Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Orthodox Church
Archpriest Steven C. Kostoff
4285 Ashland Ave, Cincinnati OH 45212 - (513) 351-0907
Coronavirus Updates, Links, and Schedule Changes

Most Recent Updates on Reopening the Churches

MAY 5, 2020



  • Bishop Paul's Pastoral Letter to the Midwest Diocese;
  • Watch for further announcements from Fr Steven regarding our parish schedule and procedures as we begin the process of reopening.


MAY 1, 2020




Previous Posts


APRIL 25, 2020


Dear Parish Faithful,

"God has raised him from the dead - Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."

- I Thess. 1:10 (The earliest written text we have attesting to the resurrection of Christ)

No New Directives - Have not heard anything from Bp. Paul yet about any new directives effecting our liturgical life in the church.

Parish Stewardship - We have been receiving a steady flow of pledges throughout the last couple of weeks. Please either send your pledge to the church or to our treasurer, Darren Payne.

Next Zoom Class- We will have a zoom class on Wednesday, April 29, at 7:00 p.m. It will continue our discussion of the Resurrection of Christ, on balance a rather exciting theme (IMHO).

The next class is entitled: "I COR. 15:1-11 - The Resurrection and Holy Tradition." In other words, we will take a close look at that particular text from the Apostle Paul to uncover what he reveals about the resurrection and its central place in the Holy Tradition of the Church. Join us for what should be a stimulating discussion!



APRIL 18, 2020

Dear Parish Faithful,

If you do not have the OCA Pascha service book for later tonight, here are two approximations to the service as we will do it. The first is the Reader Service version of Nocturn and Matins. Everything is included except for the Litanies. We thank Kris Gansle for sharing the link.

Ralph explains the second form. That carries the service as we will do it, though probably a bit fuller.

Dear Father Steven,

I may have found a version of the OCA Pascha Service Book, that has been set up in a different format, but might be essentially the same. (I don’t have the OCA book to compare.)

This is a PDF done by St Symeon’s in Birmingham in 2016. It does not have any introductory notes or explanation as to its source, but in the appendix at the end (pp 194ff), it specifically references two different practices for Ode 9 of the Paschal Canon, citing John Erickson and Fr Paul Lazor. Perhaps if such a reference is included in the OCA Service Booklet, that might be a quick affirmation of the overall consistency of this book with what we are using.





NEW! - Extensive resources for following the Holy Week Services at home, compiled from the websites of the OCA and our Diocese of the Midwest



Read Fr Steven's meditation, 'I am Lazarus':


"I am the 'friend' of Jesus - he or she whom he loved. For me Jesus has wept. Before my tomb, so to speak, he has wrestled with the cost of life-giving love. It is to call me forth into life, to strip from me the bands of death that Jesus has come into the world and given his life. So I am to read the  forthcoming account of the passion and death of Jesus with intimate personal involvement, knowing that Jesus is undergoing all this insult and suffering for love of me and to give life to me." 


Continue reading...




Read Fr Steven's new Introduction to Holy Week...


Christ's Passion Week "confronts us again with the most crucial challenge: 'to dare to be saints by the power of God ... To dare to have holy respect and reverence for ourselves, as we are redeemed and sanctified by the blood of Christ ... To dare to have the courage to grasp the great power that has been given to us, at the same time realizing that this power is always made perfect in infirmity, and that it is not a possession'." 


Continue reading...




The Coming End of Great Lent, plus numerous updates

From Fr Steven:

Beginning today and through Friday inclusive, there are only five more days of Great Lent remaining. I feel assured in saying that this has to be the most unusual Great Lent we have experienced, even for those of us who have been around for awhile. I encourage everyone to persevere to the end, or simply to "stick with the program." It is good for both body and soul, and it keeps us connected to the church when we are feeling the effects of being disconnected. Next weekend, we celebrate the great events of the Raising of Lazarus and Palm Sunday - a festal interlude before Holy Week and Pascha. I do not know what the week has in store for us, but I hoping to be able to serve the Liturgy on Sunday for the Feast of Palms. I will keep everyone informed.

