leave it there for now. In the meantime, I ask everyone to pray harder, to fast more diligently and intensify our alms-giving. Let us pray that we never “deserve” another such Lent.


[Editor Note:  This picture was probably from the Battle of Okinawa.   Title was changed.]


  1. George Michalopulos says
  2. Thanks for your thoughts, George. You give us much to ponder about.
    A blessed and joyous Pascha to you, Gail, and the rest of your families!

  3. Luke 22:36,
    On Holy Thursday, after the Mystical Supper, Christ exhorted His Apostles to arm themselves since they were being sent out to the Gentile heathen rather than the Judeans as before.
    We here in America, unlike Christ and His followers in the NT period, are not under foreign occupation.  We are free people, like the Israelites in the Old Testament kingdoms.  Defending ourselves is not rebellion against an occupation.
    We are only free as our govt allows us to be in unexceptional times.  Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, the Wuhan Flu is unexceptional.  After all is said and done, it will likely be found only marginally more deadly, if at all, than the seasonal flu, just like H1N1.   That flu, in 2009-2010, infected an estimated 60 million Americans.  Yet it was no more deadly than common flu.  Don’t remember the lockdowns?  Me neither.  There were none.
    And that brings me to my point.  When it is all said and done, this is the Left flexing its totalitarian wings.  It is a great resounding “NO!” to the Trump revolution and reelection bid.
    That is why you can’t find toilet paper or even go to work.
    And that should trouble you for this reason: So far, the Left has not attempted overt seizure of power.  They did attempt a clandestine coup, however.  They cannot afford to be exposed before their own credulous rank and file.  
    Therefore, expect more totalitarian acts.  
    I humbly suggest that those without sufficient armaments should guide some of their stimulus money or unemployment to purchasing small arms for self, family and community defense.  
    Closing down the churches on Western Easter was not a good sign.  Tasking law enforcement with collecting license plate numbers and mandating quarantine is an act of foolish desperation.
    The Left can see the writing on the wall more clearly than the Right does and it terrifies them.
    There is nothing more dangerous than a cornered beast.

    • ‘Don’t remember the lockdowns?’
      Bill Gates was pushing for a lockdown in the USA at that time.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Misha, as always, I give serious thought to your analyses on these matters. I too, believe that the Beast is cornered, and thus, dangerous.

        Thank you, George.
        On this most solemn of days, it may lift spirits to contemplate that this Pascha is likely to be the approximate turning point in the American Trajectory.
        Having made lemonade out of all the lemons cast at him, the restoration of the American economy and the Durham proceedings will likely doom the Democrats.  
        If so, a second term would see a realignment of a Christian America with a Christian Russia.  No down side for Trump after the election.  All the better to counter China.  
        And the Christian Right marches on.
        I still predict an unruly summer though.  The Dhimmi Party may be mortally wounded but its last gasps may be noxious.

  4. Love the photo of Communion on D-day.  Our fortitude pales in comparison to that of those boys.
    I take this from Pat Buchanan, who is always thought-provoking:  155 years ago, Abraham Lincoln felt that our nation was so vitally important that it was worth sending 600,000 Americans to their death in order to save the Union during the Civil War. (…. another story for another day, but in the history of “holy America” which many of our more protestant brethren believe in, Abraham Lincoln is definitely our nation’s prime messianic figure.)
    Today, by contrast, our leaders are willing to crash and possibly destroy our country in order to try to “save” us from a virus that may kill a very small percentage of those it infects.  They say that they trust us to take hygienic precautions at the supermarket, but not so at work, thus places of business have to close.  Makes no sense and is quite insulting.
    We must, as a people, come close to destroying our national economy and the livelihood of millions of families in order to “save” ourselves?  From what?  Many have an unbearable fear of getting sick and of potentially dying — thus any cost to avoid such a possibility may be worthwhile to them.  People with this unbearable fear seem to be running our country these days.  But there are many of us who don’t live with that constant fear.
    Our national leaders show off how they “suffer in their own social isolation” — in their million-dollar palaces with $30,000 appliances stocked with high-end $12 per pint ice cream?  Our rich American elites are generally older ones who can work from home, and if school is out forever, they’re the ones who have private tutors and full-time nannies, if they even have children at home at all.  (Many American political elites are single, never-married and/or have no children.  This phenomenon paints a very interesting contrast between the secular West (which includes many American elites, France’s Macron (no children), and Merkel in Germany (no children)) vis-à-vis the non-secular central/eastern Europe, Russia, Africa, and the Middle East, where virtually all political leaders have families with children.)
    Like all catastrophes and pandemics, this one bubbles up to the surface economic differences that may be otherwise hidden.  The wealthy will generally come through OK and unscathed, and some of them will grow even wealthier (who’s getting the $2 trillion stimulus benefits…. it generally is not our mom-and-pop Italian neighborhood restaurant).  The less wealthy and indigent will fare far worse.  Even looking at the map of who is dying from this virus related to economic status, it’s uniformly affecting poor and low-income areas much more.
    I more or less have zero trust that our leaders know what they are doing or care much about the average American down the street.
    And when they say that they have to crash the economy and close our churches in order to “save” us, well, it’s not like they have a lot of good faith capital built up that they are cashing in on.
    Blessed Holy Friday and end of Holy Week to you and yours.  Always love your thought-provoking posts with the Orthodox Christian angle.  It’s why I keep coming back.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you FTS.

