Posts Tagged With: Children

How To Prepare Your Child For Warfare

You may not think it, but every single Christian is a spiritual soldier engaged in warfare. Do I sound like a crazed redneck gun lover putting spin on Christianity to militarize it? Maybe I do and I do like my guns but no that’s not what I am at all.

The warfare I speak about is different. The weapons and strategies to win this war are completely different in comparison to how we would understand war to be.

In a real war such as world war II which my grandfather fought in from beginning to end (he was a british soldier) there was a lot of suffering. in the midst of all this hell there was also moments of peace. People preferred those moments over and above the necessary killing and warfare that ensued such beautiful moments.

It is the same in the world. The world is a battle ground and whilst it has it’s beauty and peaceful moments our goal really isn’t to make earth our home and bed down for the night. Our final resolution is to work out our own salvation and lay down the blueprint that will see us get out of here alive and well.

In this fight to save our souls and others there will be more suffering than peaceful moments I guarantee you that. Take a look at the apostles during the transfiguration in the Gospel. They wanted to stay put and build tents for moses and elijah and live happily ever after in ecstasy. Unfortunately for them they had to be brought back down to reality  and into suffering again.

So what does our children have to do with this? Well their bootcamp begins in the womb and training doesn’t stop until the job is done and they’re either married or religious and at very least a very spiritual and talented Christian in whatever profession they choose.

Read them the Bible, behave Christian around them as much as possible. Take them to mass regularly.

Ok so you get all this what’s new? well for a start, most parents don’t ever teach their kids mystical theology. They never sit them down and show them the difference between Us (Christians) and ”Them” (The secular world). This is why their kids roam around the city getting into all sorts of trouble because whilst prayer and Mass are good, the kids are lacking someone to educate them so that they can make sense of it all and the fight between us and the powers of darkness.

It is my plan when my son reaches 12 years old that I will sit him down and discuss with him a very serious mystical theology of the early fathers both Orthodox and Catholic church fathers. I will train him how to think in the spirit and not by himself. Don’t believe people who tell you they think for themselves as such people live in a delusional world. Everyone always thinks under the influence of others and forms convictions based on what thought may be popular. I wont get into that right now but teaching your child a heavy mystical theology early on is healthy.

Going from sexual sins and that of the flesh right up to spiritual sins and those of the heart and how to avoid them is important. For boys sexual sins are going to be tough ones especially in our sex crazed society today. Therefore boys will need our closer attention. Women on the other hand are more emotional and so they need training in how to control that. Women often read romantic novels and engage is whats known as emotional porn.

Men are more aroused by the physical and so as the teenage years approach proper training in the theology of the body and how it all works is crucial to a more clean and safe journey through adolescence.

So at age 12 it may seem heavy but I highly recommend you plough through the philokalia, St.John of the Cross and Catherine of Siena books. Mystical theology is missing in the church today, If we were aware of this more we may change our lives around a lot sooner.

Children need guidance and it’s very important you do not become a blind guide because that’s how most children sadly wander away from the faith, Most of these young people lacked the guidance at a young age. Give it to them because Jesus in the sergant and we all will have to give answer for those men we lost on the battlefield through our own negligence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Protecting The Innocent

I went to the barbers today with my 5-year-old (soon to be 6-year-old) son. As you can imagine it’s a place where men go to sit and immerse themselves in the manly atmosphere of male conversation. A few ”fucks” and ”shit” and ”bastard” thrown into the melting pot of language always being the norm.

My wife sat there staring at the ground feeling so out-of-place. Popular culture was the decor of the walls in which every corner of the room was covered head to toe in images of musicians, artists and supposedly great philosophers of the 20th century.

In addition to this, like any good barbers or decent publican house you had the TV on the wall with the music channel on flow presenting all the popular music in the charts.

All of a sudden my eyes are drawn to the TV and I spot the club type music video with women dressed in almost nothing dancing sexually and rubbing their breasts. I casually looked away and back at my phone when I realized someone else was watching, my son.

