What is Sunday?
It is an indicator that there is a ray of light in our life, a holiday. If there were only constant work, with its busyness, squabbles, and bustle, life would be a humdrum and colorless existence. But the Lord commanded us to work for six days and to rest from work on the seventh. He did not mean for us not to do anything at all, but to rest from working for the sake of our bodies and to think of our souls.
Thus Sunday means that we must give a thought to our souls. If we observe life carefully, we will see that life itself tells us that we must think of our souls, we must think of our resurrection from the dead.
Everything we work for, all our activities – we can see to what they lead us. A twilight of sin has descended upon the world and a catastrophe threatens. Many of us think that sin is just for our own pleasure, for our own amusement, of no concern to anyone else. But it turns out that sin is not only an amusement, and not only for ourselves, but its lethal burden presses down upon the entire nature. As we live – so does nature. Nature has become despoiled, and all our material goods are perishing. And afterwards come illnesses, and then death! We have become destabilized in the face of illness. A sinful man is generally unstable, his psyche is undermined and often sick, and our organism is, therefore, prone to all kinds of ailments. Only faith in the resurrection can lead our psyche out of an impasse and can make us stable in life.
But faith is not simply a matter of words. To believe is to work for resurrection. For this reason we have written the Sunday discourses, in order to gain practical knowledge of what we must do for our resurrection.
In the two previous discourses we have touched upon the external side of resurrection. We have talked of how all those who come to church should wear crosses as a symbol of being crucified with Christ and becoming dead to the sinful world, in order to be resurrected with Christ. Whoever does not wear a cross shows that Christ is not precious to him. Wearing a cross may seem to be a small thing… but as it is said in the Gospel: you have been unfaithful in small things, how can you be placed to rule over many? Whoever follows Christ and does not take up his cross is unworthy of Him. It is from the small cross which we wear that we go on to the cross which is obligatory to each one who follows Christ.
We have also talked about how we should protect ourselves with a piously-made sign of the cross, and not just wave our hand around. By signing our forehead with a cross, we thus enlighten our mind with a Christian frame of mind. By signing our lower body we indicate that what is within us should be holy. By signing our right and left shoulders we gain strength from Christ. Such is the sign of the cross, even though an external sign, but how much meaning it has for us! We have likewise touched upon the fact that the Church of the home and the Church of the temple must be bound together closely. We have spoken of prayer as one of the means of our resurrection.
Today we will talk more concretely about the home church and the temple church, and of how they are constructed.
The head of the Church is Christ. The Church is built upon a firm foundation, upon the rock which is Christ. Without Christ there is no Church. The Church and Christ are bound together by love. Where there is no love, there is no Church, there is also no Christ.
The home and the family are built similarly. The husband is the head. Not the wife, but the husband, just as in the Church. Only in such a case will a home church be possible. Two are bound into a single body. What God has joined, let no man put asunder. Separation, divorce – that is man’s sin. If there is divorce, how can there be a home church?
The Church of the temple and the Church of our home are built in order for us to attain resurrection from the dead. We, however, build not for that reason, but for the sake of our egoism.
We can argue loftily that one must get married for love. And if there is no longer any love, then we can separate? But what do we mean by love? Judging strictly, according to our understanding, – love means our egoistic feelings. It is our sinful flesh speaking. Two persons come together. They appear to love each other… And then, suddenly, he or she becomes disillusioned. At first they say they are incompatible, they blame each other. Then it turns out that there is an outside attraction, that one of them has become attracted to someone else. One of them suffers from jealousy, while the other has a good time. One of them has turned out to be an egoist. Then it reaches the point where they begin to hate each other, quarrel, fight. And the children watch it all… Tell me, what will such a child’s psyche be like afterwards? He sees that his father and mother are engrossed only with themselves, have no concern for him.
But once we allow sin to enter our marital relationship, this sin will corrupt and eat away at everything. After one divorce there will be a second, a third, etc. Everyone talks about love, but lives in open hate, and then they begin to revenge themselves upon the children, embark upon abortions. Abortions are a revenge against children. And when old age comes, all these senile people will be a burden to themselves and a burden to all those around them.
But let us imagine that we have created a family in the likeness of a home church. Two young people fall in love. Before marriage they remain completely chaste, because copulation before marriage leads to the ruin of love. They are married… The marriage itself is such a triumphant moment in their lives. Once and for all! After marriage children appear…
Modern man thinks that children tie him down, that he loses his freedom. But freedom to do what? To sin, of course! Children are considered to be a great burden. How to feed them? Everyone talks about life’s difficulties. And all that is untrue. Children are not a burden but a joy. Children are proof that the husband and wife love each other, that they lead a normal life. From a strict point of view, our children are our teachers. Children teach us how to live properly. Whoever takes care of children has no time to think of sinful pleasures. Whoever takes care of children will never be an egoist. The family becomes a school of morality.
Let us suppose that the child becomes sick. How many torments we undergo! How fervently we pray, how we suffer for the child! Whoever has suffered through his children’s illnesses begins to understand other people’s problems. And, as a result, all that takes place in the family leads us to a resurrection from the dead.
The family is constructed as a home church in order for us to become resurrected. The family is one of the means of our resurrection. The family also cements our society. A good family produces good citizens for society. A good family produces good parishioners, good church members.
In order to pray in church properly, one must live within a family properly. The church of the temple is built on the same principles as a family. The head is Christ, the wife is the Church. Christ takes care of the Church, and the Church obeys Him.
The priest is ordained in the image of Christ. But how do we treat our priests? Treating a priest badly is equal to treating Christ badly. We build our church life upon our egoistic attitudes, upon our enmity. Is that a resurrection from the dead? We adapt the church to our earthly needs, thus everything comes to an earthly end. It is not by chance that many churches are now destroyed.
Life has become alarming everywhere: within the family, within society, and in nature there are signs of impending catastrophe. But even if a catastrophe looms – it should not cross out our resurrection from the dead, eternity, eternal life. If we build upon Christian principles – we build for eternity.
Father Dimitriy Dudko.