The following remarks are a contribution from Fr. Timothy Baclig from St. Michael Antiochian Church Van Nuys.
Christ is in our midst — on this the Feast of the Holy Ascension!
When all we began spending more time at home and observing the instructions that were provided for our safety, I said something that needs repeating in times like these: “Anything that only you must do needs to be prioritized over what anything someone else can do.” I’ve given that more thought recently and have discovered how thankful I am that many of you have continued to do your part not only in serving the church but in demonstrating how the church is an essential part of your life!
I am not a “technical person,” but thanks to our parishioners who are, we have been able to not only provide the live-streaming of our church services, we are discovering ways of making improvements; even as we look forward to eventually worshiping together in person; ultimately to worship in our new church sanctuary. No one grows by not prayerfully considering possibilities.
Today people are beginning to understand that there are tasks that we priests and ministers do that medical doctors and nurses do not do. There are many medical professionals who have reached a “breaking point;” some have also faced a tragic end to their own life. Medical professionals also need priests and ministers just as priests and ministers need medical professionals. My father-in-law who had two Doctorates in Theology would say, “Theology is the ‘queen of the sciences’ and priests and ministers of the Gospel are doctors of the soul.” Today we are all facing the same challenges together and each of us have a very important role by being part of God’s team in caring and ministering to others with our own gifts, talents and skills. We all essentially need each other.
Our society will not function well without a broad acceptance of what is the truth—and this is now our greatest challenge as a nation. Let me put it this way: God has provided through science many answers to our prayers. And today hardworking gifted scientists continue to do just that. We just need to understand what God has called each of us to do, and do our very best; staying within the bounds of good moral choices.
We clergy are very thankful for the support of FOCUS America — a domestic humanitarian agency of the Orthodox Church in North America who has provided thousands of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to those serving on the front lines and who reside in vulnerable situations, including priests, medical professionals, grocery employees and those in homeless shelters. FOCUS stands for both the initiation group (Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve) and the services they offer (Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding and helter). [see www.focusna.org].
We are “front-line” ministers in the spiritual arena, in hospitals (where allowed), administering Church Sacraments, conducting Funerals, hearing private Confessions, and much more. We sincerely thank the support that FOCUS has provided us, the clergy of parishes who remain essential to the spiritual health and well being of our faithful.
May God grant a speedy end to the health crisis that has plagued the nations, resulting in the sudden and unprovided death of hundreds of thousands; a third of which includes in the United States. And may we all patiently adapt to a smooth and safe transition in being all together sooner than later.
It’s me, Father Timothy
FOCUS North America exists to support the growth of Orthodox Christian service efforts by providing engagement opportunities that reveal Christ in our neighbor and serve community needs within our five ministry areas of Food, Occupation, Clothing, Understanding, and Shelter.
Join our mission of engaging in Christ’s call to serve today!