Moscow, March 29, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has addressed believers and called on them to pray at home rather than in churches to protect themselves from getting infected during the coronavirus pandemic.
"I call on you, my dear, to refrain from visiting churches in the coming days, until there's a special blessing from the patriarch, and if someone says anything to you, remind them of the example of Mary of Egypt," the patriarch said following the liturgy at the Christ the Savior Church on Sunday.
The patriarch said that this decision was difficult for him. "I have been preaching for 51 years, calling on people to come to church, overcome the gravitation of their own ill will and external circumstances, I dedicated my entire life to this call and I hope you understand how difficult it is for me to say now: refrain from visiting churches," he said.
Saint Mary of Egypt, who is now celebrated by the church as a great devotee, "who accepted a nature of an angel during her earthly life," inspired him to take this step, the patriarch said. Mary of Egypt, far away from churches, in a desert in solitude, saved her life "and gave her physical body the strength to live in those unbelievable conditions as long as God gave this remarkable holy ascetic," he said.
"Owing to her prayers may the Lord protect us all from infections, from diseases, but the most important thing, let her example of solitude help us understand the importance of solitude in our personal 'deserts,' in our apartments. May we accept a part of the act of faith of Mary of Egypt in order to save ourselves, our relatives and loved ones and maybe even to feel deeply to deed of this great devotee, who lived most of her life in solitude because she believed in God and heeded His voice. We believe that God calls us now to follow her path even in modern megalopolises," the patriarch said.
The church calls today, "before there are losses in our families" to adhere to the obligation to strictly follow all orders of Russia's sanitary authorities, he said.
Not many people attended the liturgy this time, some of them wore masks, an Interfax correspondent reported.