Each member of the family should have their own patron saint's icon. A wonderful practice from ancient times is to have a family icon written so that all their patron saints are represented in the same icon.
The family should try as best they can to have dinner together every night of the week. Watching TV while eating dinner is a very bad idea, for the meal should be the time when the parents can talk to their children about school, or other activities. In these modern times there are almost always school or work related activities that don't always allow everyone to be together for that all important family meal, but every effort should be made to make this happen as often as possible. The blessing of the food, with the father or mother making the sign of the cross over the meal with their fingers together as they do when blessing oneself, should never be avoided. If we always say a blessing over our food at home and give thanks to God for all He has given us, we are more likely to do so when at school or in a restaurant.
We've all seen those bumper stickers that read, "Kill Your TV". Television and the overuse of the Internet are wreaking havoc on family life. Don't allow these foreign invaders into your home to replace Christ as head of your household. Bad habits are hard to overcome, so replacing these with communal time in the living room may be hard at first, but is necessary for the basic foundation of any Christian home.
Guard your home from other invaders as well. Magazines and other reading material should be appropriate for the Christian home. If you'd not want your priest to see a magazine or book in your home, it shouldn't be there in the first place. The music played in the home should also be uplifting and devoid of profanity and vulgarity.
Regular family meetings where everyone has an opportunity to talk about things and where the atmosphere is loving, open and safe, help create trust and a sense of security for everyone. It is natural for parents to argue on occasion, but this should never take place in front of children. They need to feel secure. Boys need to see their fathers as icons of Christ in the home, demonstrating the biblical image of a husband and father. You men need, for the sake of your children, to give witness to the importance of prayer and church attendance. Statistically, children whose father is a church goer are far more likely to stay in church as adults. Don't leave spiritual instruction up to your wives. You will be held accountable before the Throne of God for your children.
Men should not let their wives do all the house cleaning and cooking. In an age where both husband and wife often need to hold down jobs in order to make ends meet, a woman's work is not just household work. She should not have to come home from work and be expected to do all the housework and cooking by herself. Men need to teach their children by example to help around the house.
Children should be given a small allowance (according to age) so they can learn to manage money, and an important part of money managing is the tithe. The biblical command to give ten percent of one's income back to God is almost never taught in the Orthodox Church, which is why so many clergy are given such meager salaries, and parishes have to hold church festivals. When we fail to tithe we are stealing from God! A child who tithes ten percent of his allowance will grow into an adult Orthodox Christian who tithes.
These are basic suggestions for creating an Orthodox home. If you begin to implement these suggestions, the Lord will reward you with a family that stands strong and your children will grow up as spiritually healthy Christians, grounded in biblical teachings and moral fortitude. Your grandchildren will, in return, be raised with the same biblical principles and you will be the most blessed grandparents on your block!
With love in Christ,
Thursday October 20, 2011 / October 7, 2011
19th Week after Pentecost.
St. Jonah, bishop of Manchuria (1925).
New Hieromartyr Priest Valentine Sventsitsky of Moscow (1931) and Priest Nicholas Kazansky (1931).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1942).
Venerable Sergius the Obedient of the Kiev Caves (13th c.).
Venerable Sergius, abbot of Nurma (Vologda) (1412) , disciple of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh.
20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Striving and Suffering for Christ27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
17 And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.
John the Baptist Sends Messengers to Jesus18 Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things. 19 And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
20 When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’” 21 And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.
22 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
24 When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written:
‘ Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
28 For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
29 And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.