Tanja is studying Biology as a freshman in college. She is a Serbian Orthodox Christian who constantly loves learning about her faith. Tanja sings in her church's choir, and participates in Orthodox camps and Serbian folklore dancing. Some of her favorite hobbies include reading, writing, traveling and participating in outdoor activities. She particularly loves to read spiritual books and always looks forward to talking with others about the Orthodox Faith.
Teaching children the significance of their faith can be difficult. I can speak of this after being one of those children. We can all think back to the Sundays in church that were composed of fidgeting, staring at the ceiling out of boredom, or leaning on our parents because our feet were sore within the first 10 minutes. We can all think back to a childhood of not exactly understanding what was going on in church and what the significance of everything was. However, can we all think back to the times we visited an Orthodox monastery? I truly believe that my childhood visits to an Orthodox monastery opened my eyes towards God.
I grew up visiting an Orthodox monastery as a child. During the one or two-day visit, we would attend services and help the nuns on the grounds. The church, covered in iconography, was always a beautiful place to worship, and the land continued to amaze me as I helped with the yard work. This is where we started learning the significance of obedience. We always offered ourselves to help out with whatever was needed to get done. I was happy to spend my spare time lightening the nuns’ work load through cleaning the church, or planting flowers at the entrance. After a few hours, we would get cleaned up, eat, and attend vespers. The nuns beautifully chanted throughout the service and, of course, still continue to do so. I was always amazed to see how much energy they needed, and certainly had, to go through the day. I admired them even leaving the church looking as if they had not been on their feet since the morning. And they would graciously open the bookstore, so that my sister and I could pick out another spiritual book before we left. This book would only last us until our next visit, until we once again asked for another recommendation.
These visits were the most beneficial to helping us understand our faith as kids. Of course, it took time to find the evening services to be valuable, or the work to be a spiritual tool. It took time for my sister and I to get the purpose of their way of life. However, it did not take time to see that I always enjoyed helping on the grounds and learning about my faith. It was the best way to do so. We served God through cleaning the icons in church, and attending the services. It then led to reading a book that described this work to be building our crowns in heaven. It led to knowing that by working under the abbess, we were to humble ourselves.
This learning process is extremely important in life because as children, everything about Orthodoxy seems complicated. I always found it difficult to come up with a definition for my faith, and through this blessed monastery, I did. This definition is nothing but humility. That is it. Who knew it was so simple? God’s word is so clear. In James 4:10, he says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” He will lift us up to heaven, to eternal life as long as we know to hold humility within us. It is truly amazing how much a monastery can teach you the virtue of humility. A monastic’s way of life is set so that he or she may reach the point of being “lift[ed]… up”. Going to the services and working on the Lord’s ground is only beneficial if done with a lowly heart.
So, think to bring yourself to a monastery. You never know what you could learn. God may find it to be the perfect time to teach you a few lessons. He may lead to you open your eyes towards Him and establish that seed of humility within yourself.
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+