Continue reading...


Primatial Message of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon:

  • Read or watch a very personal message from His Beatitude
  • Includes online OCA Church School update & schedule for this week


The Sign of the Prophet Jonah in our days

  • A new message from Bishop Alexis of Bethesda




APRIL 3, 2020


Dear Parish Faithful,

The Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos is prescribed to be served on the Fifth Saturday of Great Lent. We always do it on Friday evening "in anticipation." We will chant the hymn this evening beginning at 7:00 p.m. The service will be streamed, so if you would like to join us, please follow Ralph's directions below. I doubt you will be overwhelmed aesthetically, but we will do our best to present this beautiful and justifiably famous hymn in honor of the Mother of God in a respectful manner.

Fr. Steven


Dear Father Steven,

I believe I have everything prepared for video streaming on Facebook.

The main thing now is to get as many of our parishioners to like and follow our Facebook page as possible.

Please send out this link to the parish, and ask everyone to “Like” and follow our page:


Dear Parish Faithful,

And now for something a bit more cheerful ...

Here is an article from the OCA webpage about the history behind the OCA's 50th Anniversary of receiving autocephaly:


APRIL 2, 2020

Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council Issue Coronavius Statements


Following from their Monday, March 30, 2020, special meeting, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon and the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America have today issued an Archpastoral letter concerning the Coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak, and Directives for the Clergy and the Parish, Mission, and Monastic Communities of the Orthodox Church in America.

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon convened by teleconference a special session of the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in America. Following from that meeting a Joint Communique of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Councilhas been issued, and can be read here. [PDF versions of all three documents may be found on this last link as well.]



GREAT LENT - The Fifth Sunday:



March 28:

Online Retreat with Dr. Peter Bouteneff, Sat. April 4

Dear Parish Faithful,

I believe that many of you have read Peter Bouteneff's book How To Be a Sinner. Here is an online retreat based on his book scheduled for next Saturday. April 4. I heard his presentation in Dayton back in February with a few of our other parishioners. It was very well done, and I would recommend it. A good way to get your mind off of the coronavirus.

Full info and register online for the retreat here.



March 27:

Reflection from His Grace Bishop Alexis of Bethesda

Dear Parish Faithful,

I am sending this link from the OCA website to a very profound, challenging, though deeply comforting theological reflection from His Grace Bishop Alexis of Bethesda, actually fairly-newly consecrated. It is a genuine response written from a well-conceived Orthodox perspective. We are turning our homes into "prayer cells" if we are indeed using this time to learn how to pray more and with humility, in the face of our own fears and anxieties.

I realize that many of you are availing yourselves of streaming the Liturgy on Sunday morning as a way of some form of participation from the many sources making that streaming available. But I would also remind you to actually pray in an active way through the Typika or Reader Service. Again, I offer the pastoral suggestion that you pray the Typika together with me on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. I will have at least one other person - perhaps two - for that service here with me in the church since we cannot celebrate the Liturgy. Praying the Typika is more active, while "watching" is, by definition, more passive. Or, you can combine the two, as the Typika is less than thirty minutes, and you can then "tune in" to one of the streamed Liturgies where one is able to be celebrated.

In Christ,

Fr. Steven



Read Fr Steven's brief meditation, with a couple of very helpful attachments, including The Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina.


Assembly of Bishops launches COVID-19 Resource Center

NEW YORK – The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA announces a resource center for clergy and faithful during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Resource Center includes updated news from the various jurisdictions as well as practical guidelines and resources for families, ministry leaders, parish leadership, and everyone.

The Center can be accessed at and will be updated regularly with new materials and expanded selections.






