Wednesday, April 1, 2020

GOD IS WITH US: Solace in the Outbreak of the Corona Virus

My dears! I should like to speak with you, seated at a cup of coffee. See, I have prepared coffee for myself, sweet, just as I like it.

I realize that you are frightened, many of you are frightened with the current situation. Especially those who are in Italy. But let us not forget that God is standing at our wheel.

God, who created heaven and earth, who created all things from nothingness. And as sacred scripture tells us with God even the hairs of your head are counted. Do you think that anything happens without God’s will, without divine permission? No. This is why I want to tell you that you should not be anxious, terrified or frightened, because all this has been permitted by God for our good.

Every evening we sing so beautifully at compline (as those who live in monasteries, monks and nuns know): “God is with us! Understand, all ye nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us. Hear ye, even to the uttermost ends of the earth, for God is with us. Submit yourselves, ye mighty ones, for God is with us. For we fear not your terror, neither are we troubled, for God is with us.”

Do you hear? “Your terror.” This refers to the powers of darkness and to the mighty ones of this world, who seek to frighten us with particular things. But it is not necessary to fear anything. For God is with us. And if God, who created heaven and earth, is with us, then why must we be afraid? Let us therefore be calm, untroubled.

Look, we can turn these goings on into something remarkable. Most of you, children and parents, are sitting at home. Strive to make fitting use of this time.

In the morning gather everyone together and read the Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos, say the morning prayers. Let one of you read aloud, while the others listen. Likewise in the evening. And in the course of the day converse with each other. Parents, talk to your children. There was no time for this earlier — all had business, obligations.

Turn the television off for a while, turn off all means of mass information and try to converse a little with your children. Hear them out, allow them to speak out and say what they need to say. And don’t speak about the flu or virus. Put that aside. Entrust that to God’s mercy. Speak about good things, about which until now there was no time to speak. Speak about those things that once made you happy that you had forgotten. And try to see what you can do to make each other happy from now on. Don’t be anxious, don’t be mean to each other.

So, let us not forget that God is above all of us, that He has permitted this for our own good, You surely understand to what degree everything in our present life has crossed over the boundaries of normality, starting with abortion, immorality, everything, drunkenness, narcotics, anything you want, everything in our life is turned inside out, homosexuals and so on. The entire world has been turned upside down. So therefore it was only natural that God allowed something. Whether the virus appeared from somewhere or was manufactured is not important. It should not concern us. God allowed it. Because the world veered off course, and God had to set us aright. And He allowed this.

Let us recall, those of you who have read the Old Testament, the city of Nineveh. And what happened there is the same thing that is happening now in the world. All sorts of evil acts were committed. And God, seeing that they continued in their evildoing, sent the Prophet Jonah. “Go and tell them that there remain 40 days before the city of Nineveh will be destroyed.” Exactly in the same way as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. God said the same thing to them.

At first the prophet Jonah did not want to go. Why? Because he knew that God was merciful. The prophet would tell them that the city will be destroyed in 40 days, and they would repent, they would turn back to God, they would be sorry and ask forgiveness, for God to forgive them. And God would forgive them, making Jonah’s prophecy false. But in the end Jonah listened to God, He went and said to them, “In 40 days the city of Nineveh will be destroyed.”

Now when the report of this came to the king, he heard it and said this: “Enough. From now on we renounce sin.” He threw off his cloak, threw off his royal robes and clothed himself in sackcloth, poured ashes on his head and began to pray and repent. And he said this: “Let all the people repent, let them correct their evil ways, giving themselves over to prayer and fasting. And not only the people, but let the animals also fast. For we, the people, have aggrieved God, but the animals have not aggrieved Him. Perhaps their wailing and howling will move Him not to visit us with this wrath.

And when God saw their repentance, from the king to last citizen, how they prayed and wept, begging forgiveness from God, He took pity on them and held back His wrath.

So you see? He Himself said, “40 days,” resolved to do it, and they repented. For God is merciful, God is love. If He sees that we turn to Him, do you know what will happen? All this virus and everything will disappear in a few days. But He desires to see from us somewhat of a return to Him. And if He sees us petrified, paralyzed with fear…

Let’s examine another fear, the fear of death. We hear from St. Basil, who says, “The mindfulness of death is the greatest wisdom.” But only the mindfulness of death is good. How we act — perhaps we today or tomorrow we will depart to God; where we fell short and should sin no more. But we, paralyzed by fear, sit in front of the television. What else has happened? How many have died? Who else has been infected and what will happen next, ad infinitum. Why is that necessary? Turn it off. Pray, rejoice. Observe how the sun shines today, It was also there yesterday, and will come out again tomorrow. Birds sing and flowers blossom. Everything around is taking its course. Why should we sit imprisoned in a paralyzed state? No. Let us try to return to God; let us strive to be happy, to rejoice in the time we have, today.

You saw me make myself a coffee? Very good. You try to make yourself a coffee, or if you can’t drink coffee, a tea. Sit in the living room with all the family and talk. Turn off everything connected to technology and talk. Find the time to talk and forget everything else. Try to make each other happy.

God will take this away. But He wants to see something from us: one step, one drop, a little something to correct ourselves.

Someone even said that he heard something remarkable: administrators in the presence of journalists, winding up some sort of public appearance said, “God help us!”

But why do we say that only when someone has a knife to our throat? Why don’t we say that all the time? Any pursuit must begin with God and end with God.

God help us. God preserve us. Mother of God help us.

And let us not forget that we have the Mother of God, She is our connection with heaven. All gifts come to us through the Mother of God. Try to read the akathist hymn, the prayer service to the Mother of God every day. You will see how much help we will receive. The Mother of God will never abandon us. She is a mother, she knows. She has the heart of a mother, and she knows what pain and suffering is. And she is always with us, beside us.

For this reason I want to transmit to all of you, not only those in their native land, but also scattered throughout the world. To anyone who is sad, who is frightened, who is desperate: we don’t need this! Let us not forget that God is with us. Why then should we be terrified if God, who created everything from nothingness, is with us? Besides we have the Mother of God — our intercessor and our connection to heaven.

I will end with this. May the Mother of God help you, give you strength and protect you. And that we may again enjoy the beautiful moments spent with those who are dear to us, having among us God and His Mother. Amen

Monk Pimen (Vlad)*

March 20, 2020

*) Father Pimen (Vlad) is the father-superior of the Mt. Athos cell of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple adjunct to the Laku Skete.

Source of Russian text:

Translated from the Russian by Reader Stephen (Robert) Parent,

Choir Director of Holy Trinity Cathedral (OCA) in San Francisco, California

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