He watched it and he winced with embarrassment and did not know what to do. After all he had never been exposed to a music video like this before in his 6 years of existence because there’s no popular TV or culture in my house today. We have a TV but we control what we watch. I shielded him immediately from it by talking with him and turning his attention to me for discussion.

There were lots of other kids there. To these kids however this type of thing is normal. Most 6 -8 year old girls and even younger would not be shocked by this because mommy watches these videos whilst she vacuums and tidies up the toys.

This is the highly sexual culture I grew up in myself. The predatory nature of secularism is so subtle and the philosophy so blinding. ”Ah sure what harm is it, I watched these videos and listened to this music and turned out ok”. You know, I believe them, but what about the others who were not so successful at navigating the liberal, secular, sexual predatory gauntlet?

Fact of the matter remains is that children’s innocence is being robbed from them. I am so sick of men and women lament that by sharing my faith with them via Facebook or on the street I am somehow forcing my religion down their necks. Yet here in front of my son and all around him (pics of celebrities striking sexual poses) a philosophy that is forcing itself into the doors of his innocent heart which seeks to corrupt his pure mind is imposing its views on me, my son and wife.

We are forced fed this garbage in public and protecting the innocent is made all the more difficult by the mere fact that we cannot walk outside our door without seeing some sort of drug, alcohol or sexual reference in adverts, graffiti, music or the general conversation of some at a dinner table whose language provides a less than desirable environment for children.

We have stooped lower than Sodom and Gomorrah that much is true, but we must do our best to protect the next generation from this filth. Don’t throw them into the gauntlet. Take them out of it altogether.

God bless

 

 

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Expose Your Children To Beautiful Music

As a Musician, I understand music as a language. Whether it is accompanied by words or not, all music speaks to the heart and soul of each individual.

Let’s be honest you can often get a grasp of the personality and character of a person just by sifting through their record collection alone. Now I bet all my friends (which aren’t too many as after all I am Christian) are throwing a curtain over their music collection as they read this.

Modern music I think we’d all agree has taken a nose dive in terms of quality. Often we are viewed as regressive simply because we want to revisit a more classical era. The modern mind is unable to appreciate something as always present and timeless, such a shame.

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Children (especially those in their formative years from the moment of conception until they’re about 8 years old) need to hear beautiful music because it’s going to contribute to their character and relationship with God and others later in life.

In the days prior to Vatican II ( note: I am not anti Vatican II ) the Liturgy was sung. Music dominated the Liturgy and in my own Ukrainian Greek Catholic Rite, it still does.

The Church has always understood that music and a relationship with Christ is synonymous and necessary to our growth in the Spirit.

Now, however it’s all been taken from us and replaced with the banal.

When we expose children to what is beautiful and intelligent, they grow to be beautiful and intelligent. Achieving this goal is not possible without first examining our own taste of music and personality.

There are two quotes here that come to mind one even being the title of a book. One is by a renowned spiritual elder of the Orthodox Church ”Elder Thaddeus”.

He simply says ”Our Thoughts determine our lives”.

Another is by St.John Paul II who said ”Show me what a man loves and I’ll show you who he is.”

How we think and what we love will determine not only who we presently are and where we stand in relationship to the Divine, but our salvation and eternal outcome.

Many things in life will lead us away from the narrow path of achieving this much needed outcome and it’s not like music is the only stumbling block. I just view it as a big pillar in today’s world.

Alongside the Film, media industry and unintelligent entertainment on the television, music is the devils favorite tool to manipulate the souls of many. The music we hear today not just on our radios but even the evangelical music is a mockery of the real thing.

For every truth the devil has something that seems to mimic and mock what’s real but such fake music has no lasting effect on the soul and this is how you discern between the spirit of goodness and badness. The good brings peace and is eternal whilst the opposite dissipates and eventually shows it’s true self through time.