      FWIW, several weeks ago, I wrote about the racial/ethnic differences about COVID-19. One thing that struck me was how corona was not ravaging Africa. However, here in America, it seems that blacks and Hispanics are being disproportionately affected by corona.

      What gives?

      The “x” factor –for all races/ethnicities–are co-morbidity factors, especially obesity and diabetes (which itself is aggravated by obesity).

    • I don’t think the elites are incompetent; I think that they are evil. They are doing this on purpose. They are giving directions to tamper with figures (both dead and infected), knowing full well that tanking the economy is probably going to kill more people through poverty, suicide, and violent crime. We’re heading for a Gray State.
      Europe is run by childless harpies who have no family to build a better future for. The fruits of nihilism and feminism.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I don’t disagree with you Basil. The problem with nihilism is that it can’t sustain a culture. It will always be replaced by a more vigorous culture.

  5. Alitheia 1875 says

    Much to ponder here, especially during this holy and blessed time of year. It distresses me that I and others cannot celebrate and observe the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord in church. It distresses me that people see a plot behind every tree. It distresses me that government, on a local and a national level, has proved slow to respond to the crisis. Perhaps, indeed, regardless of the reasons why this has happened and how it affects others in both the secular world and the religious communities, we Orthodox ought to accept this as a trial and not worry so much about secular issues. It is very possible that much of the institutional church as we know it will be changed and that could very well be a great blessing. There is also the very real possibility that not only will those who endure the hardship stay the course but that changes could also bring back those who left over the years because the institutional church had become just that and not a spiritual haven. 
    For those who dismiss this illness as not serious, or not as serious as previous illnesses we have had to endure in recent years, or as merely a tool to oppress, I beg to differ. My work over the past four decades has proven that to me as I continue to be in contact with doctors, nurses and social workers who are, as they say, on the front lines.  Ask those who work in hospitals and nursing homes why this is different. Ask yourselves if your work puts you in fear of your life and the fear that what you do could affect the lives of your families. And, finally, ask yourself how you would feel if a loved one died alone.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Alithea, while I have a slightly different assessment, being as I’m located in the less densely populated heartland of the United States, I agree with you about the changes that could be coming down the pike as far as our Orthodox Church here in America is concerned. And that it may deliver positive changes. In fact, I commented as such.

    • “It distresses me that government, on a local and a national level, has proved slow to respond to the crisis.”
      I do not disagree with your statement as a whole, though it largely depends upon what you mean. 
      There are some things I can say as it relates to the medical supplies and testing needed to combat this crisis.
      As it relates to masks and other PPE: 
      The strategic stockpiles were definitely lower than needed, though it is fair to say that no one could have predicted the astronomically abnormal level of need.  Bear in mind also the vested interests of certain US manufacturer spokespersons when they tell us how they ‘warned’ the government to stockpile more (i.e., spend more with their companies).
      FEMA, in coordination with the US military and several large distributors, has done an admirable job of fast-tracking (by air transport as opposed to water) the shipment of available product. I work with some of the people involved, and they tell me that FEMA, the military, and other (Federal) government agencies were remarkable in their speed and coordination.
      The problem, of course, is the availability.  There is only so much capacity to produce these items – whether in the US or elsewhere, and it takes time to ramp up additional capacity.  The media is fond of ignoring these realities because they obviously have no concept of what it takes.  I would love to ask them, “How fast could you ramp up your capacity to report the news if it was demanded that you increase your news network (the number of stations, reporters, producers, and everything else involved) by 1000 times in a matter of days or weeks?  Could you do it?  Would you do it knowing that in a matter of months your investment would likely be wasted for lack of interested viewers?”
      COVID-19 testing:
      This is essentially the same time-to-ramp-up scenario described above, though Covid-19 testing (like flu testing) is likely here to stay, unlike the demand for PPE.  Roche, Abbott, Cepheid, and others developed tests with a speed that is frankly astounding.  Even the speed at which they are ramping up production is amazing.  Some have completely shut down (temporarily) production of some of their other core tests to increase capacity, but they still can’t (yet) meet the demand.  The same goes for the companies that make the swabs needed to collect samples.
      These are the realities that many politicians and most reporters choose to ignore in their never-ending attempts either to find or deflect blame.