Dear Parish Faithful,

Presvytera and I just concluded a modified version of the Great Vespers for the Feast of the Annunciation at the church. Tomorrow morning, I will do the Typika (Reader Service for the Feast). I am sending you the link from our Diocesan website so that you can do this service in your homes tomorrow, March 25. It is a beautiful and wonderful Feast. It is the Feast of the Incarnation - the great Mystery of God becoming man in and through the Virgin Mary, who is therefore truly the Theotokos!

Typika for Annunciation

Fr. Steven

* See also our Annunciation Festal Resource Page




Dear Parish Faithful,

"For God has not destined us for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live through him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (I Thess. 5:10-11)


New Directives - I am expecting to receive new directives from Bp.Paul within the hour. To anticipate, he will confirm what I stated yesterday, that all public liturgical services are to be suspended indefinitely. Not quite sure when that will take effect, but we will know soon.

UPDATE - Bp Paul's Letter to the Midwest Diocese: Public Services Suspend in Diocese of the Midwest

Can We Offer Assistance? - We are trying to figure out the most effective way of responding to anyone's particular needs. Please contact me if you need any kind of assistance - from a ride to a food delivery, etc. Many of you have readily responded to be on alert if a need arises. We have various parishioners committed in various parts of the tri-state area. We hope that everyone is fine, but if not, we want to offer assistance. We must "bear one another's burdens," as the Apostle Paul teaches. And remember the "phone ministry" I encouraged yesterday. Some people may just need that phone call and a concerned and caring voice.

Confessing Your Sins - I am more than willing to schedule a phone confession with anyone. Please send me a date and time and I will let you know if that works. 

Parish Pledging - More than a few parishioners have asked me about to fulfill one's stewardship pledge at this time. I spoke with our treasurer, Darren Payne, and we thought the simplest method was to either mail your pledge in to the church and Darren plans on coming down to pick up the bills together with the collected pledges; or mail your pledge directly to Darren, at: 7520 Hollywood Dr. West Chester OH 45069.

The Jesus Prayer - A reminder that Orthodox Christians around the world are saying the Jesus Prayer - according to their own time zone - between 10:00 - 10:15 p.m. 

Suggestions for Ongoing Communication - The governor's "stay at home" mandate is now in effect. Here are some good suggestions for staying "in touch" as a parish community, though we cannot communicate the best way, which is "face-to-face: 

  • Lenten recipes
  • Activities to do at home with kids
  • Crafts or hobbies to of personal art projects
  • Ideas of what to do around the house during our 'stay-at-home' days-DYI
  • Photos of the parish members in general..just a smiling face 😁
  • Ways to reach out to neighbors and parish members

Please send me any contributions that you may have to the above list. I will forward everything to the parish.

- Fr. Steven

Previous Posts

Updated March 22, 2020, 11:50 PM EDT




"Today is the day we batten down the hatches." Order comes at a new stage in the fight against COVID-19.

Effective from 11:59 p.m. Monday, March 23, through April 6, DeWine said... the order requires all Ohioans to stay home or "shelter in place," with a few exceptions: The order allows people to leave their homes for "essential activities" like going to the grocery, seeking medical services, or seeking any supplies or services deemed "essential," outdoor activity like walks, and going to work. "You can leave home to take care of others," said DeWine. "You can take care of your neighbor, your family, your friend."

DeWine pointed to the health order document, which is available on the Ohio Department of Health's website, as a "blueprint" of what you're allowed to do under its directive. The website also includes an FAQ and additional information on Ohio's response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Compiled from reports on WSAZ and WCPO.


NEW - SERVICE OF TYPIKA for 3/22, for those not at the Divine Liturgy

  • Includes Epistle, Gospel, Prokeimenon, Alleluia Verses,
  • plus Troparia and Kontakion for this Sunday




Dear Parish Faithful,

I received this just yesterday. It is up to you if you would like to join this Worldwide Prayer Chain.

