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Spiritual Capital of Families

Spiritual capital of families. Raising the children according to St. Paisius the Svyatogorets. Part of 1

July 3 2018
Tags: Religion, Orthodoxy, Children

We all know that today children, like never before, are exposed to all sorts of dangers and all kinds of challenges. And these challenges do not wait for them outside the door of the house, but they have entered the rooms and portfolios of our children to a large extent, because one simple use of computer, Internet or television is sufficient so that everyone can see and learn everything. This our reality, unfortunately, is merciless and inexorable, and whether we like it or not, our children grow up in such an environment, and no matter how we guard them, the danger is every moment beside them. And while they are small and obey us - well, but what will begin when they enter the transitional age or reach adulthood? This is a sore point for most of the indifferent and responsible parents.

The topic I will focus on is the education of children by the elder Paisiy.

On the goodwill of the All-Good God, we were given the blessing to closely know the Monk Elder Paisius, to see him, to listen and, hand to hand, touch the grace of the Holy Spirit that was in him. And now, based on his inspired words and writings, I will try in a few words to tell you what the look of the Monk Elder was in the upbringing of children.

Parenting begins with pregnancy: the mother prays and lives a spiritual life, and the child in her womb is sanctified

Like all saints, Starets Paisius localizes the beginning of the upbringing of children until their birth; the upbringing of children begins with pregnancy, says the elder. If the mother bearing the fruit is nervous and upset, the embryo in her womb is worried. If the mother prays and lives a spiritual life, the child in her womb is sanctified. Therefore, when a woman is pregnant, she must pray, learn little by little the Gospel, sing, stay away from stress, and others should try not to strain her. Then the child who is born will be sanctified, and the parents will not have problems with him, neither when he is small, nor when he grows up [1].

Our Church has always believed, and science today solemnly recognizes her rightness, exploring and reading the genetic code (DNA), that from the very first moment of conception, there is already a perfect person in the mother. Therefore, education should begin with the first moment of the entry of a new man into this world. The Reverend Elder therefore categorically talks about the period of pregnancy, that it is already scientifically recognized by all that the psychological state of the pregnant mother, and even the environment, affects the embryo. Today we even talk about the psychology of the embryo as a science, from which it is clear how important this period of a person's life is in which he begins to receive the first positive and negative seeds of influence while still being an embryo. However, directly on the upbringing of an embryonic person, mainly parents, especially a pregnant mother, are affected.

How many such mothers who have led a holy life and raised consecrated children! This is the mother of the elder Khadzhi-George. Even the milk of this blessed mother, who sucked Gabriel (the worldly name of the elder Haji-George), was ascetic [2].

Parents are responsible for education from embryonic age. If the parents, when the child is still in the womb of the mother, pray, live spiritually, the child will be sanctified, "said the Reverend Father. And if later he is spiritually helped, he will become a consecrated person and will benefit society [3].

If the child's upbringing begins with an embryonic age, then much more it affects when the child is born and will be cared for by the parents. Therefore, parents should be aware of the huge blessing, a huge privilege, but also a great responsibility for becoming the parents of a new man - the image of God in this world. God, says the old man, gave the primordial Adam and Eve a great blessing to become His co-creators. After them, parents, grandparents, etc. too, are co-creators of God, because they give their bodies to the children [4].

Elder Paisius the Sacred and the Children
Elder Paisius the Sacred and the Children

As soon as the mother and father taste the joy of taking the child in their hands, they are immediately responsible for the upbringing of this new man, their child, whose primary goal is to become like his Father, God, freely and wholeheartedly loving Christ, eating grace Holy Spirit in the Holy Sacraments of the Orthodox Church of our Christ. Parents should know that their child, whatever the angel he is, hereditarily carries the consequences of the fall, the distortion of the image of God and the attraction of his whole being to evil things from the very youth. Therefore, as a kind teacher, Reverend Paisii says: parents should spiritually help children when they are small, because then their weaknesses are small and can be easily cut off. They are like a young potato, which, if rubbed, is peeled. When it grows up, you have to take the knife and clean it, but if it turns out to be something black, you'll have to penetrate even deeper [5].

The upbringing of children must be conducted from a small age, because then the soul absorbs good principles and good seeds, which will subsequently give good results. All of us by experience know how much the child's age affects a person's life, so when psychologists examine the numerous psychological problems of a modern person, they always turn to his childhood to find there the causes and traumas that affect his entire remaining life. The parent should know that education is like medical art, which, on the one hand, must be treated by fighting microbes, and on the other - to strengthen the body with the help of medical therapy, so that it functions normally.

Referring to St. Arsenius of Cappadocia, whose life he wrote, the Monk Paisii describes how Saint Arseny used such exercises with children. Apart from the fact that he taught them to read and write as a teacher, who was in the village, the saint parallel to this also humbled their passions and developed courage in them. He taught children and clever prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" - or: "In the name of Christ and the Theotokos," and when they sometimes sinned or committed some kind of dirty trick, he taught them to say: "Sinner Tee, Lord" . He told them and cut pieces of grape twigs, stringed them and made themselves rosaries (like braided beads) to count the prayers and obeisances that everyone had as a rule, and so the children's minds were cleansed with incessant prayer [6].

Note the importance of the feat, so that children can find courage and are not afraid of suffering

Here it is necessary to note the importance of the feat in the case of children, so that they can find courage and not be afraid of suffering, as they will have to gain good, gain virtue. Fearfulness of the soul is a product of self-love, and, according to the holy fathers, self-love is a product of lack of faith.

