Journeying Together With Our Children
“Do any of you have any special plans this weekend?” my wife asked her 2nd graders two days ago, as she typically does every Friday afternoon. One little girl, Megan, blurted out excitedly, “I have my First Communion this weekend, Mrs. Veronis!” To which another child inquired, “What’s First Communion?” When Pres. Faith answered that it’s a very special event in the life of a Roman Catholic Christian, to receive Holy Communion for the first time in their life, a little discussion ensued among all her children. “What is Holy Communion?” one girl inquisitively asked. Another quickly responded, “I wish I could go to church, but my parents never take me.” Then a third boy adamantly stated, “Well, my parents told me you don’t need to go to church! That’s not important!” A few others mentioned how they like going to church, while still another responded, “Well, I go but it’s kind of boring.”
Raising children in our society today is NOT easy. Raising children in a Christ-centered way, trying to instill Christ-like values is even more difficult. Our parents and grandparents could share their stories about the difficulties of raising children a generation or two ago, but our day and age is quite different from every previous generation because of technology, social media, and our children’s 24/7 contact with the outside world. It’s never been easy to raise a child, especially to raise a child in the ways of the Lord, but today our children’s minds and souls are being bombarded by many messages, images, and a compelling spirit that stands totally contrary to the Christian worldview. Combine this with the fact that our society, as a whole, no longer champions and promotes fundamental Christian values, but promulgates a secular perspective where God is ignored, forgotten, or even ridiculed.
I don’t know how many of you read in the May issue of The Light the provocative article “Men Have Forgotten God” by Aleksandr Solzenitsyn, but I want to encourage all of you to do so! It’s a prophetic word about what happens to a society when they forget God. Solzenitsyn was a true prophet of God who spoke the truth no matter what the consequences. He exposed the evils of the militant atheistic, communist ideology of the former Soviet Union, and then after living in the United States, he warned the West about the dangers of following a similar path of militant atheism with its so-called enlightened name of secularism. When one forgets God, or pushes Him out of the picture, then chaos ensues. Please take the time to read his article in the May bulletin!
Anyway, every parent knows the extreme difficulties and challenges of raising children in the ways of the Lord, with the fear of God, with a passionate love for seeking first and above all else Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God! It’s not easy for adults to follow this path, even if we were given a solid Christian foundation in our lives. It’s all the more difficult for children in today’s society to follow this path, especially as many of them are learning nothing about the Christian way of life from a young age, and few are seeing serious and sober adults who are striving to live Christ-centered lives of love. Let’s be aware of what we can do to help these children as they try to lay a solid foundation for the rest of their lives.
Every parent should know we can’t do it alone! There is the famous African proverb “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” Parents can’t do it alone, but need different people from an entire community to interact and influence our children. It takes grandparents, uncles, aunts, and relatives. It takes godparents and our Church Family to reach out to all the children of our church community, as well as to the children outside our church, offering encouragement and teaching them about what is good and noble and holy and right.
As we celebrate Godparents and Grandparents Sunday, we need to highlight the extremely crucial role that godparents and grandparents can play in the village that is looking out for our children. We are the ones who can help parents offer a safe environment in which our children grow and fulfill the God-given potential each has. It takes a holy village to offer blessed examples of what it means to love God, to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, and to live meaningful lives of sacrificial love and service to others, especially living lives dedicated to serving the marginalized and needy of society. It takes a sacred village!
Thank God that we have a very special Church Family with such loving people from every generation – plenty of grandparents and godparents and parents with years and years of life experience and wisdom. Please remember, though, we NEED one another. We all need to understand our own Christian responsibility in reaching out to others, in mentoring others, in offering to help others. And let’s not just wait for parents to ask for help. May all of us look around and offer our help. Fight against our egocentric passions to just focus on our own children, and reach out to all children in need.
Today, we want to highlight the special relationship that our godparents have with their godchildren, and our grandparents have with their own grandchildren. But let’s not stop there. In our Church community, we are a big FAMILY! Every child in this church has not just one or two godparents, and four grandparents, but they have a church full of yiayiades, papoudes, uncles, and aunts. We are ONE BIG FAMILY that needs to support one another, that needs to offer loving care, supporting, encouraging, and mentoring all the children of our Church!
And then we can take this love we all have, and share it with the children in our neighborhood, with our friends’ kids, and with others. Let’s expand this village of Christ-like love to embrace all in our society, transforming our society in a better world!
Our faith teaches that “no one can be saved alone.” Our journey towards God and into His heavenly Kingdom is a journey in community, as a village, as we draw closer to God. Our parents often are the ones who plant the seeds of belief and give birth to a living faith within our youth. There are many others throughout our lives – teachers, friends, uncles, aunts - who enter in at special moments and act as our mentors and spiritual coaches, guiding us through the many obstacles and challenges that life will bring. God will bring special people into our lives at particular times. Yet, grandparents and godparents are there throughout our lives! They are there praying daily for our children and encouraging them all along the way.
Today, we want to say THANK YOU to all the grandparents and godparents. Thank you for being a central part in the spiritual village. May we all continue to live up to our sacred calling and help our grandchildren and godchildren to fulfill the special potential God has given each one of them, and journey further into the kingdom of heaven.
Herman the Wonderworker of Alaska & First Saint of America; The Holy Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes of Greater Armenia; Lucia the Virgin-martyr; Gabriel the Hieromartyr, Archbishop of Serbia
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