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The Orthodox Ethos Podcast
Episode 7
April 17th, 2020

The Coronavirus Crisis: Letter from the Holy Mountain

Elder Evthymios of the Kelli of the Resurrection in Kapsala on Mt. Athos addresses the crisis and the Church's response to it, calling all of us to faithfulness, patience and prayer, and to repentance. 

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The Coronavirus Crisis: Letter from the Holy Mountain

Today on this special edition of the Orthodox Ethos podcast, a letter from the Elder Evthymios of Kapsala on Mt. Athos concerning the Corona virus and the Orthodox response.

A few days ago, in Greek, there was an important letter that was released online and published by ecclesiastical news agencies like [..] and others that are well-known. And it was from a well-known and important elder on Mt. Athos, of the Kelli of the Resurrection in Kapsala. And his name is Elder Evthymios. Elder Evthymios is one of the well-known disciples of St. Paisios. And he actually is the author along with his elder, Elder […] of the life of St. Paisios. This is the life that was published by the St. [..] Monastery, and distributed by St. [..] Monastery, that I had the blessing to help translate and write the preface to.

And so I am well familiar with the fathers and with the Kelli and I have spoken with the elder on a number of occasions. And so when this letter came out on the Internet, and it was published, it was a pretty big event because this is very, very rare for this to happen.

The elder had felt it necessary to write this letter. I am going to read it to you today and we are going to talk about it. Because there was a lot of information going out second-hand, third-hand about what his views were, what his position was. He wanted to clarify things and make sure that everybody knows exactly where he stands.

It is significant that such a close disciple of Elder, St. Paisios who had spoken and written a lot about the end times, about the Antichrist, about events that would happen. He had spoken and written in particular, his views and wanted the world to know after his repose, what his views were. St. Paisios’s disciples now are coming forward and speaking about this current event, this current situation. And I think it is very instructive. So I am going to read that to you, and occasionally I might stop and clarify things for those who might not know. And then we will wrap it up with some thoughts on the letter, which I think will be edifying for everyone, and enlightening.

It is entitled the letter by Priest-monk Evthymios, Kapsala, Mt. Athos, on the 14th of April, 2020.

The critical days that we are traversing and the sacredness of the days of Holy Week command, rather silence and prayer.

Nevertheless, because some opinions were recently circulated under my name on the Internet, I shall mention the following, so that the truth may be reestablished and harm be avoided.

I have never told people to store food because of an impending war, and I have never prophesied the end of the threat of the virus, as some have irresponsibly and falsely diffused.

Also, without my permission, they have posted my discussions with inexact and self-contradictory views of mine concerning the corona virus, which caused questions. My views are clear in what follows. They are completely personal, without any desire of imposing them on others.

To the many unbearable problems which men have, the threat of the virus has now been added to this, which has ended up a nightmare. People suffer more from their fear, panic, and involuntary reclusion, than they do from the virus.

The Greek state has taken protective measures, but the church has her own means of confronting the virus. Now humbled as never before, weakened and bound by the state, she is unable to grant them to her faithful.

In older times and in similar cases of deadly epidemics, she would perform sanctifications of the waters (αγιασμός) and go out in procession with sacred icons and holy relics. Why should these not be done today as well? Is the Lord’s hand unable to help us in these days too (cf. Is. 59:1)?

[Let me comment here. Let me stop and say that it’s well-known in the Greek press and in the Orthodox ecclesiastical news, various events in the last hundred years of Orthodox Greece, such as in Athens when they had an outbreak and the church came out with the relics and the icons and it brought it to an end. He is going to commemorate some of those in his own life. So the fact that this was not done, and has not been done in Greece is rather a great scandal. And something that many people wonder about and cannot understand why there has been no such action taken at all.

He continues:

During the third decade of the 20th century, my village was struck by a plague, which killed 50 little children in a few days. They could not dig the graves fast enough.

Then they brought the skull of St. Charalampes from the St. Steven’s Monastery in Meteora and the plague immediately ceased.

Ever since the Lord performed the Mystical Supper and handed down the most holy mystery of the Divine Eucharist, the world saving and Divine Liturgy has not ceased to be celebrated to this day.

Neither Diocletian or the Turks, nor the communists in Russia, nor the Germans, the Nazis during the years of the occupation managed to stop the Divine Liturgy and the faithful from approaching Holy Communion.

And now, with the fear of this virus, churches have closed down. And the faithful are deprived of the saving grace of the mysteries, of which they have so great a need. On the contrary, while everyone here in Greece remains fearfully silent in the Orthodox Churches in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Georgia, Divine Worship continues unhindered. The churches are open, and Divine Liturgy is celebrated, and the faithful are not afraid of being infected by the virus.

Protective measures employed by the present government are unconstitutional, unbearable, extreme, and unfair to the Orthodox Greek people, while they have also created an atmosphere of terrorism, which the media aggravates.

Yes the virus exists and we must protect our health and the health of those around us. Fear, however, must vanish, because when man is in a state of fear he cannot think and act rationally and discretely, with discernment.

