The Corona Virus: Why?

The Coronavirus: Why?

What is the Orthodox response to such distressing events?

We have sinned and we have transgressed, and therefore Thy righteous anger has visited us, O Lord, our God, and the darkness of death has encompassed us and we have drawn nigh unto the gates of Hades. But, with compunction, we cry out unto Thee, our God, in our infirmities. Spare, O spare Thy people, and destroy us not utterly, humbly we pray Thee, hearken and have mercy.

This is a petition from the Orthodox service used in time of devastating epidemic. This is the same service that contains the Canon which I published in my last post. The above petition should remind us of the three Hebrew youths in Babylon who were thrown into the fiery furnace. The sacred city of Jerusalem had been overrun and many Jews were taken into captivity. The three youths were among those captured, and because of their refusal to worship an idol in Babylon they were thrown into the fiery furnace. How did they react to all this? They prayed as follows:

Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of our Fathers, and praised and glorified is Thy Name unto the ages. For righteous art Thou in all which Thou hast done for us; and all Thy works are true, and upright are Thy ways, and all Thy judgments are true. And judgments of truth hast Thou performed in all things which Thou hast brought upon us, and upon the holy city of our fathers, Jerusalem; for in truth and judgment hast Thou brought all these things upon us for our sins. For we have sinned and have transgressed in departing from Thee, and all things wherein we have greatly sinned; and Thy commandments we have not heard, nor have we given heed, nor done as Thou hast enjoined us, that it might go well with us. And all that Thou hast done to us, and all that Thou hast brought upon us, in judgment that is true hast Thou done them.

So, after a foreign invasion, the destruction of their holy city and Temple, their captivity and having been thrown into the fiery furnace because of their fidelity to the God of their fathers, they responded as we have just seen. Let us proceed by examining how they continued in prayer:

“In a contrite soul and spirit of humility may we be accepted…Yea, now we follow Thee with our whole heart and we fear Thee, and we seek Thy face; O put us not to shame.”

What took place with this response of theirs? An Angel of the Lord descended into the fiery furnace with them and made it like a whistling wind that bore dew. With thanksgiving in the midst of tribulation, a humble confession of sin, and resolve to change a great miracle took place. How might this relate to our present dilemma? Why has this happened and what should we be doing?

“The sin of Adam is becoming full”—These words were spoken to me almost 20 years ago in a conversation with the Romanian Hieromonk Raphael who was then a monastic of the monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex. In the Prophet Isaiah it is written: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (5:20) We have certainly reached a state of sin where it seems as though sin itself is thought to be virtue and virtue sin. But what is the recompense for this? The Apostle Paul writes to the Romans: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Rom. 1:18) We must fear this and the curse written in the Pentateuch. We find a number of sins are listed there, some of which are commonplace and acceptable today. It is written: “The land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” (Lev. 18:25) Is this what we are experiencing? Will the pandemic be more severe in places where sin abounds?

What, then, is needed? Very simple, repentance is needed. We Orthodox need both a personal and universal repentance. Although we sin we should be continually struggling against sin. We should not only live a life of repentance for ourselves but we would do well to also pray for those who are darkened in their understanding and live in sin. I will end by offering an example of the latter for consideration:

O Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Who in the beginning in the Old Covenant didst reveal our divine nobility when Thou hast said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. O Almighty Lord, we have distorted this image to the uttermost and have not gone after Thy likeness, but rather we follow the inclinations of our human nature in its fallen state. We multiply sin and wickedness in every generation and Thine impending wrath lieth upon us. Yet do Thou the same Lord Who hast fashioned us, turn our hearts unto Thee, restore us to our former state, inspire us to run after Thy likeness to the uttermost bounds of our mortal strength. We pray Thee hearken and have mercy.



The Coronavirus: Prayers for the Pandemic

The Coronavirus: Prayers for the Pandemic

What is being posted here is a Canon from a service from the Orthodox “Book of Needs”: A Molieben [or prayer service] Sung in Time of Devastating Epidemic and Deathbearing Pestilence. This is found in “The Book of Needs Volume IV”, pp. 90-114, published by St. Tikhon’s Monastery. This is being published with permission of the Monastery. I do not want to write anything but simply to offer the following Canon for use. The refrains, which are to be repeated throughout the Canon have been written out only in the first ode.

Canon to the Most-holy, Consubstantial, Lifegiving and Undivided Trinity (Tone 8)

Ode 1
Irmos: The staff of Moses working wonders in days of old, marking the sea in cross-wise form, struck and divided it, and drowned Pharaoh driving his chariot, while it saved fugitive Israel who passed by on foot, singing a song unto God.

