In This Bulletin
- Church News
- Children in Church
- Church Etiquette for Children
- Thinking about our Faith
- Christ the Savior Contact Information
Location News: Please continue to pray for God’s direction in our search for a more spacious location for Christ the Savior Parish. For now, we are welcome to stay at St Johns Chapel at 234 French Street. St Teresa’s in Brewer is still a possibility. A meeting with the Roman Catholic Bishop to discuss this move is scheduled for Monday August 5, 2017. Pray for Divine help!
Mission Trip: Fr Scott and Matushka Faith spent two wonderful weeks in Guatemala serving on their son’s medical mission team with his foundation “Stand With Me”. We saw the often miraculous improvements in patients using his standing frames. Two that we saw were walking and many others have dramatic improvements in general health. These were children told they would never ever stand up on their own! For $70 you can get a child a stander. Go to www.standwithme.org and help change a life!!
Prayer requests: Please remember the following in your personal prayer both Orthodox and Non-Orthodox included. (Place names on the prayer sheet for inclusion herein)
For the Living: Susie, Bob Giovanni, David, Jane, Day, Nancy, David, Peter, Adam, Adam, Tanniq, Caleb, Brad and Beth, Fr Deacon Abraham and family,
For the Departed: Mark, Marie, Thomas, Scott, Charlie, John, Mark, Herman, Jane, Patrick, Ruth, Constance, Robert, Catherine, Mildred, Richard, Fr Lewis, Fr Lawrence
Children In Church
by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky
Every Christian mother considers it one of her primary obligations to teach her child prayer as soon as his consciousness begins to awaken prayer that is simple and easy for him to understand. His soul must be accustomed to the warm and fervent experience of prayer at home, by his cradle, for his neighbors, his family. The child's evening prayer calms and softens his soul, he experiences the sweetness of prayer with his little heart and catches the first scent of sacred feelings.
It is harder for a child to take in the atmosphere which prevails in church. At first he just observes. He sees people concentrating and rites he does not as yet understand and hears incomprehensible words. However, the very solemnity and festivity of the church have an uplifting effect on him. When a two year-old child wants to take part in church, to sing, speak or make prostrations—in this we can see his uplifted state of soul, with which he is involuntarily infected. We say this from simple observation.
But there is also something higher than our sense perceptions. Christ is invisibly present in church and He sees the child, blesses him, and receives him into the atmosphere of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Grace envelopes him as a warm wind wafts over a blade of grass in a field, helping it to grow up slowly and gradually, to put down roots and develop. And so the mother hastens to bring her child to Christ, to His grace, regardless even of whether he has any understanding at all of this contact with the gift of grace. This especially concerns the Eucharist, the very closest union with Christ. The mother brings her infant to this mystery while he is still a baby lying in her arms. Is the mother right?
"Suffer the little children to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of God." Can you really say with certainty that there and then in the fields of Palestine these children had already understood Christ's teaching, had been sitting at the Teacher's feet and listening to His preaching? Do not say this, for the Evangelist himself remarks that "they brought unto Him also infants, that He would touch them: but when His disciples saw it, they rebuked them". In bringing their little ones, the mothers' purpose was simply that His hands should touch the children, and not that He should teach them divine knowledge.
Allowing children to have contact with spiritual grace is one of the first, basic concerns of a Christian who thinks about his children, and the task of Christian society, which is concerned about its youth. Here is the door to a correct Orthodox Christian upbringing. Enlightenment, compunction and joy, as they awaken in the infant's growing consciousness are an external indicator of the fact that the little Christian is feeling warmth from the divine source in himself. And even if he does not feel it, the invisible action of God's grace does not stop; only we do not see it, just as we do not see the effect of the sun on our own health instantly and at once. In Russian literature we have such apt examples of the disposition of children's souls during preparation for confession and communion, after confession and after communion of the Holy Mysteries.
Nevertheless, how often it is forgotten that herein lies the key to organizing religious education. How often, on seeing the inadequacy of religious education, we pick up the programs and re-work them, lay the blame on the textbooks and the teachers—and forget about the importance of the church and the influence of the services; certainly we do not always ask ourselves the question: "But did the children go to church?"
As the child grows tip, he should enter more deeply into the life, of the Church. The child's mind, the youth's mind must be enlightened by the church services, learn from them, become immersed in them; the church should give him knowledge of God.
This matter is more complex. The task of religious 'education will be fulfilled only when we teach our children to love church.
