[Part 5 of a series from Raising them Right, a sub-book extracted from The Path to Salvation by St. Theophan the Recluse]
The Years of Youth
One cannot define just when a person comes to awareness of himself as being a Christian and to the independent resolve to live in a Christian way.
Instruction and the Goal during Years of Youth
- One must preserve young students, just like infants, by means of the piety of everything surrounding them, by means of Church life and the Mysteries; and likewise one must act upon their body, soul and spirit.
- Let instruction be so arranged that it will be evident what is the main point and what is secondary.
- Let the study of faith be the chief thing.
- Let the best time be assigned to works of piety, and in case of conflict let them take the first place over learning.
- Let approval be given not only for success in learning, but likewise for faith and good behavior.
- In general one must so dispose the mind of pupils that they do not lose the conviction that our chief work is the pleasing of God, and that learning is a secondary quality, something incidental, which is good only during the present life.
- Every kind of learning which is taught to a Christian should be penetrated with Christian principles, and more precisely, Orthodox ones.
- Christian principles are true beyond doubt. Therefore, without any doubting, make them the general measuring-stick of truth.
- The chief aim of a Christian upbringing:
- That a man as a result of this might say within himself that he is a Christian.
- The “Yoke of Christ” means:
- More than infant baptism, rather one must consciously place upon oneself the good yoke of Christ.
- Choose the life of Christianity.
- Exclusively dedicate oneself to God, so that later one might serve Him with enthusiasm all the days of one’s life.
How good and saving it is not only to be directed in a Christian way in one’s upbringing, but also later to acknowledge oneself and decide to be a Christian before entering upon the years of mature youth.