Translated from the original by Costas Balomenos
«And (Jesus) spoke to them for many things in parables. He was saying to them, “Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who is looking for good pearls. And when, find a precious pearl, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it”» Matthew 13: 3.45 - 46.
Such a pearl, like that described by the Lord in the parable above, we have in our hands the Orthodox Christians, which unfortunately we do not appreciate duly. And it is none other than the Divine Liturgy, because the Orthodox Church is eminently worshipful Church. Doctrine and Worship keep pace...
Every believer must to discover alone the rare beauty of this pearl, because it is not beautiful everything you offered without any toil, but everything you conquer with a race, blood and sacrifice and then you do it really yours.
If you do not the first step, to get a translation of the Divine Liturgy in Modern Greek (or English) language to see the deep meaning of psalms, of prayers and wishes, to discover the hidden beauty, you do nothing. When you do not understand a foreign song of your choice, you do not do something similar? Then that you are trying to find the translation of the verses to understand it, to feel it within you, otherwise is leaving a dry letter that - probably - you can get bored.
Here's a small sample of incomparable beauty from the Divine Liturgy of Basil the Great:
“Lord, remember with compassion and the people that they surround us, but also those who justifiably are absent, and have mercy and those and us with your great mercy. He filled their warehouses with all goods. It maintained their families in peace and concord. Brought up the toddlers˙ educate the young people˙ help the elders˙ consoled the cowards˙ collected the dispersed˙ bring back the deluded and connected all them with your holy catholic and apostolic Church. He freed those who suffer from unclean spirits. He travelled along with those who travelling at sea˙ he accompanied those who trek˙ he protected the widows˙ he defended the orphans˙ he freed the prisoners˙ he healed the sick. Those who are drawn to the courts and those who have been sentenced to hard labor in mines, and those who are in exile and bitter slavery in any affliction or need and difficult situation, remember you graciously, God as well as all who are in need of your great compassion. And those who love us, and those who hate us, as well those who begged us - the unworthy - to pray for them, remember them, Lord.”
The Christian Orthodox Divine Liturgy is a distilled wisdom of centuries. Therefore, when you reject it, you reject things you do not know. In this case, the Divine Liturgy acquires a mechanistic meaning and you participate mechanically in this, by feeling an unbearable sleepiness and boredom, because you do not manage to enter in her beauty, to join in the hymns and her prayers. You can see it as a magic ceremony, which it can bring you and laugh, so that the priest go to and fro, he raises his hands and made several grimaces and sometimes shouting loudly. Are you ready to condemn some as quaint, as regressive, that they exploit you and you are losing its magic. It is like are you going to a concert and you look if the pianist is handsome or ugly, if he has fingernails clean or not, if you like the loudspeaker installation, or if you would like some better.
Also, there is not a ceremony to cover your psychological needs to rely from somewhere, but it is a relationship of life through the bread and wine, through your union with Christ, your brothers - whom you are considering as competitors in your life, due of narcissism - about it and is requested exceeded.
It is an excess over that asks you to forgive people who are not gods, about it and fall into errors and many times they hurt you. So we can say to the other, that “if you're not God I love you, because you have so many beautiful gifts of his love. You do not have all of God, but it is worth to celebrate together here the Divine Liturgy those you have to offer.”
It is likely that your abstinence from the Divine Liturgy to be based on several errors of some believers of the Church - especially of her functionaries - and you find an opportunity to accuse the Church (the Hierarchy), but - in essence - they reassure your various guilt.
If however wants to feel its deepest beauty, you will not care about anything anymore. Or if you like the current bishop or archbishop, or if the priest took money from the sacraments, nor anything else. This does not mean that we give indulgences, for he who forgets his role, for example a bishop or archbishop and from a religious functionary turns into political evil - who tries with slogans and promises to thrill and win the crowds - is indeed reprehensible. Equally reprehensible and this is who is looking all the time to find faults in others to justify its own failure and his own guilt. It reminds cleanly the Pharisees in the era of Christ were self- vindicated by finding faults in the attitude of others. Christ criticized this attitude in the best way, by saying: “Because came John, who neither eats nor is drinking and they say he has a demon. Came and the Son of man, who eats and drinks and they say, here is a man eater and wine-drinker, a friend of publicans and sinners” Matthew 11:18 - 19.
We must not forget that, therefore, if someone is looking for patterns among humans is - in fact - unrealistic, because most times, these standards are people with weaknesses that can hide them diligently, but when unmasked erupts a warren unprecedented. This results in frustration and leveling of all, because longer apportioning blame is directed on righteous and unrighteous e.g. in the Church, with consequent the abstinence from sacraments and the Divine Liturgy.
For this pearl that we have and we do not appreciate, will let us talk someone who found it and he appreciated it duly. This one is Matthew Gallatin, a former Protestant and an Orthodox now. In his book “Thirsty for God”, writes the following, for the Orthodox Divine Liturgy and by comparing it with a corresponding Protestant:
«So when I go to church (en he means the Protestant), my aim is to "get something". And what is needed for this? Is this just who are trying to give me the persons responsible of the worship: Good music and good preaching.
But what if the music is not as good or is not this I prefer? What if the preacher is not very dynamic or becomes intrusive? Then, the religious experience will be not what I hoped. And if this continues, I will stop going in this church or I will go to the beach to communicate with God into the exquisite “temple of nature”. Or - if I'm more conscious Christian - maybe I decide that we need to delving and see if another church can offer me the music and preaching that I need to cultivate my faith ... As I depart for the church (e.n. he means the Orthodox), one thought dominates in my mind, one target: “Today I will honor and glorify Christ, because He calls me to meet and unite with Him”. I have no anxiety and no doubt if the Liturgy makes sense. Certainly would have, because nothing can prevent it ... And why I have this belief? Because, strange as it may sound, the Holy Spirit makes the mystery through the sequence itself and not primarily by those who handle it. You see, the liturgical worship of the Church is not a human devising. It is a gift, which the Church received from the Holy Spirit in its first steps, which would lead her to the complete truth. The sequences of the Church is the incarnation of the commands of Christ to His Apostles on how it should to worship Him .. In Orthodoxy, therefore ever pass through my mind the thought: “It will be good today the Liturgy?” or “I will be inspired in church today?”. The Liturgy is always good, the cult is correct and whether God will illuminate me, it completely dependent from me”.
Writer Christos Pal