When we, the adults, organize church services, make arrangements for them, shorten or lengthen the order of service and so on, we are accommodating ourselves to our own concepts and needs, or simply convenience, understood in adult terms. But in so far as the concepts, needs and spiritual strivings of children are not taken into account, the surroundings are often not conducive towards making children love church. This is nevertheless one of the most important means of religious education: let the children come to love the church, so that they may always attend church with a pleasant feeling and receive spiritual nourishment from it. And since parents often cannot help here, if only because not, infrequently they are irreligious themselves, we are often compelled, when we think about our Orthodox children, to place this work into the hands of the community, the hands of the school, the hands of the Church.
Just as we are not afraid of destroying a devotion to learning and books, or love for our national literature and history by making our children come running to class at the sound of a bell and sit at desks, and by immersing them in an atmosphere of strict discipline and compulsion; so also, one might think, we would have no reason to be afraid of using a certain amount of compulsion in the matter of attending church, whether it be part of school regime or an expression of self-discipline on the part of youth organizations—both those that are connected with school and those that are not. But certainly, if this remains just compulsion, and to such an extent that it creates a psychological repulsion in the young people—this will show that the aim has not been attained, that the method has proved to be inadequate and the compulsion in vain. Let the child brought by our will express a desire to remain there through his own will. Then you will have justified your action.
And again we say: it is not only natural, psychological effects that take place in children's souls in church, but the action of grace. Our whole concern should be that the soul of the baby, child or youth should not be closed to holy impressions, but should be freely opened: and then it will no longer need effort, force or any other form of self-compulsion; it will be nourished freely and easily and joyfully.
There is one thing that must not be forgotten: human nature requires at least a minimal degree of active participation. In church this can take the form either of reading, or of singing, or of decorating and cleaning the church, or of some other activity, even if it is only indirectly connected with the services.
The indisputable importance of the church and of communal church services for the religious upbringing of children constitutes one of the arguments in favour of the Orthodox understanding of the mystery of baptism: that is to say, an argument in favor of baptizing children at a very young age, as we do in the Orthodox Church. Baptism is the door through which one enters the Church of Christ. One who is not baptized—which means he is not a member of Christ's family—has no right to participate in the life of this family, in its spiritual gatherings and in its table—the Lord's table. Thus our children would be deprived of the right to be with us in church, to receive the blessing in the name of the Holy Trinity, to communicate the Body and Blood of Christ. And however we may influence them in our family at home, however much we might teach them the Gospel, we would be depriving them of the direct action of heavenly grace, and at best we would arouse a thirst for faith in them—but we would still be keeping them far from the heavenly light and warmth, which comes down, regardless of our human efforts, in the mysteries, in all the services, in holy prayers. How grossly mistaken are those religions which recognize only adult baptism!
The holy maidens Faith, Hope and Charity, and the holy young bride Perpetua, who became martyrs, are witnesses to the fact that adolescence is an age prepared even for the highest active participation in Christ's Church. The baby in his mother's arms in church who cried out, "Ambrose for bishop!", and by his exclamation determined the choice of the renowned Ambrose of Milan for the episcopal cathedra—this baby is a defender of children's rights to an active participation in Christ's Church.
And so let us take some trouble over our children: first let us give them the chance to take more part in church—and in a wider and more elevated form than just giving the censer to the priest; and secondly, let us adapt ourselves somewhat to our children when praying together with them.
Let the children be conscious that they are members of Christ's family.
Let the children come to love church!
From Orthodox Life, Vol. 27, No. 3 (May June 1977), pp. 29-33.
Church Etiquette for Kids
Guidelines for parents with young children in the parish. Reprinted from a 1999 CrossRoads, written by Kh. Frederica.
Father Gregory and the Sisterhood, as well as individual parishioners and parents, have been chatting about what standards of behavior we want children to meet in church. In one way it’s harder having no pews; to a child, that expanse of carpet looks a lot like the space in front of the TV at home.
But this is a sacred place, a place at which we are constantly told to “Attend!”, and these are skills children need to learn. Every child is moving toward being able to stand throughout the service, behaving reverently and attentively. Let’s do our best to discourage any behavior that leads in another direction.
Father and I brainstormed some suggestions the other night to be used as guidelines according to your child’s age and capabilities:
- Stand on the carpet, sit in a chair or sit quietly (perhaps at an adult’s feet) on the carpet. Do not lie on the carpet at any time (except for babies). Sleepy children can be held in the arms of a parent until they fall asleep. When they are asleep, they can be placed on the floor (preferably facing the altar).
- Toes toward the altar. Teach the child to keep his or her toes pointed toward the altar at all times. Always face the altar, never turn your back on it (even when facing the procession during the Great Entrance, turn back counterclockwise rather than turn directly toward the back.) No large muscle motions — a child standing and facing the altar should not be waving arms, swiveling, etc.
