“Never deem it an unnecessary thing that children should be a diligent hearer of the divine Scriptures. For there the first thing they hear will be this: ‘Honour thy father and thy mother’. So then, this is for you. Never say, ‘This is the business of monks’. Am I making a monk of him? No, there is no need he should become a monk. Why be so afraid of a thing so replete with so much advantage? Make him a Christian. For it is of all things necessary for laymen to be acquainted with the lessons derived from Scripture, but especially for children.… How is it not absurd to send children out to trades and to school, and to do all you can for these objectives, and yet, not to “Bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord?”… Let us give them a pattern. Let us make them from the earliest age apply themselves to the reading of the Scriptures…. Study not to make him an orator, but train him up to be a [Christian] philosopher. In the want of the one there will be no harm whatever; in the absence of the other, all the rhetoric in the world will be of no advantage…. I do not say this to prevent you teaching him these things, but to prevent your attending to them exclusively. Do not imagine that the monk alone stands in need of these lessons from Scripture. Of all others, the children just about to enter into the world especially need them.” (St John Chrysostom – Homily XXI Ephesians)
Scripture is not only for Church
In a recent article, I wrote about sacramentalising and living your faith at home. This is important to building your own domestic Church and helping your family get more out of the Church Liturgy. As St John Chrysostom emphasises in the quote above, the reading of scripture at home is not only for forming children for priestly or monastic vocation’s, it is an important tool to prepare them for the world. We invest so much into educating our children to prepare them for their worldly vocations, however how much are we investing in preparing them for their spiritual vocation, the vocation that will lead them on their journey to eternal life in their heavenly home.
One important and beautiful routine to establish is to read the upcoming Sunday Gospel at dinner during the week. This is excellent preparation for the family to better understand the Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgical season and to introduce scripture into the home. It inspires opportunity to discuss the Gospel and to form Christian values. It also prepares children for Sunday Liturgy so that children have at least heard the Gospel before they get to Church and the homily will have more meaning.
If you have not cultivated this routine in your home, it is never too late to start and now is an excellent time to start. The Gospel’s leading up to Christmas are joyful and exciting for children. Over the next 6 weeks we will give you the references to the Gospel and Epistle for the upcoming week. We have also written short articles explaining the Liturgy for that week to better understand the context of the Gospel and the relevant Liturgy.
We will also link you to the relevant icon for each week so you can print it out and use as a focus point with the Gospel. Icons are a great educative tool which reveal the message of the Gospel. Place the icons in a prominent position for the week together with a candle, holy water, flowers or incense. Beauty has its home in God. Accessorise God.