Popular music dominating the charts at present is deprived of the essence of God even though within it we hear the cry of humans craving for something better. In the philosophy of popular music we hear the modern humans desire for something greater than themselves and the music they develop.

We don’t want our children reaching that stage because getting someone back from it can be very difficult. It’s important we ourselves form good habits that we may pass that on to our children.

Exposition of your children to beautiful music is the best investment into your children’s future interactions with the world, believe me. You’ll be glad you took my advice.

Stephen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m Already Missing My Wife And Kids

My Wife and two sons Joseph and Christian I have not spent a night apart from in over 5 years.

Yet Monday coming will see me go off to the city to spend a week in a hotel training for my new job.

I’m driving home from my work today and suddenly like an anaconda tightening around my neck I felt anxious for them and myself.

What will I do without them for such a long period of time? Being without them I will feel like a bycycle with the just the frame and no wheels.

I will look like a man who shows up to a job interview in his casual clothing. In other words I will both feel and look incomplete.

Modern technology however is great isn’t it? You can skype them and phone them. You can take along with you a little photograph of them or look at the many on your laptop, phone, tablet.

I shudder to think of how they did it before technology. I often think about a father going off perhaps to war and never to return.

Communication wasn’t great back then and so you’d never know what happened him and all he himself had was a memory of his children embedded in his heart.

The father would be gone years and would not receive regular updates of what was happening his family or even if they were still alive at all. Heart wrenching stuff.

When I think back like this I realise who over reactive I am being. It’s kinda like how you think your headache is really bad and then you suddenly recall the passion of Jesus and the suffering he endured and all of a sudden your actually kind of thankful for your headache.

Even so, for any of you who have spent time away from a loved one, I am sure you can resonate along side thoughts of my own of just how awful a prospect it can be sometimes.

It’s not nice being removed from the regular Rhythm of you daily life and being placed in the unkown even for a few days. However sometimes these trials are neccesary as we all know absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Stephen

 

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Children Pay More Attention To Prayer Than We Do. 

Every evening when Christians mother goes puts the youngest to bed, we wipe clean the coffee table and bring out the hand written icons of St.Patrick, Jesus and St.Paul. We light our candles and then I take out my kindle paper white ( great modern device with a built in light  that lets you read in the low light of candles ) and proceed to open our Orthodox prayer book. 

Here is the child’s evening prayer we pray: 

Dearest Jesus, I am one of your children. Take me into your arms and bless me as you embraced children when you visited us on earth. Hear my prayer this evening. May your icon which I always keep by my bedside ever remind me that while I sleep, you are always with me. Make me sleep in peace and let me awaken in the morning to love you and serve you, Amen. 

My son is only five and cannot quite read yet so I had him repeat the words after me. It’s only been a few days but he said the whole prayer without me. I was amazed and so when my wife came down the stairs I mentioned how he memorised the prayer in only a few days of hearing it. Not even I could memorise the first sentence. My wife responded in which for some reason I understood it as the Holy Spirit speaking to me and not my wife. She said: “that’s because he pays more attention to it than you do”. 

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Get Your Child To Sleep With The Jesus Prayer

 Like many parents we’ve tried many things to get our kids to sleep. Dozol ( for kids to help them sleep ) to baths before bedtime and turning off the tv before bed but still our son Christian would be wired and remain up until late at night before he’d go to sleep. 

I thought he might be a little young for it being only five years of age, but I decided to teach him the Jesus prayer. Teaching a five year old the Jesus prayer was never going to begin well so I had to employ some tactics. I began by getting one icon of Jesus, candle and a table chair to place the icon upon. I turned out all the lights so that nothing but darkness encompassed the room. I allowed him to hold my hand as we struck a match to light the candle with. 

The scene was set but he was still twitching and jerking on the couch, rolling around making faces. Children’s mind are so active it amazes me it really does, he’s not doing any of it out of badness it’s just his way. I thought my own mind was active until I met the mind of a child. Sometimes adults can lose their minds and patience with this kind of activity because we’re completely opposite and can sit still when required to without much effort. However children cannot and so it amazes and disturbs us when children behave this way. 