Refrain: O Most-holy Trinity, our God, glory to Thee.

O All-acting, of one Essence, Co-enthroned, Equal-in-power and Thrice-radiant Glory, Incomprehensible Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Free Thy servants from grievous sickness, that we may glorify Thee with thanksgiving.

O Most-holy Trinity, our God, glory to Thee.

The storm of sins hast cast me into the depths of infirmities and frequent sickness tosses me, the wretched one, as a tempest. O Holy Trinity, Might Equal-in-power, having loving-kindness, save me who am grievously wasted.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

From the sins that have seized us, O Undivided Trinity, deliver us, Thy servants, extinguishing with the dew of Thy mercy the fever of my grievous sickness, and grant health that we may glorify Thee in an Orthodox manner.

Now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

(Theotokion) Having borne in thy womb the Deliverer, All-acting One, and Lord Who didst bear our infirmities, O All-pure One, entreat Him, therefore, that He deliver thy servants from grievous infirmities, O only Helper of mankind.

Ode 3
Irmos: O Lord Creator of the vault of heaven, and Builder of the Church: Do Thou establish me in the love of Thee, O Summit of desire, O Confirmation of the faithful, O only Lover mankind.

The Heavenly Intelligences and the Angelic Ranks, the Thrones, Principalities. Powers and Dominions entreat Thee, the Good One and Savior: Free Thy servants from destructive illness.

That Thou mightiest show the depths of Thy love for mankind on all, O Almighty Master, do Thou free Thy servants from deathbearing illness and grievous sickness, O only Longsuffering One.


As you stand before God, O ministering Spirits, Angels and Archangels, entreat Him that He appease sickness, disperse sorrows, and deliver from deathbearing wounds.
Now and ever…

Christ God Who was born of thee, showed thee a healing Fountain and an abyss of good things, O undefiled Maiden. Therefore, deliver thou thy servants who are drowning in a storm of sickness.

Lord have mercy (thrice)

Sedalion: Tone 2
Reject not utterly Thy people that have sinned, O Master, neither turn away Thy mercies and compassions from us. But as Thou art an abyss of compassion and a gulf of loving kindness, accept our prayers and deliver us from the misfortunes and necessities that have been laid upon us, for Thou only art condescending.

Ode 4
Irmos: Thou art my strength, O Lord, Thou also art my power, Thou art my God, Thou art my joy, Who without leaving the bosom of the Father, also visited our poverty. Therefore, with the Prophet Habakkuk I cry out unto Thee: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of Mankind.

Truly now the shadow of death has come around us and we draw near unto the gates of Hades. But do Thou, O Savior Who art mighty, having raised us up, reveal Thy mercies, saving us who have cried out with undoubting faith: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of Mankind.

O Mystics of Christ and Apostles, you Eyewitnesses and preachers who have received the gift of healing, and who are spiritual physicians: Entreat Jesus, the Master, Deliverer and Lord, lead me up from necessity, and from the sickness that has seized me.


The storm of sins has now overtaken us, waves of sickness overcome us, and frequent illness is destroying us; for afflictions and disease have found us the wretched ones. O Apostles of the Lord, by your prayers bestow a helping hand.

Now and ever…

All of us who are suffering grievous sicknesses and frequent blows fall down before thee, O Pure Virgin: With mighty protection, save us all. Show compassion, O Bride of God; deliver us from pestilence and grievous infirmities, and heal our illnesses, O Sovereign Lady.

Ode 5
Irmos: Why hast Thou cast me from Thy face, O Never-setting Light? And why hast the alien darkness covered me, the wretched one? But turn me back, I pray Thee, and guide my paths unto the light of Thy commandments.

With your sweet prayers having drowned the sea of delusion, O Sacred Prophets, now transform all bitterness of the present devastating sickness into the sweetness of divine strength.

At Thy command, O Lord, we have been pierced with the arrows of infirmities, and Thy hand hast been laid heavy upon us. As the compassionate God, show compassion on all of us by Thy mercy, through the prayers of Thy Holy Martyrs.


As in ancient times, at Thy command, Thou didst raise up the dead son of a widow, O Word, having delivered Thy servants from grievous sickness as Thou art good and merciful, do Thou grant us life, O only Lover of Mankind.

Now and ever…

With great wrath the storm of life has overtaken me in the night, and the darkness of sickness has covered me, O Virgin. But do thou shine upon me the light of refreshment, O most-pure One, and guide me to the light of strength.

Ode 6
Irmos: Do Thou cleanse me, O Savior, for many are my transgressions, and lead me up from the abyss of evil, I pray Thee, for I have cried out unto Thee. And do Thou hear me, O God of my salvation.