- Stay in one place. A child should “stake out” an area and stick to it, and not move around the church. Exception: there is an age during which wiggly babies demand to be put on the floor, and once there take off crawling rapidly. You pick them up and the cycle immediately begins again. This phase doesn’t last too long, so we should be patient with these little explorers. If a baby crawls by you, pick him up, maybe even hold him and help him focus on the service before returning him to his parents.
- Help other out. In general, adults not caring for their own children should help our swamped young parents watch over their kids. In many cases, these parents are outnumbered by their kids! If you feel drawn to a particular child, ask her parents if you can help them mind her during church.
- Noise, noise, noise. Each parent needs to determine at what point their child has become too noisy. Occasional noise is fine, but continual noise can be very distracting. Some parents have found that taking the child out for making noise results in more noise because the child wants a change of scenery, or wants to play with toys. Some children also view this time alone with Mom as a victory. If any of these scenarios become a problem, the child could be taken out by Dad or an adult “helper.”
- Refrain from playing and talking. Children should not play with each other or talk to each other. Adults bending down to explain the service to children is fine, and may help them not be bored. The bookstore has a couple of good child- level guides to the church and the liturgy. Aim to convey to your children that church is a place you want to be because you find love and joy there, and you want them to share in these good things.
- No food in church, though bottles and sippy-cups are OK when necessary for babies and toddlers. At some point children need to begin fasting before communion, like adults do.
- Toys should be kept to an absolute minimum — a necessary favorite teddy bear is one thing, dressing up Barbies is another. If toys are brought into the service, they should be selected for their “quiet” qualities — i.e they don’t make noise when dropped and they don’t encourage the child to supply noises for them. Especially beware of provoking resentment in children whose parents don’t allow them to play in church, or undermining their discipline. “So and so does it, why can’t I?”
- Think of those around you. Remember that behavior that doesn’t seem distracting to you could be distracting to the people behind you — particularly the choir, which has a birds-eye view of everything anyone does.
The key to success in all this is practice at home. Have an evening prayer time at your icon corner where children learn to stand and be quiet and reverent. Explain that your home icon corner is like a “branch” from the main altar at church, and that that altar deserves even more respect. There are relics embedded in the wooden cross under our altar, and it has been consecrated by our Bishop, who told us that an angel stands there constantly in worship. Adults, as well as children, need to treat the church and especially the altar area with great respect.
Children will object to these expectations, but they learn to do many things they don’t want to because parents insist on them: brushing teeth, having a regular bedtime, not eating cookies before dinner. When parents have a firm reverence for the church and insist on these standards, children will meet them.
“Thinking about our Faith”
We would like to share thoughts and essays from our Parish in our monthly bulletins. This second article is by Johan Selmer-Larsen. Please consider sharing your thoughts or an essay on a topic of interest to you and our Parish; send articles to Fr Scott Ceraphim. Regular Columns are invited!! Thank you.
I highly recommend Father Scott’s Wednesday night Bible study (and Thursdays in Brunswick). He is a great teacher. You couldn’t do better at a fancy divinity school.
I imagine this one day as a forum in the Bangor area where people of all persuasions talk about the message of Christ and its place in our lives and world. In Milan, Italy, a priest started such a thing and the event is now attended by thousands.
I myself have a little trouble reading the Bible, it’s not the easiest thing. But listen to Fr. Scott, and all of a sudden the rubber hits the road. What did Christ and the apostles actually do and say, at some actual moment, on the ground, as it were, to give us Christianity?
Instead, for most of us, a great hazy veneer forms over the mists of time. In our dull minds, Christianity has become a bunch of old fables by a few old rabbis and philosophers from way, way back and the church liturgy and rituals are too disconnected to take seriously.
We’ve lost the connection to the original reality.
But my faith (or process of conversion) is pretty robust now, partly thanks to Bible study. For the proud intellectual sceptic, proud of knowledge, intelligence, worldliness and general smugness all around, it’s a way out. I am learning the folly of what I once thought to be true.
Listen to this craziness: “The first will come last, and the last first.” This is a total inversion of the normal human project. No one ever said or maybe thought such a thing before Jesus.
Charles Darwin came along and defined the human condition as survival of the fittest. You win or lose and the losers go extinct.
Jesus said No! If you lose, you will win! I will decrease so you can increase (John the Baptist?).
So what if in the world we spent less time trying to beat the other guy, or other tribe or country, and said instead, “No, please, you first, and I wish you well.”
