Wonderful post from Fr. John Cox, a recent graduate of St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, New York on why participation in the life of the Church is something all people, especially young adults, should cleave to and desire: “Christ draws us into the life we are made to experience. This provides what I think is the most powerful answer to the question, “why bother with the trouble of being Orthodox?” We bother with fasting, confession, long services, and all the rest because we want to know what it’s like to be fully human. We want to experience the communion with our Creator that fills us with life. We want to enjoy the awake-ness, the intensity of being, that belongs to a creature wholly itself, shot through with the glory of God.”

“Young people, perhaps all people, need a purpose in life that is worthy of their effort, worthy of their sacrifice and this is it. If you want to know what it’s like to be fully awake and alive in this life, be a Christian. If you want to experience the fullness of the glory of God that humans are made to experience, put God first in your life and pursue him hard. Don’t settle for a merely biological life that will not last. Reach out for a share of God’s divine life that will not end. Through the disciplines of the Church, we can be, if we are willing, transfigured by the grace of the Holy Spirit into fully human persons capable of experiencing God’s brightness and sharing it with a darkened world. When we reach for that grace, we become more and more alive, more our true selves, more capable of bringing healing to the world around us. Fasting, confession, communion, and all the rest are the road to awe; they make us fully alive and restore us to our calling as stewards of all creation. That is a goal worthy of our sacrifice, and it is what makes all of the trouble worth it.”

Recently I ran across an article mulling over the reasons young adults leave the Church. It’s no secret that as a group we Orthodox haven’t done a very good job of keeping our children connected to our Faith. Indeed, attrition estimates among college aged adults range as high as 60%. The article offered a few sensible explanations as to why young people walk out the door of the Church when they walk through the gates of the university, but as I was reading another question, almost the opposite question, formed itself in my mind: why should they stay? What justification can we offer for asking someone to forego sleeping in on Sunday, giving up meat and dairy for about 6 months of the year, abstaining from the premarital sex their friends are enjoying, and all the other “no’s” that seem to crop up when you’re talking about being a Christian?…

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