Attending Church: Part 2

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by St. John Chrysostom

Our coming to church

So please, I beg you, let’s prefer attending church to any other occupation or care. Let’s run eagerly to church, no matter where we are.

Be careful, however. Let no one enter this sacred area having earthly cares or distractions or fears. Once we have left all these outside the gates of the church, then let’s pass inside, because we are entering the palaces of Heaven. We are stepping on places that are brightly shining.

Let’s chase away from our souls first of all, revenge, so that we not be condemned when we appear before God and pray saying,

“Our Father…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Otherwise, how do you want the Master Christ to appear sweet and meek toward you, since you are becoming harsh with your fellow man and won’t forgive him? How can you lift your hands to Heaven? How will you move your tongue in words of prayer? How will you ask forgiveness? Furthermore, even if God wants to forgive your sins, you won’t allow Him, because you won’t forgive your neighbor.

Our dress

But even our dress in church, in every aspect let it be good. Let it be proper and not wild, because what is proper is chaste, whereas what is wild is unchaste. This is precisely what the apostle Paul also commands us when he says,

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire but by good deeds as befits women who profess religion” (1 Tim. 2:8-10).

So, if He forbids to women those things which are a proof of wealth, much more does He forbid whatever makes one curious, like make-up, painting the eyes, hip swaying, strange clothes and the like.

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What do you say, O woman? Are you coming to the church to pray, and you adorn yourself with jewelry and comb yourself to show-off? Did you come maybe to dance? Or maybe to take part in a wedding feast? There the jewelry and the luxuries have a place. Here none of these are needed. Did you come to ask God for forgiveness of your sins? So, why are you adorning yourself? This is not the appearance of a woman who is beseeching. How can you sigh, how can you shed tears, how can you pray fervently, having such a dress? Do you want to seem decent? Wear Christ, not gold. Dress in charity, philanthropy, chastity, and humble-mindedness. These are worth more than all the gold. These make the beautiful one more beautiful, and the ugly one they beautify. Know, O woman, that, when you adorn yourself a lot, you become more lewd than a naked woman, because you have cast off decency.

Part Three can be read HERE

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About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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