    • A physician’s thoughts says

      I’m a physician. Yes coronavirus can be deadly, as other infectious diseases can too. 

      But I take any death rates or death totals from coronavirus with a HUGE grain of salt. 

      Many don’t know this, but under the CARES Act, hospitals can receive 15 percent additional funding from Medicare if they report patients who aren’t initially admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 but then while admitted either test positive initially or as ‘secondary diagnosis.’

      The bill states: “For discharges occurring during the emergency period described in section 1135(g)(1)(B), in the case of a discharge that has a principal or secondary diagnosis of COVID–19, the Secretary shall increase the weighting factor for each diagnosis-related group (with such a principal or secondary diagnosis) by 15 percent.”

      Also it’s clearly documented that a patient who doesn’t take a test for the virus but is presumed to have it by physician judgment will be counted as having COVID-19.  

      So hospitals are being paid more if a patient dies with a coronavirus codiagnosis even if it had nothing to do with the myocardial infarct that he/she died from?  And that MI death counts as a “coronavirus death”?  No confirmatory test is required to give a pt a coronavirus diagnosis, only physician or clinician impression?
      Those are reasons to take any coronavirus death totals with several salt granules.  I have no idea why so many focus on the published coronavirus numbers.  In so many ways, much of the data that we have is garbage. And CNN or FoxNews is not widely broadcasting these inconsistencies?  Shocking….

      A most blessed Holy Saturday to all and many glorious early blessings to all on Our Lord’s Resurrection!

      • Gail Sheppard says

        FoxNews has been reporting it.

        What’s interesting to me is why. Why would CMS want the world to believe more people are dying of coronavirus than is the case? It seems like they’re supporting upcoding which is against the law.

        Is there some reason they want to inflate the mortality rate and are willing to pay more to get doctors to do it?

        • “Is there some reason they want to inflate the mortality rate
          and are willing to pay more to get doctors to do it?”
          There are two narratives describing how the world works:

          1) Power – Profit – Control

          2) Truth – Health – Freedom

          The dominant narrative is the first.
          A free healthy society needs to be based on the second.
          For a full discussion, see:
          and watch the full interview with Shiva Ayyuradapai
          [1hr 25min]

        • They want to inspire fear, where no fear is. A scared populace is a populace easy to control. To quote Benjamin Franklin (a man of whom I am not a fan, it must be added), “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The tyranny of the ‘invisible enemy’ is a mask for the tyranny of the state.

        • A physician's thoughts says


          Great questions. I don’t know. Seems like a fantastic question for an investigative journalist to look into.

          You’re exactly correct: lots of upcoding. As it stands now, if someone gets hit by a bus and dies but happens to have tested positive for COVID-19, that death counts as a coronavirus death. Completely nonsensical, but that’s how they are tabulating things now. Dr Birx simply said at the press briefing the other week that they want to be as “liberal as possible” in terms of deciding what counts as a coronavirus death. But why this approach, I don’t know.

          It’s telling that there are no investigative journalists looking into this puzzling issue. Or maybe there are some investigating it, but they are being silenced or suppressed?

          The data are therefore incredibly misleading, since most people, when they see the number of deaths from COVID-19, reflexively think that all the deaths are due to coronavirus-caused respiratory failure or due to a patient’s massive inflammatory response from coronavirus infection, directly causing the death. Not so. Not so at all.

          Many blessings! Atgyfododd Crist! Yn wir atgyfododd!

      • ROU Killing Time says

        It seems entirely unremarkable that the CARES act increases Medicare rates for hospital stays with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. If a patient tests positive for COVID-19 in the hospital, that requires additional cost to maintain protocols to avoid the patient transmitting to other patients or the health care staff.
        Really, the scandal would be if the federal government wasn’t trying to help hospitals deal with the additional financial burden of caring for COVID-19 Medicare recipients. 

