Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

 

March 29, 2020

THE GOOD NEWS IS THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL

I greet you with “Kalimera!” or “Good Day!” because “this is the day the Lord has made let us be glad and rejoice in it.” I have been praying every day for each of you, for our community, and the world. I am not myself exempt from the suffering of this situation, but it can become for us a time of great stress or a time to ask the Lord to strength our faith—the kind of spiritual uplifting that allows us to experience the Love of God and the Grace of The Holy Spirit.

We have been using electronic media to send you messages of hope and the Good News of the Gospel. I want to inform you that 30 families in our parish have volunteered to deliver food and provide other assistance to those in need. The parish council, with Ray Vazquez’s leadership, has been conducting almost daily online meetings. We had a two-hour meeting last night, putting into place a plan to reopen our schools and all our ministries. Saint Katherine has a very long history of caring not only for our own people but for our neighbors.

I have informed you that you can reach out to your priests anytime. Some days it takes me more than five hours just to respond to your emails, texts, and calls. This is a good thing. I also ask you to use your phone to call your friends and family and keep in touch with those who are in need, especially the elderly the people who are most vulnerable. Philoptochos has maintained a call list and outreach to those who they have identified that need to be comforted. Fr. Nikolas has launched our blog. Yesterday, he had an online GOYA Bible Study and Get-Together to keep our young in touch with their faith. The Adult Bible Study has been meeting remotely. We have an updated web page that Presvytera Pauline updates several times a day. The good news so far is that everyone in the community is fine. Thank you, God. If you want relief, check out all the various sites that you can access from your computers, laptops, tablets, and/or phones.

The Healing of a Boy with a Spirit
“And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, ‘What are you discussing with them?’ And one of the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.’ And he answered them, ‘O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.’ And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has he had this?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.’ And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ And he said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.’” (Mark 9:24-29)

The Gospel lesson centers around the inability of the Twelve to heal the mute, deaf and “moonstruck” (Matthew 17:15) boy, whose father was at his wits end.  This was not the first time the Twelve had tried to cast out demons; they had been doing this now for six to nine months.  And they had been doing it quite well, thank you!  So well, in fact, that they had a dispute among them as to who was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven immediately following this episode (Matthew 18:1-5, Luke 9:46-48).

In referring to the Twelve and the boy’s father, Jesus used different forms of the word faith or belief (Greek: pistia). When the Twelve asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus said, “Because of your little-faith” or oligo-pistia (Matthew 17:20). Referring to the boy’s father, Jesus said, “O unbelieving or apistos generation” (Mark 9:19). The boy’s father later said (Mark 9:24), “I believe (Greek: pisteuo); help my unbelief” (Greek: apistia). From apistia, the opposite of pistia, we get the English word apostasy. Thus, the Twelve had a weak faith, but the boy’s father was still in darkness.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria states, “It was the duty of the father of the lad to lay the blame upon his own unbelief (Mark 9:23-24), rather than upon the holy Apostles. For this reason, Christ justly called out, ‘O unbelieving and perverse generation; how long shall I be with you; how long shall I put up with you?’ (Mark 9:19) He justly therefore calls both the man himself, and those of like mind, an apostate generation. It is a wretched sickness, and whoever is seized by it is perverse and utterly without knowledge to walk uprightly.”

John Chrysostom added to this that while the father had no belief at all, “If You can do anything, help us” (Mark 9:22), others who came to Jesus were not like that.  For example, the leper said, “If You are willing You can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2). In our Gospel lesson, Jesus responded to the father by playing his words back to him, “If you can believe all things are possible” (Mark 9:23). The boy’s father was ungrateful for everything he was given. “While the father uttered speech that was in no way worthy of His power, Jesus proceeded to show him that even he (the father) could do this and much more. In fact, the Lord’s care had been apparent even before the father brought his son to Jesus. For the demon (Mark 9:22) had thrown the boy both into the fire and into the water to destroy him, but to no avail.”

If we apply this to our lives, we might ask ourselves how we approach a service of Holy Oil for healing. Do we approach in faith, with little faith or with apostasy? The Grace available is still Christ’s and we should be careful not to find fault with the Grace given to the priest in charge. When the Twelve asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the demon, as they had been doing before, Jesus replied with two answers:  (1) their little-faith and (2) “this kind of demon can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).

He compared their little faith to a mustard seed. Earlier He had said, “The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds. When it is grown it is greater than all the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32). Here, applying the mustard seed analogy to faith, He said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain: ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

I challenge all of us to take to heart the words of our Lord, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Take some time to pray. Fast, and receive the blessings of our Lord.

Kathisma I. ?χος πλ. δ?. Α?τ?μελον. Mode pl. 4. Automelon.

