The church of our parish is the center of our life. There we received the wish when our mother was sprinkled, there we were baptized, there we were anointed, there we were sanctified, there we laid the foundation of our life with the Mystery of Marriage.
Inside the Holy Temple we experienced joys but also sorrows, accompanying our beloved dead.
Inside the temple it is possible for man to meet this very God. Not just to meet Him, but to take Him in with the pure transfiguration of His body and His blood.
He said it so clearly: “ὁ τρώγων μου τὴν σάρκα καὶ πίνων μου τὸ αἷμα ἐν ἐμοὶ μένει, κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ” (Ιωάνν., Στ ’56) .`
He becomes one with Christ, he becomes Christopher.
Inside the temple, the hagiographies on the walls, the sacred icons, with Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Forerunner and the Saints, help us to ascend high, to transcend the earthly and to be in a heavenly world.
At the time of the Divine Liturgy, the priest and the chanters fill the space of the temple melodic and help the Christians in an upliftment of the soul, so that they can really feel the divine worship that takes place inside the temple.
Inside the temple we all feel like brothers, like children of God. The Church does not distinguish between rich and poor, educated or uneducated. Inside the temple we will hear the apostolic and evangelical reading and then the sermon, the word of God, the message of Heaven.
Inside the temple the faithful receive the blessing of the church. No sanctifying act is performed without blessing. Blessing is a gift, it is a continuation of the blessing that Christ himself gave to people.
Sometimes he blessed his disciples, sometimes the crowds, sometimes the material things and sometimes the whole world. His last appearance before His disciples was an appearance and a gesture of blessing: “καὶ ἐπάρας τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ εὐλόγησεν αὐτούς” (Luke, KD ’50).
And the bishop or priest today makes the same move, continuing the same work in the temple, when they bless the church crew, when they bless the bread, the oil, the wine, when they bless the water and so many other heavenly gifts.
The church is “Ark of Salvation”. It is salvation for individuals, for the family, for society, for our nation, our homeland. In the church man finds redemption, joy, love. It takes strength and courage in the sorrows and trials of life.
Christ Himself assures us: “Look unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:26).
The Holy Fathers of our Church are mentioned very characteristically and they say that the sanctification of man is achieved only through the church and within the church. The Church is the place of the deification of man. Those who want to be united with Christ and through Jesus Christ with God the Father know that this union takes place in the body of Christ, who is our holy Orthodox Church. Union, of course, not with the Divine essence, but with the deified human nature of Christ. But this union with Christ is neither external nor merely moral.
We are not followers of Christ, just as people may be followers of a philosopher or a teacher. We are members of the body of Christ, the real and not the moral, as some theologians have mistakenly written without delving into the spirit of the Holy Church. Christ takes us, Christians, in spite of our unworthiness and sinfulness, and incorporates us into His body. He makes us His members. And we become real members of the body of Christ, not morally. As the apostle Paul says: “Members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Ephesians 30).
Of course, depending on the spiritual condition of Christians, sometimes they are living members of the body of Christ and sometimes they are dead. But the dead do not cease to be members of the body of Christ. A e.g. who is baptized, has become a member of the body of Christ. If he does not confess, does not commune, does not live a spiritual life, he is a dead member of the body of Christ. But when he repents, he immediately accepts the divine life. This permeates him and he becomes a living member of the body of Christ. He does not need to be baptized. But the unbaptized is not a member of the body of Christ, even if he lives a morally human life. He needs to be baptized, to become a member of the body of Christ, to be incorporated into Christ.
Because we are members of the body of Christ, the life of Christ is offered and becomes our life. And so we are animated and saved and deified. We could not be considered if Christ did not make us members of His holy body.
We could not be saved if it were not for the holy Mysteries of our Church, which unite us with Christ and make us, according to the Holy Fathers, united and united in Christ. That is, to be one body and one blood with Christ.
What a great blessing, to share the timeless Mysteries! Christ becomes ours, the life of Christ becomes ours, His blood becomes our blood. This is why Saint John Chrysostom says that God has nothing more to give than what he gives to the Holy Communion. Nor can man ask God for anything more than what he receives from Christ in divine Communion.
Thus, baptized, anointed, confessed, we share the Body and Blood of the Lord and we also become gods according to Harin, we unite with God, we are no longer strangers, but familiar to Him.
In the Church, in which we are united with God, we live this new reality that Christ brought to the world: the new acquisition. This is the life of the Church, of Christ, which becomes ours as a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Everything within the Church leads to deification. The Divine Liturgy, the Sacraments, the Divine Worship, the preaching of the Gospel, the fast, all lead there. The Church is the only place of deification.
The Church is not a social, cultural or historical institution that can be compared to other institutions in the world. It is not like the various institutions of the world. People may have nice institutions, nice organizations, nice institutions, and other things. Our Orthodox Church, however, is the unique, unique place of the communion of God with man, of the deification of man. Only in the Church can man become a god, nowhere else. Neither in the Universities, nor in the institutions of social services, nor in anything else that is nice and good for the people. All these, however good they may be, cannot offer what the Church has to offer.
Therefore, no matter how much the secular institutions and systems proceed, they can never replace the Church.
It is possible for us, the weak and sinful people, to go through crises and difficulties from time to time, within the Church. Scandals can also occur within the Church. And this is happening, because in the Church we are on the path to deification and it is very natural for human weaknesses to exist. We become, but we are not gods. But no matter how much this happens, we will never leave the Church, because in the Church we have the unique opportunity to be united with God.
When e.g. we go to the Temple to go to church, and there we meet perhaps some who do not pay attention to the sacred sequence and even talk to each other, so that even to distract our attention from it for a moment, a reasonable speed comes, a thought that tells us: – “What do you gain in the end when you come to the Church?” “Do you not sit better in your home, where you will have more peace and comfort to pray?”
But we must prudently oppose this wicked thought:
– “Yes, I will probably have more outside peace in my home, but I will not have the Grace of God, to deify me and sanctify me. I will not have Christ, Who is present in His Church. I will not have His holy Body and His holy Blood, which are in His Holy Temple, on the Holy Table. I will not participate in the Last Supper of the Divine Liturgy. I will be cut off from my brothers in Christ, with whom we together constitute the body of Christ. ”
So no matter what happens, we will not leave the Church, because only in them do we find the way to deification.