Some Sundays I don’t feel like going to church.
On a typical Sunday morning, I have to get there 2 hours before everyone else.
In that first hour, I have candles to light, entrance prayers to say, vesting prayers to do, and the service of proskomede needs to be done (that’s the service where I prepare the bread, click here to read about it).
Then, in the 2nd hour when all that’s finished, we have the morning service to perform (that is Matins, or Orthros, which you can read about here).
Sometimes parishioners don’t want to come to church either
I know clergy aren’t the only ones that feel this way.
Sometimes, even parishioners don’t want to come to church either. They would rather sleep in, or catch up on grocery shopping, or get ready for another event that may be taking place that day.
1. If somebody isn’t thinking and says something that annoys you, don’t get upset. Ignore them. Never mind what they said. Is that a reason for you to burn? In cases like that, say nothing. Instead of saying ‘That mother-in-law of mine’ll be the death of me’, say, ‘That mother-in-law of mine’ll be the saving of me’. Let me not do anything bad. Let me not think badly of her when she’s my salvation’. The Scriptures say ‘defeat evil with good’. Let’s not do bad things. Good people don’t do bad things when other people are bad or something unpleasant happens.
2. We should always see the good in people. Because if we see what’s not good, we’ll certainly see lots of things, because there’s nobody deficient in those.
3. If you want an infallible society, without imperfections, without differences and contrasts, you’re not going to find it, no matter where you go. On one day, you might not find anything bad, but you certainly will the next. That’s the society we live in.
4. We should be magnanimous. The grace of the Holy Spirit gives magnanimity. ‘The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness and restraint’. ‘Those who are of Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires…’ Because once a passion’s inflamed, it’s difficult.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Ascension Day is possibly the most forgotten of the great feasts of the Lord. Why? In part because, unlike all the other feasts of the same rank, it can never fall on a Saturday or Sunday. Forty days after Pascha is always a Thursday, and midweek services during the Paschal season are not very popular.
Not only is this feast neglected, though, it is often mischaracterized as one of emptiness, a feast of absence and waiting. It is sometimes described, even in sermons and articles, as an “in-between” feast, an awkward nine days in which, while we must sadly give up the triumphant hymns of Pascha, still we are not yet granted the verdant warmth of the Holy Spirit. It’s seen as a corridor joining two spacious and beautiful halls, but itself containing little that is noteworthy, aside from the virtues of patience and hope.
To be sure, this is a feast of patience and hope. The hymns in the Pentecostarion bear witness to this, as do the parting words of the Lord to his disciples: “Stay in Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk. 24:49). Yet according to the Scriptures, they returned to Jerusalem “with great joy” (ibid., v. 52). Theirs was not the sorrow of abandoned children but the joy of those who knew their master to be exalted and glorified, who saw the resurrection take on a greater fullness than it had had during the forty days since Christ’s arising.
Enlightened by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostles came to see the Ascension as the key that opens up the mystery of our salvation. They preached and wrote about it constantly. But in the Church today it is referred to rarely if ever throughout the year. We will take the Apostles as our guides as we endeavor to enrich our somewhat meager conception of this great act of redemption.