“In going to church, think that thou art going to the house of the King of Heaven, where with fear and joy one ought to stand as in heaven before the King of Heaven. While standing in church, do not look around to the sides and do not look at how someone is standing and praying, lest thou be condemned with the Pharisee, since thou didst not come to judge others, but to ask for mercy for thyself from God the Judge and Knower of hearts. Gaze with compunction toward the altar alone, where the holy sacrifice is offered. More than anything else, beware of laughter and conversations, for whoever laughs or converses while standing in church does not render honor to the holy place and tempts others and prevents others from praying.” Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk.
Beloved, what more can we say, what can we possibly add to the words of Saint Tikhon, a man whose heart was aflame with the love of God. We are shamed by his words because we know we are guilty and not attentive.
Attendance at Church and corporate prayer are so important to us in immeasurable ways. Reverently attending the services can be a humbling and difficult experience for us, the favorite example if the fidgeting child sprawled on the floor. This can be a distraction as we all know, but let us root-out any possibility that this grow into a senseless temptation. If we are unable to endure the distraction of others in Church, how will be endure the distractions of the world.
The Church is a community – a common unity of the faithful. We celebrate the Eucharist – a sacred “Communion”, which unites us to Christ and also mystically to all who partake thereof for this is the common Chalice for us. Without faith, reverence, fear of God, and love of neighbor, how can hope to be united in this mystical way? How can we dare approach without the proper respect of the Holy Things.
O Lord, strengthen us in the awe and reverence of Thy House and all Thy holy places, that we may be deemed worthy to partake of Thy holy, immaculate, immortal, and life-giving mysteries.