Do You Have An Attitude?
Father Joseph Boules
Some youth perceive the Coptic Church to be boring, long and something should be done about. Is the church really boring? We may get philosophical, but we don't need to convolute the argument. It basically comes down to, "what is boredom?" You may define boredom as "a repetitive act." This is not an accurate definition. I can list many repetitive activities that are not boring for some people. For example: watching TV everyday, talking on the phone with friends, et cetera. Those acts repeat, yet they don't bore you! Therefore, it is not fair to call the church bo ffb ring just because the "same" liturgy is celebrated every week. You may want to expand the definition of boredom to be: "a repetitive act which does not interest me." This would be a more accurate definition but does not let you off the hook! In essence, what you are saying is that church is boring because "it is a repetitive act which does not interest me."
An honest self-examination is in order to reveal what are one's interests! If the interests are spiritual and the church is incapable of providing such needs, I would be the first calling for changes (some people call it modernization). However, if an individual is interested in other-than spiritual matters, no form of church adaptation or conformity would suit such individuals. It is a simple equation with two variables resulting in a conflict of interest.
Saint Matthew recounts the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes, "when it was evening, His disciples came to Him saying…" (Matt. 14:15). This is a very clear example of people spending a long time (till the evening) in the church since the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are numerous examples in our church of people who prayed continuously. St. Arsanious for example would stand and pray facing the sun, the sun sets rises, and our saint is still standing praying. The twenty-four priests in heaven praising the Lord continually pray without ceasing.
The disturbing thought is that some may find the Orthodox Church to be inconvenient therefore label it boring! Some erroneously think that the church is boring and long because it is an "Egyptian" church. This is simply not true. The bible is universal and the teachings are clear. Any honest Christian religion will abide by these biblical teachings.
So, what is wrong? Something has to be wrong because, for some people, the feeling of boredom exists. What can be done to confront and overcome this feeling?
The answer begins with you! You have got to be honest enough to admit your interests and goals. Do they include God? Some things in life are very boring but they must be completed. What if someone is ill and must take a certain medication, everyday, for the rest of his/her life? Wouldn't it get boring taking that pill day-in and day-out? Wouldn't this be the ultimate repetitive act? However, you do it because your goals and commitment to life is clear. The reward of completing such repetitive act is measurable by how much longer you live because of the pills. In this case, it is easy to force ourselves to complete this daily boring act of taking a pill every day, so we may live longer.
On the other hand, it is hard to measure the outcome of completing spiritual activities. The rewards are often heavenly. Unless we have a clear goal and a clear commitment to achieving the goal, we may get bored and don't finish the way because the end results are intangible. When we stop taking the pill, we can see physical signs of the body becoming fatigue. How ever, when we stop praying for a period of time, or stop going to church, there may not be any physical signs of a depleted soul. That is why if an individual has a serious commitment towards the spiritual life, he/she will know the unseen state of the spirit is growing. Just as the pills will make the ill person better, so will the spiritual exercises better the soul.
Part of the solution is to make adjustments to the attitude towards the church. It would be beneficial to know whether a person is willing to submit to the church's teachings as a means to get to Christ, or is the church something that he/she needs to analyze, evaluate, and postulate. Sometime, it is easier to question than to perform or follow which evades the imminent. It is healthy to have an inquisitive mind. However, it is important to know the motives behind the questions.
What helps is if you examine your goals and know where the role of the church is in your life. When these goals are clear and your priorities are straight, you need to make a commitment. Once a commitment is made, you don't have a choice to change it. After all, a commitment is sticking to your decision even after the mood in which you made the decision is long gone. If facts change, or life goals are altered, then you may adjust your commitments. However, if the variables remain the same, your commitment should also remain the same!
The key to attending church and actually benefiting spiritually is to alter the attitude towards the church. Remember that the church does not make you go to her every day. If you are uncomfortable with certain people or certain pressures applied to force you to go to church, the church should not suffer as a result. Having the right attitude will automatically crystallize the issues, and you will be able to sort church issues and everything else.
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