Living the Divine Liturgy
The St. Elijah the Prophet church-school congregation organized a summer camp on the beautiful church grounds, on which the magnificent cathedral church dominates, from July 7-12, 2014. This was yet another wonderful spiritual gathering, where the Christian youth, through the selfless work of the teachers,had the opportunity to absorb the various beauties which our spiritual tradition, history and culture have to offer. The central idea which led to the organizing of the camp was founded on the desire that our youth learn the good news of God and that through their fellowship with one another they experience the joy of the living Orthodox faith.
On Monday, on the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, July 7th, 84 children took an active part in the daily activities of the church camp. Fr. Aleksandar Novakovic greeted the children after liturgy and together with the camp director Cindy Stojic, wished the children a successful and blessed stay during the following days. One can always, anew, experience the joy of our children and this was particularly noticed in the faces of the youngest campers who in their lovable voices expressed the childish joy and impatiently awaited the day's activities.
The camp director once again planned and made sure that all segments of the day's activities were achieved. She made every effort in helping the children with her sincere and maternal presence that during the recreational activities they might enjoy their stay at the camp. The best testimony of how much effort was put in by Cindy and all those who helped her, was seen in the children's tears when they had to leave and asked if the camp can last longer. Their words, "thank you Teta Cindy for another unforgettable experience" is enough to tell us of the closeness experienced during the daily activities and friendship during this time.
Parish priest, Fr. Aleksandar Novakovic, continued working with the chidlren on the spiritual theme, "Let us Discover and Live the Divine Liturgy". This program was presented at the 2013 camp and continued this year in studying the important parts of the liturgy. We are all witnesses of the fact that man is exposed to other activites which alienate us from the church and the liturgy. Bishop Ignjatije says that the Church is essentially the Liturgy. The Liturgy looks at the world as God's. All of that which God created needs to enter God's Kingdom. The Liturgy recieves the world as it is. In our tradition the Orthodox man at liturgy is never only attends psychologically, with closed eyes, to pray to God by himself. Rather, he comes to Church bearing the world with him, the worries of the world, but he also bears gifts.That is what we have today, we bring bread, wine and other gifts. Once we would bring all the plants that the earth bore, to the clergy so that they could offer them to God as His world, to bless them for that world. That entrance of the world into the liturgy is its tranfiguration and consecration. Therefore, it's our tradition, to offer all of that which the Lord has given, to bring it and unite it with the Liturgy.
Uniting the children with the Liturgy and making their young hearts accept it is the main idea of this program and all the lessons given by Fr. Aleksandar. We must admit, and the parents that took part in these lessons can attest to this, that we were surprised by the knowledge, questions and interest shown by the children. The desire to reveal that which is hidden in our children was made apparent on the last day of the lessons of the liturgy when, during the question and answer portion, we witnessed a progress in the knowledge of the liturgy. We can conclude that without knowledge and regular participation at the liturgy we cannot experience a true encounter with the Risen Christ.
During the daily camp activities we should point out especially the visit to St. Sava in Libertyville. This most significant monastery in all of the diaspora is a sacred testament and place which was visited by Saints of Christ's Church. St. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich washed this holy place with his tears and prayers turning it into a spiritual oasis where many people find shelter for their souls and a path towards their salvation. This holy place was visited, just like our children did, by many bishops of our Church. It is noteworthy to mention that Bishop Danilo Krstic took his monastic vows at St. Sava Monastery.
Also, the children visited the School of Theology, the monastery candle shop and cemetery where important national figures are buried as well as a number of our bishops. On their way back from the monastery the children were able to visit New Gracanica Monastery and venerate the famous Mother of God Icon of the Three Hands. Bishop Longin greeted the children and rejoiced in welcoming his small pilgrims.
Dobrila Samardzic, the choir director, taught the children to sing church and other spiritual music. She also gave lessons in Serbian culture and demonstrated the secrets of making a Slava kolach. The joyous children, as fruit of their labor,were able to take their first Slava kolach home. Branka Manojlovic worked with the youngest children. Though little they were able to experience the joy of the gathering. We owe our gratitude for their help and work during the camp to Nancy Jocic, Joki Emerik and Gabrielle Dodig.
Special thanks go to all our "bakas" and parents and all parishioners who helped make this year's camp a success. We thank also the children from the St. George church-school congregation who, with their presence, added a new dimension in the development and activities of our parish camp. We firmly believe that the children expanded their knowledge about their faith, history, church music, art, culture and it will help to develop and grow to the joy of their parents and our Holy Church. This was truly a beautiful event which brings us all together and strenghtens us.
Source. St. Elijah the Prophet Cathedral