Today, Friday, the Orthodox world is offering the Salutations to the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos.
This coming Sunday we celebrate the Veneration and Adoration of the Most Precious Cross of our Lord.
We know that the times are difficult, measures and restrictions have taken place, and the public health is at risk. That leads our Church to give the best example and comply with everything the authorities have ordered.
* Therefore, as per the directions of our Ecumenical Patriarchate and the pastoral message of His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, all Services will be taking place regularly, but without the presence of the faithful (the doors will be locked) except for the presence of the Chanter, the Sexton, the President and the Vice President of the Parish Council.
This restriction doesn’t keep us away from God; instead you can pray from home, keep the fast, give alms, repent and forgive, even more fervently.
* We are working on a Facebook live streaming service, at least for the Sunday Divine Liturgy. More information will follow. However, there are plenty of spiritual options online.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey has two parishes that livestream the Divine Services:
– Ascension Greek Orthodox Church in Fairview, NJ: www.ascensionfairview.org/live/
– St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Toms River, NJ: http://www.stbarbaranj.org/live-services
* I invite you during the time that the Services are taking place to either watch them online or individually pray, using your prayer books (attached you will find a prayer service book).
At this point I want to clarify a couple of things.
When we are watching a Service online, we should act and behave as if we are in Church. That means that we have a candle lamp and a censor lit, and with reverence and without distractions we attend the Service. For families with children this should be a nice way to practice the family prayer and explain to them the importance and necessity of doing this, and also the importance of physically being in the House of Worship, the Church, partaking of the Sacraments, from which we are now being temporarily separated.
If we are simply praying during the Service hours, it would be nice if we had the entire family gathered at our prayer corner in our house, using our prayer ropes (komboskini), chanting the Salutations to the Theotokos (see attached file with the text in English and Greek), partaking of the Holy Water, and dedicating some time for personal meditation and prayer for the salvation from this plague.
In this way we continue to be united in prayer as a Community until such time when the restrictions are lifted and we can once again gather safely and in good health back to our beloved spiritual home, Saint Thomas.
* Also, please remember and pray for our beloved Parish, which is and will be afflicted and hit by the financial consequences that are about to follow this global crisis. You can still offer your weekly candle and tray collection donation using our website https://goc-stthomas.com/ (the website is currently being updated and will be back in operation tomorrow).
Any additional information and directions we receive we will communicate to you.
* Please, remember the elderly and the lonely, the poor and those in need. Make phone calls to the people who are alone. Assure everyone that their Parish cares for them, Father Christoforos still goes to Church and prays for all of us, and once this is over our Parish will get re-energized again and will expect them there.
If you know of anyone who needs assistance at this time you can always contact us by leaving a voice message at the office number 856-665-1731, by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting the leadership of our Philoptochos: Carol Pappas: email@example.com, Tulla Sandilos: firstname.lastname@example.org and Popi Stamatiades: email@example.com.
* If you know any members of our Parish who may not have received this, please forward this message to them.
I assure you of my prayers during these difficult times. Every time I will be celebrating the Divine Liturgy in an empty Church, I will be having all of you surrounding me in prayer.
May God be with all.
With love in Christ and hope in Him,