Raising Children According to Saint John Chrysostom

Martyr Kyriake of Nicomedia

Martyr Kyriake of Nicomedia

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

A CONTRITE PRAYER TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST

+In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Christ our God, at all times and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, You are worshipped and glorified; You are long-suffering, most merciful, most compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; Receive, O Lord, our prayers at this hour and direct our life toward You Commandments. Sanctify our souls; make our bodies chaste; Correct our thoughts; purify our intentions; and deliver us from every grief and pain that comes from evil. Encompass us by Your Holy Angels, so that guarded and guided by them we may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of Your inapproachable glory for You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THECOMMEMORATIO OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On July 7th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church we commemorate, honor, and entreat the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophet, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy and Great Martyr Kyriake of Nicomedia; St. Akakios of Sinai; Hieromartyr Efstathius; St. Epiktetos, Presbyter, and St. Astion in Scythia.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Presbyters, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen

HOLY AND GREAT MARTYR KYRIAKE OF NICOMEDIA.

Saint Kyriake was the only child of Dorotheos and Efsevia. Since she was born on a Sunday (Kyriake or Κυριακή, in Greek), she was named Kyriake.

One day a wealthy magistrate wished to betroth Kyriake to his son. Not only was she young and beautiful, but her parents were wealthy, and the magistrate wished to control that wealth. The magistrate went to her parents to request her hand, but St. Kyriake told him that she wished to remain a virgin, for she had dedicated herself to Christ.

The magistrate was angered by her words, so he went to the emperor Diocletian to denounce the Saint and her parents as Christians who mocked the idols, and refused to offer sacrifice to them.

Diocletian sent soldiers to arrest the family and have them brought before him. He asked them why they would not honor the gods which he himself honored. They told him that these were false gods, and that Christ was the one true God.

Doretheos was beaten until the soldiers grew tired and were unable to continue. Since neither flattery nor torment had any effect, Diocletian sent Dorotheos and Efsevia to Melitene on the Eastern border between Cappadocia and Armenia. Then he sent Saint Kyriake to be interrogated by his son-in-law and co-ruler Maximian at Nicomedia.

Maximian urged her not to throw her life away, promising her wealth and marriage to one of Diocletian's relatives if she would worship the pagan gods. Saint Kyriake replied that she would never renounce Christ, nor did she desire worldly riches. Enraged by her bold answer, Maximian had her flogged. The soldiers who administered this punishment became tired, and had to be replaced three times.

Shamed by his failure to overcome a young woman, Maximian sent Saint Kyriake to Hilarion, the Eparch of Bithynia, at Chalcedon. He told Hilarion to either convert Kyriake to paganism, or send her back to him.

Making the same promises and threats that Diocletian and Maximian had made before, Hilarion was no more successful than they were. Saint Kyriake challenged him to do his worst, because Christ would help her to triumph. The Saint was suspended by her hair for several hours, while soldiers burned her body with torches. Not only did she endure all this, she also seemed to become more courageous under torture. Finally, she was taken down and put into a prison cell.

That night Christ appeared to her and healed her wounds. When Hilarion saw her the next day, he declared that she had been healed by the gods because they pitied her. Then Hilarion urged her to go to the temple to give thanks to the gods. She told him that she had been healed by Christ, but agreed to go the temple. The Eparch rejoiced, thinking that he had defeated her.

In the temple, Saint Kyriake prayed that God would destroy the soulless idols. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake which toppled the idols, shattering them to pieces. Everyone fled the temple in fear, leaving Hilarion behind. Instead of recognizing the power of Christ, the Eparch blasphemed the True God as the destroyer of his pagan gods. He was struck by a bolt of lightning and died on the spot.

Saint Kyriake was tortured again by Apollonius, who succeeded Hilarion as Eparch. When she was cast into a fire, the flames were extinguished. When she was thrown to wild beasts, they became tame and gentle. Therefore, Apollonius sentenced her to death by the sword. She was permitted time to pray, so she asked God to receive her soul, and to remember those who honored her martyrdom.

Just as Saint Kyriake ended her prayer, Angels took her soul before the soldiers could strike off her head. Pious Christians took her holy relics and buried them in a place of honor. (Source: The Orthodox Church in America)

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of Great Martyr Kyriake. Fourth Tone

O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.

Kontakion Hymn of the Great Martyr Kyriake. Second Tone

The Martyr of Christ hath called us all together now to praise and acclaim her wrestlings and her godly feats; for she possessed of manliness of mind, she hath proved to be worthy of her name, being lady and mistress of her mind and the passions of unseemliness.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 3:23-29, 4:1-5
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 5:24-34

INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:

"This is the great work of a man; always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptations to his last breath" (Saint Anthony the Great).

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RAISING CHILDREN ACCORDING TO SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
By Protopresbyter Theodoros Sizis, Professor Emeritus of the School of Theology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

A Classic Pedagogical Work

The Holy Chrysostom, the fruit of Antioch who once glorified the Patriarchal throne of the capital of Byzantium, is rightfully included amongst the greatest pedagogues of all time. Witnessing to this claim is not only his recognition as such in studies of his life and works, but also his association with education within Orthodox Tradition. He is one of the three hierarchs whom we celebrate in our schools on the 30th of January as patrons of learning, as models for pedagogues and teachers, and as conveyors and proponents of Helleno-Christian educational ideals...

