When we try to teach our children about God and we can’t seem to find the right words, let us not insist too much on explaining; rather, let ourselves be inspired by God and by the child’s very mind, because we will be able to help our children not only through our words about God, but also by simply dwelling in Him. One can talk about God without necessarily mentioning His name.
The best educational methods make it a point, above all, to teach children how to learn. There is a saying that goes: “Give your son a fish and he will eat fine today. But teach him how to use a fishing rod and he will eat well all his life.” It is in the same way that we should look upon our role as Christian parents and educators. Let us inspire our children the love for God, whilst showing them at the same time how to find out for themselves God’s will. If we teach children to love God and his Saints, then “all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
In the Christian families (especially in priests’ families), children suffer sometimes from what we might call an “indigestion”, because of an excessive talking about God and churchly matters. It is possible for these children to continue to listen to such conversations out of mere politeness, but we can see and feel that they are no longer interested in hearing people talk about God, that they’ve had enough of the topic. In school, during religion classes, when we notice great differences between children, depending on their ability and willingness to learn about God, we can cause them great spiritual harm if we don’t address every one of them according to his/her ability to understand. Let us try to inspire their interest but without forcing them. Each child may be more spiritually receptive in some moments than in others.
Mother Magdalena – excerpt from “Sfaturi pentru o educatie ortodoxă a copiilor de azi” (“Advice for an Orthodox Education of Today’s Children”)
– Father, what does it mean when they say that God tempts us through humility and charity, when we are humble and charitable?
– It is not God who does that; but the enemy, the enemy is the one who tempts us. If we are charitable, well, after we have done anything virtuous, the enemy’s voice will follow, whispering into our hears: “Good…! you’ve done good!” That is what the psalm says: “Let them be ashamed and confounded… Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.”*.
St. Silouan says that it is very hard for man to learn how to keep the Grace, because as soon as one receives it, the tempter says: “Oh, wow…! you have received the Grace…! But why have you received it?… I think it’s because you are charitable and because you have fasted…!” – and so on and so forth. That is what goes on in one’s soul in such situations. Therefore, it is not God that does that. God allows the enemy to tempt us; therefore, after every little good deed that we have done, we’d better be sure that we will be tempted.
I, too, met Father Paisie Olaru, during my pilgrimages to Sihăstria Monastery and the Sihla Skete, together with my schoolmates and above all, with regretted Father and Professor Constantin Galeriu, such a brilliant guide in searching and discovering spiritual treasures.
During my studies at the School of Theology in Bucharest, being advised by experts to read the sacred texts in their original language and in my effort to acquire as many languages as possible, at one point I got to an acute existential crisis, one that made me question the meaning of my life. Tired, confused, I decided to do a complete confession (starting with my childhood) before the worthiest Spiritual Father I have ever met, Father Paisie Olaru.
In one of my personal discussions with Father Archimandrite Nicodim Sachelarie, he said: “Father Paisie and Father Cleopa are true monks and great spiritual confessor fathers. Many others would do well to find something else to do.”
So I bought train tickets in Bucharest, to go to Moldavia. Although I rushed to catch the train, I missed it. Annoyed by the incident and full of impatience, I returned to the ticket desk and decided to take the next train that was leaving Bucharest, even if I had to tour around the entire Romania. So I took the next train, which followed the route Brasov – Ciceu – Onesti – Adjud – Bacău – Piatra-Neamt, then I took the bus. I walked all the way up from Agapia to Sihla. I had written down several letter-sized pages, in tiny handwriting, in order to make a confession that would be as detailed as possible before the holy man. Continue reading →