?ν?στης ?κ νεκρ?ν, ? ζω? τ?ν?π?ντων, κα? ?γγελος φωτ?ς, τα?ς Γυναιξ?ν?β?α? Πα?σασθε τ?ν δακρ?ων, το?ς?ποστ?λοις ε?αγγελ?σασθε, κρ?ξατε?νυμνο?σαι? ?τι ?ν?στη Χριστ?ς ? Κ?ριος,? ε?δοκ?σας σ?σαι ?ς Θε?ς, τ? γ?νος τ?ν?νθρ?πων.

When You, the Life of all, from the dead resurrected, a shining Angel cried to the lamenting women, “Cease from your tears. Announce unto the Apostles the tidings full of joy. Cry out in exaltation, that Christ the Lord has arisen from the dead. For He swilled to save the human race, as God, in His good pleasure.”

May the love of God the Father and the grace of the Holy Spirit be with you!

In Christ,
Fr. Costas

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March 24, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With church activities and services canceled or greatly scaled back and as we join the battle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, we implore all members of our Saint Katherine Parish to support local businesses and especially those that have supported our community.

We have compiled a list of restaurants that support our church with generous food donations during the spring and fall Greek Festivals, church meetings and activities.

There are several ways to support our local Restaurants during this unprecedented crisis:

  • Order Take-Out
  • Purchase a gift card for future purchases
  • Order delivery through Uber Eats, Doordash etc. 

As this is a dynamic situation, contact your local restaurant directly to find the best way to support their business.  Many restaurants are offering delivery. Call ahead to reserve seating if limited seating service is provided. Restaurants that were bustling just days ago now sit empty and business owners are unsure when and if they will re-open.
 
Please support our local Restaurants. The safety measures that have forced all of us indoors are the right thing to do to stop the spread of COVID-19.  We are confident that together we can overcome this pandemic, but we also recognize that our small business owners need us now more than ever to survive.

~Your Fellow Servants in Christ

LIST AS OF 3/22/2020
Here is a list of the restaurants, with phone numbers and website links. Please call the restaurants to check for hours of operation and what services they are providing.

If you own a restaurant and your business is not on our list please contact Jim Kontzamanys at jimbosGrill1@aol.com

Kali orexi!

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March 22, 2020

Dear Stewards and Friends of Saint Katherine,

I pray that all of you continue to stay healthy during this time.

In the last 24 hours, I was informed that one of our Parishioners who attended services last Sunday has been exposed to a Parishioner who has recently tested positive for COVID-19.  Both our Parishioners are currently isolated and under medical care.  I pray for their quick recovery.  

I encourage all of our Parishioners to adhere to CDC preventive measures and guidance as a form of community care. As testing increases over the next week, we should assume that community transmission of COVID-19 is likely. Community members may wish to stay home, even if they feel fine, except for essential trips. Essential trips might include trips to doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, and gas stations. 

The CDC advises that anyone who is ill should self-isolate and contact their physician for further guidance. 

Regardless of whether you stay home, please continue practicing preventive measures recommended by the CDC, such as social distancing, covering your sneeze or cough, and frequent hand washing. Social distancing has proven to be extremely effective and involves maintaining at least six feet of separation between yourself and others, as well as limiting your time around groups of more than ten people. You may wish to review some of the resources that the CDC has made available for communities that have experienced a confirmed COVID-19 case.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/protect-home.html

The CDC site can help you monitor your own family’s health and address some of the concerns that this news may raise.

In Christ, 
Ray Vazquez
Parish Council President

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March 22, 2020

We rise early and we extol You, for through Your Cross we found peace that passes all understanding. Through it You the Savior of the world, renewed the human race, leading us to the unsetting light (Orthros Ode V).

We have been separated from one another, just as sin separates us from God. Yet God, through His coming again in the flesh annihilates the sin that separates us. Jesus Christ rejoins us to God the Father—the Creation joins the Creator.

Christ was willing to love us and picked up His cross. We will, in due time, gather and fill the pews, fill the chanter stand, fill the altar, fill the choir loft, and fulfill the desire to be together as the people of God (Ekklesia). We will praise him, glorify Him, and receive Him.

This COVID-19 pandemic shows us what life is like when we are separated. I miss your embracing arms and interaction. I miss you tremendously, but I suspect that is how God feels when we are not willing to be with Him. There is nothing sadder than to be in our church alone. It is sad, not because God is absent, it is sad because YOU are absent. Therefore, today, on the feast of the Holy Cross, the third Sunday of Lent, our attention to and anticipation of the Resurrection becomes the focus of life.

