Clerical Articles

33 « reasons » for not going to the church (I)

  • September 2, 2016

Everything depends on our sincerity

Do you know, dear friend, that every time when on a Sunday or on a holy day you don’t go to the church, you take a very important decision, maybe the most important one from your life? And this refers not only at your earthly life, but also at the eternal life of your soul. And this awaits us all. And it could begin very soon – maybe even from today –

You are a baptized person. Glory to God! But if someone is baptized, this does not mean that he has a special place reserved in heaven. Such a view is not Orthodox, but heretical. Because it also matters how the man lives his life.

So, why don’t you go to the church? What kinds of thoughts estrange you from the church? Since thoughts are what estranges you from it.

It seems that are your thoughts because there are in your mind. But it’s not like this.

We say: A thought came into my mind. And thoughts come indeed. They come from somewhere. There are thoughts from God and there are other thoughts from the devil. All of them come into our mind and we say: I have got a thought.

How can you find out what thought is from God and what thought is from the devil?

See to what deeds you are led by this thoughts, in what direction they drive you: towards the church or on the contrary, they drive you away from it? They drive you towards prayer, fasting, repentance, confession, Holy Communion, holy marriage (if you are married), patience, forgiveness, good deeds – or they drive you away from all these, under any pretext, even the most plausible one.

See what kind of feelings, what kind of spiritual disposition these thoughts bring you. If they are thoughts of peace, love, humility, serenity, collectedness – then they might come from God. But if they bring you anger, pride, fear, sadness, despair – they are from the devil.

Any thoughts against the Orthodox Faith, against God, against the Church of Christ, against prayer and fasting – they are from the devil.

There is a set of methods-frequent thoughts by means of which the unseen enemy tries to prevent the man’s approach to God.

The first method (I): But I go to the church.

This is what people say sometimes when they come to have their Easter cake blessed, to renew their supplies of high holy water, to attend a baptism service, to accompany the dead on his last journey. And it’s enough. They consider they go to the church. But the Church itself does not consider the same.

God gave us the commandment: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God.” (Exodus 20, 8-11)

The seventh day is Sunday.

Christ’s resurrection is the foundation of our faith. Only due to the fact that the Savior suffered for us on the Cross and rose from the dead, we, the baptized people, have the hope of salvation.

Do you know, dear brother, that there is a canon of the Holy Fathers which states that in the case a Christian doesn’t go to the church to attend the holy service for three consecutive Sundays, he may be excommunicated (separated from the Church)? But in fact he is the one who separates himself from the Church.

This is an obvious thing.

If on Sundays you always have other things to do, with no connection with the church, this means that the main goal of your life is not yet in the Church, but somewhere in the world, with its own aims and values, which are extraneous to the purpose of our salvation.

All the living things grow gradually and steadily. And our soul lives not only sometimes, but permanently. And it always needs nourishment and purification. Our soul nurtures itself with the grace of the Holy Spirit that is given us in the first place in an Orthodox church. Then we experience a spiritual life and growth.

At work we go without wondering: shall I go or not? On a workday our alarm clock wakes us up early and we rush out in order to arrive there in time. If we went there a few times a year, then could we say that we go to work? And how much would we earn? And we do all these mainly for the body. But the man means in the first place his soul.

If the students between the almost uninterrupted holidays sometimes went to school, what would they learn?

The Church means both work and learning. And like any other process of work or learning, it requires time, diligence and perseverance. Then you will obtain true benefits.