Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Powerful Influence a Mother Has Over Her Child (Part 4)

The mothers of all great and virtuous men serve as brilliant examples for
us. Such shinning models are the mothers of the three great hierarchs, St. Basil
the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom.
Desiring to give their children the best possible education and to refine
their mind through Hellenistic wisdom and science, they did not hesitate to hand
over their sons to idolater instructors, in order for them to suitably develop and
grow intellectually. They were not afraid of the professors’ heterodoxy because
they had self-assurance: they were certain that (through their personal example)
their own love for true education and their own fervent zeal for the Christian faith
had entirely been channeled into and completely inundated the hearts of their
children. They knew that nothing would be capable of shaking the principles and
convictions their sons had concerning the Christian faith because they had been
diligently established and built upon a rock!
Consequently, Nona and Amelia, the good and virtuous mothers of St.
Basil and St. Gregory, sent their sons to Athens: to the center not only of
education and enlightenment but also of idolatry—where the religion of the
Gentiles with all its accompanying grandeur was firmly rooted. And indeed, their
convictions were not proven wrong. Both young students had within the depth of
their hearts the flame of faith in Christ, and they remained uninfluenced
throughout the entire duration of their studies. They were neither shaken by the
teachings of the sophists who systematically battled Christianity nor allured by
the magnificent ceremonies of Gentile worship. On the contrary, they remained
firm and strong in their religious beliefs and returned home to their mothers,
offering themselves as a reward to them for their didactic efforts, their maternal
care, and their virtue.
Similarly, the good and virtuous mother of St. John Chrysostom, named
Anthousa, who became widowed at the age of twenty, completely devoted
herself to raising her one and only son; for she considered this to be of greater
importance than a second marriage. Like the other two mothers, she was not
afraid to hand her beloved and cherished only child (when he came of age and
needed higher education) into the hands of an idolater instructor. Her
assuredness in her own faith was assuredness in her child because she was
convinced that she had deposited all of her faith into the soul of her beloved son.
She too was not proven wrong. A short while after completing his studies and
practicing law, John gave himself to serving the Church. Livanios, St. John’s
professor, filled with disappointment after failing to proselytize John to his own
religion, sorrowfully exclaimed: “Woe! What type of women does Christianity
produce!” This is how he pointed to the reason for his failure.
Truly, how beautiful! What brilliant examples these pious mothers are for
us! What magnificent images! What wondrous role models! Who can deny that
mothers give rise to great and virtuous men! Thus, Jacques Rousseau makes the
following observation in his work Emile: “Men will always be whatever women
want them to be. If you desire to have great and virtuous men, teach women the
meaning of righteousness and virtue.”
Therefore, we must educate and instruct our daughters (who will later
become mothers) according to the examples set forth above, attending to this
assiduously from their early childhood years, so that we can be assured of fruitful
and beneficial results to come.

—by St. Nektarios—
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