I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This then brings up what exactly is church service?
According to Wikipedia A church service (or simply a service) is:
a formalized period of Christian communal worship, often held in a church building. It often but not exclusively occurs on Sunday or Saturday. The church service is the gathering together of Christians to be taught the "Word of God" (the Christian Bible) and encouraged in their faith. Technically, the "church" in "church service" refers to the gathering of the faithful rather than to the building in which it takes place. In most Christian traditions, services are presided over by clergy wherever possible.
In the Church today, there is a large controversy over the Latin Mass. When I was a child, the mass was in Latin. We went to Church and we grew up for the most part okay. What is the problem with the Latin Mass? Well, this article is not about the Latin Mass nor is it about the service (Divine Liturgy) at all. It will be about the real problem that faces the Church- the lack of Church Service. For the purposes of this article and to develop some discussion in the comment section below, I will use three main points why this is happening and what we can or should do about it.
First, when you make Church Service the act of going to Church each Sunday and think of Church as something of an obligation not a way of life- you have really missed the mark of what the Church is all about.
1 Maccabees 11-13
11 In those days there appeared in Israel transgressors of the law who seduced many, saying: “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles all around us; since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us.”
12 The proposal was agreeable;
13 Some from among the people promptly went to the king, and he authorized them to introduce the ordinances of the Gentiles.
What you believe, what you do, and how you act on your beliefs are very important to God.
Matthew 16: 18-19
18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Clearly, you can see God did not have Jesus establish 1,000’s or 100,000’s different Churches. There was and is only one Church- The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Formed by Jesus, molded by the Apostles, and guided by God. You can not just start your own church and expect it to be the Church.
Second, we see that service was meant to be something that we did everyday of our life. It is not an hour of life once a week but it is a 24/7 365 effort.
To prove this point look at what Bishop Sheen said almost 70 years ago. ."There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the catholic church to be." -Fulton J. Sheen
The reason for this is people who see what we do, judge that as a Catholic teaching. If we are not living the Catholic way of teaching, what are we teaching our non Catholic friends, our neighbor and people in our society that we have dealings with on a daily or regular basis.
Fulton Sheen also explained, "The danger today is in believing there are no sick people, there is only a sick society." We need to take individual responsibility for our own actions. God made us but He did not make us do anything. We have free will and in the end we are and will be judged for our actions-not what is going on in the society or the world.
Remember, we do not go to receive the Eucharist because we are good or perfect, we do it so that we might become good. GK Chesterton added, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
St Augustine's words are a perfect example of this point, "If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe but yourself."
Third, we must transform our life and live it so that we fight for Christ every day. GK Chesterton, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
This is what we need to do now and forever for our faith. If Church Service is how we live, then so is faith. The only question that is left is this: are you brave enough, do you have enough courage or faith, and stand up and do right? Do you?
Are you willing and able to stand up for what is right and what you believe? I can not help but think of the Maccabees in this case.
After Alexander the Great’s life cut off short, four generals divided his land into four territories. The Seleucids, one of the four spawning empires, took over the portion in which Israel resided as a part of their Hellenistic empire. Hellenism threatened to obliterate the identity of the Jewish people. Pressures to conform to the paganistic culture, instead of their monotheistic origins, had reached an all-time peak when Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled over the region.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes prohibited Jewish practices and tried to woo the Israelite people into worship of Canaanite gods such as Baal. He went as far to erect an altar to Zeus and sacrifice a pig in the temple. Both of these—pagan god worship and the eating of pigs—were strictly forbidden in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 14:8).
One Jew, Mattathias, refused to conform to pressure. When a Greek official tried to make him sacrifice to a pagan deity, Mattathias killed him. Soon after, his five sons—Judas, John, Simon, Eleazar, and Jonathan—led a revolt, recapturing Jerusalem three years later, cleansing the temple, and erecting a new altar. This commenced the eight-day celebration we now know by the name of Hanukah (“Dedication”) to celebrate the dedication of the cleansed temple.
In conclusion, my question to you is would you be like Mattathias and stand up for what is right? Or would you case in and adopt the policies of the world?