        • ROU Killing Time says

          There is a lot to unpack here.
          First, the national testing situation is still limited to the extent that it can’t be guaranteed that all the people dying from common COVID-19 related causes who hadn’t been tested are being tested postmortem. Suggesting that people are testing car accident victims to hopefully get a COVID-19 ping to try and juice the stats is a rather extraordinary claim!
          Second, there is no remotely credible estimation from population sample testing that 175,000,000+ Americans have been infected by COVID-19 as of mid-April. That there are more cases than have been confirmed by testing is not in dispute, nor is the fact that many COVID-19 cases end up asymptomatic. But there is <i>not</i> support for a claim that over half the country has had it.
          Third, given the multitude of stories of front-line healthcare workers in this country alone getting seriously ill or dying after contracting COVID-19 in the course of treating patients, your hypothesis that they shouldn’t really need to take any special precautions that cost money because of an unsubstantiated belief that ‘half the country has already had it’, is really doing a disservice to a bunch of doctors, nurses and technicians that are going to be carrying the trauma of this pandemic for the rest of their lives.
          Now, since this is the Internet, I don’t know if ‘A physician’s thoughts’ is really a physician, or a retired beach volleyball pro. However, I did find it interesting that they started a post with a specific factual citation related to legislated funding support only to immediately follow it with unsubstantiated claims about death accounting. This is really disinfo-101 level stuff, frankly. 
          Finally, when it comes to deaths, the proof will ultimately be in the excess mortality pudding. The cries of ‘the deaths are overstated’ are eventually going run into a wall of ‘huh, that’s funny, the total death rate for this region for the month is up more than 200% over average, who can say why? it is a mystery!’ In major outbreak areas, this is not likely to be an exaggeration based on early NYC data.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I never said anything about not taking special precautions that cost money. My point was, a patient could die form something else and NEVER be treated for COVID, and yet because of the diagnosis code, the provider would get paid as if they provided services normally associated with the care of a COVID patient. Diagnosis codes determine payment.

            Under the False Claims Act, you cannot submit a bill to the government for a service that was not performed. If you did nothing for the patient with respect to COVID, it is against the law to get paid for it.

            The question is why? Why are they doing this? Why are they so invested in inflating the number of deaths associated with the virus to the point where they are violating the law?

            The moniker, “A Physician’s Thoughts” is indeed used by a physician.

            • ROU Killing Time says

              To ask the question “Why are they doing this?” requires an affirmative answer to “Are they doing this?” and so far all I see is unsubstantiated insinuations as to the latter.
              All that particular section in the CARES act seems to mean, is that if an Medicaid recipient receives inpatient care and tests positive for COVID-19, the payment rates for *all* care they are receiving is adjusted upward by a fixed amount due to their COVID-19 status. It has nothing to do with whether or not they die. It also has nothing to do with whether or not they are getting a particular form of care or billing a particular code.
              Fraud would be charging the government for intubation of a patient that never needed it or received it. But that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about a general increase in rates intended to take some of the financial strain off hospitals dealing with expense of admitting COVID-19 patients on Medicaid.

  6. Thursday marks 75 years since the D-Day landings, which took place on 6 June 1944 during World War Two. The landings marked the start of the campaign to free north-west Europe from the Nazis. It was a very important moment during the war.

  7. Blessed Good and Holy Friday
    A good summation from Fr. Peter Heers:
    The Coronavirus Crisis: A Letter from the Holy Mountain

    • Petros:
      thanks for posting + introducing me to these  pithy videos of Fr. Peter Heers…
      I love hearing him mention my favorite Elder/Saint Paisios… it’s amazing how much I’m learning from y’all —  even bought that alcohol free hand sanitizer ? Gail talked about! May It Be Blessed + May We Be Free Again 
      Happy Pascha?

  8. V. Rev. A. James Bernstein says

    George. Thank you for posting the photo. It sure says a lot doesn’t it!!! It was brought to my attention that the landing is more likely a PACIFIC landing than an European D-Day landing. The helmet shells have camouflage on them which is what soldiers wore in the Pacific theatre of the war not in Europe. It is more likely the invasion of OKINAWA. Troops landing in Normandy have netting on their helmets that were empty – because they were going to put brush in them when they arrived at the French hedgerows. George I had originally posted this photo on my facebook site as a D-Day landing because that is what others had it as – but subsequently changed it.
    God bless you all and have a God Blessed Holy Pascha – as best can be had under the circumstances.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you Fr for the clarification. If I may, every landing was set for an “H-Hour” on a specific “D-Day”. Even in the Pacific.

      In any event, thank you for photograph and the comment. It activated the old gray cells.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I updated the title and added an editor’s note.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Thank you, Gailina. (BTW, yesterday was Gail’s name-day! Please join me in wishing her “many years!”)