Today, I share this message of hope and pray that this sin of separation will be dispelled. It is not only my prayer that this cup be taken away (Matthew 26:39), it is the prayer of Fr. Nikolas, the choir, the chanters, the parish council, the teacher, the Philoptochos…you get it, it is everyone’s prayer. It is also the prayer that the Lord, through the power of His Resurrection, will lift us out of this place of darkness, sickness, and suffering. Like the Passover sacrifice of the Old Testament, the sign of the Cross is an acknowledgment of His grace, love, and protection. His Cross is the power of New Life, Eternal Life, a life that we should have as His people.

Do not despair. Do not give up. Job was righteous before God. The Evil One tried--even with all the suffering he bestowed on Job, he could not separate Job from God. God and Job were victorious over evil, just as you and I are victorious over evil. I pray that the power of the Cross and the strength of Job will call us to embrace God together in prayer and allow us to be together soon. We see Jesus Christ in each other and in our midst. Not even the gate of hell shall prevail over His Church!

O Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance.

May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you (2 Corinthians 13:14).
~Fr. Costa

Σ?σον, Κ?ριε, τ?ν λα?ν σου κα?
ε?λ?γησον τ?ν κληρονοµ?αν σου, ν?κας το?ς
βασιλε?σι κατ? βαρβ?ρων δωρο?µενος,
κα? τ? σ?ν φυλ?ττων δι? το? Σταυρο? σου
πολ?τευµα.
?ρθρος - Κυρ, 22 Μαρ

Save, O Lord, Your people and bless Your
inheritance, granting victory to the faithful
over the enemy, and by Your Cross protecting
Your commonwealth. [GOA]
Orthros, Sunday, 22 March
 

Resurrectional Apolytikion
?χος βαρ?ς. Grave Mode.
Κατ?λυσας τ? Σταυρ? σου τ?ν
θ?νατον, ?ν??ξας τ? Λ?στ? τ?ν
Παρ?δεισον, τ?ν Μυροφ?ρων τ?ν θρ?νον
µετ?βαλες, κα? το?ς σο?ς ?ποστ?λοις
κηρ?ττειν ?π?ταξας? ?τι ?ν?στης Χριστ? ?
Θε?ς, παρ?χων τ? κ?σµ? τ? µ?γα ?λεος.

By means of Your Cross, O Lord, You
abolished death. To the robber You opened
Paradise. The lamentation of the myrrhbearing women You transformed, and You
gave Your Apostles the order to proclaim to
all that You had risen, O Christ our God, and
granted the world Your great mercy. [SD]

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March 21, 2020

Dearest Parishioners,
 
I pray that this email finds you well as you continue on your spiritual journey through Great Lent. We are halfway to Pascha!! Kali dynami!
 
As we will not celebrate services at Saint Katherine for a while, please sign into one of the following livestreams so that you are able to participate in the liturgical life of our Church:  
 
Ascension Greek Orthodox Church in Fairview, NJ
 
St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Toms River, NJ
 
Praying that our Lord and Savior continues to bless and protect you through the power of His Cross, I am
 
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Costa
 
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March 19, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I pray you are well and adjusting to this "new normal."

His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey is distributing this electronic version of Daily Orthodox Rules of Prayer, courtesy of Rev. Fr. John L. Johns, to enhance your daily prayer life during this most difficult and trying time.

God bless,
Fr. Costa

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March 18, 2020

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
Attached is a message from His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey regarding services, as per the decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.  Sadly, all services are cancelled.  As I receive updates, I will forward them to you. 
 
I wanted to also inform you, due to the threat of this outbreak, the office will be closed. 
 
I ask for your patience and your prayers for all as we are in this time of difficulty.  
 
God bless,
Fr. Costa
 
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March 18, 2020
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
I pray that, as you read this, you are all well.  We are using all means possible to keep you informed and provide for your with your spiritual needs.
 
I asked Fr. Nikolas to create a blog so we can distribute inspiring messages and have a means of communicating with each other as a virtual Saint Katherine community. Please visit https://dwellalwaysinprayer.wordpress.com.
 
We have a list of parishioners who have volunteered to shop for those who need assistance. If you would like to be added to list of volunteers, please email frcostas@stkchurch.com or call 571-213-1109.
 
We have added to the liturgical schedule to better enable us to pray together. The schedule of services streaming live is below:
 

Sundays: Orthros  9:00am | 10:00 am Divine Liturgy

Mondays: Compline 7:00pm

Tuesdays: 3rd and 6th Hours 12:00pm 

Thursdays:  3rd and 6th Hours 12:00pm

Fridays: Salutations 7:00pm

We will celebrate the feastday of the Annunciation with the following services:
  Tuesday, March 24 7:00pm Great Vespers 
  Wednesday, March 25 9:00am Orthros | 10:00am  Divine Liturgy

You can access all of these services at www.agesinitiatives.com

Your clergy and parish council are committed to serving you and fervently pray for the end of this pandemic. We have been working towards preserving capital to meet the needs of our church, including caring for those we employ so they can meet the needs of their families. Please, I ask you to take a minute and prayerfully submit your stewardship to Saint Katherine. You can make an electronic donation  or mail your contribution to Saint Katherine, 3149 Glen Carlyn Road,  Falls Church,  VA 22041.

