by St. Sebastian Dabovich
The responsibility of parents for their children is very great. They are, in fact, the earthly guardians in custody of the children of Almighty God, their Heavenly Father. Teach the little ones. Yet before their minds are capable of retaining impressions—speak to their hearts, mold them to the form of the beautiful and holy. Make over them the sign of the life-giving Cross. Teach them to distinguish from other pictures a painting of our good Lord, or His Holy Mother, and some Biblical sketch. At first, the child may not know, but it can easily be made to feel that God always sees it, when it is naughty, etc. While He was on earth, working out for us our salvation, the Son of God said :
Suffer the little children to come me, for of such is the Kingdom of God, (Luke 18:16.)
Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in heaven their angels do alleluias behold the face of My Father which is in Heaven.
The teaching of the Gospel plainly tells us that the children of the Select have their angels in heaven, which —as their representatives—can rejoice on their account, as well as they can become offended for any wrong done to them. When it becomes possible for you to teach your little children to pray together with the angels, then you will experience a better change in the moral and spiritual, condition of your family.
Ah, yes ! Parents are ever anxious over their children ! They give much of their strength, of their time, and of their money in order to make of their children mechanics, merchants, laborers, artists. Some—but not many—add to this their patriotic zeal, so as to give to their country good citizens. This is necessary, and very good. But do we not also see around us great abuse in the education and bringing up of children ? We now and then see children, dressed in fine and soft clothing, who do not know how to greet a friend, or who have no consideration whatever for an old person.
Yes, luxury has harmed many a son and cursed the life of many a daughter.
If you are Christians, then give your children, above all, a Christian education. Many books and papers are now printed which sell for little money. Do not allow them to select their own reading. The food for their minds must be given with great discrimination, else they develop passions, false characters, and, with their poisoned minds, create disturbances in society. Does it not make you feel happy when any one praises you, or your children, and exclaims,
“What a clever person! What a beautiful person!”
This happiness is not enough for the Church. She strives to give us a higher name ; she strives to instruct her children so, that when each one of them is looked upon, one who cannot read will be able to read in their faces and actions their holy name: A man of God, a noble Christian woman! And those which do not shine with the light of God’s life within them are not Christians at heart.
“Ah! I do not think”, says St. John Chrysostom, “that there are many among the priests which will be saved. I think, rather, there are many more among them which will be condemned ” Therefore, the holy Church, which is also anxious for her ministers, requires the aid of parents in giving their children a wholesome Christian education. Especially the sponsors—i. e. the godfather and godmother—are responsible for the moral and religious welfare of their children according to the Spirit. Living together in the Church of God, with all the opportunities before us today, let us hope that the words of the holy prophet will be fulfilled for us also: “I will pour my spirit upon your seed, and my blessing upon your offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses. One shall say, I am the Lord’s, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord.”
– from St. Sebastian Dabovich, ‘How the Church Cares for Her Sheep and Lambs’, 1898