On prayer in church

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Here in the church there is the one thing needful: Here is a refuge from the vanity and the storms of life. Here is the calm harbor for souls seeking after salvation. Here is incorruptible food and drink for the soul. Here is the light that enlightens all men existing upon earth. Here is the clean air of the spirit. Here is the fountain of living water which flows to life eternal (John 4:14). Here are distributed the gifts of the Holy Spirit, here is the cleansing of souls. The reading and chanting is done in church in a holy language. All Orthodox Christians should learn it, that they might understand the sweet pronouncements of their mother, who educates her children to prepare them for heaven, for life eternal…. Here in the temple, man comprehends the truly noble origin of his soul, the worth of life and its goal and purpose. Here he is torn away from his fascination with earthly vanities and passions. Here he comprehends his temporal and eternal fate. Here the Savior lives – in His Life-giving Mysteries, in His salvation. Here he recognizes his true relationship to God and to his neighbor, to his family and to the society in which he lives. The temple is heaven on earth, a place where intimate union with the Divine takes place. It is a heavenly school, where Christians are taught to become citizens of heaven, where they are taught heavenly norms, the way of life in heaven. It is the threshold of heaven, a place of communal prayer, thanksgiving, praise of the Triune God, creator and protector of all. It is a place of unification with the angels. What is more honorable and more esteemed than the temple? Nothing. In its Divine Services, as in a blueprint, are severally depicted the fates of all humanity, from beginning to end. The Divine Services are the alpha and omega of the world and of mankind.

Holy Righteous St. John of Kronstadt

One may say that in the rites and Divine Services established by the faith and spirit of millions of believers, that faith, that power of perceiving God with which the rites and Services were composed, is crystallized.

Divine Service is the bright garment of Christ toward which everyone yearning for salvation is drawn, and in which internal power is hidden. According to the laws of physics, there are various types of storage units which, following the laws of physics, hold a hidden power which is revealed and acts at the proper time. Examples of such storage units in the natural world are electrical batteries, which save up electrical energy. We may characterize as a storage battery of spiritual energy, power, and faith, everything that is established by the work of the Church. As we have already said, all of the creative work of the Church over the centuries has been crystallized, concealing within it that direction of faith, prayer, love in which the people lived, people in whose liturgical experience everything in the Church developed. Of course, every contact with this condenser produces a spark, and frequent contact can even engender a flame, can re-ignite the candle stand of the soul, of the living faith which

Archpriest Paul Svetlov

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  • 4001 17th St. N.W.,
  • Washington, D.C., 20011

Phone  (202) 726-3000

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