I was baptized as a Greek orthodox when I was 1 year old the traditional way almost all Greek kids are baptized even today in Greece.
Mine was a religious family but back then (decades of 70s and 80s) most Greek families were so. At least we visited church every Sunday, we went to Sunday school and we followed 40 days fast before Christmas and Easter , we had no meat on Wednesdays and Fridays and we felt bad when we did something wrong in case we end up in Hell.
This pretty much sums up what Orthodoxia meant for me back then.
Fast forward to spring 2016. For some reasons I have yet to fully understand ( a promised post for the future) I set out to rediscover my Orthodox Christian faith.
I realized that Sunday morning liturgy is one of the most essential parts of our faith and not simply a cause for boredom and sleep deprivation on a Sunday morning!
I now have changed the ways I approach Sunday Liturgy in the following ways.
I see it as a ritual which prepares the believers for the Kingdom of God. It actually gives a taste of the Kingdom of God in the present time (every Sunday) although it ( the kingdom of God) comes from the future. I find this fascinating, almost mindblowing and it has changed my perspective of going to the church.
Now , I see it as a meaningful ritual which takes us from the earth and symbolically brings us closer to God . I admit I even miss Sunday church and by middle of week I feel impatient to attend the next Liturgy.
I have bought myself a booklet so I can read the psalms and fully understand what it is said all throught the Liturgy. It also keeps my mind focused on the Mystagogy.
Many times I even chant along in a low voice and I feel like the words go straight to my heart. There is a sweetness in the chanting I had never heard before when my heart was closed. And then there is all this beauty of the icons and the sweet smell of the insence ( livani in Greek)which create an unwordly atmosphere.
Which brings me to the next big change in the way I approach Sunday liturgy ( or any other liturgy of our Church). I now have my heart open as an innocent child and I don't critisize or analyse everything or doubt about all. I simply try to live the Orthodox Christian way and not think about it. I prefer to dive in the spiritual richness I have rediscovered and which comes from a faraway past than to constantly try to test everything with my logic.
I feel happy and trully blessed when in Liturgy and I try to feel my heart with love and compassion and kindness and stop that critical attitude towards others because God is with us during Liturgy.
Of course I usually struggle with all that and it needs some stretching of my mind and heart to fully understand but then I ask for His Grace to come and help me and then I experience my time in liturgy more fully.
Another big change in the way I approach Sunday church is that I now feel the need for the Holly Communion.
I feel it heals my soul and helps me progress with my spiritual journey and I get a lot of strength from it.
When I take the Holly Communion I feel forgiven and like I can start again and be guided by God's Grace. Again it's mostly an experience and I don't try to bring it in terms of logic. Somehow my week now really starts every Sunday morning and gives a hopeful begining to all my projects.
All photos are from Agios Minas church,the patron saint of Heraklion. I sometimes stop to light a candle and calm my mind and heart on the way to my job.