Each day at Saint Herman of Alaska Christian School we begin with prayer. We do the Third Hour from the Horologion, and as part of the Third Hour we chant the troparion for the feast and the saint of the day. We chant the troparion and kontakion of our patron, St. Herman. We also hear the Epistle and Gospel reading of the day, and a homily either related to the Scripture, or to the festal period, or to another relevant topic. We sing the stichera of St. Herman, venerate the icons and receive the priest’s blessing. At the end of prayers we say the “prayer before a lesson”: O most gracious Lord, send down the Holy Spirit… Each day the lives of the saints are read from the Prologue during the first 5-8 minutes of our lunchtime meal. Meals start with prayer and end with the “prayer after meals”: We thank Thee O Christ our God, that Thou has satisfied us with Thy earthly gifts… On the name day of students, teachers or visitors we pray and sing Many Years; we also offer short molebans (supplicatory services at times of need) or prayers for visitors or for those who will travel. Prayer is the incense of the day–prayers for the increase of our knowledge, prayers that we fulfill Christ’s commandments and prayers for the well-being of others and general thanks for all things.
Being focused on the spiritual elements of the day is important. St. Nektary of Optina said that each day has its own grace, a specific and precious and unique spiritual jewel, and that it is our task to capture this grace of the day. Yes, it is true. Each day is as unique as the fingerprint of our hand–no two are alike. This day will never happen again, even though we think of the days “rolling into each other,” “another day, another dollar,” and other over-generalizations. This day is unique and I am assigned to respond to it. The saint, the Gospel, the hymns of the day all speak to me. The people I meet and the events of the day all are opportunities to fulfill the Lord’s will and commands. Why should I be asleep to this? Why should I miss the opportunity to learn, to grow?
The beauty of our school is that it is also a community and school of love and virtue. We have each other. Love of God and love of our neighbor can be practiced with each other. Learning to care for the cares of others, learning to obey and show respect, and to forgive, all these can happen and are encouraged here. We don’t need a special department of character development and ethics. Rather, these things are intrinsic and explicit in our daily life; for here school is, together with the Church, part of spiritual life, and part of our life in Christ … we just need to pay attention to the details of our day.