Here are some more of jesus’ teachings that are inversions of our usual cultural preferences. These are compiled in Emmanuel Carrere’s recent book ‘The Kingdom’, which got a glowing review in the reputable ‘New Yorker’, and which attempts to detail the day to day particulars of spreading the Gospel by Paul, Luke and others through Israel to Macedonia to Greece, year after year, village by village.
Here’s the list: Don’t desire women, don’t take a wife; if you have one, keep her so as not to harm her, but it would be better if you didn’t have one. Don’t have children either. Let them come to you. Take inspiration from their innocence, but don’t have any. Love children in general, not in particular, not like men have loved their children since time began: more than those of others, because they’re their own. And even, above all, don’t love yourself. It is human to want one’s own good. Don’t. Beware of everything that is normal and natural to desire: family, wealth, respect, self esteem. Prefer bereavement, distress, solitude, humiliation. Hold everything that is considered good for bad, and vice versa. (I emphasize this is Carrere’s interpretation).
As I say, through the golden haze of history, way back when, Jesus and Paul and others did actually say certain things on certain days. Sure, there was copying and re-copying, embellishment, occasional exaggeration maybe, but all this stuff was said once.
Jesus throws a banquet. He invites not relatives or wealthy neighbors, but the poor, the lame, the deranged who hobble along the street and whom of course no one else invites. If you do that, Jesus promises, you will be blessed you will be happy. It’s called a beatitude.
Here’s another nugget: At the last supper, Jesus washed the feet of his surprised disciples. As Carrere puts it, “It won’t cure anybody (in his story he is visiting a facility for the disabled), to touch them and wash them, but there’s nothing more important, for him or the person who does it. For the person who does it! That is the grand secret of the Gospel. At the start you want to be good, you want to do good to the poor, and little by little - it can take years - you discover that they are the ones who do us good, because by remaining close to their poverty, their weakness, their fear, we lay bare our poverty, our weakness, our fear, which are the same. They’re the same for everyone, you know. And it’s then that you start to become more human.”
And here are Jesus’s words that are the most profound to me:
Amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.
Jesus’ successor, Paul, was stripped of all prestige, as if naked. And it is in this way, weak, afraid, trembling, that he teaches that the wisdom of the world is foolishness before God. That the foolish of the world were chosen by God to shame the wise. That the weak were chosen to shame the strong. That what is lowly and despised in the world - the things that are not! - was chosen to bring to nothing the things that are. Paul said, I will take pleasure in weakness, in insults, in misery, in persecution, in fears, because by being weak I will be strong. And said Isaiah, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the intelligence of the intelligent I will reject.”
Carrere says of himself in his book, “All the riches I enjoy, the wisdom I pride myself on, the confident hope I have of being on the right track, these are what prevent real accomplishment. I never stop winning, although to really win I’d have to lose. I am rich, gifted, praised, deserving, and conscious that I deserve: for all that, woe to me!”
Then the voices of psychoanalysis and meditation try to drown it out: Please! No glorification of suffering, no misplaced guilt, no self flagellation.
The French philosopher Lanza del Vasto denounced “He who makes the truth a subject of curiosity, holy things a matter of enjoyment and the ascetic exercise an interesting experience; he who knows how to divide himself, rebound, and live a multiple life; he who loves the for as much as the against, who takes as much pleasure in truth as in lies, who lies so much he forgets he is lying and fools himself; the man of today, in short, who touches everything, overturns everything, comes back from everything; he who is closest to us and best known to us. Is it I, Lord?”
There are opportunities to find religion, God. They are called obstacles to our worldly happiness. I’ve had an exciting life, burned the candle at both ends. At nearly 70 I’m slowing down. I find it easier to take a nap than thrash around on the high seas. A great and annoying fatigue burdens me. Did God place this obstacle before me to help me with my conversion, or is it just an obstacle, period, and there’s no soft exit?
Simone Weil wrote, “In spiritual matters all prayers are granted. He who receives less has asked for less.”
The second century Christian apologist St. Justin said Christianity is the only philosophy that is “safe and profitable”. If there is such a thing as a compass that can tell you at every moment of life whether your heading in the wrong direction, this is it.
For example, sometime in the course of today, consciously or unconsciously, I will divide people into two categories, greater and lesser. No matter how nice and good and proper I think I am, I will do it. It’s the human way. It is not the Christian way.
Jesus’ message will always be surprising. It will always be larger than me, larger than us.
Christ the Savior Contact information:
For Hospital visits, Pastoral visits, Bible Studies, or Evangelistic Outreach needs, please call or email Fr Scott Ceraphim at 207-478-3088 and firstname.lastname@example.org. For any Church related administrative or charitable donation needs, please call or email Sr. Warden Chris Maas at 924-4553 and email@example.com