Western American Diocese
Western American Diocese
Message from Archpriest Stefan, Rector of All Russian Saints Church in Burlingame, CA

It’s always better to be prepared to handle unexpected situations rather than being caught off guard.  We should all have daily supplies of needed amounts of food and medication to cover us for extended periods of time in case it becomes impossible to go to stores or pharmacies. This is not to recommend hoarding, but to be conscious of our surroundings and developing trends.

We have all suffered the effects of COVID restrictions and related complications, so I won't go into details since we are all sadly aware of them.  Along with material concerns, we also have spiritual and religious responsibilities to ourselves, our immediate families, our loved ones, and neighbors. 

During the long period of time when our church and other parish communities were closed down or severely restricted, many people got used to watching LIVESTREAM SERVICES. 

For shut-ins and people who are ill, this is understandable. But now that churches are open and many restrictions have been lifted, sadly, many parishioners are still not returning to church.

I strongly recommend that healthy, faithful Orthodox Christians make a sincere effort to attend church regularly and reap the spiritual fruits that can only be gathered in the Holy Temple at Divine and Grace-filled Services. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself reveals to us if two or three are gathered in His Name, He also will always be present.

Some people make a very sectarian and protestant claim, saying you can pray anytime and anyplace and certainly, you can and must do so. But it should not be to the EXCLUSION of Church attendance.

The Holy Scriptures reveal that Christ Himself attended both Temple and Synagogue services of the Ancient Hebrew Faith. So did the Apostles, who after the Glorious Resurrection of The Lord, preached in the Temple at Jerusalem and gathered together in the Upper Room awaiting the descent of The Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day! After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, Christians formulated the church based on the setup of the Temple and gathered together as a spiritual family to share the Holy Eucharist with one another.

During the most dreadful time of pagan persecutions of the Early Christian Church, the faithful gathered in the Catacombs and celebrated the Liturgy over the Holy Relics of the Martyrs. As time passed and direct persecutions abated, Orthodox Christians, along with their Bishops, Priests and Deacons, converted pagan temples into Churches and began to build Holy Edifices specifically for Church Services on the Christianized format of the Ancient Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem and all the Christian Temples/Churches that treasured the Holy Relics of Martyrs and Saints.

This extremely important TRADITION of gathering together in a sanctified CHURCH BUILDING should not be ignored or berated in any way. We should all make an effort to gather together as a spiritual family in prayer and Christian Fellowship supporting each other and praying for each other, collecting for ourselves, our families and our fellow Orthodox Christians needed strengths of knowledge, mutual Love and understanding. We should always remember that GRACE is most readily acquired and treasured in communal gatherings through sacraments and prayer. 

Church of All Russian Saints NEWSLETTER
Volume 9, Number 5

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