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Letter from An Orthodox Mom

Regarding the Response of the Hierarchy and Clergy to the Coronavirus Crisis

I am an Orthodox mother. I have been Orthodox for the last 30 years and my husband is cradle Orthodox, born and raised in the OCA. We have four children here, and one in Heaven. In the last three months, I have not heard one bishop, or directive from a bishop, speak about our children. Not one. The ONLY reference to children has been that if they cannot distance themselves properly, they will need to remain home.

I am deeply grieved by this and, quite frankly, angry and I believe rightly so. My husband and I, like many other Orthodox parents, have struggled and done the hard work, week after week, year after year, for twelve years now, to take our children to church and teach them our faith. And with one virus, that we are learning is not nearly as deadly as it was reported to be, they have pulled the thread out of not only our twelve years of work but thousands of years of work combined, by all Orthodox parents, all diligently working to pass on our precious and unique faith to our children, as our parents and grandparents did to us. This is all wrong.

I took my children with me to Church throughout the nine months before they were born. I crossed my belly with the sign of the cross because they could not do it for themselves. They were with me as I stood in the choir while I sang. Through me, they heard the prayers and they partook of communion until they were born and then baptized in a Church full of the faithful, surrounded by love.

After they were born, I stopped singing in the choir to tend to them. When they were antsy or tired, I walked with them around the church as they kissed icons on the walls. The ones they could not reach, I had them kiss their hand and reach up high to put their kisses on the icons above. When they were old enough, they would toddle up to the tall icon stands, and although they could not reach the icons above, they kissed the wooden cross, at their level, the one their father built with his own hands before they were even born.

I still watch children do this because they instinctively recognize the things which represent God and they recognize them devoid of fear. In the years that followed, week after week, our family would stop what we were doing on Saturday’s to prepare for Vespers. We took them to venerate the icons every single time. We took them to communion every single time. We got up early on Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, with not one, not two, not three, but four children. We got them dressed in their church clothes, drove them to Church and persevered through the services, walking in and out of the church with them, lunging at them to stop them from running into the Altar, taking them to the potty, shushing them during the gospel, and teaching them they are not to speak when Father is speaking. Godparents held them, without fear, also taking them around to kiss the icons to give me a break. I missed hundreds of sermons walking outside with a tired toddler and I did this week after week after week.