Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Look! Look at how these saints approach the temple!

Fr. Yostos El-Antony

The saints love to be attentive during the liturgy and other services; they look forward to that time to be present in the temple of God. This is clear in the lives of the saints that we read about and in their teachings. I will try through this post to help you enter with me into the world of the saints, living and departed, who are not too far from us physically and spiritually. I hope to bring you into this world that is not foreign to us or completely strange, for we are called to be saints by following in their ways and in obeying their words.
Pope Kyrillos VI
Pope Kyrillos VI tells us:

“Be not slothful about going on church, especially on Sunday. Do not remain in bed, saying it is a day to rest and be lazy about attending the Divine Liturgy. Supposed you have an appointment with one of your friends, would you neglect him and stay in bed? No, I tell you, rather you would try your best to keep this appointment. Is it not more worthy to treat your Lord as you would one of your friends? Be not slothful.”

Icon of St. Theophan the Recluse
Following this advice by our holy father, I would like to present to you another advice by a holy Russian father, St. Theophan the Recluse. Now that we are getting out of bed, said our prayers, washed up and put on our clothes let’s see what’s the next step to take…

“At the first stroke of the bell, you must drop any work, and prepare your soul for prayer in church, reciting “Virgin Mother of God, rejoice!” or “Heavenly King,” “Our Father,” or some other such prayer. Approaching the church, you must leave every care and worry about your affairs at the threshold in order to enter with a serene mind. Entering the church, you must put on reverence like a garment, remembering to Whom we are coming and to Whom we intend to address your prayers… After this, you must follow, without wandering thoughts, everything that is going on—what is being sung and read in the church—all the way to the end of the service.” +St. Theophan the Recluse

This was said on one of our holy elders and saintly fathers, Fr. Yostos El-Antony:

“He loved the house of God so much that even after the conclusion of prayers or the liturgy, he would feel reluctant to leave. Not wanting to leave the house of angels and the place where God communicates with His children, he would enter the altar, and lovingly holding the gospel and the cross in his hands, he would proceed around the altar kissing it many times. He never left the church in a hurry, and sometimes did not want to leave at all.” +From “The Garden of Abba Antony”

Now that we have seen how the saints behaved in the church, what they thought of one’s conduct in the church and their teachings on reverence for God and his holy temples the churches, I will end this with the words of Pope Kyrillos:

“During the Divine Liturgy, stand humbly. Do not just listen to sweet voices. Remember you are standing before the Lord, and He expects you to ask Him for graces and blessings of which He will give you freely. He said, ‘Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you’. Be as an active merchant who knows his gains from his losses and therefore, try to discern whether you received more grace today than yesterday, and the day before that.”  

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