Quench not the Spirit.
1 Thess. 5, 19
When the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?
Lk 18, 8
It seems strange that we should talk about the Church and the Holy Spirit, as if they were in some way contradictory. Surely the Church is the Body of Christ which radiates the Holy Spirit? Sadly, sometimes this is not the case, though only when we talk of the Church in the sense of the Church authorities. There is such a thing as the persecution of the faithful by Church authorities and this has been seen very many times in Church history.
This always happens whenever the Church authorities (not the Church) have allied themselves with the rich and mighty of this world, seeing the Church only as an opportunity for power and a well-paid career and church buildings as mere real estate, and not seeing the Church as the Body of Christ and suffering human souls who seek the Revelation of God.
Of course, this does not excuse the sectarian counter-reactions to them which often occur at the grassroots, at the present time in the form of old calendarist groups, which repeat the errors of Donatism of long ago. We have quite recently seen these phenomena even in the question of mask wearing.
Thus, just like atheists, the careerist, modernistic, liberal-inclined and secular-minded Church establishment, those who want and are the institutionalisation of the Church, are for masks. Seeing the Church as a mere corporate organisation, an anti-missionary business, they are also for many almost blasphemous practices which appear to deny the holiness of the sacraments. Some of them clearly think that the Body and Blood of Christ are merely bread and wine, just like those others who long ago lapsed from the Church, the Protestants and increasing numbers of Roman Catholics. Like secular people who so weakly believe, they fear death.
On the other hand, there are those whose faith is blind, having zeal not according to reason, and who behave irresponsibly. They would take no precautions whatsoever, sure that you can catch nothing from other people inside a church building. This is clearly a mistake. If there were an outbreak of cholera or the plague, they would not frequent other people, including inside the church building. Just because Covid-19 is less serious, it does not mean that we should not avoid it. We do not fear death, but this does not mean that we seek death.
We Orthodox, in the mainstream between the persecuting extremes, keep our churches open as far as State persecution, widespread now, allows us. We take reasonable precautions in obedience, but we do not avoid God’s Will, knowing that all is in His hands. In the past we have seen off perverts, freemasons, slanderers. We are not frightened of a new wave of persecution by the jealous. We shall stand up to the new persecution, wherever it comes from, left or right, with three unconquerable weapons:
The prayers of the Old Saints of Europe, the Saints of the First Millennium.
The prayers of the New Saints of Europe, the New Martyrs and Confessors.
The prayers of the Imperial Martyrs, the Royal and Holy Family of Europe.
Nobody, however jealous, rapacious and cunning they are, can take these away from us.