Thus, Saint Arseny practically helped the children to gain courage so that they could then, thanks to courage, as the elder Paisii below, can subdue their passions and purify the mind by continually invoking the name of our Christ, as well as by bowing to the only true God and our Savior.

It is also very important that the Monk Arseny taught children to place hope and draw strength in the name of Christ and the Mother of God, and also have the courage to humble themselves when they make mistakes, recognize them and correct them by saying, "Sinners, my God." How bad, unfortunately, happens today, when parents constantly try to justify their children from unhealthy love for them, thinking that in this way they give them love, educating them in the illusory world of self-praise and self-justification, which, alas, at some point crush the child when he faces his mistakes and their consequences as an insurmountable wall in our cruel and vengeful reality.

The feat of the upbringing of our Church, based on judiciousness, therapeutically affects the souls of our children, putting limits to their search, fighting with their passions from the very beginning, and purifying the soul and body with the love of our Christ. Of course, in the exploit of raising children, prudence is the main thing, so that it is done with a lot of delicacy and knowledge of the child's possibilities and does not lead to opposite results.

Once the old man was asked:

- Gerond, some mothers ask, what kind of prayer do children of three or four years?

The wise and wise old man replied:

- Tell them: "You're a mother, look at how much your child sustains." Do not act on them according to the prescribed.

- Geronda, and the children, who are led here to the all-night vigils, do not get tired?

- During matins, they should be given a little rest, and at the Divine Liturgy they should take them to the temple. Mothers, so that children do not mischief, should teach them to pray from a young age. Parents should reasonably help children, that they come close to Christ from the tenderest age and experience joys higher, that is, spiritual. And when children start going to school, they need to gradually study some spiritual book, helping to experience it spiritually. Then they will become angels, and with their prayer they will have great boldness before God. Such children are the spiritual capital of families [7].

The virtue of discretion, according to the holy fathers of our Church, is born of humility. Only a humble person can be judicious, because the grace of the Holy Spirit draws his humility, and she enlightens him in deeds. And on the other hand, the humble has no bias or adherence to his position and actions, and therefore he trustingly accepts the will of God, fully respecting the freedom of the other's personality, even if this other is this little child.

The egoist and the proud person do not have enlightenment from God, he is full of obsessions and prejudices, wanting others to become what he wants, he wants to act on his own, and not to happen what is really pleasing to God and useful to his child. Therefore, he makes mistakes, traumatizes the soul of his child, and he begins to show negative results and rebelliousness. Such a person does not want to hear about the freedom of the personality of his child, nor about the limitations of his powers.

The parent-educator himself must go through therapeutic education to be able to properly guide his children. This is what the wise Reverend Elder tells us about this when he was asked:

- Geronda, one mother gives her child holy water, and he spits it out. What should she do?

He replied:

"Pray for the child." Maybe the way she gives the child holy water, causes him to reject the reaction. In order for children to stand on God's way, it is necessary that the parents also live spiritually correctly. Some parents, being religious, try to help children to become good not because they are interested in saving their souls, but because they want them to become good children. They are more concerned with what people will say about their children than they will go to hell. How then will God help them?

And the spiritually free and judicious elder continues, saying:

The goal is not that the children must do good, but in order to feel good as a necessity

- The goal is not that the children must go to church, but to love the church. And not to be sure to do good, but feel it as a necessity. So they grow up pious and with double health [8], without mental trauma. If parents force a child out of fear of God, then God helps and makes the child easier. If parents do this out of selfishness, then God does not help. Often children find it difficult because of parents' pride [9].

Uncritical, excessive love of parents, because it contains selfishness and lack of trust in God, inflicts harm on children, because it replaces correct education and harms instead of serving the good. When the old man was once asked whether even his mother could harm his child with uncritical love, he replied:

- Of course, he can. When, for example, a mother sees that it is difficult for a child to walk, and with the words: "How sorry he is! Poor thing, he can not walk, "he takes in his hands instead of leading the handle a little. How will he learn to walk himself? She, of course, does it out of love, but harms him with her excessive attention.

Love needs some brakes, with judgment. True love is distinguished by disinterestedness, there is no selfishness in it, but there is prudence. Many people think that they love their children, but their attitude leads them to disaster. When a mother, let's say, kisses a child out of excessive love and tells him that "there is no such child in the whole world as mine", she only cultivates pride and unhealthy self-esteem in him. Then the child stops listening to his parents, because he thinks he knows everything [10].

(End)


[1] Paisiy, the elder. The words. T. 4: About family life. The publication of the mr. Evangelist John the Theologian. Suroty; Thessaloniki, 2008. S. 84 (in Greek).

[2] Ibid. S. 90.

[3] Ibid. S. 93.

[4] Ibid. S. 91.

[5] Ibid. S. 91-92.

[6] Paisiy, the elder. Saint Arsenius of Cappadocia. The publication of the mr. Evangelist John the Theologian. Suroty; Thessaloniki, 2008. S. 44-47 (in Greek).

[7] Paisiy, the elder. The words. T. 4. S. 159-161.

[8] Probably, the elder means here spiritual and physical health. - Bolg. trans.

[9] Paisiy, the elder. The words. T. 4. S. 159.

[10] Ibid. S. 159-161.

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