Masks now required in church (even though it's not a legal requirement)

rouchno1fan

Pigeon
Orthodox Inquirer
I've been going to a Russian Orthodox church here in England since July. Government mask mandates were lifted back in July, and it is now officially "personal choice".

However, our priest has made it explicitly clear during the last service that the congregation must wear masks during the Liturgy due to an "increase" in local "COVID" cases, and that it's our Christian duty to "keep others safe" by wearing masks.

This makes absoltutely no sense, given that the following is allowed (and encouraged):
  • Kissing of icons
  • Kissing the cross
  • Kissing priest's hand
  • Sharing communion spoon
  • Standing at close proximity as close to the front as possible, no limits on attendance
Furthermore, clergy, readers and choir don't wear masks, and everyone who does wear one is taking them on and off every five minutes for the above listed activities.

I am unwilling to wear a mask, and unless I want to show up without one and endure the discomfort of knowing that I'm violating the church rules (and that I'm being "unchristian", I have no choice but to stop attending.

Also, what happened to faith?

Your thoughts, comments, anecdotes and suggestions?
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
That's insane, really disappointing to hear, especially given all of the evidence that masks don't work and that asymptomatic spread isn't a thing for the unvaccinated at a minimum.

As long as you're not sick, I do not think it would be wrong to show up and refuse to wear a mask, going off what certain elders and saints have said. If you have to stand in the narthex or in the doorway to the church, or even just outside, so be it. There have been many times where men within the Church were wrong, and the saints say that we are not excused from wrongdoing because our spiritual fathers said it was okay.

I'm halfway through the following document, which I encourage you to read, it will do a good job of answering your questions. It's long, 89 pages I believe if you were to print it out, over 100 pages if it was a softcover book. I was able to convert this and read it on an ereader to make it easier.


Given all the cases where they take off the masks that you mentioned, or never wear them, it is really especially absurd. I absolutely would contact your diocesan bishop. You're in a precarious position as an inquirer, so I don't envy you. As someone baptized at the end of 2019, it is like I made it in just in time for the gate to close behind me. You're going to have to fight to open or get through that gate, and assuming you make it there, it will result in treasure in Heaven for your struggle.

There is no "pandemic." Less than .1% of the world allegedly dying from a disease over the course of two years is not a pandemic, and anyone telling you otherwise has succumbed to fear.
 
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rouchno1fan

Pigeon
Orthodox Inquirer
As long as you're not sick, I do not think it would be wrong to show up and refuse to wear a mask, going off what certain elders and saints have said.
This is perfectly logical, but since the priest has stated he wants everyone masked up (no mention of personal choice or if you are medically exempt you don't need to) I don't want to have to stroll in openly defying his instructions. I guarantee pretty much everyon will comply.

Yep - on my reading list. Father Kosmas can always be relied upon to talk sense.

I absolutely would contact your diocesan bishop. You're in a precarious position as an inquirer, so I don't envy you.
Going over the head of my parish priest isn't really something I feel comfortable with.

I really like Fr Peter Heers suggestions made on his most recent interview on Brother Augustine's channel. If a church doesn't let you inside, then "attend" services outside the building.
It's a nice idea, but is there really much point in bothering with a church that turns you away? If I'm standing outside in the rain I won't hear anything and I'll just catch a cold.

FYI in my church there's no narthex as such to stand in. You're either "in" or "out" of the church.
 

lskdfjldsf

Pelican
Orthodox Catechumen
Gold Member
I may be in the minority here, but aren't the Eucharist and regular worship more important than periodically wearing a mask? As much as I loathe them, I couldn't imagine not going to church at all over something relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Roman taxes and tax collectors were universally despised, yet Christ still instructed people to render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. Not going to church at all over a mask seems like a huge affront to this.
 

DanielH

Ostrich
Orthodox
I may be in the minority here, but aren't the Eucharist and regular worship more important than periodically wearing a mask? As much as I loathe them, I couldn't imagine not going to church at all over something relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things.
Yes, but this is an inquirer, and otherwise a priest can commune you elsewhere, and nobody is suggesting not going to church.
Roman taxes and tax collectors were universally despised, yet Christ still instructed people to render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. Not going to church at all over a mask seems like a huge affront to this.
Moot point as there is no local mask requirement for the OP. But even if this wasn't the case, the nave of the church and what goes on there is not Caesar's.

2 Corinthians 3:18: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

If you're wearing a mask, you're not "beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord"
 

lskdfjldsf

Pelican
Orthodox Catechumen
Gold Member
Fair enough points, missed the part about it not being a local mandate. Our parish is fortunate, we have maybe 2-3 old people that wear masks but no one else.
 

Blade Runner

Ostrich
Orthodox
I really like Fr Peter Heers suggestions made on his most recent interview on Brother Augustine's channel. If a church doesn't let you inside, then "attend" services outside the building.
I've actually done this, and I think it was in 40 deg weather at the warmest. It was sad, but a portion of suffering in a very bizarre way.
 

