UOC bishop: COVID-19 jolt helps realize the worth of communion with God
This year, believers suddenly realized that they could indeed be deprived of the Eucharist, church Sacraments and the Church as it is, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) noted.
The situation with the coronavirus is a necessary shake-up, without which it is impossible to truly understand the full value of what the Church offers to a believer. The Vicar of the Kiev Metropolis, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka, wrote about it in his author’s blog on the “I am a Correspondent” site.
“Everybody will remember the Easter of 2020 for a long time,” said the hierarch. “Empty temples, deserted streets, absence of ceremonies that are familiar to us and, conversely, the emergence of something new that threatens to become a tradition. However, this Easter is unusual not only because of the appearance of online services, the consecration of Easter cakes by the laity at home or by priests in bakeries. It is unusual from the liturgical standpoint, both personal and communal.”
The Bishop recalled that in Greek “liturgy” means “common cause”, “joint activity”, and it is performed with the people and for the people of God.
“Every Christian who is present at worship is not only a silent witness to what is happening but his direct and active participant. That is why the apostle Paul refers to Christians as ‘chosen people’, ‘royal priesthood’, ‘people taken for inheritance’. The Liturgy is the presence of God among His people, and its culmination is the Holy Communion. However, this year there were no partakers of the Holy Gifts in empty churches,” he added.
Nevertheless, according to Vladyka Victor, the Easter Liturgy was accomplished as a “common cause”, and not because many believers prayed at home participating in the liturgy online, “but because the Church did not cease to be a Church. After all, the Church is a society of believers, united by faith in Jesus Christ, sacraments and hierarchy. Therefore, today's exceptional conditions did not nullify the Church and faith but, on the contrary, revealed a lot of new things to us.”
“We suddenly realized that we could indeed lose the Eucharist, the Sacraments, the Church,” the hierarch explained. “Christians of the first centuries cared about every communion, realizing that it could be the last, while contemporary Christians are used to communion. For many, the sacrament is a routine ritual, the purport of which boils down to two words: "it is necessary". For other Christians, the sacrament is a formal confirmation of the faith: "I receive the Holy Communion, because I am Orthodox, and all Orthodox should receive the Holy Communion."
The bishop stated that unfortunately, believers do not always understand that the meaning of the sacrament is unity with Christ, "that through the partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ we become one with Him and anticipate the life of the future age right here, on earth."
“The Lord, through the challenges of our time, reminds us of the main thing. The fact that the Easter holidays are not about consecration of Easter cakes and sausages, not about ‘beautiful traditions’ and a joint feast, but about the Resurrected Christ, the meaning and significance of not only life but also death of a human being. Having lost for a while everything what we are used to, what we have ceased to value, we come to understanding that formalism in a spiritual life is out of place. The situation with the coronavirus, regardless of its further implications, is a shake-up that we need today, without which we will not really grasp the full value of what the Church offers to a believer. And She offers ‘the only thing we need’ – real communion with God, which leads a person to eternal life. Christ is Risen namely for this purpose!” summed up Bishop Victor of Baryshevka.
As reported by the UOJ, earlier Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) called not to gloat over the illness of the monks of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra but to pray for them.