        • V. Rev. A. James Bernstein says

          Gail thanks. This blog is terrific. Keep up the great work. 

          • Gail Sheppard says

            In large part because of people like you, Father. You all give us some GREAT stuff to work with. Talk about a picture worth a thousand words!!!! It’s priceless.

  9. There are three different sites that may be of interest to your readers here:

    I’m not personally sold on the whole livestreaming of Orthodox services, and I really am profoundly disappointed in most of our bishops.  However…  I think there’s also great potential for growth here.  For example, my church is small, but has a really good priest who has only been at the parish a couple of years.  On a typical Sunday, numbers were probably around 35-50 people.  On his own initiative, he’s been livestreaming services over Lent, and almost without fail, there’s anywhere from between 250-700 views on Facebook by the end of the service.  When this is all over, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s going to get a few new people coming (who may otherwise be intimidated coming to a “Serbian” church).
    However, I’m also certain that this is going to cause a good number of churches to shut their doors permanently, which is really tragic.  

  10. There is a certain young priest I know quite well who spoke in harmony with your words, George, when you wrote…
    “But this Holy Week, like this entire Lent, hasn’t felt like a Holy Week.”
    He, too, is stuck at home, having to live-stream all the services with only his family and occasionally someone else via Zoom.  Only for Divine Liturgies can he enter the temple, and that only with his own young family. 
    Here is what he recently wrote to his parish.
    “If you are like me, being away from the Church (not the building, but the people and the worship together) has made Lent very difficult.  I do not mean the fasting or the alms or the extra prayers.  I mean the sense that I am on my way with the Lord to His Passion and Resurrection, that I am being transformed into His likeness.  Outside the routines of the Church, it turns out that I do a very poor job of keeping myself on trajectory of spiritual growth.  And so, what I come to suspect, four weeks into stay-at-home and on the verge of celebrating Holy Pascha, is the Lord wanted to use this pandemic to teach me that any closeness I have to Him is not of my own doing.  It is His work, and it is most effective when I am obedient and not trying to figure things out for myself, as I have been for these few weeks.  [But] Also, I take comfort knowing that the disciples were surely no readier then for the Lord’s resurrection than I am now, and that the risen Christ is still able to dispel every fear and to bring peace and unity to His scattered flock.”
    I wish you all a most blessed Pascha.

  11. Joseph Lipper says

    Holy Saturday Matins at St. Tikhon’s Monastery:

    Fast forwarding to the outdoor procession at the end, it looks like there’s snow in Pennsylvania!

  12. Fr.Peter Heers:
    The Coronavirus Crisis: Letter from the Holy Mountain
    Orthodox Ethos
    Elder Evthymios of the Kelli of the Resurrection in Kapsala on Mt. Athos addresses the crisis and the Church’s response to it, calling all of us to faithfulness, patience and prayer, and to repentance.

  13. Michael Bauman says

    Grorge, frankly I sense something quite different about Lent and Holy Week than you and others.  Especially Holy Week.  
    While the streamed services do not do much for me I have been experiencing a gradual building of joy and thanksgiving as snippits of services I have attended in the past come to mind.  
    Christ is Risen is an ontological and existential reality that our “feelings” have no control over.  
    Today is the 10th anniversary of my dear wife’s reception by the Church, my restoration to the Cup and the defacto blessing of or marriage. Tomorow will be the 15th anniversary of Jesus allowing me to experience His Resurection and my newly late wife’s participation in it.  
    Only by reverting to my anti-social troglodyte self can I be anything but joyful.
    Even with all the illogical fear mongering and tyrannical government going on. 


  14. Good article and interesting thoughts, George. 

    “It is possible that this is ‘the Lent that we deserve’.”

    This thought has crossed my mind a few times during all of this, though I don’t think my thought was as on the nose as stated here. I think that it is not only possible, but definite, that we have gotten the Lent, and now Pascha, we deserve. From God’s hands into our lives. 

    Here in California under our shelter in place order that began March 19th, I’m looking at this period after Pascha as hopefully a time of true renewal for myself, in a way that Lent probably should’ve been but wasn’t because I was too focused on wondering when this would end and trying to stay on top of the news, not to my benefit. It was a lesson to look at the reality of the moment rather than looking forward in speculation…and possibly also a lesson about the idleness of trying to “keep up” with the day to day news. I think the devil has won many small battles this Lent, at least with me. This entire situation has been one of the biggest distractions to my spiritual life that I have encountered, the irony of course being that it comes at a time when we have the most opportunity for silence, focused prayer, and increasing in faith.

    But tomorrow is a new day. Truly the Lord is Risen.