Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I think all of us would have to agree that, so far, this has not been the Great Lent than any of us imagined it would be. Instead of Orthodox faithful being able to participate actively in the extra Lenten services, in most places in the world, our faithful are joining in “virtually” through live-streams made possible by modern technology. While this is, of course, a blessing, we all feel a certain lack of being able to personally participate in the life of the Church and, after all, you can’t “virtually” commune of the Holy Mysteries. This is undoubtedly a heavy cross that has been placed upon our shoulders and I pray that we bear it with humility and fortitude and, perhaps most importantly, in a spirit of Christian sacrifice understanding that our efforts to keep ourselves healthy during this pandemic can have an incalculable effect on people that we may never meet.
Many have made reference to the pattern of the monastery in Palestine described in the life of St. Mary of Egypt, where the monks would go out into the desert for the period of Great Lent, seeking God in earnest. We all understand that this is a beautiful image for us to hold on to during this time, but what is perhaps most important to understand in this analogy is that is still entirely possible for us to pray and to seek God in earnest during this time when we find ourselves deprived of active participation in the liturgical life of the Church. This is a time for us to reinforce the spiritual connection that exists between our parish and our “home church”, the consecrated “desert” in each of our homes where we maintain the pulse of our personal prayers, which are so vital to our spiritual survival. Even though we may not be monks and nuns, we are called to keep the cycle of our morning and evening prayers by standing in our icon corners with diligence and attention and by “singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
I pray that God will give us all the strength to endure this temptation with patience and that He will quickly bring this epidemic to an end, keeping safe from all harm those who call upon Him. May the Lord give the blessing!
Damascene Gallery Operations
Many of our customers have contacted us and asked us if we are still operating during this time and, I’m pleased to inform you all that we are, indeed, still able to operate. Though we are not considered an “essential” business, the Damascene Gallery Workshop is located adjacent to my home in West Virginia and thus, there are no obstacles to continued to operation for the moment. If this changes at some point in the future, rest assured that I will send out an update and let you know.
A Temporary Change to Project Work (Including Church Beautification Projects)
One area of our work that has been impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak includes Church Projects that require in-person installation. For the time being, Damascene Gallery will not be able to work on any such projects, though we are able to continue to provide toweling, printed fresco icons and large format icons (including iconostasis icons) to churches that are able to do the installation themselves. We are very happy to work with you to give you specific instructions (including video conferencing with you during installation) to ensure that your installations go smoothly even though we are not able to be there in person to assist you.
New Icons of St. Nikephoros the Leper…
Additionally, we have been asked numerous times about the possibility of adding an icon of St. Nikephoros the Leper, who has been reported to have appeared in Greece and assured a pious Orthodox serviceman that he would intercede for all who ask for his prayers, “to be protected and healed from the Coronavirus”. For this reason, we expedited two beautiful icons of St. Nikephoros through processing and have uploaded them to our website. They can be accessed at this link. Numerous sizes of these icons have already been produced and are in-stock and ready to ship.
We owe all of our customers a tremendous debt of gratitude for supporting Damascene Gallery over the past 10 years of our operation and I hope that you will all rest assured that our small staff at Damascene Gallery is praying for you during these troubled times and calling upon God to have mercy on us all.
Fr. Jonah Campbell and the staff of Damascene Gallery