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The First Work of Faith

The First Work of Faith

April 18 2018 LJ cover – Первое дело веры
Tags: Religion, Christianity

From the Old Testament, the ancient Christians adopted the pious custom of gathering for prayer 7 once a day. About this good "habit" reported as yet, King David: "Sedmerytsyyu praised thee for the day" (Psalm 118: 164). Our ancestral Christians, living in conditions of lack of comfort and with constant struggle for life, found time for prayer and sought to build life around it. Why do our contemporaries in the temple sometimes have to drag a lasso?

"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5: 17), "the Apostle Paul calls us from the pages of the Holy Scriptures. And Blessed Theophylactus of Bulgaria, in one of his interpretations, says that prayer is the first work of faith. But even to many of our brothers in Christ, how much more interesting to engage in activities and social service than "wasting time" in the walls of the temple. The situation, perhaps, is not new for the Church (which only was not for 2000 years!), But it looks frightening. A monk once told me that the Church remains a Church, as long as she prays catholic. Take it away - there will be a public organization.

The Church remains the Church as long as she prays catholicity. Remove the prayer - there will be a public organization

When a person says: "I serve God," we represent a whole complex of actions and a way of life aimed at the fulfillment of all the commandments of the Creator. But the Russian word "worship" has a more concrete meaning - the cathedral prayer of Christians. This value puts the church service on the edge of the sense of service to the Lord. In the minds of our ancestors, meeting with God within the walls of the temple was the most important action of the life of a Christian. The deeds of mercy were not ignored, but there was a pious custom even at home on weekdays by the whole family to perform a divine service by a worldly rank. It was long, more complicated than the modern one. And nevertheless Russian people aspired to enter their life into the liturgical circle as much as possible and not to drop out of it. It would be wrong to think that they had more time than we, their descendants. The Orthodox people of Rus were deprived of the opportunity to light a turntable in one turn of the toggle switch and not think about how to maintain the necessary temperature in the house. They had to waste time on what we just forgot in the paradise of scientific and technological progress. And yet the worship was a way of life for the ancestors.

We often remember Sacred Russia - that space of a life, silence, rest, repentance and a feat which existed in the pre-Petrine era. That Russia did not have spiritual educational institutions, social projects, volunteers and other fragmentary phenomena. But the foremother of our state had a huge number of temples and monasteries that organically formed the church body, taught the flock to the word of God and laid out all theology in worship - the best school permeated with the Holy Spirit and inextricably linked prayer practice. Oktoih was the last recorded book in the choir library. Why? Its content was known by ear to all parishioners. Russians worshiped in a literal sense: the beauty of the temple, a very symbolic organization of space and masterpieces of "theology in colors," unhurried reading and angelic singing, a prayerful twilight - all this created a unique atmosphere for immersion in the pure waters of prayer.

The Syrian anthem of the 7th century says that the church is a reflection of the Divine mysteries. Indeed, the temple is the metaphysical center of the universe, a place in which time contracts, stops. And the person feels it. He feels the presence of God. No wonder many Christians say about the temple: "I feel at home."

In earlier times, the observance of the daily circle of worship was followed by the laity

My attitude to the church service in due time was greatly influenced by the practice of performing a divine service by a worldly rank. Do not think that this is the prerogative of only the Old Believers, and even more so of their bespopovskogo direction. The fulfillment of the daily circle of worship is an ancient monastic practice. Lay people also followed it (in fact before the monastic lath of a way of life was considered among laymen the standard, instead of the parallel reality). Note that in the "Domostroy", for example, there are instructions for the head of the family, how much to pray. A pious husband is called upon to gather a family and go "to sing the Vespers" and then the Compline, Midnight Mornings, Matins, Clocks ...

Father Seraphim (Rose) bitterly stated that take away the priest - and lay people are not able to become a community, and their meetings for prayer at best will be accompanied by reading the akathists. The American ascetic urged the laity to increase their literacy, acquire liturgical books and perform conciliar services, even if there is no priest in their locality. I repeat that in Russia there were no Sunday schools and a lot of lectures. But the liturgical consciousness, as noted by foreign travelers at different times, was the highest. Service became the very school of theology, from which came the famous and unknown ascetics of Holy Russia.

