All Things Beautiful

St. Onuphrius of the St. David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

St. Onuphrius of the St. David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD:A PRAYERFUL HOME
All Things Beautiful

God created us to love that which is beautiful. He surrounded us with beauty--from the smallest flower to the majestic mountains--all that He created reveals His beauty to the world. The soul of a child is drawn to beauty. However, in this day of increasing crudeness, we can't expect our society to provide the beauty that will nourish a child's soul. Much of the art, music and architecture around us are no longer used to express God's love nor the beauty of His Creation. It is necessary for us, as parents, teachers and friends, to create the context for the expression of beauty in the young child.

Beauty is naturally incorporated into the life of the Church. We see beautiful icons, radiant vestments, the face of the clergy and the faithful. We smell the sweet fragrances of the incense. We hear the rich melodies of the sacred music, the softness of the chanting.

Just as the Church is a place of beauty, so we can and should create within our homes this same beauty and order. Even in the womb, babies can hear beautiful music and loving words from their parents, holy icons, incense, and prayers can grace their bedrooms and home. Gentle folk songs, good stories with lovely illustrations, poetry, all help to train the child's mind to nourish itself on what is good and holy. Learning to love nature and animals, spending time in the outdoors, in the forest, mountains, seashore, teach the child to respect and care of what God has created.

Our goal is to remind children of the Angelic realm. We use the natural world to lead the hearts and minds of the small child Godward. Probably the greatest impediment to this is the television. As children grow older, it is almost impossible to keep them from the influences of the media in our culture. At least in the tender years, while we are able, we can protect them. (The influence of the media is a huge subject by itself.) By limiting their use of television, we also allow our children to play. Amazingly there are many children who are so "entertained" that they do not know how to entertain themselves or to interact with others on more than a superficial level. They are unable to develop their own creativity or even be able to be alone and think.

However, we don't seek beauty for its own sake; we wish "for the beauty of the Lord to be upon us" (cf. Psalm 90:17). "The beauty of the Lord" is revealed within us through the development of the virtues. We strive for the virtues of kindness, compassion, honesty, purity, fear of God, humility, love and patience. We struggle to inspire the virtues in our children. It is in our homes, first, that we especially undertake the work of the cultivation of the virtues.

In the last part of The Path of Salvation, Saint Theophan the Recluse gives strong and direct teaching on how we are to raise our children in the virtues. Yet, the only way to successfully apply his wisdom is to first have it as part of one's own way of life. For example, he speaks of teaching restraint in eating and of eating at appointed times; of course, it is implied that the parents already follow this practice. He underscores the importance of a set schedule. He shows us that to teach a child to follow God's will he must first learn to submit his will to his parents' will. But a mother can teach this to her child only if she is submitting to the direction of her husband and both to the will of God.

Even as we are working to create the harmony and beauty in our homes, we must also ardently strive to nurture the God-given beauty of His image in our souls. Prayers, confession, Holy Communion are gifts to our Lord given to us to lead us to Him; and we, in turn, teach our children "to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" (cf. Psalm 96:9).

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Housework Sanctified

Tired of laundry? Parenting and homemaking are indeed a holy calling. Daily chores are a blessing to us and to our family. Even laundry is blessed--no children, no laundry. What would our life be like without them? So as we wash, fold or iron each item we can say, "Lord have mercy on (names of clothing wearer)." This works for your husband's clothing, your children's and your own clothing. "Lord have mercy on me." This sanctifies our time and work. It also helps us acquire peace and unceasing prayer.

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SPIRITUAL COMFORT IN THE HOME
Elder (Geronta) Paisios the Athonite--+1994

"Worldly joy does not comfort the spiritual person. It only gives him fatigue. If you place a spiritual person in a worldly home, he will not be comfortable. Even a secular person does not really find rest there; he only thinks he does. In fact, he only feels an external, superficial enjoyment. In reality, in his heart, he is not pleased; he suffers." (Source: Orthodox Christian Parenting: Cultivating God's Creation by Zoe Press)

[Next: BOOKS AT HOME)

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George

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