July/August 2009  “Summer Reading List”...


       It’s Summer Time! Vacations! School is out, Saturday afternoons are filled with the smell of neighbors grilling in the back yard. What a wonderful time! I’m bored...


       I don’t know how many times you heard it growing up, but I remember when we didn’t have as many distractions to destroy fill our free time. I remember on one occasion during one summer break, A long time ago in a land far, far away... telling my mother, “I’m bored...”. In so many words, I believe she said something like, “Then pick up a book and read.” As I recall, over the next few weeks I read through an entire series of books from the library (Tom Swift - Science Fiction - Good Stuff! Kinda like the Hardy Boys...). A few years ago I found a complete set of the Tom Swift series at a used book sale. I think they’re still around the house somewhere. I haven’t read through them recently, but they hold great memories and dreams.


       This summer, Hancock County is beginning a program called Energy Express. You may have read about it in the Weirton paper. It is a six-week opportunity for up to 40 children from first through sixth grade to exercise and improve their reading skills through the summer (and have fun with some crafts and safe fellowship to boot...). Instead of falling behind with their reading skills over the summer, these children have the potential to increase their reading abilities by as much as six months when they re-enter school in the fall. And as they read each book during Energy Express (one per week or so), they get to keep them and take them home. I wonder what sort of memories and dreams they will have of this coming summer down the road.


       As Orthodox Christians we, too, have a summer reading list. Did you know that? We, too, have the opportunity to catch up on our Orthodox reading skills so we don’t come back to church in the fall “six months behind” on our knowledge and practice. You may have a list of favorites that you remember from Sunday School. Maybe you have heard me speak of some great books over the past few years, but you never read them. We have a library of texts in our Sunday School area (in the Annex). Our Archdiocese website (www.goarch.org) has a “plethora” (a superabundance, an excess...) of outstanding articles and excerpts on the Orthodox faith sitting at your computer fingertips. Your church calendar has scripture readings for each and every day of the year.


       Oh, and I almost forgot – we will be continuing Sunday sermons throughout the coming months. Of course, you have to be in church on time in order to hear them... So, there is no excuse for you to be spiritually bored this Summer. Orthodox Catechism is not age-dependent – it is experiential. Spiritual lessons you learned as a child have adult chapters to go with them. Many times we as adults can learn great spiritual truths from asking our children what they learned in Sunday School, or from Summer Camp, or by reading the back of the Sunday bulletin...


       Does this message sound familiar? I certainly hope so. Repetition is the mother of learning, or something like that. Is this message spiritual? That depends on you. You can read this message, set The Vineyard down, and go about your business, and it won’t mean a thing. Or, you can “pick up a book and read” something that will enlighten your mind, edify your soul, or if nothing else, bring a question to your mind that you never considered before, and give me something I can use in my “Ask Father” column. Let me give you a “for instance”. Last month, a parishioner saw the Icon on the cover of the June Vineyard and wondered, “who are all those people in the Icon?” So they asked me, “Father, who are all those people in the Icon on the cover of The Vineyard?” Without looking, do you remember the Icon? Do you know what it represents? If not, read this month’s “Ask Father” column. I believe you will find it very interesting. It is about the Icon of All Saints.


       So pick up a good book; read an article off the internet; do something this Summer for your spiritual growth and to fight off spiritual boredom. And may your thoughts be filled with godly memories and dreams.