Thoughts on the Parish Church
by Fr. Rodney Torbic
Individuals and families connect their identities with the parish church. Individuals and families associate their histories with a parish church. Births and marriages, Slavas and funerals are marked liturgically in parish churches.
When crises occur, serious Orthodox Christians turn to the parish church in prayer. God is experienced in the Holy Sacraments of Confession and Communion. God is experienced in the Sacrament of Holy Unction.
Orthodox Christians travelling on a journey by land, by sea and by air come to the parish church and have the priest pray for a safe and purposeful journey.
Orthodox Christians planting gardens or raising herds seek the blessing of the parish priest for these endeavors. Those who work in emergency medical care on ambulances or who fight fires for the safety of the community know of the prayers for ambulances and fire trucks.
The Holy Orthodox Church has an abundance of prayers. The Church has prayers for the many different occasions we experience in life. We learn of these prayers as they are part of everyday life in the parish.
The Holy Orthodox Church has prayers for the blessing of homes and for the blessing of automobiles. The Holy Orthodox Church has prayers for those who cannot sleep and for those who are facing a medical operation.
When we live an active Orthodox Christian life, our life becomes inseparable from the prayer life of the Church. We pray before beginning work. We pray before and after we eat. We pray when we go to bed. We pray when we awake. We pray at various hours throughout the day.
In the parish church we hear the words of the Holy Gospel. We hear the words of the divine services of the Church. If we are attentive, the messages of the Gospel and the messages of the services will affect and change our lives for the better.
Serious Orthodox Christians seek to grow in Christ throughout their lives. Outside of the home, the parish church is the primary source of Christian nourishment for Orthodox Christians.
The Orthodox Christian home and the parish church are part of an inseparable continuum. Orthodox Christians come to know the Lord Jesus Christ through participation in the liturgical and sacramental life of the parish church.
Festal periods of the Holy Orthodox Church are times of increased joy and increased attendance in the parish church. The Feast of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ and Pascha cause the parish churches to swell in attendance. Increased numbers of Baptized Orthodox Christians come to the parish church at the times of these feasts.
God has blessed an increased number of parish churches to be established. God has blessed and provided for services to be held in many different locations. God has provided church buildings for the faithful to gather.
Let us be increasingly aware of the fullness of life experienced in and through the parish church. Let us be constantly sensitive to the presence of God as we pray and worship in the parish church. Let us give thanks to God for His care and love and blessings as we come to know them through the parish church.