All who go to church must be in love with Christ so that others can notice it. Do we not say: “Love cannot be hidden”? So, if we love Christ, it will be clear to everyone around us. There are so many of us Christians scattered all over the earth so that when others see us in love with Christ, they will feel this joy and say: What is the matter with you? Why are you so joyful when you come back from the Liturgy? Why are your eyes so shiny? Why is your face so enlightened? Why is honey dripping from your mouth? Why do I feel your love? Why does your touch make me softer? – Why? Because He exists. – Who is He? – He’s Jesus Christ. – Where is He? I need to see His face! – Come. – Where? – To the church. Come to see Him. – Been there. – I don’t know what else to add. That’s where I go. If you liked something about me, this is my secret. I have no other secrets of beauty. I have no other secrets of happiness. That’s where I go. I go to church, I have this feeling that the Lord is there, and my life is changing.
I like that church approach. I like this ecclesiology. This is an ecclesiology with a connection to Christ that has no formal prescriptions or responsibilities. That’s not what those who grew up with such prescriptions say, “We must do the same.” When saints say must it means exactly this: it has to come out of the heart, in itself, as a movement of life and love.
So don’t put pressure on your child. Ask me, “What do I do? He doesn’t go to church.” Don’t torture him. Speak delicately. Let your eyes radiate constant enthusiasm and joy. The child will certainly understand this and will come to church later. If he does not feel it, he will tell you about it. Maybe you yourself do not have such joy. It is your fault, just do not insist, do everything with meekness and tenderness. Perhaps, though, his time hasn’t come yet. In that case, you must wait with patience for the change and miracle of God. That doesn’t mean he will never set foot in church. However, this pressure that you exert, this rant every Sunday is also not the solution. The church is a place of love, a place of joy, not coercion.
I also want to say this to your child, “When your mother or father forces you to go to church, say that you will come later. Don’t miss out on going to church because you had a quarrel with your parents. Do me a favor, will you? You’ll realize later that the biggest gift you could give yourself is going to church. By church, I don’t mean a separate building, but rather Jesus Christ, who we encounter there. It is in the church that we can partake of His Holy Mysteries. This is the place of His presence. He said it, He calls you to Himself, now distract yourself from what your mother and father tell you. You’re not going to church for them. It is Christ who calls you to this place. Christ calls you, saying, “This is what you should do in My memory. Gather yourselves together, pray, take bread and wine, bless and partake of My Body and Blood, and you will have eternal life, you will remember Me from experience, I will always be there for you.”
From the book Love Forever by the Very Rev. Andrew (Conanos).
Translated from Modern Greek by Sergei Rudko