Monday, August 20, 2012

Church is Boring

     There was a quotation of a saint floating around a few months back that I wish to address. I can't remember who the saint was but how the quote was being used was unrealistic. The quote claimed that the sure sign that you are being saved is that every time you go to church it’s a wonderful spiritual experience. Not sure if this was part of a greater context of a teaching but in its isolation this is no more than a religious fantasy. In my experience a real sign that you are being saved is that when you go to a church you immediately want to get the heck out but instead stick it out because you want to love God. Not that it's like this all the time because there are times we do get those wonderful experiences of God. However, for the most part church and other spiritual exercises challenge the weakness of our sin scared condition. It is all by a true gift of God that we can see this and truly persevere. In my opinion this is the ultimate sign that we are truly being saved.
     It is commonly understood by young people that church is boring. In response many well churched adults try to make them feel guilty for their honest and frank attitude. This is a shame because even though these well churched people have experienced the same feelings they drive some of these young people into resenting religion altogether. Would it be so wrong to admit that these young people are right? To share with them that at times we want to hurry up and be done with our church services? I think if we do admit this we can also share with them that this is how we truly are before God. In essence, to show them that there is a part of us that does not want God and if we were to die today we would stand before Him just as bored and ready to run from his heavenly glory.
     In a significant part of us we really don’t want God. I'm reminded of this on a regular basis when sometimes I  sit down to pray only then to want to go to sleep after 5minutes. In contrast, I could easily watch TV all night long. In addition, as a Byzantine Catholic we have some of the most rigorous liturgies in Christianity and there are times when I can't wait till its over. However, I would have no problem going to the gym for the double the time. A normal person would ask why do you continue to follow the teachings of your religion if you feel that way. My response is because Christ loves me and it's really is not normal for us to be so indifferent to spiritual things. We need to saved from this indifference that we have toward God and in understanding and being honest about it is the first step.
     It is not the desire of God that we should feel bored or a lack of enthusiasm with our churches. The problem ultimately is in us. However, He is working to change that. I can't express the deepest levels of intimacy that await us when we began to let God heal the indifference that we feel. There are plenty of testimonies of many Christians and saints of modern times and from the past that will demonstrate to the highest degree that "he that endures" will experience God in the deepest way. From this perspective to recognize the struggle we have doing spiritual things is a good thing. However, only if we face it knowing that real intimacy with God is at the other end.
     It's in only in learning to stick it out do we truly discover the sign that we are truly being saved. At the end of this pain, boredom, or struggle that we have with going to church there is someone waiting for us "God". Christianity in its deepest core is ascetic or a religion of suffering. On the other hand, the suffering is not for its own sake but a means to heal the part that that does not want God. As a Byzantine I have come to appreciate long liturgies, standing for hours, fasting, and our many other challenging disciplines because I know they lead me to a greater experience of God. It's not always fun to worship the way we Byzantines do but when we do words cannot express the presence of God that manifests with in us.

5 comments:

  1. Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote in his Sermon 2 "Religion is a weariness to the natural man:"
    3. Now let us pass to the more active occupations of life. Here, too, religion is confessedly felt to be wearisome, it is out of place. The transactions of worldly business, speculations in trade, ambitious hopes, the pursuit of knowledge, the public occurrences of the day, these find a way directly to the heart; they rouse, they {19} influence. It is superfluous to go about to prove this innate power over us of things of time and sense, to make us think and act. The name of religion, on the other hand, is weak and impotent; it contains no spell to kindle the feelings of man, to make the heart beat with anxiety, and to produce activity and perseverance. The reason is not merely that men are in want of leisure, and are sustained in a distressing continuance of exertion, by their duties towards those dependent on them. They have their seasons of relaxation, they turn for a time from their ordinary pursuits; still religion does not attract them, they find nothing of comfort or satisfaction in it. For a time they allow themselves to be idle. They want an object to employ their minds upon; they pace to and fro in very want of an object; yet their duties to God, their future hopes in another state of being, the revelation of God's mercy and will, as contained in Scripture, the news of redemption, the gift of regeneration, the sanctities, the devotional heights, the nobleness and perfection which Christ works in His elect, do not suggest themselves as fit subjects to dispel their weariness. Why? Because religion makes them melancholy, say they, and they wish to relax. Religion is a labour, it is a weariness, a greater weariness than the doing nothing at all. "Wherefore," says Solomon, "is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?" [Prov. xvii. 16.] {20}
    for more go to: www.newmanreader.org/works/parochial

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  2. LOVE THIS!!!!! I love your spiritual posts....I would love to repost this on my blog with a link back here

    Fr Mike- that quotation is awesome (but he's an awesome saint)

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    1. Glad you enjoy me sharing my struggles. Feel free to use anything on this blog on yours.You dont ever need to ask.

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  3. This reminds me of the baptism-confirmation (first Communion was Sunday) on Saturday. MANY people made it to the church exactly an hour late- just in time to finish it up and go to the party..... :(


    God help us!

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  4. This Lutheran pastor's wife wholeheartedly concurs.

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