The Suicidal Church, in Body or in Spirit

Archimandrite Gregorios Estephan

Archimandrite Gregorios Estephan, Abbot of Holy Dormition of the Theotokos Monastery, Bkeftine, Lebanon

A most poignant, sobering and timely warning. Your prayers and your thoughts.

A few excerpts:

We ask with honesty, was there no other way or a dispensational solution, taking into account all the health measures, to face this pandemic, without closing the Churches and surrendering to a collective spiritual suicide?

Going to Church during pandemics, temptations, hardships and persecutions does not mean that we are tempting God as if we are inviting something to befall us, but rather, by this, we are saying to Him that we walk with Him in Faith, revealing that what we need the most is to be with Him during these very afflictions, united with Him in His Body and Blood, in order to confront this pandemic and the dangers of disease, as well as all of the other catastrophes awaiting us. When Christians, during major persecutions and communism, risked their lives to go into the catacombs and gather around the Lord’s table, it was an expression of their loving Christ more than themselves, an expression of their knowledge that true life exists within this Eucharistic table, and not in their bodies.

Today also, if we do not stand up to this current pandemic by prayer, supplication and repentance, and more importantly, by holding Divine Liturgies, and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ which frees us from eternal death, what should we confront it with? By running away and isolating oneself?

The Church faced the consequences of sin through such firm Faith and by strengthening piety in the souls of her members. … Christians, in prisons and mines during exile, perceived in depth their great need to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, so their priests used to celebrate the Divine offering on the breasts of the faithful; the breast of the faithful became an altar for God.

We are in a time when we need the Body and Blood of Christ, more than at any other time, in order to be nourished and to receive the strength to resist every evil and disease. Although we know that, by God’s permission, we can fall sick due to this pandemic, but the faithful who becomes ill and continues his struggle in the Church and his participation in its Mysteries, is like a soldier in the battle arena resisting all evil, not by his own strength, but by the power of the salvific gift of Redemption. Does the one who partakes of the Body and Blood of Christ, knowing that it is the true food for eternal life, think of bodily death anymore? The death of such person therefore resembles the death of Martyrs.

Why is everyone silent in front of all these evils and perversions that are afflicting the Church of Christ and disorienting its mission of the salvation of mankind? Do those speaking with such an unlawful enthusiasm in support of the Church closures have such a zeal for the purity of the Orthodox Faith? Would they be as zealous in applying the Church Canons as they are to submit to the laws of the nations?

The end of the world will come, not when the antichrist becomes strong, but when the Church becomes weak (Archbishop Sergei Baranov).

If the strength of the Church exists in her Mysteries, and especially in the Mystery of the Eucharist, then her weakness, rather her death, is found in the interruption of these Liturgies.

We must also consider that since the Church has surrendered so easily because of this pandemic, even unto the closing of her doors, what is she going to do when the Antichrist comes? Do any of us ask this question?

The interruption of these Liturgies, although temporary, is nothing but a sign among the signs of the end of times. Concerning the latter days, Saint Ephraim the Syrian (of the fourth century) reveals that: “the Churches will pathetically weep for the holy services will cease to take place in them and there will no more be Eucharistic oblations”[9]. The Church of Christ which is ever strong and victorious over Satan, sin and death, and concerning which the Lord promised that the gates of Hades shall not prevail over her, is submitting that simply? Does not this reveal its weakness and the fragility of its earthly journey?

For the complete article by Archimandrite Gregorios Estephan, Abbot of Holy Dormition of the Theotokos Monastery, Bkeftine, Lebanon, go to Orthodox Ethos, a website by Father Peter Heers I wholeheartedly recommend for all its podcasts, interviews and articles


7 comments on “The Suicidal Church, in Body or in Spirit

  1. A. Sojourner says:

    These remarks echo my own, but I dare not say anything. I saw someone else of like mind say something along this line relative to my parish situation and they were shouted down in about 2 minutes, adamantly.

    There is no leadership here. No chutzpah, no real fire. Just frightened people trying to avoid lawsuits and please Caesar. I keep my mouth shut and pray…asking Our Lord to lead me somewhere…If leadership hasn’t the courage or fire to do these things written in the posting then what can be said? Only Lord Have Mercy.

    Yana Porter


  2. anchoritelady says:

    There is mention in Daniel 12:11 – “When you lose the daily sacrifice, there will be 1,290 days.” This is almost 3 years and although Daniel the prophet may not have been referring to our times, it seems to fit if we continue to go in the direction we are now, OR this may happen again in the future. One thing I have noticed, is that more people are speaking about the faith, and also bringing it back into their homes more – through prayer, candles and icons and neighborly connections although by social media. God knows and sees all and if we understand He has a purpose for us to endure this trial, then we can endure a little easier. I like the comment above about the Church getting weaker being the problem, and not the devil getting stronger – this is a good caution for us. God bless!


  3. Iamkyriaki says:

    I am outspoken about this situation. Our church leaders are under pressure by influential people and are well aware, but MUST be obedient to the authorities for fear of shutting down our churches. All christians need to do something and walk/protest the abuse that we’ve been subjected to. We’re Orthodox and supposed to be bold. Where is our fire?


    • I am not sure (only) this is the right solution. Lord have mercy!


    • anchoritelady says:

      In my location,, we have been given the go ahead this Friday at midnight to open places of worship however to begin with only 30% capacity. I don’t know how the clergy will determine who comes under the 30% attending though…..Lord have mercy!


      • The same situation emerged in Greece and this is why people started spreading and exploring parishes in small villages and/or monasteries as such measures were ‘enforced’ less rigidly … In big cities, this limit became a serious problem, at least in the beginning. Lord have mercy …


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