Amidst surroundings of wantonness and disbelief, the temple stands as a spiritual lighthouse, an island of sanctity for adults and the young. Its setting and its divine services have a special beneficial influence on a child. The candles, the icons and frescoes, the smell of incense, the singing of the choir, the sound of church bells - all leave bright impressions on a young soul. When parents bring their child to church often, he becomes used to it and learns to love its inspiring services.
The Orthodox faith is rich in feast days, magnificent services and noble customs, which produce a steadfast influence on Christians. Bring to mind Palm Sunday, Passion Week and the procession with the Holy Shroud, the Easter service (which no one celebrates as joyously as the Orthodox), our blessing of the waters on Epiphany, the celebration of the Holy Trinity with its abundance of flowers and greenery, the bringing forth of the Holy Cross, the blessing of the fruits of the harvest on the feast of the Transfiguration ... what a rich nourishment for the child's soul! For their children's sake, parents should make no excuses to skip church services.
The house of an Orthodox family is supposed to complement the holy environment of the temple. Of particular significance are common prayers, the beautiful corner with its holy images and glowing lamp, the first meal after Lent, memorial days, the blessing of homes and other religious celebrations. Because the religious upbringing of a child is attained not so much by means of the intellect as through feelings, children who attend church services and participate in family prayer become like a ploughed up field, receptive to the seeds of goodness, which in due time will bear fruit.
The above is an excerpt from an article by Bishop Alexander (Mileant) that Father John has selected for the next Reading Group. Though it is geared toward parents, I think that it is an excellent read for all Orthodox Christians!