Saturday, January 3, 2015

Child Prodigy

When a young child shows promise in a sport or art, parents invest great effort into building upon that early talent. Parents always want their children to excel, and when there is evidence that some pure talent is hidden, every effort is made to hone that talent for future success. Nobody, me included, would fault a parent for such efforts.

But....what if that same child showed promise in their spiritual life? When young children are regularly brought to Church, the rich expression of the Divine Services captures their vivid imaginations. Many young children find the outward practices of Orthodox Christianity exciting, and desire to practice them. Many young children can be seen, pretending to clergy, censing imaginary icons and people. Many young children reverently bow during the Divine Services of the Church. Many young children show promise for deep spirituality. And how do most parents react?

Unfortunately many parents, desiring for their children to live a so-called normal life, discourage their children from being “too” religious. I guess there is a fear their children might somehow be considered strange in a world that more and more has rejected Godly blessings in exchange for material burdens. In fact many parents, when they witness spiritual promise in their children, react quite opposite from those parents with artistic or athletic children. I have often heard parents, as a defense of fanatic commitment to sports practice schedules and dance recitals, argue in favor of a “well balanced” life, as if being spiritual somehow is unbalanced. And making things worse, in a society that focuses so much upon college education, the thought of scholarship offers fill parents’ minds.

If a child prodigy in music was discouraged from practicing, parents would be shunned by their peers. But when those same parents discourage their children from being “too religious” they are praised by their peers as well balanced and good parents.

What might God think?
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. – John 12.42-43

Something to think about in the New Year.

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