Have you noticed what’s been happening in the Church during the Coronavirus pandemic? While the entire world is gripped by fear and uncertainty, our bishops and clergy remain calm. Fr. Nectarios Yangson is the guardian of the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian Iveron icon of the Mother of God. He spoke to Peter S. Lukianov from the Fund for Assistance to ROCOR on March 19th about how we should respond as Orthodox Christians to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peter S. Lukianov: Can you offer some words of comfort or advice to the faithful during this pandemic?
Fr. Nectarios: Fear is the one tool of the devil that can lay waste to anyone at near anytime.
But Christians are different. Even in ancient times, reports to the emperors always mentioned one basic attribute of “the Christian:” They exhibited a near fearlessness even in the sight of death.
As Christians, and not just any “Christian,” but Orthodox Christians of True Worship, we have the testimony of countless individuals who lived their lives under extreme circumstances, far worse than the inconvenience of simply “staying at home.”
We fear uncertainty. We fear the unknown. But we must remind ourselves that Christ is the cure that tramples upon the powers and wickedness of the devil’s workings, namely fear. Fear exists in the absence of Christ.
Throughout time, He has given us incredible blessings and assistance ‒ knowing our weakness. The greatest blessing aside from His Body and Blood has been His Mother, the Virgin Mary herself, who wove the flesh of the Godhead in her womb. If we remain close to the Mother of God, she will keep us from harm, from the wiles of the evil one.
“Ipsam sequens non devias” ‒ If you follow her, you will never be led astray.
PSL: Is there anything specific that you can recommend we do on a daily basis?
FN: I highly recommend people read the akathist to the Iveron Icon each day (english version - slavonic version), and remind themselves of God’s blessings and the many gifts He has given us these many years.
PSL: Why is it so important to support the Church through the Fund for Assistance, especially during this difficult time?
FN: In times of uncertainty, in times of fear and chaos, the greatest love we can show is love for our fellow man. It saddens me to see people hoard food and supplies, when the most vulnerable of our community have very little and cannot support such extravagance.
This is why foundations like the Fund for Assistance are important, in that they get needed resources into the hands of those who need it most: the elderly, the infirm, the poor, the monasteries, and other people who do the bidding of our Lord, to help those in need.
PSL: Thank you so much. Please keep us in your prayers.
FN: I’m very grateful to all of the donors of the Fund for Assistance for supporting our beloved Russian Church Abroad. Your prayer slips from November* are still being commemorated. Please continue to send me more.
May the Mother of God and Saint Nicephorus the Leper pray to God for us!
*FFA donors were asked to submit names for commemoration through our official Facebook page in November 2019. If you wish to submit names for commemoration, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you seen some of the videos about the Iveron icon and Brother Jose?