Join a worldwide common prayer chain, that I think originated from Mount Athos, that asks everyone from 10:00-10:15 every evening to offer up the Jesus Prayer - "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon your world." Each time zone around the world will offer the prayer in their own local time of 10 pm, so that we form a never-ending prayer chain around the world.

The Jesus Prayer is at the very heart of Orthodox prayer, as the invocation of this sacred Name makes present the Lord Jesus Christ. The traditional wording of the prayer has been creatively changed so that the prayer embraces the whole world that is now in danger. Although our gatherings in church are for the time being few and only comprising the smallest of groups, this prayer will also keep us connected through that mystical thread that only prayer can attain when offered in faith and love.

And here is a wonderful text from St. Isaac the Syrian, the great "mystic" who was able to find genuine words of consolation in difficult times based on his close relationship with God:

Even if all ills and evils and dangers should surround and frighten you, give no heed to them, neither take them into account. If once you have set your faith in the Lord Who is Himself sufficient for your protection and your care, and if you are following after Him, take no thought again for any such thing, but say to your soul: 'He suffices me for all, to Whom I have altogether committed myself.'  

Fr. Steven




Dear Parish Faithful,

"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mk. 8:34)

Archpastoral Directive: To reinforce one final time, only ten persons are allowed to be present at the service on Sunday. These ten have already been informed. Please use the available resources for praying at home as a family. Please keep His Grace Bishop Paul in your prayers as he is under a great deal of pressure. Please keep me in your prayers as I, too, must continue to make decisions with the well-being of the parish in mind.

Diocesan Resource Page: This is a pretty complete resource page now available for all of the faithful of the Midwest Diocese. There are reflections touching on issues raised by the coronavirus, including an edited version of a reflection I wrote last week about Holy Communion; and a full selection of the various services that we can say in our homes, all available to be printed.

Keep in Contact - A very good time to use our parish directory to keep in touch with each other through phone calls or emailing. Let us "love one another" as we exclaim in the Liturgy and not overly isolate ourselves.

Scriptural Readings for Sunday:  Epistle:   Heb. 4:14-5:6        Gospel:  Mk. 8:34-9:1

Reader: Erin Lockridge


Read Fr Steven's classic meditation, The Cross: 'To Refresh Our Souls and Encourage Us', with a new preface for the Coronavirus crisis.




Read Fr Steven's newest post: Prayers and a Paragraph



Dear Parish Faithful,

I hope everyone is feeling well and making all of the difficult adjustments to daily life with as little pain as possible. We are told to expect a significant "spike" in the growing number of coronavirus cases these next four days or so. Be vigilant and be safe!

I wanted to raise the issue of Confession in this note. I am perfectly willing to do confessions over the phone (something I have done before and which other priests are also planning). So, if you already have a time slot scheduled, I am hoping that you would be willing to keep it. For this coming Saturday, numerous slots are open. Please contact me at your convenience.  Also, weekday appointments may also be made.

May God be merciful!

Fr. Steven




From Fr Steven: COVID Update 3/18 - With Caution, Trust and Prayer

Dear Parish Faithful, Please add this specifically-prepared prayer to your already existing personal prayer:

O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in thine ineffable goodness, look down upon us, thy people gathered in thy Holy Name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. Thou knowest our weakness. Thou hearest our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who lovest mankind, deliver us from the impending threat of the Corona Virus. Send thine angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians and preserve those who are healthy. Enable us to continue to serve our suffering brothers and sisters in peace that together we my glorify thy most honorable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages or ages. Amen.




From Fr Steven: UPDATES: Statement from Holy Synod, Schedule Changes, more

Holy Synod Issues Coronavirus Statment; Metropolitan Tikhon Addresses the Faithful

Bp Paul's Directives for the Diocese of the Midwest regarding Coronavirus:

"My beloved brothers and sisters, perhaps this is the time more than ever that we need to turn to the idea of the family as a little church to help us through this crisis. Have your families become a little church as you are called to be. We have put prayers for various services on the Coronavirus resources page of the Midwest Diocese website. Come to experience the breaking of bread at your meals as eucharistic events. Turn your homes into a 'house of prayer'.”



