Saturday, May 23, 2020

My Childhood Introduction to the Bible (2 of 5)

...continued from part one

A few years passed, and now I was at a point where I knew many Bible stories at a very basic level, especially from the Old Testament, and they moved me, but I didn't know how to theologically tie it all together. After all, I was in elementary school with no one to really teach me, but I was discovering these things on my own. I was also growing up, had just left all my friends when I moved to a new town and entered a new school, and I was often alone. Then something happened that forever changed my life and tied everything together for me. It had to do with that one part of the Bible I needed to hear that I never understood before.

When I was ten years old, my temperament was somewhat nihilistic and angry. My mind was often occupied with death and the meaning of life. Though I was born and raised a Greek Orthodox Christian, theologically what made most sense to me was that life was but a dream within a dream, that I was living outside of reality, and my real self was some cosmic entity who imagined my present reality; it was all nothing but a figment of my imagination. Trouble often found me, and if my parents punished me for it, then all I could feel was hatred for them. They were even ready to send me to military school, since to them my future was bleak. If left unchecked for long, no doubt I would have grown up to be a model rebellious teenager.

At the time I was forced to attend Greek school twice a week after regular school. The previous year I had a horrible Greek school teacher, who was very verbally abusive to me. This eventually got her fired after it was exposed, but my experience with Greek school was not that great before this, and it just made a bad situation worse. Now I was in the fifth grade, and my teacher was a young seminarian named Yianni (he never gave us his last name) from Greece who was studying at Holy Cross School of Theology. He was actually very kind, patient and had a particular fondness for me. This was because every week for one of the two days he never taught us the Greek language, but instead talked about our Greek Orthodox faith and heritage. To me this was refreshing, and I always listened attentively, while everyone else was practically snoring. This I think is why he liked me so much.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Photo That Shows the Devout Soul of a Fifth Grade Altar Boy

By Metropolitan Amphilochios of Kissamos and Selino

No, it is not edited, nor is it a set-up photo, much more so it is not a "fake", to use a term that has come into our lives, along with the term "coronavirus".

This is Yiannaki, a cute and very smart kid from the 5th grade who is growing up in a blessed family.

Yiannaki came to church on the evening of Palm Sunday, way before the Bridegroom Service was about to begin. We locked the doors of our Cathedral church, and he came into the sanctuary, where I was preparing to begin the Service.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Saint Mary of Egypt (A Children's Version)

St. Mary of Egypt (Feast Day - April 1 & 5th Sunday of Great Lent)

About 500 years after the Resurrection of our Lord, a holy monk by the name of Zosimas lived in a monastery by the Jordan River. He had lived as a monk since childhood and when he was about 50 years old he began to think that he had surpassed all the other monks in virtue and that no one could teach him anything he didn’t already know. To prevent such a prideful thought from taking root, God taught him a lesson.

It was the custom in the monastery that at the beginning of each Great Lent, after Liturgy on Forgiveness Sunday, the monks would cross the Jordan and scatter throughout the desert where they would stay until Palm Sunday. Each monk would spend this time alone before God, in fasting and prayer, without anyone around to praise him for his struggles.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

"We Stay at Home" Children's Choir of the Greek-English Training School Sing the Akathist Hymn

The children's choir known as "Μένει Σπίτι" ("We Stay at Home") from the Greek-English Training School in Marousi of Athens, Greece sang with some parents the Akathist Hymn. Their message for their classmates and for the world is:

"We Stay at Home" and protect those we love! "We Stay at Home" and are NOT afraid! Soon we will all be back together and do rehearsals, assemblies and many trips! A Good Pascha to the whole world!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

My Childhood Introduction to the Bible (1 of 5)

By John Sanidopoulos

My family never had a family Bible. In fact, the Bible played no role in my upbringing. I was a typical Greek Orthodox Christian kid, who went to church once or twice a month, with the summer months off completely. I went to Greek School twice a week throughout elementary school, and Sunday School only for about two years. When I was around 6 or 7 years old my mother removed me from Sunday School and made a special request to my priest to have me serve in the altar as an altar boy. Typically you had to be at least 12 or 13 to be an altar boy, but my priest made the exception and I began to serve in the altar. I was relieved, because I was bored of coloring in sketches from the Bible which had little to no meaning, and drawing figures of three crosses on a hill. The altar was much more exciting, because I was at the center of the action, and I got to hang around mostly high school kids, even though the two main altar servers were bullies.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Should a Child Fast?

The question of the title concerns many parents who want to fast during these days, but do not know what to do and more so, if a young child can follow the fast. In the scientific article below you will be informed about whether a child could and should (from a medical standpoint) fast, from what age, and if there is any risk. Lastly you will read about the benefits of fasting for the organism of a child.

By Chrysanthis Lathira, pediatrician

We are in the days of Lent and many Greek families are fasting, that is, they are abstaining from meat and anything derived from animals. When asked if children can fast and if this practice can cause health problems, I say yes, children can follow the fast of their parents, especially during school age, that is, after the 5th or 6th year of their life.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Message to Orthodox Youth for Great Lent from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Inviting Orthodox young people to participate in the spiritual struggles of Great Lent, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed the following words to them:

"Fasting and asceticism are not externally imposed heteronomous disciplines, but a voluntary respect for ecclesiastical practice, an obedience to the Tradition of the Church, which is not a dead letter, but a living and life-creating presence, a timeless expression of the unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity of the Church.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Three Hierarchs and the Upbringing of Children

By Monk Moses the Athonite

According to the most-wise Basil the Great, the first seven years of a person's life is particularly important for the subsequent course their upbringing receives. According to the divine Chrysostom, the upbringing of children should not be exhausted in learning through an education and the arts but in the adornment of the virtuous soul with godliness. He insists that this will be achieved as long as the soul is flexible and can be appropriately shaped and inspired.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

St. Ignatius the God-Bearer, the Child That Christ Presented as a Model for All

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to himself, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, such is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:1-4)

According to an ancient tradition, Saint Ignatius, the second Bishop of Antioch, was the child whom Christ took and presented to the apostles as the example of the one who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. From that day the child, who was most beloved by the Savior and favored with the divine embrace, was also marked as the one upon whom lions would feast in Rome. He did this because he loved Christ above all since he was a child.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Children Should Be Raised To Be Faithful To the End No Matter What: The Example of the Mother of St. Clement of Ancyra

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

In our day, you usually hear these words from parents: "We want to secure the life of our child." That is why they work very hard to amass wealth, often unjustly, to educate their child in the calling [vocation] which brings the greatest physical security and material benefit. This is done by so-called Christians! They do this because their concept of a real life and the real security of life is erroneous. See, how a true Christian mother prepares her son for a real life. At the time of her death, Blessed Euphrosyne spoke to her son Clement of Ancyra (Jan. 23):

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Saint Basil and our Spiritual Roots

By Protopresbyter Vasilios Kalliakmanis

Whenever there’s mention of Saint Basil, we always highlight his studies in Athens, his ascetic life in Pontus, his lack of possessions, his contributions to society, and his literary oeuvre. It’s certainly true that the author of that outstanding theological text, the Divine Liturgy, distinguished himself as a diligent student, charismatic ascetic, selfless social worker and consummate writer.

What may not be so widely known is that, apart from that of his parents, an important role in the upbringing of the leading ecumenical teacher was played by his grandmother. Recalling his grandmother, Saint Basil the Great says: "Macrina the famous, through whom we were taught the words of the most blessed Gregory." Grandmother Macrina transfused the spirit of life into her grandchildren. She passed on the experience which she had drawn from Saint Gregory the Wonderworker of New Caesarea.