Glory to Jesus Christ!
Glory to Him Forever!
Dear My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you may or may not know, the Corona Virus has been spreading and continues to press upon to Church to discern, listen and then act in accordance with the Holy Spirit. I think it is very easy to swing the pendulum either way in these types of situations, one way being the end of the world with over reaction, and the other being extremely pessimistic with the thought that this is absolute nonsense. However, I believe we all more or less fit into the middle. I have been waiting to write to you, in order that the Byzantine Catholic Mission can be prepared in its implementation of how God is asking us not only to weather this virus but also how He desires us to grow in our relationship with Him.
During the course of the first few weeks, we all have been praying, discerning, listening, and looking at various precautions in which we all can take to prevent the number of cases from spiking and allowing the medical system, guided by God, to care for those who are sick. With that in mind, Bishop Kurt, as you will see in his pastoral letter to each of us, has suspended all services for the next two weeks, from Monday, March 16th, 2020 through Monday, March 30th, 2020. We are all dispensed from attending and fulfilling the Sunday and Feast Day Obligations, but we are not dispensed from keeping Sunday as a time of prayer and free from unnecessary work or labor.
In response to Bishop Kurt’s desires and recommendations, the Byzantine Catholic Mission will take the necessary steps in order to have more opportunities to pray and rest with the Lord, to build up our relationship with God and this family outside the four walls of the church building, and to know that you have not been abandoned or cast aside.
The past few days have been a whirlwind of being grounded in prayer, discerning what God has been placing on my heart, going to meetings, talking with medical experts, both doctors and nurses, along with listening to the Lord and then acting on His promptings. I want to say that we are being stretched quite a bit. I do not know how you are feeling but I can assure you, at least for me, it has not been easy and a mix of emotions. This is understandable with this virus, there seems to be no stability. Therein lies, why we need to be people of prayer. God provides the stability, keeps us grounded and rooted in Him. It allows Him to guide us to be in a place of surrender and receptivity. That is the only way in which we will pull through this stronger than when it started. We can be a stronger family, deeply rooted in God, if we allow God to be God and for us to remember how much we are in need of Him.
The Byzantine Catholic Mission will be a place of refuge and prayer during this time. Remember, we are a family and we are called to care for one another as well as those who are not yet a part of this family. These restrictions and regulations are for our protection both for you and for those around us. This is not an overreaction, rather, it is from a place of peace and rest. We are not called not to isolate from God and our Church, rather this is an opportunity to grow in greater unity with God, a deeper communion with Him and each other.
This is a time of invitation in which we can grow together in a way that many, if not all, did not expect. Some of the following changes will be permanent, some will be tweaked depending on need and others will be going away after we return to normalcy, however that may look.
1. All Services have been suspended for the next two weeks by the Bishop. Even though the services have been suspended, the Bishop has given us permission to still celebrate them alone, even if there is no person present. He did not want to forbid us from doing so, and even though they are suspended, the faithful should not feel guilty for not attending. Beginning on Saturday, March 28, 2020, we as a Byzantine Catholic Mission, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy remotely. We are using a program called Zoom in which we can be connected and can hear each other sing and participate in the Divine Liturgy. Therefore, we all can sing together. The music will be sent to you approximately a day before so you can follow along and participate. This is our way of keeping up with our routine and participating in the Divine Liturgy as much as we are able. Zoom is a private video conferencing software. Each week you will be emailed a meeting id and password to get in. You do not have to sign up with Zoom to participate. You can download to your mobile phone, tablet, computer, or even just calling in on a landline and being present with audio. It is a great way to stay connected.
The Divine Liturgy at All Saints Byzantine Catholic Church will be livestreamed beginning Sunday, March 22, 2020. I will email you all the music in order for you to be able to participate as much as you can on Sunday. The setup for the webcam and video conferencing does not come in until Saturday or we would have it up and running by then. However, if you choose, you may participate in another Divine Liturgy at another parish. Please remember it is a sacred time and you and I are mystically in the sacred space together. It is not a time for drinking or socializing or to watch both this and the television. This is a time in which God has invited us to be united as a family in a way that we have not had the opportunity to do before.
3. All Services at All Saints Byzantine Catholic Church will be livestreamed. This means that you have an opportunity to participate in both Tersext, the Midday Office of the Great Fast and Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, along with the other services that will be celebrated throughout the year. You will be sent a schedule for the livestream events each week. This will also include any classes that we may have. We will have more adult enrichments at various times throughout the year that you are invited to participate in through the software Zoom.
4. Dinner with the Pastor is something that we will be implementing beginning Tuesday March, 24, 2020 at 5:00pm. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at 5:00pm-6:00pm we will have the opportunity to eat together remotely. Again we will be using Zoom, which will allow us to interact while we have dinner. Of course you are not required to eat dinner during this time, but this is a set time that we can set aside to converse about our day, to share our highs and lows, to hear what each one of us has on our hearts, and to share in the joys and pains. This is not a requirement but an invitation. Many feel more isolated, cut off from community and God, more than ever, and this technology will allow us to be connected. This is an invitation to allow us to be a part of the lives of each other. You do not even have to say anything if you do not want to, this is an invitation to realize we are not alone nor cast aside. Please consider being a part of this. This is only available to you the parishioners of the Mission and All Saints in Florida. It will NOT be streamed and open to the public. This is a closed event for just the parishioners of both the Byzantine Catholic Mission and All Saints.
5. Please know that I realize this is so much information, but I wanted to make sure you had the information to know what is going on at the Byzantine Catholic Mission, even if we cannot be physically present. Know that you are missed, cared for, and a part of my Spiritual Family. This Byzantine Mission is truly home and a place in which we can rest with the Lord and recognize Him in each other. I realize that since you might be away from the parish, you might forget about us. However, we have not forgotten about you.