  • Wed. 3/18 Presanctified Liturgy CANCELED
  • Fri. 3/20 Akathist Hymn CANCELED
  • Sat. 3/21 Great Vespers CANCELED
    • Watch for messages from Fr Steven on Sunday Liturgy attendance.
  • We will serve the Vesperal Liturgy for the Feast of the Annunciation on Wednesday evening, March 25.



March 16, 2020

Read Fr Steven's reflection and update, An Unforeseen Lent, with counsel and helps for keeping Great Lent during the coronavirus crisis.


Permanent Links and Resources

Christ wakes from sleep, stills the raging storm
Christ wakes from sleep, stills the raging storm
Christ wakes from sleep, stills the raging storm


MAY 6, 2020



  • Bishop Paul's May 5 Pastoral Letter to the Midwest Diocese;
  • Watch for further announcements from Fr Steven regarding our parish schedule and procedures.




Extensive resources for following the divine services at home,

compiled from the websites of the OCA and our Diocese of the Midwest


All Services will be streamed live on our Facebook page

Daily Scripture Readings and Lives of the Saints

Service of the Typika (Readers Service, General Text) 

Changeable Liturgical Texts - from the OCA website

Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

Fr Steven's Meditations and Counsel through the Coronavirus Crisis

Parish Health Care Workers - Scroll down for the list of our parishioners on the front lines, and remember them in your prayers!


Dear Parish Faithful,

I am perfectly willing to do confessions over the phone (something I have done before and which other priests are also planning). Please contact me at your convenience.  Also, weekday appointments may also be made.

May God be merciful!

Fr. Steven


Special OCA Page:

Resources for the Coronavirus Outbreak:

  • Includes Health Resources from the CDC and WHO,
  • Guidance from OCA Clergy & Hierarchs,
  • Links to Orthodox parishes and monasteries offering live-streamed services,
  • Online resources for doing Readers Services at home,
  • Family educational resources,
  • and much, much more, with additions to come in the days and weeks ahead.

Special Diocese of the Midwest Page:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Page:

  • Includes Statements and Updates from our Hierarchs
  • Preventive Measures from the CDC (Center for Disease Control)
  • "The Little Church" - Lenten Services for the Home
  • Livestreams for Divine Services
  • Pastoral Reflections from Diocesan Clergy
Parish Health Care Workers

Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea assisting a physician
Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea assisting a physician
Icon of the Theotokos and St Luke the Surgeon of Crimea assisting a physician
Updated April 6, 2020



Dear Parish Faithful,

Here are the health-care workers in our parish who are on the "front lines" of the battle with the coronavirus. Please keep them in your daily prayers.

If I have inadvertently forgotten a name, please accept my sincere apology and contact me to remind me of your role.

  • Sarah (daughter-in-law of Peter and Di Carter,  an ER doctor and she is pregnant)
  • Jessica
  • Sarah
  • Adam (brother of Anthony Flick)
  • Courtney
  • Shannon
  • Hanh
  • Joshua
  • Tony
  • Amy
  • Arthur
  • Amanda
  • Joe
  • Katie
  • Michaealanne
  • Michael
  • Wagih
  • Radu
  • Jeff Rohal  (Kris Gansle's brother)
  • Kirsten Sutherlin (Kris Gansle's goddaughter and cousin)
  • Susan (presvytera's sister)
  • Emily (my daughter's close friend)
  • Lauren (my niece)
  • Jessica (my son's girlfriend)
  • Linca (Presvytera's sister-in-law)

In Christ,

Fr. Steven


Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

View Full Size
View Full Size
View Full Size


The Morning Prayer
of the Last Elders of Optina

O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming
day brings to me with spiritual tranquility.
Grant that I may fully surrender myself
to Thy holy Will.


