“I pour out my soul when I think on these things: how I went with the multitude and led them into the house of God, with the voice of praise and thanksgiving, among those who keep holy-day” – Psalm 42:4-5
Today’s announcement from the Provincial Government is discouraging news on so many levels. We grieve that the COVID-19 virus continues its relentless attack on our friends and neighbours, including some beloved members of our Church. We are deeply concerned that the new variants seem to be gaining ground in our fight against infection and transmission. We regret that we are unable, for the second year in a row, to celebrate the Sunday of the Resurrection in the way that we would wish. Like the psalmist, we pour out our soul in frustration and profound sadness. On this Maundy Thursday, we travel with Christ to the Garden of Gethsemane – where, like him, we pray for strength and endurance, clinging to God’s faithfulness, despite our own fears and fatigue at this overwhelming time.
Please note that, effective Saturday April 3, ALL CHURCHES IN THE DIOCESE OF TORONTO ARE RESTRICTED TO A GATHERING LIMIT OF 15% CAPACITY FOR INDOOR WORSHIP. This gathering limit, previously applied only to the Grey Zone, is in effect for every coloured Zone in the Health System. The timing of today’s announcement will be particularly upsetting for those parishes who were previously permitted to, and intending to, open at a 30% capacity for Easter services, and must now adapt their plans quickly.
We respond to this situation understanding the need for care and caution. We know what we have to do to protect our neighbours, and we bear these restrictions willingly as an act of love. Our guidelines for worship continue, as before, with no further amendment.
We remind the Diocese that all the services for the Paschal Triduum from St. James Cathedral will be livestreamed and Bishop Andrew Asbil will be preaching on both Good Friday and Easter Day. We know that many other parishes can provide online worship also. We hope that every Christian will find the opportunity to worship the Risen Christ this Easter Season.
Please continue to pray for this ongoing situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for the infected, the sick and the dying, and for our front-line and health-care workers who are struggling to meet ever-increasing needs.
May Almighty God who so decisively and victoriously defeated death in Christ Jesus fill us with all confidence and trust, patience and love, as we continue to live through these challenging days.
The Bishop’s Office