In a similar case, when the eruption had occurred at Chernobyl, people had then panicked and were examining the vegetables and fruits in order to eat those that had the least exposure to radiation.

When St. Paisios was asked then, he said that we should do the sign of the cross and eat fearlessly, which he himself did, giving and setting an example.

Were he alive today, in this world, it would be inconceivable for us to see him wearing a mask and gloves, carrying a little bottle of alcohol in his pocket and avoiding people, or speaking to them from a distance.

He would surely be pacifying the people, he would be helping them put away their fear. And most of all, he would be saddened by the closing of the churches. Such a fear is unfitting for Christians inspired by the example of the God-Man and the Martyrs of our faith.

Many are anxiously expecting the defeat of the coronavirus by the invention of the vaccine, which will be obligatory for all. As for us, we refuse to be vaccinated.

Whoever is afraid, let him receive as many vaccinations and vaccines as he likes, but he should know that they may produce unforeseen and grave side effects, as was the case a few years ago with the vaccines against the bird flu, done to children, many of whom became paralyzed.

Likewise, many of those who received the vaccine against hepatitis B contracted multiple sclerosis. The same happens with other vaccines as well. Unless God guards us, what can vaccines and medicines do?

The godless Kazantzakis was vaccinated so as to be protected from cholera during a trip of his, and he still fell ill.

We have superior vaccines and the “medicine of immortality”, the holy Mysteries. We have time-tested doctors, specialists on viruses, Saint Charalampes, Saint Bessarion of Dousikou Monastery, who are for the plague, and so many other saints. Now, however, with the strict limitations the people remain helpless and uncomforted.

And while everyone is struggling to confront the virus, some people have other things in mind as their goal. Top doctors and scientists are pointing out that what is happening is a discipline test: the goal is to manipulate the people in the direction they want.

This seemed strange and incredible until recently, but it is not imaginary, since men are now publicly saying that “The coronavirus pandemic has brought to the fore the need for a world-wide democratic government” (George Papandreou, the former president of Greece) and proposing that “each man have on him a microchip with biometrical data in relation to this virus or to other epidemic measurements” (Evangelos Venizelos, former minister in one of the previous governments).

These people are openly speaking of mark [of the Antichrist] and world-wide dictatorship, but do we get it? And what are we doing? Saint Paisios has spoken and written so much about this topic.

Can we possibly trust these men who have enslaved us to the foreign lenders and who are now leading us into slavery to the Antichrist?

Foretelling the future hardships, Saint Paisios would emphasize: “Only with a good spiritual life shall we make it through”. God has permitted this great trial because of our sins.

We have need for sincere repentance, inexhaustible patience, and unceasing prayer, which strengthens our faith. We wish our brethren a good Resurrection under whatever circumstances.

May the Risen One, the Lord of life and Vanquisher of death, comfort and enlighten all of us by the light of His Resurrection, and may He give power and endurance to His people. By His grace may we arrive at the day of our deliverance from sin and from all evils. Amen.

With pain of heart

And sincere brotherly love,

Priestmonk Euthymius

Cell of the resurrection, Kapsala

Mount Athos

Wow. That was a very, very informative and powerful letter. Here, there is so much we could talk about. I think it speaks for itself. We are going to post it in the description. We will have it on Orthodox Ethos website as well. You can read it again and study it.

But here clearly, the clear mind of the saints is presented. Decisive, faithful, with great clarity about what the church should be doing. It should not be closing its doors. It should not be succumbing to fear.

People should not be succumbing to fear. People should be communing. The church should be taking its tools, its weapons against disease and death, which are the Holy Mysteries, the icons, the prayers, the processions, the relics. This is what should be going on.

The saints and the elder are very clear. This is someone who, speaking to us from the midst of Mt. Athos, in the midst of prayer, disciples of saints. He is someone who has produced tremendous spiritual literature, that exists in English, Ascetics in the World. We are going to be publishing one of his books later on, that he has put together, along with his brotherhood. It is so important, about Mt. Athos and contemporary saints.

This is coming from the heart of the Orthodox tradition, a very clear, prophetic, decisive word, that we should all take heed and listen to, for the sake of our witness to the world, but also our own salvation.

Here he is clearly saying that these are signs. These people are leading people towards the Antichrist, those who are talking about global governance and microchips, and those who are closing churches, the economically enslaved priests to foreign lenders, and all the rest. These people are not to be trusted. The church needs to go back in repentance, patience, prayer, and faith, and get back to the work of the church and not be a slave to government.

The government can do and does what it should. But we have our tools, he says. We have our path. We give to Caesar when it belongs to Caesar. The churches being closed and the mysteries being discontinued do not belong to Caesar.

Caesar does not have that decision making. And here is what the elder is saying, and so many Athonites obviously are saying that this was a mistake, and we need to repent of this path. Open the churches. Pascha should be celebrated. Take measurements, of course. Keep distance, of course. It can be done. By the grace of God, everything can be done if we have a good disposition and we are obeying the will of God.

Through the prayers of our Holy Saint Paisios and the good witness of his disciples, may God enlighten us and give us strength. As he said, patience, prayer, and repentance for the days ahead.

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