…we know that absolutely nothing in this world happens that is not in accordance with the providence of our loving and all-merciful God. Though God does not send us temptations, as the Apostle says: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God” (James 1:13), nevertheless the temptations which He does allow to befall us are allowed precisely because through them we have the opportunity to find our salvation. And though without question the COVID-19 pandemic has brought immense tragedy, at the same time it has also brought the most precious gift which this vain and fleeting life can possibly offer: the opportunity for repentance.

How many of us took the Church services – and even the Holy Mysteries of Christ – for granted, squandering countless opportunities to come and pray during the Divine Services, to confess our sins and to receive the Holy Eucharist as often as possible? How many of us took for granted the people whom God placed in our lives (perhaps preferring to commune instead with the countless screens which are now everywhere around us), and whom we now wish we once again had the opportunity to see and speak with face to face? How many of us were lulled into complacency by the ever-present lie that this life will go on forever, that the treasures we are gathering will never be taken from us, that the world we spend so much time building up will never fade away? But for those with eyes to see, the pandemic has exposed this lie once and for all: everything earthly is fleeting, and every human life leads inexorably to the grave.

But for the true Christian, such a revelation is not at all a cause for despair: on the contrary, it is a great and holy opportunity to turn our eyes instead toward Christ, toward the Kingdom of Heaven, toward the resurrection from the dead, and toward the eternal life and the unending and unspeakable good things which God promises to give to all those who ask. And all these promises are both found and fulfilled in precisely one thing, and one thing only: a holy life. A life offered freely, and a heart given entirely, unto Christ our God.

It is to just such a life that Great Lent summons us.

– Newsletter of Holy Cross Monastery in West Virginia