My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE SIFNIFICANCE OF FAMILY AND PERSONAL LEGACY
When we, Orthodox Christians, remember and speak of a good, godly, and devout person which we have known, but who has fallen asleep in the Lord, we say, "of blessed memory!" How wonderful it is to remember one in this manner. When we recall his or her life, we recount how we were inspired by them, by their good Christian example, faith, life, virtue, kindness, and compassion. Although many years had elapsed, people were still impacted by their works, which they found inspiring. Other ways which we remember our fellow Orthodox Christians is at funeral and memorial divine services, and the chanting of the Church hymn, ‘memory eternal!’ It is most important how one is remembered from one generation to another, and the legacy that person passes down to others.
We recall how Elizabeth greeted Mary with these words: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, THAT THE MOTHER OF MY LORD should come to me?" (Luke 1: 42, 43). Mary herself, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, predicted the honor that would be paid her throughout history: "FOR BEHOLD, HENCEFORTH ALL GENERATIONS WILL CALL ME BLESSED" (Luke 1:48). Indeed, Her prediction came true, and although over two thousand years have passed, the Church continues to honor, praise, and bless the Mother of God with abundant love and reverence.
It has been the practice from the early Church to remember, honor, and memorialize Patriarchs, Prophets, righteous kings and queens, and venerable men and women of the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the Church honors the Holy Apostles, holy Martyrs, holy Fathers, holy Mothers, holy Confessors, Venerable Witnesses, holy Patriarchs, Bishops, Monks, Nuns, and countless Saints; holy Men, Women, and children throughout many centuries. Their holy lives, martyrdoms, sacred writings, and examples continue to inspire, guide, and comfort us today. What a priceless and extraordinary legacy they have left us to emulate for the sake of Christ.
One of the great holy Fathers of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom, emphasizes parental responsibility toward their children. He advises that "the spiritual cultivation of the children must not be neglected." Furthermore, he does not hasitate to call this neglect toward the cultivation of virtue in the souls of children ‘criminal.’ Indeed, when it comes to the young people of today, other more popular programs like academics, athletics, and social activities take precendence and priority. Hardly any serious consideration is given to the spiritual needs of the person and his soul. It is true that in the strictly secular society which they are raised, there is no interest whatsoever in such thinngs as character, values, selfless love, virtue, decency, dignity, respect, faith in God, wisdom, compassion for the poor and destitute, and to think about and care for others. Also, the children are no longer taught to discern right from wrong, good or bad, or what is sacred and what is evil.
The total responsibility falls sqarely on the shoulders of the parents of these children to teach them our Christian faith, Christian values, Christian virtue, and how to form a good Christian character. Parents need to teach children how to trust in God, to pray, to love their fellow man, to care for the poor, to discern right from wrong, to have self-respect, to attend faithfully their local parish church, to observe the teachings of our Orthodox Christian Faith, to be humble, to strive always to make a difference in the world they live in, and to be responsible and willing to work hard for themselves and their family. Children must be taught that there is indeed a devil and temptation, that there is Heaven and Hell, and that there is Eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Parents must teach children who our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ is and of His Great Sacrifice on the Cross to save all of mankind from evil and death. Children must be taught how to be obedient to His commandments, how to study the Holy Bible and to use it daily, how to prepare to receive the Sacraments of the Church and what they mean, and how to be an instrument of peace and reconcilation, etc. This is the true legacy!
Do not think that it is impossible for Christians to have a spiritual life in this very unholy world. There are countless men, women and children who practice their Orthodox Christian Faith faithfully and ceaselessly every day throughout the world. They live good and reverent lives, they fast, they pray, they worship frequently, they participate in the Sacraments of the Church, they honor the holy days throughout the year, they participate in the sacrament of Repentance and Confession, they say the Jesus prayer no matter what they are doing, they read the Lives of the Saints and the study the Holy Scripture. Yes, it can be done, and it is done by millions of Orthodox Christian, even more so during very difficult and threatening conditions. It simply takes faith, discpline, commitment, and trust in our Savior Jesus Christ, Who is ever-present and Who loves us unconditionally.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God