If I don’t pray, I’m not going to make excuses to anyone
Why do the right parents of children go off the bat and why look for the meaning of faith when there is no faith itself.
When I listened to Vladimir Berkhin during the lecture “On Disappointment in Faith and Second Wind”, a simple conclusion occurred to me. If you grew up as a good boy in the Orthodox environment, sooner or later – human nature is so arranged – you will want to try everything: freedom from religion, freedom from conventions, freedom from prohibitions. And then you will either taste it, or you will live with an internal conflict, trying to temper your new desires.
And if you grew up not particularly controlled by anyone, not properly vaccinated, not heavily burdened by parental attention, and by adulthood it turned out that there is practically nothing that you would not try, then, as in a situation from the contrary, you want to be brought to order. You know, it's like walking over a precipice across a bridge – albeit a fairly wide and stable one – without a railing. Dumb and scary. On narrower and shaky, but with a handrail, it is much calmer, checked. So it is in life: you are looking for a railing, some kind of conditional framework, you want orderliness in your life. Anarchy, too, can get bored.
Therefore, I think we have an infinite number of seemingly paradoxical examples when the children of right parents are off the hook. And for unbelieving parents, a child goes to church and cannot be pulled out of him by any persuasion, cold rejection, or even ridicule.
The second thought that came to me after the lecture was about the Church, which was bored and in which grace is no longer felt by a person as before. For some reason, it is believed that the life of a Christian should be illuminated by grace on an ongoing basis, and if it is gone, then it must be somehow attracted. Read new prayers, do mercy, change faith – and grace will return. But it is as naive as to think that you, having lived 30 years with your spouse, will be in love with him, as in the first months of acquaintance. And if not, then that's it, there is no point in being around.
I’ve been married for almost 30 years, and no, I’m not in love with my spouse, I couldn’t leave him for an hour, but now I can leave for a week. But I don’t want to be in love with him as well, I love him even more deeply now! And I take our relationship with him in a completely different way. And this is no worse and no better than what it was. This is a qualitatively different feeling.
Similarly, in the Church. I remember that in the first year of the churching, I composed hymns of praise to Jesus that came from the depths of my burning heart. But it’s strange, I think, to be in this state for 20 years or to artificially acquire it all the time. I feel good, full and rich now in a completely different sense of God and the Church.
It seems to me that love is a very strong fire, fusing two different metals. It is also a calling grace – as if it were fusing a variety of fabrics. And then they, so fused together, sprout into each other. Husband to wife, wife to husband. The Christian – into the Church, becoming simply its part, the Church – into the person, appearing in him and changing with him.
I’m just now with God all the time, and He is with me, and it doesn’t matter whether I want to go to the temple or don’t want to at the moment, I read the long prayer rule or pray to Him in my own words. I don’t know how you can say that you are looking for the meaning of faith, it simply exists, and if it does not exist, then there is no faith.
And all that is now in the Church – rituals, traditions, disputes, parish affairs … all this can change. And this is really a second time next to your faith. If you listen to yourself, you feel like a swimmer in the vast sea between different buoys and marinas, which you can pester at your choice. And if I want to pray in Russian now, who will forbid me to take a Russian-language prayer book and read it? And if I don’t accept prayers made by others at all, who will shut my mouth when I just talk to the Lord? If I want to take the Church Slavonic prayer book again, then it still lies on my shelf. And some days I don’t pray at all, simply because I’m tired, and I’m not going to make excuses to anyone, I’m not going to tell anyone about it, this is purely my business. And if I don’t talk with God today, I will be sad because of this, but not because someone is scolding or disgracing me, but because today He will not be with me, and I will not be with Him. This is again like in a family – we are tired today and fell asleep in different rooms, but this does not mean that we parted. And maybe we will spend three evenings apart, because we have different phases of work and sleep, but then we will want to sit down and talk so much that we will postpone all things. Yes, we may not communicate for so long that even then we will begin to take offense at each other, and the conversation will not be glued. But all the same, sooner or later we will sit down and tell about everything that has accumulated, including resentment and misunderstanding. Because we are together all the time, even when physically in different places, and we want to be with each other, just like with God we want to be together.
And the last thing I would like to say. You cannot judge by individuals, even if there are a lot of them around, all people. The number “10” sounded in the lecture – they say, after 10 years the Church gets bored with everything, and we need to look for other meanings. Well, not everyone, for sure. For example, after 10 years, nothing special happened in the Church. If for you the Church is something external, then yes, it is possible. But if it’s you yourself and your life … then how? In addition, I do not agree that different church affairs are a way to get away from “direct religiosity”. Excuse me, do you know people who are engaged in “direct religiosity”? Besides clerics and monks, of course. No, if we begin to engage in charity or something else, this is our religious life, penetrating all the greater corners of our being, gradually changing our priorities. This happens sincerely, logically, without straining. About 10 years ago, for me, the best vacation was to go to the all-inclusive resort, swim and sunbathe. Yes, and now I do not mind sliding into the sea, but for three years now the best vacation for us has been volunteering in a Christian family camp. And this is a priority. It’s difficult for me to exchange the fullness that I get there for the most multi-star resort.
But the main idea of the lecture, with which I completely agree, is to be honest. And may there not be a single formal step in our Church, not a single hypocritical movement.
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