There is much advice to the faithful on how to pray and worship during these times when, in many places, churches are closed to the faithful, even if services are being held; and in many churches, there are not even services behind the locked doors. Let us pray that God will shorten the days that the pestilence is upon us.
As we know, the first Christians prayed and worshipped in their homes; indeed, the Last Supper of Christ, which instituted the Eucharist, was held in a house as the Gospels tell us. A church was established in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Cor. 16:19). “Greet the brethren in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in her house”, says Apostle Paul (Col. 4:15). In Acts 16:14-15, we read that St Paul stayed in the house of Lydia, and no doubt services were held there. Paraphrasing St Paul, St John Chrysostom says, “make thine house a church” (Homily XLIII on 1 Corinthians). It is possible, then, to make one’s house “a house of prayer”. Naturally, lay people cannot serve the Divine Liturgy in their homes, but they can do other services, and pray. They can also watch the services which are transmitted or streamed. What is needful is to pray and watch with the right inner disposition. In the Life of St Matrona of Moscow, we read this:
“Once, on a feast day, Matrona’s mother invited her husband to join her for the service as usual. But he did not go. He decided to pray and sing at home. Matrona stayed with him, too. Throughout the service Natalia was thinking about her husband and felt sorry that he hadn’t come with her. When Natalia was back home after the Liturgy, Matrona said: “You haven’t been to church, Mother.” Natalia was surprised: “Don’t you know I am just back and taking off my coat?” “Father was in church, but you were not.” Matrona saw that even though her mother attended the service her heart was not praying.”