The Metropolitan of Nea Smyrni expressed his anxiety about how the services of the Holy Week are going to be celebrated in the midst of a pandemic.
Metropolitan Symeon puts forward his proposals in order to keep the temples of the country open while performing their rites, observing the rules set by the experts.
In an article he says that he, like the rest of the Church, understands the seriousness of the situation because of the dangers to public health.
“We have adhered to and continue to apply the precautionary measures decided upon by the experts and the competent authorities. The most painful of all is not being allowed to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and other ecclesiastical services during the most sacred period of the ecclesiastical year, the Great Lent,” he stressed.
As the days of the Holy Week and Easter approach, the Metropolitan of Nea Smyrni clarifies that “we are not entitled to be indifferent about our health. The risk of the pandemic is high. What is happening in other countries causes terror. However, we cannot ignore the imperative need of the Church to continue its life; the offering of the Holy Communion, the common worship, our humble prayer for the Lord’s great help to all of us, in order to overcome this great ordeal.”
“The people of the Church share the responsibility of the ruling party for public health and the competence of the scientific experts to take the necessary measures to avoid the spread of this lethal virus.
But we would like -and we strongly urge- them to show similar understanding towards the Church, its liturgical life and the spiritual sensitivities of the faithful.”
The Metropolitan proposes, during the Holy Week, the Divine Liturgy and other services to be performed behind closed doors.
He also calls for celebrating the Divine Liturgy on Palm Sunday, Great Holy Thursday, Great Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday (April 20), the feast of St. George (April 23), the feast of Zoodohos Pigi (April 24) and Sunday of St. Thomas (April 26).
He asks to perform the services of the Bridegroom, of the Holy Passion, of the Apokathelosis (the Deposition from the Cross) and of the Lamentations (Epitaphios).
He says that the Divine Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts should also be celebrated on Great Holy Wednesday, so that the priests will be able to offer the Holy Communion at the homes of the sick and bedridden faithful, after their written request that will have been submitted until Palm Sunday.
The adornment and the procession of the Epitaphios will not take place, whereas the Anastasis Service and the Divine Liturgy of East Sunday will take place inside the churches behind closed doors.
During the Holy Week, the temples should open after the end of the Services so that the faithful can come inside and pray individually, always following the precautionary measures.
On Great Holy Thursday and Great Holy Saturday, the faithful who will have been prepared and desire it very dearly, sould be able to receive the Holy Communion after the end of the Divine Liturgy, between 9 am and 11 am, always following the precautionary measures.
“It is inconceivable to the Church’s consciousness, even through a pandemic, to prevent those who are free, unpressured, and spiritually prepared to come to the Sacraments,” he points out in his article.