DOES YOUR ABSENCE MAKE YOUR HEART GROW FONDER?
(If it doesn't, you may already be in big spiritual trouble...)
"I love to pray in God's Church... for I am miraculously changed in Church by God's grace.
During prayer of repentance and compunction, the bonds of the passions fall away from my soul, and it becomes so easy for me. I die, as it were, to the world, and the world, with all its good things, dies to me...
You see everything radiantly, you look at everything correctly...
O, how blessed is the soul that remains with God!"
- Saint John of Kronstadt
In wintertime, people disappear. Sunday Liturgy is disrupted by the weather. Weekday services are replaced by work. And feastdays - even those not ignored at other times - take a back seat to bargain shopping and late night parties.
The saints of God loved to pray, and drew their strength from holy services - not just on Sundays, but throughout the week.
We should ask ourselves, what is it we love? Where do we find our strength? When we are absent from the things we love, our hearts desire them more, like returning to our childhood home, or spending time with someone dear to us.
The way we live our daily life tells us clearly what - or whom - we really love, and from what we draw our strength. It is said that our calendar and our bank statements tell us what we worship: sadly, in the wintertime, much of this worship is lavished on ourselves and our own comfort. Yet, ironically, it does not give us strength - rather, it steals it.
Those who draw their strength for prayer to God in His Church are an ever-changing company of those who love Him, and Whose Presence strengthens them. Most Christians - including most Orthodox - completely miss out on receiving the untapped reservoir of Divine Strength that is only received by attending the holy services. Yet for those who seriously seek it, the same Divine Power that sustained the saints is still there - even in the coldest season of the year.