At every hour of this day, direct and support me
in all things.


Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day,
teach me to accept it with a calm soul
and the firm conviction that all is subject
to Thy holy Will.


Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions.
In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget
that all is sent down from Thee.


Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely
with every member of my family,
neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone.


O Lord, grant me the strength to endure
the fatigue of the coming day and all the events
that take place during it.


Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe,
to hope, to be patient, to forgive
and to love.




Download the PDF version

Order the plaque from Uncut Mountain Supply


Icons of Saints interceding for us

The Theotokos & St. Nikephoros before our Crucified Lord

(SOC-EAD) - During this pandemic, as we collectively experience the global outbreak and exponential spread of the coronavirus, the Venerable Nikephoros the Leper appeared to someone in Greece and told him: “Tell the people not to be afraid of the virus. And, in the event that someone gets infected, tell them to pray to me and I will help them.”


Rendered at the hands of iconographer, Archimandrite Evsevije (Meandzija), a Serbian post-graduate student at the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, this new icon for our times, represents the Theotokos and St. Nikephoros praying before the Crucified Lord to save humankind from the coronavirus.


Read a brief life of St Nikiphoros here.

St Nikiforos the Leper (†1964)
St Nikiforos the Leper (†1964)


Saint Nikiforos (1887-1964) is a saint of our time.


Born in Greece in 1887, he suffered from leprosy and was sent to live in a leper colony at age 13. He joined the monastery of Chios in 1916 at age 24. He bore his ailment and its disfiguring effects with patience, chanting in the church and praying ceaselessly. He was given the grace to prophesy and work miracles. When he fell asleep in the Lord on January 4, 1964, his relics emitted a fragrant scent. He was glorified as a saint in 2012.


St Nikiforos, The Leper and Wonderworker (Zoë Press)

St Nikiforos the Leper - Paraklesis & Akathist Booklet (Zoë Press)

New Icon of St Nikiforos the Leper (Legacy Icons)


Assembly of Bishops COVID-19 Resources


Assembly of Bishops COVID-19 Resource Center

NEW YORK – The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA announces a resource center for clergy and faithful during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Resource Center includes updated news from the various jurisdictions as well as practical guidelines and resources for families, ministry leaders, parish leadership, and everyone.

The Center can be accessed at and will be updated regularly with new materials and expanded selections.

Initial Coronavirus Posts and Updates

March 11-15, 2020




From Fr Steven, Sunday, March 15, 8:19am:

Attached is the service that should be prayed at home, this weekend, by those who are unable to come to church:

NOTE: This can be prayed in your icon corner, and is the same as the "Readers Service" which replaces the Divine Liturgy when Fr Steven is traveling and a substitute priest cannot be found.


From Fr. Steven, March 14, 1:43pm:

Dear Parish Faithful,

I continue to monitor the tense situation with the coronavirus and  I am in conversation with professional healthcare personnel and other Orthodox priests. At the same time, I feel a moral and pastoral responsibility to the parish and our larger community, to protect everyone's well-being.

Therefore, taking my lead from the directive of Archbishop Alexander Golitsin of the Diocese of the South, we are going to drastically limit the number of participants at tomorrow's Liturgy. 

If you have not received a personal phone call from me, please do not come to the Liturgy here tomorrow morning.  

I continue to believe that we should serve the Liturgy, which is offered on behalf of the entire parish, our city and "all humankind."

In Christ,

Fr. Steven




Posted March 13, 2020:

Statement of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America on the Corona Virus

Read Fr Steven's message: Further Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, and Pastoral Directives


Posted March 11-12:

Statement from Bp. Paul concerning the Coronavirus. - A reminder to keep our interior eye on Christ as the "one thing needful."

Letter from the chancellor of the OCA regarding COVID-19 or coronavirus. We should all heed the practical "common sense" contained in this letter.


Read Fr Steven's message, Holy Communion and the Coronavirus - A Pastoral Response.

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