On Standing Reverently in Church

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:19­20).

A reverent presence at the divine services is not only rewarded by the general prayer of the Church, but is saving unto the souls of Christians as well. Here is an example of this: ³On Great Saturday evening, before the feast of the Bright Resurrection of Christ, the Hierarch Niphont, standing in church with the people, was deemed worth to behold the Queen of Heaven herself, with the holy Apostles and God­pleasers, coming into the church. Whoever from among those present stood with fervor, on these the Mother of God gazed with love; and whoever stood negligently, for these she grieved and prayed² (Life of Hierarch Niphont).

Imagine that some one, while standing before a king and conversing with him, at the summons of a servant like unto himself leaves the king and begins to converse with that servant; such also is he who engages in conversation and gives himself over to distraction during the divine service. ­ Venerable Ephraim the Syrian.

If on coming to the house of a king thou wouldst be apprehensive and concerned not to do anything incompatible with the dignity of the place, then with what reverence oughtest thou to enter into the house of the King of Heaven. If thou art gripped by fear in the house of a king, although he does not see thee, although, perhaps, he is not at home, then with what fear thou oughtest to stand in the house of God, where the Omnipresent One is always present, where the All­seeing One constantly sees thee. When thou hearest a prayer in church, endeavor that not only thine ear, but also thy heart would hear, so that the prayer of the Church would become thine own prayer. ­ Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow.

In going to church, think that thou art going to the house of the King of Heaven, where with fear and joy one ought to stand as in heaven before the King of Heaven. While standing in church, do not look around to the sides and do not look at how someone is standing and praying, lest thou be condemned with the Pharisee, since thou didst not come to judge others, but to ask for mercy for thyself from God the Judge and Knower of hearts. Gaze with compunction toward the altar alone, where the holy sacrifice is offered. More than anything else, beware of laughter and conversations, for whoever laughs or converses while standing in church does not render honor to the holy place and tempts others and prevents others from praying. ­ Hierarch Tikhon of Zadonsk.

Stand in church silently, peacefully, quietly, as, for example, the candles lit by you stand before the icons: They do not move from place to place, they do not make noise, they burn with a flame that strives not below, not to the side, but above, to heaven. So should you also stand, striving with hearts aflame with love and prayer toward God. ­ Anthony, Bishop of Smolensk.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, this will I seek after: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may behold the delight of the Lord, and that I may visit His holy temple (Psalm 26:4).

St. John the Baptist Cathedral Parish Life (November, 1993).

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