My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FAMILY IS SACRED
“Whether the married couple remains a small dyad standing at the intersection of larger kin groups, or whether they begin a new home and family of their own, what is at stake in terms of the Gospel is the manner in which this foundation of a new locus of love, a home, becomes a place where the Gospel injunctions are fulfilled: to clothe the naked, to instruct the ignorant, to heal the sorrowing, to feed the hungry. The practicing of the fundamental attitudes of Christ on our immediate family is the beginning of our training. The married couple who have fulfilled the blessing of their consecration actually goon together in life to make a home where observers can say: ‘Here is a place where indeed the stranger was made welcome, the poor were fed, and the sorrowing were comforted.’ It is in this workshop of love that the children of the marriage will also first learn the meaning of the Gospel, from the charity of Christ it engenders all around it…
“…Because marriage in the Orthodox Christian understanding is meant to be a most intimate priestly collaboration of two initiated Christians, to bring a powerful focus of new love into being, and ultimately (if God so wills) to bring new life into the world and thus form a new small church…” (Father John Anthony McGuckin).
Saint Porphyrios wrote, “What saves and makes for good children is the life of the parents in the home. The parents need to devote themselves to the love of God. They need to become saints in their relations to their children through their mildness, patience, and love. They need to make a new start every day, with a fresh outlook, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children. Generally the parents are to blame for the bad behavior of the children. And their behavior is not improved by reprimands, discipline, or strictness. If the parents do not pursue a life of holiness and if they don’t engage in spiritual struggle, they make great mistakes and transmit the faults they have within them. If the parents do not live a holy life and do not display love toward each other, the devil torments the parents with the reactions of the children. Love, harmony and understanding between parents are what are required for the children. This provides a great sense of security and certainty.”
Saint John Chrysostom’s instruction to fathers on telling stories from the Holy Scripture:
“Tell him this story one evening at supper. Let his mother repeat the same tale; then, when he has heard it often, ask him too, saying: ‘Tell me the story,’ so that he may be eager to imitate you. And when he has memorized it thou wilt also tell him how it profits him. The soul indeed, as it receives the story within itself thou has elaborated it, is aware that it will benefit.”
“Go leading him by hand in church and pay heed particularly when this tale is read aloud. Thou wilt see him rejoice and leap with pleasure because he knows what the other children do not know, as he anticipates the story, recognizes it, and derives great gain from it. And hereafter the episode is fixed in his memory.”
Every Orthodox Christian home should have set up a family altar or icon corner (‘beautiful corner’). Read the Holy Scripture readings and lives of the Saints of the day. Pray together as a family every day, at least in the morning and evening.
Make a big deal of Feast-Days. Celebrate the Name Day of the children with a celebration. Tell them the story of the Patron Saint’s life and explain how to emulate his or her holy and virtuous life as an Orthodox Christian. At the family icon corner make sure to have a holy icon of the child’s Saint alongside of the parents’ Patron Saint.
Strive to be a holy example within the home, as well as in public, for your children to follow.
According to Saint John Chrysostom, ethical wantonness and social unrest are owed to improper care for children, to neglect for their spiritual cultivation. ‘The downfall of society stems from this disregard for children. Many seek the preservation of their estates, but not the preservation of the souls of those in their care.‘ He does not hesitate to call this indifference toward the cultivation of virtue in the souls of children ‘criminal’. By their indifference, as many as infuse their children with tyrannizing passions, with vices which daily kill and their souls, commit infanticide–the murder of their own children.”
“Let everything take second place to our care for our children, our bringing them up to the discipline and instruction of the Lord. If from the beginning we teach them to love true wisdom, they will have great wealth and glory than riches can provide. If a child learns a trade, or is highly educated for a lucrative profession, all this is nothing compared to the art of detachment from riches; if you want to make your child rich, teach him this. He is truly rich who does not desire great possessions, or surround himself with wealth, but who requires nothing…Don’t think that only monks need to learn the Holy Bible; Children about to go our into the world stand in greater need of Holy Scriptural knowledge.” (Homilies on Ephesians, Homily 21).
Be a true Christian family, a family of prayer and worship. “Be holy as I am Holy” says the Lord.
With agape in His Divine Service,