Raising Children: "Then" and "Now"

To persuasively argue that the pedagogical ideas within St. Chrysostom's work are timeless, it is necessary to briefly observe the spiritual atmosphere with which he is occupied--the spiritual atmosphere of Antioch in his era. In other words, we must note what educational ideals he set out for the youth of Antioch. If these provisions are similar to those which we give to our youth today, then also the critiques which this Holy Father presents are critiques of our own era and of our own pedagogical work as teachers and as parents. We will glean our knowledge of the atmosphere of St. John Chrysostom's Antioch from the work which we consider here, as well as from other works of the same author.

Parents' attitude toward the spiritual formation of the youth, of their ethical refinement, were marked by indifference. Their plans for their children's futures were confined to professional success and prosperity. These goals are practical, materially-minded, and individualistic. Within this framework, parents were concerned to secure all material conveniences for their children. They paid no attention to the expenses, the toil and the sacrifices to find the right schools and the best teachers so that their children could acquire those provisions which would help them in their worldly life and career. The obsession with acquiring and enjoying material goods was the strongest motivating factor in the care for children. The youth were unilaterally treated as if they were bodily beings only, as if they had no soul in need of care. Children breathed of, and grew up in, this atmosphere of obsession with riches and worldly glory...Parents set forth the successful in life as examples, "the blessed of the earth." In this manner these parents introduced into the malleable and receptive souls of the youth two great vices, two tyrannical loves: the love of money and the love of worldly glory or social status as we would say today. By this the youth were perverted and became materially-minded and vain. The perversion of youth is owed exclusively to the obsession for earthly goods, the great pedagogue observes. "The loss of children comes about through no other way than the obsession their parents have with earthly things."

Parents, he says, cared only to secure riches, and clothing, and servants and property. The only thing they cared nothing about was spiritual cultivation, the cultivation of virtue and devotion. They thought virtues to be flaws and weakness. A complete inversion of values reigned. Vices took the names of virtues and virtues, vices. They called the love of glory, magnanimity, of gain, freedom; insolence was called frankness; injustice, manliness. Conversely, prudence was considered rudeness; tolerance, fear; justice, cowardice; forgiveness, weakness and humility, subservience.

Within this spiritual confusion nothing was clear and firm...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.

Society does not suffer from a lack of shrewd businessmen or from a lack of the literate and educated. It suffers from a lack of virtuous men. It suffers because it has been flooded by the shrewd, who want nothing other than to increase in riches and to live the comfortable life. It suffers because the power-hungry, in their attempt to ascend, overturn order. It suffers because the acquisition of extravagant homes and comforts has become the sole aim of men. To this the illness of society is owed, these things destroys the harmonic social life, not those who live in virtue and holiness. "Those things which are considered superfluous and unimportant are the very things required for the course of our life." This necessary and cohesive "thing" is virtue, spiritual cultivation.

Saint John Chrysostom places great responsibility for Antioch's ethical wantonness in the hands of the theatre, whose programs and topics principally cover the matters of harlotry and adultery, pornographic themes. "For indeed both adulteries and stolen marriages are there, and there are women playing the harlot, men prostituting, youths corrupting themselves: all this is iniquity to the full, all sorcery, all shame," he observes...

Saint John Chrysostom is angered by this situation, "All those things", he says, "are external and of no benefit to the soul. These things do not define a person. The ideal man is measured by his virtue. Virtue is the source of human dignity, honor and glory." He adds the need to "disregard of human values, embracing poverty and overcoming our nature by the virtue of our lives. It is these that constitute good status and reputation and honor…

From the moment of his birth, parents are willing to do everything for their child. Sadly, this "everything" often only includes adorning him, dressing him up, and buying him trinkets; however, it does not include seeking out the proper way in which to raise him. Rather than extracting vices from the child's soul, they introduce the love of money and the care for things that are completely unprofitable. The great shame in this is that it is the childhood years, the early years of development, which are the most suitable time to implant either virtue or vice. It should be concluded then that parents bear great responsibility when they neglect to form their children properly.

Timeliness and Education

Saint John Chrysostom says that the souls of children are soft and delicate like wax. If right teachings are impressed upon them from the beginning then, with time, these impressions harden as in the case of a waxen seal. None will be able to undo this good impression…

Further on in the treatise, Saint John likens the soul of the child to a newly-founded city and parents are likened to the ruler of this city. It is their task to put in place laws and to organize its citizens so that it is not destroyed by malevolent or anarchical factions. Many factions, both good and bad, struggle to gain foothold, securing their domination over the child's soul. The parental task is that of putting childhood laws in place for the new city--an easy task in the childhood years because children are both inexperienced and submissive and therefore are made to conform more easily. With age, however, the task of ordering, of forming his spiritual world, becomes much more difficult.

(To be continued)

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" [St. John Chrysostom]

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

+Father George