Prayer is a conversation with God. And the Lord is the source of all the blessings of men. It seems to be a commonplace about which everyone knows, but why are our temples sometimes so strikingly empty? Why are there so few men? After all, a serious conversation (and with God he can not be different to others) is a masculine affair. In pre-revolutionary Russia, it was possible to meet men's companies at a "marketplace" or in a tea-room, chatting peacefully and fingering in their hands the sweatshirts (Russian beads. -VB). The love of prayer and the need for it permeated the whole life of a Russian person. One of the modern researchers, studying the archetypes of our people, noted meditation in action. Is not this a genetic habit of "incessantly praying"?

The Lord has left us such a treasure, but we do not appreciate it. Our great happiness is that we can talk with God. Ask for forgiveness for your sins, ask questions, ask for help in some urgent problems, thank and praise. And it's actually not at all difficult. However, modern man, even visiting the temple of God and considering himself a Christian, sometimes builds his life not around God and fellowship with Him.

The adaptive traditions of "getting better" inevitably conflict with what we are called by Christ. But we really want to be with Him very soon. Then why do we neglect prayer in the temple, capable of wresting us out of the time loop in which we live this short and vain life?

All parts of the daily circle of worship are deeply symbolic.

St. John of Shanghai: the salvation of man is concluded in the liturgical circle

Vespers remind us of the dawn of mankind, about the joy that lasted not for long. The evening is our prayers before going to bed, after supper. At midnight we are called to remember the "coming at midnight Bridegroom" and be ready to give an answer about their lives. Morning is a joyful event entering the world of Christ. The clock recalls the events of the last days of the Savior's life, Pilate's trial, the crucifixion of the Lord and His death on the cross, and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. And, finally, the Liturgy, the height of the heights, in which we, believers, have the opportunity to unite with our Creator, to feel His love and closeness to us. In the liturgical circle there is prayer, the whole meaning of Scripture, and the gospel, and our personal conversation with God, and the opportunity to get answers to your questions, to get what you ask, to experience true joy. St. John of Shanghai said that the salvation of man is concluded in the liturgical circle.

But how can a modern citizen, a family man, and even small children, organize a "ceaseless prayer" in his home? Yes, today this task has become more complicated. When before families lived in whole families in several neighboring houses, they had the opportunity to pray in turn. And, let's say, to allocate from 20-30 the person of one "prayer book" for a day is easier than from the family of father-mother.

But it all begins with aspiration. In the apartment (house) it is necessary to organize a box, or, more understandably, a red corner. To create during the morning and evening rules the atmosphere of worship: to master the douche (simple chanting); instead of electric light, try to use the light of candles and the lamp; from morning and evening prayers to pass to reading the midnight office in the morning and evening in the evening. To buy prayers with ritual examinations of the daily range of services today without any problems can be done on the Internet. Midnight and the Compline in Time occupy 30-40 minutes - slightly more than the morning and evening rule of modern prayer-books. When children grow up, they start going to school, and they can be accustomed to participate in domestic service. Being assimilated, it is children in the future who can seriously help in the family's desire to complete a full range of services.

From the morning and evening prayers, you can go to the reading of the midnight office in the morning and evening in the evening

Let us return to the prayer books containing the unchanged parts of the daily circle of services. They lack sticherics, antiphons, but such books can be a good start. Modern prayers of co-religionists contain all the necessary prayers, so you can do without even other special books.

From my own experience I can say that Vespers, Compline, Matins and the first hour in the evening will take 2,5 hours, and the midnight clock, clock and money in the morning - 1,5. The most important point: when the Lord sees our good intentions and His intentions, He always comes to meet. And seeing the desire to pray more, will certainly help. This will not happen immediately, but it will happen. At one time, the desire to devote to prayer more time changed my life. It so happened that I left my worldly work, and now everything I do has a church character. Although in those years I did not think about it.

Now, in the Holy Days, we are experiencing the blessed time of spiritual spring and the feast of the triumph of Life over death. The Lord tells us: "Without Men, you can not do anything" (John 15: 5). Prayer is the way to maintain a continuous connection with the Creator, incessant conversation with Him and asking for a blessing on this or that matter. Therefore, in order to achieve real success in any business (and, first of all, in saving the soul), one can not even think about abandoning the prayer. So, it is necessary to live so that this prayer potential can be increased. Let us leave our worldly care on Sunday, find at least a short time in the morning and in the evening, try to escape from the circle of everyday vanity and direct all our internal forces to a conversation with our Father. Who loves and waits. Each of us without exception.

Vladimir Basenkov
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