I'll try out to the best of my ability.
What do you recall being the most meaningful in the liturgy in your earliest years?
I don't really know. I do remember being captivated watching everything going on. I was really happy when I was old enough to serve in the Altar. I think if I were female, I would've been in the choir as soon as they let me. I had a real desire to serve in someway. Since my voice sounds like a cat being stepped on by a horse, it was pretty clear where I should serve as a child.
What do you think children need more than anything during liturgy?
To be there. I really am saddened when I'm at a parish where the children only come in for Communion. They need to be there for the entire thin. Even if they don't understand it. Their soul still, I think, rejoices at being there. And growing up knowing this is what we do is very important.
How important do you think it is to have children participatory in the life of the parish?
Very important. This is their family. They need to grow up in it knowing that Church isn't something you do for two hours a week and that's it.
What else do you want to share about living an Orthodox life since birth?
It's difficult. I know, for myself, I took it for granted. A lot of Orthodox I know who grew up in it don't even have a clear understanding of the Faith. I loved being in Church, loved going to all the services I could during the week, but I had no real understanding and, when challenged by others, I could never give a clear answer as to my beliefs. It wasn't until I was older, and especially when I fell away from the Church for a few years, that I finally started to really study.
It wasn't until my mid to late teenage years that I finally started reading the lives of the saints and history and started learning. Sunday School was a joke, to be frank. I have no doubt that there are good programs out there, but the ones I was in...we colored, pretty much. Later on, they started to touch on some things, but by then you have older kids who are bored by it and don't pay attention. And, even then, the things they touched on were weak.
But, at the same time, being raised Orthodox instilled something in me I can never get rid of. Even when I drifted away, I still felt something pulling me to the Church. I still remembered the saints and the truth and so on. I believe that if my family had prayed together, etc., it would be a lot stronger. The one thing I do know is that I could never completely leave the Church.I could never become Protestant or Catholic. Not to say that a convert could more easily do it...I can only speak on my life growing up and that what was "drilled" into me from a young age continues on. Orthodoxy or death for me. There's no other alternative.