[Part 10 of a 10 part series of book notes
taken from On the Upbringing of Children by Bishop IRENAIUS]
Let the Little Children Come Unto Me
“‘Let the little children come unto Me’ are the words of the Lord from Luke 18:16. This is exactly the duty of Christian parents. The obligations of father and mothers is to lead their children to the Saviour Christ.” (p55)
This is achieved when parents bring their children into contact with the Saviour Christ through faith in Him and the Sacraments of the Holy Church, and if they teach them to love Him warmly and obey His words.
If children do not have good [upbringing] the main responsibility belongs to the parents. How?
- God blessed the union of man and woman with an unbreakable bond.
- This love in marriage is intended to raise children and lead them toward the good.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ exalted marriage to a sacrament, giving to parents assistance of divine grace which is indispensable if they are to fulfill the duty of raising their children right.
- God gave the child himself a guardian angel.
- By the sacrament of Baptism He washed the child’s soul of original sin.
- By the sacrament of Chrismation He furnished him with special powers of grace, so that, with the support of the parents, every seed of good would bring forth “much fruit”.
- Finally, by the sacrament of Holy Communion, the little child is united mystically with the same Lord, is strengthened in his spiritual life, and receives a pledge of eternal life.
“What more can God do to aid the efforts of parents?” (p57)
Usually evil comes from parents who give a bad example…[some] children become filled with vices before they even know what a vice is!
- One can make what one wants of a small child.
- His soul is like soft wax — it can receive the imprint of God’s image as easily as that of the devil. And which imprint he will receive depends on his upbringing.
Some Objections Answered
- My child has bad inclinations – it is the job of the parents to train children against such inclinations.
- My children have bad influences – it is the job of the parents to watch the company their children keep.
- The spirit of the age is subversive – True, but it is the job of the parents to block influences of the culture where they can and not give approval to it in their own lives and attitudes – especially the father who will set a tone in the home. Analogy: When the wind is blowing cold outside, we shut the windows. If parents do not respect the authority of God and His holy Church, how will the children respect the parents authority?
“Therefore, parents, if you don’t want the destructive spirit of the age to infect your children, protect yourselves from its influence first of all, applying consistently the Law of God and the teaching of the Orthodox Church.” (p60)
About the book…
“It was not that long ago that pious parents raised their children to become Saints, to serve God in this world and the next. Perhaps only two generations ago, parents were still raising Saints in Orthodox countries. But the success of anti-Christianity in our time has been so complete that concern for one’s own salvation is considered, at best, a harmless eccentricity, while concern for one’s children’s salvation is sometimes even considered dangerous by forward-looking educators…To parents struggling in this cold modern climate, we off a small book of timeless guidance on how to teach virtues to children. The homilies in this book were originally published in Russia in 1901. The times have changed considerably since then, but human nature has not. We still have the age-old struggle with the passions, the world, and the fallen spirits. We must still strive to train out own and our children’s souls to the high ideals of holiness given us by Christ. May God grant that this book may assist parents in their difficult and delicate task of raising children fit for His Kingdom.
– St. Xenia Skete (October 13/26, 1991)