Word Magazine August 1958 Page 7
WHY THEY LEAVE THE CHURCH
By Archimandrite Basil Kazan
St. Elias Church, Toledo, Ohio
During my visits to my parishioners these past weeks, I met many people whose faces I have never seen in Church since my arrival in Toledo. I asked them why they do not come to Church.
Some of them told me they work on Sunday. Others explained the reason saying that the wife is of a different faith, and each one goes his own way. And others confessed that they are lazy. These are the reasons given for not attending church.
Now, let us consider these reasons and see if we can find a solution which would enable these people to participate in the Divine Liturgy.
1. From those who work on Sunday, I do not accept any excuse. For, God created man and gave him to work during six days, and to repose on the seventh day, as our God Himself did in creating the whole world. On Sunday we have to rest bodily and spiritually and this may be done only by attending the Divine Liturgy one hour every week. The week consists of one hundred sixty-eight hours. Would we not be able to sacrifice one hour, only one hour, to listen to the Liturgy on the day which God fixed for this purpose?
It is reasonable to assume that a man who is employed can not take time off without the consent of his employer. So, therefore, his excuse is a legitimate one. But he who has his own business and he that stays home to work around the house has no excuse whatsoever.
I explained my viewpoint and proved to these people that they were wrong to work on Sunday, the day of God. And they promised me that they would try to come to church.
2. As for the mixed marriage, I noticed in some families a miserable spiritual situation. On Sunday the wife takes her children and goes to the church of her faith, because she has been raised in the bosom of her church while the husband goes to his Orthodox Church. Now I am going to speak frankly about the question, especially to the Roman Catholic wife. We Orthodox do not find any substantial difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism for we believe in the same God and recognize the same sacraments. Then why does she not follow her Orthodox husband and prove that she has the same faith as him?
What do the children think of religion, when they see each one of their parents go in an opposite way?
One of my parishioners told me, that, one day, his son asked him this question: “Can you tell me, Daddy, why you and Mommy do not go to one church together?” “Does each one of you believe in a different God and a different religion?” “In which God do we, my brothers and I, believe since our parents each go in a different way?”
This parishioner added: “Believe me, Father Kazan, my son put me in a difficult position so that I felt ashamed and unable to answer him.”
Does the wife believe that only her church has the power to lead its believers straight to heaven? If she believes so, then why did she accept to unite herself to an Orthodox husband?
It is a shame to meet such a fanatic spirit in the twentieth century, and especially in America, the country of liberty, sciences, and the tower of civilization.
With fervent heart we pray that the future generations of Orthodox youth will be able to meet this challenge of mixed marriage and will stand staunchly in their belief in the true Orthodox faith.
Here is the teaching of our Church upon this subject:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church: and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (St. Paul to the Ephesians)
3. As for those who confessed that they are lazy, they need only a little courage to think attentively and carefully in their life. God fixed to each one of us a certain time to live upon this earth. He taught us how to spend our life according to His will. He wants us to be with a pure heart and a clear soul. For, in running constantly after the material things we lose our souls and consequently our lives in this temporary life and in the future one.
In attending the Sunday Liturgy we feel that we approach heaven and everlasting happiness.
Fathers, I want you every Sunday to hold your sons hand and to bring them to the Divine Liturgy. Mothers, I want you also to hold your daughters’ hand and to bring them for the same purpose. I want every one of you men and women of the parish to bring your Orthodox neighbors to church. I will not accept any excuse. I want the Church to be full of the parishioners and then we will be able to be called the faithful Orthodox people, and the grace of God will be upon us.