We are lying in the depths of the sea of sickness, and the waves of destructive misfortunes overcome us. O Lord and Guide, extending a helping hand, do Thou save us now.

As in ancient times, with a divine gesture, Thou didst draw up the paralytic from the infirmity of sickness, the bed of afflictions and weighty illness, showing compassion, do Thou grant health, O Greatly-merciful One.


The ranks of Prophets, an assembly of Apostles, and a regiment of Martyrs now entreat Thee, O only Greatly-merciful One, on behalf of Thy people: O Good One, have compassion on them.

Now and ever…

O Mary, pure Treasury of virginity: Do Thou thyself cleanse us, and deliver us from the infirmities, afflictions and sicknesses that have now seized us, that, with faith, we may glorify thee.

Kontakion: Tone 6
The torments of Hades have encompassed us, and the darkness of death covers us, and as wax before the fire, our days melt before the face of Thine anger, O Lord. But as Thou art compassionate, remember mercy in Thy wrath, and spare Thy people, that being alive, in repentance we may glorify Thee as the only Lover of Mankind.

Ode 7
Irmos: In days of old the fire in Babylon was put to shame at the descent of God. Therefore, the Children dancing with joyful feet in the furnace, as in a flowery meadow, sang: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers.

The furnace of boundless sickness burns me, and the wasting flame of fever consumes me, the most shameless one, unceasingly. But with the dew of Thy mercy, O Savior, refresh me who am crying out: Blessed is the God of our fathers.

O Prophets, Apostles, assembly of Martyrs, and divine Disciples: By your prayers appease the sickness of us who are afflicted, and grant health unto us who are crying out: Blessed is the God of our fathers.


Having resurrected Lazarus with a word, now having raised us up from grievous infirmities as from the grave, give us life, O Lord, that we may sing a song of thanksgiving: Blessed is the God of our fathers.

Now and ever…

As thou art compassionate and the Mother of the All-compassionate One, showing loving kindness, do thou deliver thy people who are calling upon thy mercies, O Virgin, and crying out: Blessed is the God of our fathers.

Ode 8
Irmos: The Chaldean tyrant in his rage caused the furnace to be heated seven-fold for the pious ones. But having seen them saved by a better Power, he cried out to the Creator and Deliverer: You children, bless, you priests, sing praises, you people, highly exalt Him unto all ages.

With painful groans, from the bed of our sickness and from wasting infirmities, we cry out unto Thee, the Lover of Mankind, and now looking with sincere eyes, we entreat health: Do Thou visit us, O Savior, and lift us up to sing: O ye people, highly exalt Him unto all the ages.

O Thou Who mercifully didst clothe Thyself in our weakness and didst deign to compare Thyself to man: By the prayers of Thy Venerable Ones, do Thou save us who are in despair, and raise us from the grave of despondency to sing: O you children bless, O you priests sing, O you people highly exalt Him unto all the ages.


As the Establisher of human nature, and the Dispenser of healings, having a depth of compassion and an abyss of loving-kindness, O Longsuffering One, with Thy visitation do Thou visit Thy people in their devastating sickness, and give them life that they may sing: O you priests bless, O you people highly exalt Him unto all ages.

Now and ever…

O All-undefiled One, mighty help and powerful assistance, O hope of the despairing: Do thou visit thy servants who are suffering painfully; lighten the weight of bitter sickness; drive away the pains of wasting necessity; and save thy servants, O Virgin Theotokos.

Ode 9
Irmos: Heaven was truck with awe and the ends of the earth were amazed, for God didst reveal Himself in the flesh unto men, and thy womb became more spacious than the heavens. Therefore, the commanders of men and angels magnify thee, the Theotokos.

O Immortal One Who hast wrought great wonders without number: As Thou art merciful, do Thou show Thy mercy on Thy servants, O God, and free us now from sickness that has seized us, through the prayers of her that gave Thee birth and ranks of Thy Martyrs.

Through the prayers of Thine Angels, Archangels, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Venerable Ones, Hierarchs and Hieromartyrs, do Thou turn the weeping of Thy servants into joy, O Almighty One; heal the sickness, lighten the pain and grant us health.


I beseech Thee the Physician of souls and bodies, and the Lord rich in mercies: Do Thou heal my many passions, and the pains that have taken me and afflict me, as Thou art good and alone art the Benefactor; save us who are magnifying Thee with a pure faith.

Now and ever…

O Virgin Theotokos, who gave birth to the Compassionate and Merciful One, the Master, Creator and Lord: Do thou show thy customary compassion on me, and deliver me from grievous sickness that is wasting my soul, and grant me health, that I may magnify thee unceasingly.