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#424019 11/17/23 09:25 PM
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Christ is in our midst!!

I was talking to a colleague who belongs to an Evangelical, Independent Church. They go to church Sunday morning and evening, as well as Wednesday evening--every week. The man's son goes to a Christian school. The conversation began when I had overheard him talking to his son about homework that had to be completed on a Wednesday evening. He had told his son that if he did not complete his homework, he could not go to church Wednesday evening. Apparently the young man was very upset that he could not go to church that evening.

My amazement was in comparison to similar Catholic young people who expressed the idea that they had to be forced to go to Sunday liturgy and to religious education classes. I have rolled this around in my head since Wednesday. What is it that makes this difference? Is it the combination of parents, home, educational setting, and community in this situation? If so, what and how are we failing our young people. Why are our young people not of the opinion that not being able to go to church is a punishment, rather than going to church is?

Thoughts?

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Theophan,

It would be interesting to know what his young son does at church services. Do the children sit with the parents and participate in the worship, or are they taken aside and given other activities like crafts or games pertaining to their faith. I know here in our area, Protestant young people are many times given camplike activities during services, in the basement or hall, or they watch videos and films there with their age group. Perhaps that is reason for not wanting to miss church. I don't think we can assume that their motivation is based upon devotion to the faith , or a greater sense of obligation, until we have an idea of the nature of their time spent at church. Do you happen to know?

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Christ is in our midst!!

Hutsul,

I don't know the answer to your question. I don't know if he spends his time in other-than-worship activities. This church does have a youth program fort the Wednesday evening time. However, Sunday is worship with parents. My point is that the young people in my parish are allergic to being in and around the parish for our youth activities, religious ed, and liturgy. Asking them directly, they all say that without parental pressure, they would not ever be in or around church, liturgy, or our youth activities. The usual response has been that their parents "have a gun to their head": being grounded or otherwise punished if they do not attend. usually one sees them depart once they are confirmed as juniors in high school once there is no leverage--parents have them "magically confirmed" (for whatever reason--they "got their sacraments"). Usually the whole family then departs.

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I can only report on what I see; and what I see in a "border county" of central Pennsylvania is a significant influx of young (≤ 35) serious seekers/inquirers who are neither Orthodox or Greek.

Last Sunday I counted 10 at the Divine Liturgy....a little less than 10% of the total attendance.

I believe that we are on the cusp of another "Great Awakening" in North America; but unlike those of two centuries ago this one will be a revival of orthodoxy and orthopraxy; religious affections craving the liturgical and Sacramental stability which only we can provide.

Even among the "cradle Orthodox" we are seeing a deepening of commitment: Eight of our youth travelling to a Metropolis Youth Retreat this weekend; a record number having gone to Camp Nazareth this past summer.

Glory to God for all things!

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Studies show that if church is important for both parents (that is, prayer and discussion of religious matters is a daily occurrence), about 86% of the children stay in the church. We have a funky schedule somewhat-Reader's Vespers on Saturdays, Reader's Matins Sunday morning, and the main Sunday service (either Hours-Typika-Vespers or Divine Liturgy) at 3:30PM on Sunday. Matins on Sunday morning is optional, so some of the kids come and some stay at home. My 2 year old daughter and my 12 year old son cry if they do not go (he once overslept, and apparently bawled about it for a half hour). The children who come say I am a major factor in that decision (my wife does not go, and the ones who do not go cite her as a factor). A couple, though, say church is a second home, and they feel like they just belong. I think the bottom line is, is the faith important to both parents (especially the father) and do the parents treat it as a chore or one task among many? There is truth to the adage that "the family that prays together stays together".


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