I have had a lot of conversations with the inhabitants of various educational institutions. As the priests know very well, such conversations are often in the nature of the sermon of an ancient prophet crying in the wilderness. Father, who often rushed right from the service to stand before the formidable eyes of the student youth, sees in front of him a considerable number of eyes, united by only one thing — an indifferent, far-off look. So maybe it’s all in vain?
Once I had a conversation on a spiritual topic at one of the technical schools in our city. The conversation went on as usual. The indifference of the audience was replaced first by irritation, and then by the rudiments of interest. But, as usual, the ruthless time prevented the ripening of the fruits. The teacher of the school, who followed the regulations, sent the children to continue their classes according to the table.
I was about to leave too. But suddenly I saw a young man walking towards me with a businesslike gait. He walked, as they say, against the stream of students rushing away from the audience. He was squat, athletic, with a shaved head and, in general, looked quite menacing. I froze in anticipation.
Upon coming up to me, the guy leaned over to my right ear. What I heard from him was not at all what I expected. To my great shame:
“Tell me,” he whispered. – “How to pray correctly? What prayers? And what in general can one read about faith? I’m curious, the soul demands it, but I don’t know anything about it … I’ve been communicating with God for a long time, but only in my own words. Sometimes I go to church. Yes, my friends laugh at me, but I still go. Help me. Give me advice.”
I was genuinely shocked and at the same time ashamed by my conscience. For the sake of this short conversation, just for its sake, it was already worth becoming a priest, serving and preaching. At such moments, you clearly understand that the Church is not a tiny bunch of strange, bearded people. The Church is alive. And the Lord is still with us. He knocks on the hearts of people and feasts with those who open to Him. I was happy that day.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds