April 10th

“With us everything should be secondary compared to our concern with children, and their upbringing in the instruction and teaching of the Lord.” – St. John Chrysostom

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
God bless you and your families. It was such a pleasure to see the Sunday School room filled with so many children last week. I am so happy to let you know that the kids have chosen a play and have assigned themselves roles. They did great practicing, and showed grace in thinking of their friends who were not able to be there. Parishioner Angelica Oprea has graciously donated material for us to be able to make costumes for the play. So I am asking for any talented souls, who would like to help with the process, to please contact me and let me know. I look forward to seeing all of you at liturgy.
Your servant in God,
Lia Oprea

The Children’s Word

Presbytera Mari Mars offers a few tips on helping your child grow in their relationship with Christ in order to become a faithful Orthodox Adult.

In my former position as youth coordinator of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta, there was one thing that I learned early on which motivated me for the duration of my tenure in the position, and still motivates me today. It sent chills up my spine. It was the indicator that we have to turn the tide, change the direction of how we are raising our children. It was that scary picture that made everyone gasp when you’d tell them. As told to us by our Archdiocese, two recent studies (one by the Pew forum and one by the Patriarch Athenagoras Institute) indicated that 60% OF OUR ORTHODOX CHILDREN ARE LEAVING THE CHURCH and never returning to the Orthodox Faith. Scary, right?

Every time I would mention this to someone, I would get the question, “so how do I prevent it?” There are certainly no magic pills that will ensure your child grows up with a strong, devout faith in Christ through His Orthodox Church. But that doesn’t mean we can abdicate our responsibility to GOYA or the priest, either, to ensure that our Orthodox Children become Orthodox adults. It is our job to raise them in the faith. In which case…

There are a few specific things that you can include in the raising of your children which would help them build a strong foundation of faith and a lasting relationship with God.

MOST IMPORTANT (take notes here):
Pray for your children
Every day, all the time pray for your children. Open an ongoing dialogue with God about your child, what they are facing, what they are going through. Give your child back to God (after all, they do belong to Him!). Ask the Theotokos, or Saints Joachim and Anna to help you as a parent. Ask God that He help you to raise your children to His glory. Ask Him to fill their hearts with His love… You get the idea.

Speaking of prayer… You know the old saying: the family that prays together stays together! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Praying at meals, and spending a few minutes in the morning and before bedtime saying the Lord’s Prayer, thanking God for the people in your life and the good things (and don’t forget to thank him for the challenges, too!), and asking for what your family needs are good places to start.

Take your children to Church
Also imperative, of course, is to take your children to Church. And when I say this, I don’t mean walk in the door before right before communion, walk up, receive communion, and walk out, as though it’s a drive thru. This is an unfortunate practice of some parents who are afraid to come for the entire service for fear the kids will misbehave. Go for the whole bit! Arrive at the Doxology! Leave after coffee hour! If you need help with how to manage and engage your kids (because engaging is part of your responsibility, otherwise what’s the point of coming to Church? They can color and play with dolls at home), see our article about tips for engaging kids in Church. It’s located here: Time to Go to Church: A Time to Fear and Dread?

Talk to your kids about God
Many parents think that this is not their place, that the Church should do the talking. But one priest in a parish of 200 or 500 or 1000 families can’t possibly talk to your children as much as you can. And the example that they need to learn from is yours. If they ask a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t worry. Find the answer together by using the resources the Church offers (like your priest or Church websites). Either way, just engage them in discussion about their experiences in Church, about what they prayed for today, about how God helped them today… Anything having to do with their faith and God. Talking to your kids about God will raise their perception so that they are able to see God in all things.

Emphasize the right set of priorities and stick to your guns
There are so many extracurricular activities and distractions that take us away from the life of the Church. For instance, soccer leagues that travel on Sundays for games… Which is the priority, soccer or Church? Now, understand that my Dad was a semi-pro soccer player, coached soccer, and I played soccer growing up. I’m not hating on soccer. But, when facing this choice, ask yourself this question: When my child is 35 and struggling with the challenges that life inevitably brings with it (like marital problems), which is going to help them- their relationship with God, or soccer?
We often forget to think long term or to see the big picture. We see the benefits of soccer as an extracurricular activity that looks good on a college transcript or might even provide a college scholarship. But we neglect to look BEYOND that and realize that the most important investment in our child is the long term investment we make in their journey through life to salvation. Remember that your child will learn by modeling from your decision. Will they learn to prioritize their relationship with God or with soccer?

If we all, as Orthodox Christians, did these simple things: pray for our children, pray with our children, talk about God more, and go to Church more, then the world would be a very different place. We would see that 60% dwindle to nothing. May our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ give us all the wisdom and discernment to guide our children to a life in Him!

Suggested Weekly Activities

SundayApril 10
St John of the Ladder Take 5 minutes of silence to pray about how much God loves you
Saint John Climacus
The Holy Martyrs of Kvabtakhevi Convent
9:00 am Orthos
10:00 am Divine Liturgy
11:15 am Sermon
11:30 am Sunday School
12:00 pm Coffey Hour
1:00 pm General Assembly

MondayApril 11
Play with someone who feels left out
Saint Barsanuphius, Bishop of Tver
Tuesday April 125
Draw a picture of your saint or feast day by looking at an icon
“Muromsk” Iocn of the Mother of God
Deposition of the Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos
From Zela to Constantinopole
WednesdayApril 13
Say a special prayer for your priest
Martyrs Quintilian, Maximus, and Dada at Dorostolum

Thursday April 14
Choose a toy you don’t play with and donate it
Martyrs Anthony, John and Eustathius of Vilnius

FridayApril 15
Sing Victorious Lady in your prayers
Saint Basil of Poiana Marului

SaturdayApril 16
Ask for God to protect your house
Tell someone you hurt that you are sorry

Saints Virgin- Martyrs Agape, Irene and Chionia in Illyria
9:00 am Orthos
10:00 am Divine Liturgy
6:00 pm Great Vespers
6:45 pm Confession

Prayer

Prayer: Parents for their Children
O God, our heavenly Father, Who lovest mankind, and art most merciful and compassionate, have mercy upon our children, Thy servants, (their names), for whom I humbly pray Thee, and commend them to Thy gracious protection. Be Thou, O God, their guide and guardian in all their endeavors; lead them in the path of Thy truth, and draw them near to Thee, that they may lead a godly and righteous life in Thy love and fear; doing Thy will in all matters. Give them grace that they may be temperate, industrious, diligent, devout and charitable. Defend them against the assaults of the enemy, and grant them wisdom and strength to resist all temptation and corruption of this life; and direct them in the way of salvation, for the merits of Thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and the intercessions of His Holy Mother, and Thy blessed saints. Amen.

Questions for older students

  1. What did we learn about the Son of Man when we read Matthew 25:31-41 (The Last Judgment) five weeks ago?
  2. What does the Son of Man do according to that gospel? When does he do it?
  3. What do we find out about the Son of Man in this Gospel?
  4. Why is it significant that the one who separates the people one from another is also the one who will be mocked and killed by them?
  5. The gospel from February talks about the Son of Man coming in his glory. What would it mean if his coming in glory were his being mocked and killed?
  6. Who do we know did all these things? Do you think his death on the cross was his coming in glory? Why or why not?
  7. We are working on a show for Pascha celebration. Please practice with your student at home, once they receive their material. I will keep you posted.

Other Resources:

Orthodox board on Pinterest: Orthodoxy >

Reminders:

Please fill out a Sunday School application.
While all children at any time are welcome to participate, it would greatly help us to have the
forms filled out for accountability purposes. We also have Stuartship cards next to them.