Christian Education is very important for the life of the Orthodox Church.
Unlike most of what you’ll find in present day Christianity, the Orthodox Church does not limit “education” to that of the “mind” or intellectualism. This approach to education (and Christianity) is fairly recent and is inspired more by the Enlightenment and rationalism than it is the Scriptures. On the contrary, Orthodoxy focuses on the entire Person – body, mind (nous) and soul. Our experiences within the Church and on our journey of Faith can be just as informative and transformative as any good book or lecture from the Scriptures.
Personal development as an Orthodox Christian involves more than just learning doctrine or dogma – it involves a development of one’s own Spirituality and a participation in the Life of the Church; in the Life of Christ.
Education before becoming an Orthodox Christian is known as catechesis. Catechesis for the catechumen (that is, someone who is on a journey to become an Orthodox Christian) is primarily done through the attending of divine services, learning to pray, reading Orthodox books and studying Orthodox doctrine, and developing a relationship with a parish priest – one’s Father-Confessor or “spiritual father” in a loose sense (not in the sense of a staretz).
Catechesis also applies to children who are “born into” Orthodoxy (that is, their parents are Orthodox Christians), as they should be taught and reared in a solidly Orthodox lifestyle and world-view by their parents (the education of children is primarily a responsibility of the parents – not a school and not the local parish).
Since everyone is on a different journey towards the one, true Faith, there is no “one size fits all” catechesis process. Therefore, the relationship with a local parish priest is of the utmost importance. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a catechumen, simply contact Fr John.
Orthodox Education Resources for Children:
- Let Us Attend: Sunday’s Gospel for Children
- Crafts, Games, and Activities
- More Resources @ Antiochian.org
- Resources Especially for Home Schools
- Homeschooling: The Encouragement and Challenge of St Emmelia
Education after becoming an Orthodox Christian is referred to as mystagogy. This is the continual development and education of a person after they have been received by the Church through Her Sacred Mysteries (Holy Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Confession, the Eucharist, Marriage, etc.) or “sacraments” as you might know them.
A large portion of mystagogy is done through one’s continual participation in the Life of the Church; that is, by participation in divine services (especially the 12 Great Feasts and Pascha), fasting disciplines, daily prayer (including both private and family worship), the reading of Scripture and other sacred/edifying writings of the Church, Holy Confession and the frequent reception of the Eucharist, almsgiving and other charitable works, righteous living (crucifying the passions), and tithing.
Besides these things, an Orthodox Christian that is capable of both studying and learning more about the Faith should commit themselves to do so whenever and wherever possible.
In addition to the reading of Scripture and other sacred/edifying works of the Church, adult education classes (“Bible study” or “Sunday School”) and discussion groups – even casual discussion with Orthodox friends about the Faith – are a great way to delve deeper into the vast ocean that is the Orthodox Tradition.
Adult Education @ St Nicholas Orthodox Church:
For our parish community, we currently have an in-depth study group that meets most every Sunday night at at a home in Springdale, AR, starting at 6:00 pm. We are currently studying The Gospel According to St John. These discussions are open to anyone that is interested, and it is a great opportunity to not only learn more about our Faith but also to get to know each other better!
On Sunday mornings, following the Divine Liturgy, we have an adult catechesis class that meets for 15 minutes during coffee hour. We are studying the Hebrew/Christian concept of Sacred Time, doing an overview of various aspects of the Orthodox Faith (great for inquirers or recent converts!).
Feel free to join us, and bring a friend!