By Elder Teofil Paraian
I insist on everyone to go to, if not every service, at least to the Divine Liturgy. And if someone happens to not go to the Divine Liturgy, I do not even sit down and talk with them. Because I have nothing to say to them.
When I asked someone what he does at the time he should be in church, he replied: "I watch television."
And I told him: "Be careful, because this means that you have your television before you, and you have turned your back on God. Change therefore, and go to church, so that you will have God before you and television behind you."
People often do things carelessly. If you ask someone why they don't go to church, rarely will you hear someone say that the reason they don't go to church is because they don't believe. In reality, however, this is the reason why they don't go to church.
They don't go because:
1. They don't have enough faith, as needed, to go to church.
2. They don't have enough faith, as needed, to remain in church.
3. They don't have enough faith, as needed, to follow the services of the church.
It is impossible to make spiritual progress without works of faith. Faith increases with works of faith.
1. If the faithful fast, then those with less faith must fast in order to have the practical faith that will strengthen their faith.
2. If the faithful go to church, then those with less faith must go, that they may have at least a presence in the church.
Someone told me:
"Father, you tell me to go to church, but you cannot imagine how many bad thoughts I have, how many corrupt things I have within me."
I know that people are very different. But I also know that without going there where God's gift and grace is, you cannot receive God's grace.
Hence: Go as you are, no matter how corrupt your thoughts are, no matter how contaminated. Go! Because only by doing this can the time come when your mind will be cleansed and you will not have the dirty thoughts you have now.
Participation in the sacred services is an education, of a school type. Only when I graduated from the Theological School did I realize what a treasure exists in the sacred services.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.