Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

On the Closure of Churches–3

Posted in Reflections, Uncategorized by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 10 May 2020

Well, we have finally succumbed to the pandemic and held our first video discussion. I am still not live-streaming services (although I have done so, many years ago, for reasons completely unrelated to the current pandemic). The topic of our virtual discussion was the Eucharistic presence during the lock-downs, and what it means, or whether it is possible, to be present at the Eucharist via video chat. The participants in our discussion shared many interesting ideas and perspectives, and here are a few of my own afterthoughts.

A word of caution

First and foremost, we all seemed to agree that just because technology exists, that does not mean that it is good or appropriate by default. It seems that almost universally, almost without questioning, Orthodox churches began to live-stream services as soon as the various procurators and governors told us to do so. The situation was developing very rapidly, the technology was immediately available, and we dove in without an opportunity to question the very nature of what we were doing. Essentially, Facebook Liturgies caught us by surprise. On the one hand, some, like me, had already experimented with live-streaming for years–though never as an alternate way to “attend” services. On the other hand, we have all become very used to enjoying various audio and video recordings of everything church-related–from Liturgies to church choir concerts, and from Orthodox fiction to daily prayers. So, when we were told to log on for the Eucharist, we did not find this too objectionable. Yet the theological work of examining the spiritual safety and implications of these practices has not yet been done. (more…)

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On the Closure of Churches – 2

Posted in Reflections, Uncategorized by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 23 March 2020

See also:

On the Closure of Churches

Liturgical Minyan

Fasting During a Pandemic

My previous post “On the Closure of Churches” made some people wonder whether I am not taking the threat of the viral pandemic seriously, or whether I am advocating for some sort of disobedience to our civil authorities. I do not think that it is absolutely necessary for me to clarify my position. First of all, I try to make it abundantly clear that I am not a medical doctor, nor do I have any training in virology. Anyone who cares about what a non-expert like me thinks about such complex matters as pandemics, is making a serious error in his or her judgment. Secondly, not only did I not advocate for breaking social-distancing rules, but we, along with everyone else, have dutifully closed our services to the public and are in full compliance with all applicable government orders.

That said, however, I find it important to continue the conversation about the place in which the Holy Church finds Herself today. Should our only response to the government’s order to jump be in asking ‘how high?’ Or should we have a healthy degree of self-awareness and take personal responsibility for both our physical and spiritual health and needs? I trust it is obvious to everyone that the situation with the pandemic is developing very rapidly, and many things are in a state of flux. But here are a few things that I find important to observe and of which to be aware. (more…)

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Fasting During a Pandemic

Posted in Fasting, Practical Matters, Reflections, Uncategorized by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 22 March 2020

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. — Lk 12:32

Today, the Holy Church venerates the Life-Giving Cross of Christ. Despite the raging pandemic, we continue our observance of Great Lent as we look forward to the Pascha of the Lord, His bright and glorious resurrection. As the mass media proclaims death in an overload of non-stop “news” about the coronavirus, the Church continues to proclaim life. (more…)

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On the Closure of Churches

Posted in Practical Matters, Reflections, Uncategorized by Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov on 20 March 2020

See also:

On the Closure of Churches – 2

Liturgical Minyan

Fasting During a Pandemic

Update 2020-03-21: On March 20, 2020 Illinois Governor Pritzker issued an executive order the prohibited “all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household.” Thus, the order prohibits all and any religious activities or services, unless officiated by members of a single household, and shuts down all churches. Strangely, this order exempts liquor stores and recreational cannabis dispensaries (presumably, due to their essential function). [*] 

2020-03-20: In a surreal move, governors of several states banned religious worship. The governor of Wisconsin, for example, specifically included religious worship in his ban on gatherings greater than 10 people (which naturally applies to all but the very smallest mission congregations and would have banned even Christ Himself from congregating with His 12 apostles), while the governor of New York banned all “non-essential” gatherings of any size. (It is unclear at this point whether Andrew Cuomo would consider the celebration of the Eucharist–even by just one priest and one chanter–to be essential, but my best guess is that he would not.) (more…)

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