What My Church Means To Me
Word Magazine October 1964 Page 13
WHAT MY CHURCH MEANS TO
Beverly Maloof — age l5
Church of St. John of Damascus, Boston, Massachusetts
First Prize Winning Oratorical — New England Region of SOYO
In answering this question, I first must express what I consider the church to
be. I feel that the church is something we cannot define, for it has many
meanings. One may say that he goes to church to pray and to be with God. Another
may say that he attends church since society expects it of him. But no matter
how you try to define church, it always refers to the people of God.
One important way in gaining God’s true love is to walk in His path, love Him,
and serve Him from the bottom of your heart. St. Cyprian said, “He cannot have
God for a Father who has not the Church for his Mother.” Those who love God and
go to church to worship Him will gain His true love.
We all know that churches are temples of worship. But there are many forms and
they all have their own symbolic meaning. A church constructed in the form of a
cross is dedicated to the Savior and represents Christ’s Crucifixion to redeem
sinners. A church built in an oblong shape to resemble a ship denotes that it is
through the church that we are saved. A church constructed in the form of a
circle signifies that the church, like a circle, is endless. In all of these
cases, the church is the main path to the Kingdom of God.
I feel that the contents of the church are just as important as the church
itself. Church symbolism dates back to the very beginning of Christianity. The
anchor symbolizes a belief and hope in God. The Gospel is significant of the
Word of God. The censor denotes the warmth of prayer, symbolized by incense.
There are many more wonderful significant contents placed in our church, but the
one closest to me is the cross. The cross symbolizes the Crucifixion of our
Lord, through whom we receive our salvation. Whenever I hold the cross or wear
it around my neck, I feel that the Lord is with me and will continue to be with
me until I die. During the terrible hour of our Lord’s Crucifixion, love was
there — His undying love for us.
Love is the key to happiness. Without love and love of your religion, there is
not much to live for. Love is found everywhere throughout the church. St.
John said, “If a man say I love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he
that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen cannot love God whom he hath not
seen.” Love was first emphasized by Jesus at the inauguration of the Last
Supper. He loved everyone and asked no reward other than the spiritual
satisfaction of knowing that His action was Godlike. To me, one should feel
nearly the same as Christ did Himself. We attend church not only for the
satisfaction of being there, but knowing that God is with us and we are honored
to be with Him. My way of feeling this satisfaction is through Holy Confession
and Holy Communion.
Before I receive Holy Confession, I ask myself many questions, but the most
important one is: am I loyal to God and my church? Before answering this
question, I first must answer other questions. I ask myself if I am an active
member of the church school, abide by the Ten Commandments and respect the Seven
Sacraments. Most of all, do I love my church? If all of these answer yes, I feel
that I am prepared to receive Holy Confession. I feel that Holy Communion has a
deeper meaning than receiving the body and blood of Christ. When the priest
places the substance into my mouth, I feel that Christ is within me and that I
am a new person. I receive a great feeling of hope and love. All of this would
not be possible without my church.
The church has another very specific meaning to me. We all know that the church
is the Lord’s house, but to me the church is the body of Christ, with each
member having a specific function and obligation — all working together unto the
same spirit and all characterized by humility and love. If we all live
remembering that the church helps to bring us together as the children of God,
we will live the life of true Orthodox Christians.
In conclusion, my Orthodox faith has helped me to discover Christ, to know him,
and to love him. I pray I may be worthy of His love.
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