Rudy1981

Chicken
I've been going to a Russian Orthodox church here in England since July. Government mask mandates were lifted back in July, and it is now officially "personal choice".

However, our priest has made it explicitly clear during the last service that the congregation must wear masks during the Liturgy due to an "increase" in local "COVID" cases, and that it's our Christian duty to "keep others safe" by wearing masks.

This makes absoltutely no sense, given that the following is allowed (and encouraged):
  • Kissing of icons
  • Kissing the cross
  • Kissing priest's hand
  • Sharing communion spoon
  • Standing at close proximity as close to the front as possible, no limits on attendance
Furthermore, clergy, readers and choir don't wear masks, and everyone who does wear one is taking them on and off every five minutes for the above listed activities.

I am unwilling to wear a mask, and unless I want to show up without one and endure the discomfort of knowing that I'm violating the church rules (and that I'm being "unchristian", I have no choice but to stop attending.

Also, what happened to faith?

Your thoughts, comments, anecdotes and suggestions?
Kissing a priest's hand is much more troubling to me than masks. And there isn't anything lately much stupider than believing in masks. I'd stop going.
 

Blade Runner

Ostrich
Orthodox
I may be in the minority here, but aren't the Eucharist and regular worship more important than periodically wearing a mask? As much as I loathe them, I couldn't imagine not going to church at all over something relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Roman taxes and tax collectors were universally despised, yet Christ still instructed people to render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. Not going to church at all over a mask seems like a huge affront to this.
In addition to what @DanielH has stated, we have to look at the quality of the petition, and what it does to our humanity and our unity. Should muslim women wear masks at all times? Why not? In the "grand scheme of things" it is trivial as well. After all, they are the husbands property, have kids, and on to the next generation.

When we are with one another, we should not be subject to Caesar; we owe allegiance to God and have unity through common faith and practice, not through division, as is supported by masking and the (if not direct) indirect suggestion that those not wearing masks are unclean and will cause fear, trembling, and death to their brothers and sisters. The inverse in fact is the real case: the mask wearers want to be entitled to go to church, yet are making positive demands of others on the basis of their own fears. They are truly those who do not want to go to church. If you are still unconvinced, I'll cinch it here for you: they take Eucharist from the same chalice, which by their other judgments should be a public health hazard, and they go to all manner of public places with people they don't even know, who could be passing on any number of diseases they would be completely unaware of, but have so little love of their christian brothers and sisters, they accuse them.

It's disgusting.
 

Rudy1981

Chicken
Nice passive aggressive thumbs down, get2choppaa, why don't you quantify your little click with an actual explanation of which part of my post you didn't like and why?
 
Sounds like you're trying to justify not going to church at all, nobody here is going to tell you that's okay. Read that article from Priestmonk Kosmas.

Can an Orthodox member give insight on house churches or similar movements in the past within your church history?

For Protestants it's a thing, and a growing conversation that it will be a thing again and likely the entire future of church soon.
 

elkokun

Sparrow
I can understand if the government imposed a mask mandate and the parish complied, just to avoid scandal.

However, if there is no government mandate, then your priest should not be imposing masks on the congregation. You should definitely write to the bishop.
What about requiring covid card for going to a liturgy / mass ?
 

get2choppaaa

Ostrich
Can an Orthodox member give insight on house churches or similar movements in the past within your church history?

For Protestants it's a thing, and a growing conversation that it will be a thing again and likely the entire future of church soon.
The history of Christianity via Orthodoxy was with house churches in the ME.

This is not new to Orthodoxy.

It is however, unlikely with out a fight.
 

Parmesan

Woodpecker
I couldn't imagine not going to church at all over something relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things.
Isn't this what Covidians have been insisting all along? It's only 14 days to stop the spread... now 20 months later your kid's are muzzled in school, and you're losing your job for not getting a wholly unnecessary vaccine. How one decides to comply when it comes to their faith is of course a personal decision, but I'd personally have a difficult time justifying this, if at the same time I'm wholly against such mandates elsewhere in the public sphere.
 

Paisios Harlan

Chicken
Orthodox
If your conscience, not to mention your rational mind, tells you to not wear a mask in the presence of God in His temple, do not wear one.

I was in the same position. I stopped going to a church that requires masks. It also STILL asks people to not venerate, check your temperature at the door, etc. I will not go there again.

I found a church in a different city. It takes 5 hours to travel there. Last year I was going there once a month, spending money on trains and hotel. It was extremely difficult to do with family issues too. Knowing what we know about Covid, there is no way we can stand in a church with a mask on while we pray. I don't judge the parishioners that have worn a mask from the beginning and actually have a humble attitude. I'm talking about people who know that masks shouldn't be required, and do not want to wear one, out of reverence and love for God and neighbor.

Luckily, I have been able to find a third church that is not 5 hours away. They request that everyone wears a mask. I don't wear one. No one kicks me out.

If I were you I would try to keep going and not wear a mask. Just stare down at the ground and pray.
 
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