In the House of the Lord: A Prayerful Home

 Virginmartyr Justina of Nicomedia

Virginmartyr Justina of Nicomedia

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

Books at Home

Elder (Saint) Paisios the Athonite--+1994

"Parents should be careful as to what books they have at home, because they might fall into the hands of their children and they may suffer harm. Have only Christian books at home. [There are, of course, books that are of great value that are not Christian. Just be sure that you know what your children are reading.] When young children read the Lives of the Saints they are greatly benefited. As a result of their simplicity, they have a lot of faith. In this way they cultivate good habits. When one begins the spiritual life from a young age, even from elementary school, he has the most joyous life. This is because, while young, he is free of worldly cares. He also develops good habits and continues in them."


Beginning to Pray

The first time I met an Abbess (Egoumenisa or Gerontisa), I asked her: "How do I teach my young children how to pray?" She said, "Teach them the Lord's Prayer, the 50[51] Psalm, and the Creed (Symbol of Faith). Teach them the Jesus Prayer (O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.) and let them see you pray and make prostrations (Metanoies)."


Let Love Reign in Your Home

Elder (Geronta) Aimilianos of Simonopetra

"Show your martyr's spirit in the daily arena of your life, in your home, with your husband, with your wife. When your husband comes home tired from work, and speaks to you without being polite, don't get angry. If he swears at you, don't answer him back. Show him love, tolerance, patience. If your wife burnt the food don't shout at her; eat it. Put a little lemon juice on it to make it more tasty and tell her it is fine. Let love reign in your house. When you see that your spouse has wronged you, don't start shouting about how much you are in the right. It doesn't matter what is correct, but what the other person wants. Get out of the way. Deny yourself. Put the other person first. This is life-bestowing death; this is soul-saving martyrdom.


Prayer Instructions for Children

Abbot (Egoumenos or Geronta) Theodosius of Optina, Translated by Mary Mansur

"I wish, children to talk to you about prayer. Do you know how to train yourself to pray? First, you must pray a little, but as often as possible. Prayer is like a spark: in time it can turn into a great flame, but in order to kindle this flame you must have untiring zeal, and you must also have time and skill. Let us take for example two pieces of coal: one is red-hot, and the other cold. Try to kindle the cold one with the other. What must you do? You must put the cold one next to the red-hot one. But simply to place them together is not enough to make the cold piece of coal red-hot, unless you constantly and gently blow the cold piece will not begin to burn, and your efforts will be in vain. But if you blow on the burning coal constantly and not too hard, then soon your entire piece of coal which was placed next to it will become itself red-hot. Then not only will these two pieces burn, but if you separate them one from the other a certain distance, everything that you place between them will also catch, and then it can spread into a whole sea of flame.

But just think how much time is needed to light a stove of wet wood or to ignite and fan a damp piece of coal--how much time, effort, patience and, most of all, perseverance! And so, I would say to you my children: prayer is a fire; and even more I say: it is a burning coal, while our hearts are dead coals. For this reason we must pray every day. This is the same as placing the dead coal of our hearts next to the burning coal of prayer and blowing on it a little at a time. Believe me, children, if you listen to me and pray just a little every day, but consistently, then your hearts will become ignited by the love of the Divine flame. But take care not to pray simply in moments of inspiration--do not just scatter sparks from the burning coal of prayer. Remember that after such outbursts laziness follows, and it is not by sparks that you will ignite your hearts...

"...Pray, children, pray more often. Forgive those who offend you, and the God of peace will be with you always. Every evening and every day, repent before the Lord for whatever sins you have committed, and implore His Goodness and try not to sin in this way any more; and if somehow you fall again into sin, again straightway repent and say: "Lord, I have sinned, have mercy on me and help me to change my ways." And He will forgive you and help you to change. Pray more often to God, children, and He will save you."(Source: Orthodox Christian Parenting: Cultivating God's Creation by Zoe Press).

[Next: Looking Inward]


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


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

+Father George