We need to absolutely prepare for the services. We should have some time of prayer before we attend the Divine Liturgy. And then when we go to the service, we are in harmony with the service and we are not distracted. But if we go without preparation, the service will suffer because of us and we shall suffer as well. We need some preparation and not jump from the bed to the service. If we don’t prepare, we will dry up.
If we prepare before the services, we have a certain blessing of the preparation, a certain peace and certain warmth. And on that, we shall add the blessings of the service. We need to bring something, in order to receive full benefit of the service.
Each one of us has a particular gift, says Saint Paul. And we should have a gift in order to be members of the body of Christ. We need a certain gift in order to be attached and united to the body of Christ. All the members of the body of Christ are people who bear a gift of the Holy Spirit. That is why the Lord came to earth to perfect the body because He knew that no individual can contain the worth of His grace and all the gifts of His Spirit. And He came to earth to perfect the body so that all the members of His body together can embrace or contain all the gifts of His Spirit. But no individual no matter how great he is whether he is Saint Maximos or Saint Basil the Great can contain all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
But it is not necessary that we have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is only necessary to have one small gift to attach us to the body of Christ. And that will make us partakers of the gifts of all the other members of the body because of the unity of the body for there is only one head, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
How do we get this little gift which will be the key of opening to us the communion of the gifts of all the other members? Above all, it is the gift of repentance. If we come to the assembly of the other members of the body with the dispositions we have gained in our repentance before God that becomes the gift which will unite us to the body. It will make us rich in the sharing of gifts of the other members of the body. Not only the visible members in that assembly but of the triumphant members of this body in heaven, all the saints and all the elect of God in every place of His dominion for the Church is one body.
That is why it is so important to have this basic gift, the spirit of repentance, for everybody. We should pray to God continually to give us the spirit of repentance because this spirit of repentance is like a circle of fire around the person which does not allow him to fall into sin. To some extent, the spirit of repentance contains all the gifts of the Holy Spirit for it is a general gift. It is very necessary. It is indispensable. The Gospel begins with the preaching of repentance because it is the door to enter the Church. It is also the perfection of the gifts of the spirit because the Gospel finishes with the preaching of repentance. Above all, we need the spirit of repentance in order to have an introduction to the body of Christ to be partakers of the gifts of all the members of the body of the communion of grace which is the nature of the Church.
When we come to Church, we have to bring a gift to the assembly. These gifts are not visible; it is not only in bread, wine and water. We must bring spiritual dispositions such as humility, the fervor of our repentance and the dispositions that we have labored to acquire in personal repentance. And these dispositions create in us a mystical space in the heart where our spirit moves freely. When we come to the assembly, we don’t have to make big prostrations or manifestations of piety. We stand there like being indifferent. But there is a space in us where our spirit freely makes its presentation before God.
We need the preparation before coming to the assembly of the body of Christ for many reasons. In order to have this space in us, which will enable us to present ourselves to God without any external manifestation and also which will make us partakers of the gifts of the other members of the assembly. But if we come without gifts, a gift in our case, the powerful dispositions of the heart that we have acquired of personal repentance, we don’t do justice neither to ourselves nor to the other members of the body of Christ.