by F A T H E R P A U L
AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN approach to education today must include an active participation of our students, faculty and families in the divine worship of the Orthodox Church. Experiential knowledge gained by all those involved
that is not dialectical permits the child to begin to map their internal spiritual landscape pneumatically through the cultivation of Christ-centered attentiveness.
The deacon's repeated exhortation of the faithful with the phrase "Let us be attentive!" marks a clear goal for Orthodox corporate worship "as Church" -- specifically in the Divine Liturgy. The faithful Orthodox Christians are a
people roused out of the sleep of death and darkness through eucharist. To quote the prophet Isaias, the assembled faithful become through the uncreated grace called down by the priest:
How attentiveness is revealed, cultivated and handed down in such participation in eucharistic synaxis is explained at length by Father Maximos Constas in his book The art of seeing .
"The people who walked in darkness who have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on whom light has shined." (9:2)
In other words, as the faithful praying Church, all the liturgical elements come together in us as a whole: all creation is re-capitulated in Christ. This the Holy Spirit accomplishes in making the Body of the resurrected Christ
present in the world. The Holy Spirit has the definitive role in shaping the child's soul and body: the iconostasis, the clergy, the psalmody, the hymns, the gestures, the proclamation of word of Scripture, the incense,
the assembled body of believers. All these elements and much more, the entire world itself, are conjugated into the stillness in the presence of the Living Trinitarian God. Learning such stillness through "right
worship" is not an intellectual appreciation, but a convergence of God and creatures in the person of the child.
Teaching children not
to fidget in church
Father Maximos Constas is the Interim Dean of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Fr. Maximos is an internationally recognized scholar with expertise in the theology of the Church Fathers, and has been serving as Senior Research Scholar at Holy Cross since 2011. He was a monk at the Monastery of Simonopetra on Mount Athos, and prior to that was an Associate Professor of Theology at Harvard University.