May the intercessions of our Patron Saint Katherine and the blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

In Christ, 
Fr. Costas

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March 17, 2020

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

I would like to inform you of the revised schedule for Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church. Due to the ever-changing situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, all parishioners are asked to abstain from all activities at the church, including liturgical services, from today through April 10. We hope to resume “open” church service on April 11, Saturday of Lazarus. Until that time, liturgical services will be offered via Saint Katherine Live! (https://video.nest.com/live/Hi2qv49EiX). These include:

Sundays, 9:00am Orthros | 10:00am Divine Liturgy
March 22, Sunday of the Holy Cross
March 29, Sunday of Saint John Climacus
April 5, Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt

Mondays, 7:00pm
March 23, Compline
March 30, Compline
April 6, Compline

Fridays, 7:00pm
March 20, 3rd Salutations
March 27, 4th Salutations
April 3, Akathist Hymn

Acknowledging that things can change at a moment’s notice, please know that updates will be sent via our church listserv (email) and posted to our COVID-19 webpage (http://www.saint-katherines.org/announcements/coronavirus).

Even if we cannot be present inside the church itself, we can be close to our Lord through prayer.

I remind you that Fr. Nickolas and I are available to anyone to care for their spiritual needs.

In Christ,
Fr. Costas

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March 15, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I pray that you are all well under these extreme circumstances surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). I urge you not to panic, but prepare. Also, take this time to reflect and pray.

As I said I would after each liturgy this morning, I am sending an update regarding the church service for tomorrow, Monday, March 16. We will celebrate the hours starting at 7:00pm. If anyone wishes to be anointed, please remain in the church following the service and I will anoint you.

Our church doors will remain open and we will celebrate the services listed in the DOXA and online at http://saint-katherines.org/about_us/schedule-of-services. If you wish to follow the church services LIVE online, please go to go to our church website saint-katherines.org and click on the red Saint Katherine Live! button or go directly to https://video.nest.com/live/Hi2qv49EiX. If you do not have liturgical texts, you can find them by following the directions below or downloading "Digital Chant Stand" from the App Store (iPhone and iPad).

  1. Visit http://agesinitiatives.com.
  2. Click on “AGES DCS” (the middle choice).
  3. Choose the date.
  4. Choose the service.
  5. Choose the format. (We suggest GR-EN, PDF/Print.)
  6. Follow along on your device or print the service at home. 

May our Lord bless and protect you.

God bless,
Fr. Costa

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March 13, 2020

Dear Saint Katherine Parishioners and Concerned Parties,
 
We write, not in fear, but in hope. During these trying and uncertain times, know that we place our faith and hope in our Lord to guide us. We are all aware of the heightened medical and health concerns due to the COVID-19 outbreak. These concerns have intensified over the last 24 hours. We have been monitoring all government recommendations and are following protocol to ensure everyone’s safety .
 
We now feel it is the appropriate time to take the following actions as a parish:
  1. All Liturgical worship services will be held as scheduled.
  2. All church activities and ministries will be cancelled until the end of the month.
  3. All the schools (Paideia, Greek School, and Sunday School) will be cancelled until the end of the month.
  4. The clergy and staff will work to ensure that all your spiritual needs are met.
  5. We will not have Coffee Hour after Liturgy.
Our church facilities are being regularly disinfected and cleaned. We ask you to please carefully consider your personal health conditions and the well being of our parishioners before attending any services. If you are sick or are in one of the at risk groups, stay home. We will update you via the Internet at http://www.saint-katherines.org/announcements/coronavirus. This page will be updated immediately upon receipt of new information. 
 
As we know, the services and sacraments are lifegiving and bring healing of body and soul. During the unusual times in which we are living, let us all use this season of Great Lent to focus more on Jesus Christ and His message of eternal life, rather than focus on the fear that the evil one brings to our temporal world. It is our eternal soul about which we should be most concerned as we navigate the days ahead.
 
We have scheduled the Sacrament of Holy Unction for this Monday evening, March 16, 7:00pm, so that we may entreat the Lord our God for the healing and protection of our body and soul. We will pray together, united in our Lord as one family, loving and taking care of each other.
 
Take courage that we will get through this. Remember the words of the Gospel, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
 
God's blessings,
 
Rev. Fr. Konstantinos Pavlakos and Ray Vazquez
 
Don't panic, but prepare as best you can. Please think about high-risk individuals and stay home if you feel ill.