The Church in Quarantine (Home Services)

Update – Holy Week, and Pascha

We find ourselves in interesting times.  Hardly anyone alive can remember the last time there was so much global fear over a virus.  We Orthodox Christians now face a great challenge: many of our churches are either being temporarily closed or are offering services with a “skeleton crew” of ten or fewer people to meet government guidelines.  Like many of you in America, I have no church to attend this Sunday.  However, that should not stop us from praying and worshiping God.  Several Orthodox communities are streaming their services online.  You can see a list of the OCA ones here.

However, if you’re like me and would rather do the services yourself, then you’ll need some resources if you don’t already have them at home.  I have put together a few things that will hopefully help you during this unexpected Lenten struggle that we are all facing.


For Holy Week services and for doing Pascha at home, check out these resources put together especially for this occasion of quarantine.  I use these daily at home.

Also, Artefact (Benedict & Talia Sheehan and co.) have released a Paschal home celebration “guide” which you can freely download for a limited time here:

For Vespers, I pulled from the OCA’s Texts for Liturgical Services and combined it with an edition of the Psalter that I’ve been working on for a while.


Below is a reflection from Archpriest Paul Yerger in Clinton, MS.  Hopefully you will find it encouraging during this time.

At the direction of our Archbishop Alexander, I served the Divine Liturgy Sunday with only four people present: the choir director, one singer, one altar server, and myself. I found it to be a very sad experience: what is usually a joyful gathering of the faithful now a handful.

In his letter Archbishop Alexander calls our attention to the passage in the Life of St. Mary of Egypt, where we are told that the monks of a certain monastery left the monastery at the beginning of Lent and went into the desert, each to pray and fast alone, returning on Palm Sunday. I want to comment on the passage that mentions that they left one or two monks behind “so that the chapel might not be left without ministry.”We normally think of the church services as being for the benefit of those who attend. This is true. But even more important, they are offered for the glory of God.

It is interesting that the services in the Old Testament Temple (unlike the synagogue services) did not have a “congregation.” Some people, such as the righteous Joachim and Anna, came to attend, but were not really part of the services. These were offered by the priests and other functionaries, but all the people were understood to benefit from them.

At Christian Liturgies normally all believers should be present. But every Liturgy is done “on behalf of all and for all” and all benefit even if not present. The Christians serving Liturgy in catacombs were in a similar position.

During this time of plague we are serving the Liturgy with a minimum number of people present in obedience to our bishops. Probably many of us wonder if it is necessary. But the obedience in itself is of great value. I myself have always taken pride in ignoring all health advice. But that in itself is a lack of humility.

Orthodox do not serve the Divine Liturgy on the weekdays of Lent. The idea is that the Liturgy is such a joy that it is not compatible with the fasting and mourning that Lent is about; so to speak we “fast” from the Liturgy. We could consider ourselves in this situation now.

We certainly don’t consider this a good situation, and we pray it ends soon. But while it lasts, let us make spiritual use of it. Like the monks in the desert, let us struggle alone for patience, self-examination, humility and obedience.

And let us pray for those suffering with the virus, for the physicians, nurses, and others who minister to them, for those who have lost loved ones, and for those departed.

~~~ Archpriest Paul Yerger, Holy Resurrection, Clinton, MS

6 thoughts on “The Church in Quarantine (Home Services)

  1. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. It truly is a precious gift for many of us who are in self-isolation. God bless you, your family, and everyone during this difficult time. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

    1. Thank you, Nancy, and may God bless you during this time as well.

  2. (Scott) Andrew Mowery March 21, 2020 — 10:10 pm

    Hey Jeremiah, Brigid Marshall told me about this. I will be doing this typica at home in the morning. thanks!

    1. I’m glad it’s useful for you all. I hope all is well in the Mowery household!

  3. Thank you Jeremiah for your timely thoughts during this most difficult time
    in our country. Working at our local hospital I have seen the devastating
    impact it has had on not only the employees, but the entire community.
    Hours have been cut, procedures cancelled, but we are all pulling
    together as a team to help each other pull through this, and we will. God
    will win victoriously!!!

    1. I’m glad you are working hard there with everyone else. Hopefully after a few weeks things will become a bit more normal.

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