Regardless I was not going to give up and so….as a Dad does….I bribed him. At the moment he’s crazy about Star Wars. Its important to find out what it is your child’s crazy about and use this as leverage. I handed him the 50 knot prayer rope. I said ” if you manage to reach the end of the first ten knots, I’ll get you a new Star Wars figure. That was it, he sat still and wasn’t prepared to budge any further. I gave him the short from of the prayer which is “Jesus have mercy on me”. He closed his eyes and began the prayer. In the beginning he rushed it but I was there to get him to slow down and every time he rushed it, I would make him start over again and he didn’t get his toy until he got it right. 

This forced him to concentrate a little more. In the duration of the prayer he said “dad, I feel like laughing ” and I told him to ignore this feeling and concentrate once again on the seriousness of the prayer and so he did. When the session had ended he had done all 50 knots and so I got worried as this meant 5 new Star Wars figures but it was a great father and son moment. 

After it had ended we sat back in front of the icon of Jesus and just stared in silence. He was calm now, no more twitching and rolling around in boredom. His mother came down the stairs and called him for bed and off he went. 10 minutes later she came running down and said “what did you do to him? I normally read him a lot f stories but for the first time ever he turned to me and said ” no more stories mum, I’m tired” and then he rolled over and went straight to sleep. No jumping around the bed or running around the room, just went straight to sleep.” 

I praised God for this and plan to do it again.  We must train our kids to be quiet and although miracles won’t happen every night, we must train them not just because we want them to sleep or for our own benefit, but because we want to save their souls. So try this and see what happens. 

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Look Granda, its Jesus!!! Do you see him?

My wife has cancer. We have two sons one of which is 2 years old. His name is Christian Alexander. We make regular trips to hospital in the car on the motorway which is half hour away. In the hospital is a little oratory/chapel in which Mass takes place every day and Sundays. I took my son there and because I considered the word tabernacle too much for his wee mind to consume and understand I explained to him that it was Jesus house where he sits as king forever. And he is eternally there and present.

He thought this was amazing, that he was looking at Jesus, so much so that he ran up to my father who was kneeling and praying and shouted, “look granda, its Jesus house, do you see him?, can you see him? He is there”

It got me thinking about how Jesus told mystic vassula Ryden that he wants our childlike faith, a blind naive faith is what he desires. Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will never find its way into a crafty soul, only a simple and humble one. Children teach us how to follow Christ and I really do consider my son to be my spiritual master who reveals to me the sure path to Christ which is through a heart of simplicity and not one of crafty loftiness that involves the study of let’s say systematic theology, but one of simplicity and a pure heart beating with love.

Other things my son has surprised me with are numerous. For example we were on a train home from Dublin and I had an image of Our Lady Queen of peace from medjugorje. Two women in front of me scornfully looked on as he kept pointing to Our Lady’s image and repeatedly was saying, ” mama Mary, mammy”. Children of God are not conscious of what others think of them, they see reality and they state it, they have their faith and proclaim it and expect others to understand just as much as if they were pointing at the reality of an orange, they expect people to understand, and if they don’t understand they don’t care, it does not matter to them what people think. It is in this instance that once again my spiritual master teaches me not to care what others think and to just proclaim it. Jesus is forever communicating to me his simplicity through my son, teaching me the faith by using my son, I am convinced of it.

Anoter example of this. We were playing in his room reading books. I pull out his children’s bible and say we will open it at random and see what Jesus has to say. I opened it whilst thinking ” it’s not really the bible and just a broken down version for children, so I know not to expect anything great”. To my surprise it opens up upon ” Jesus and the children” and II was gob smacked. It brought me to tears.

One last example on the simplicity of children. I have an orthodox hymn which happens to be a favourite of mine chanted by the monks of symonpetra monastery called psalm 135. I put it on and Christian starts dancing everytime whilst shouting Jesus. It’s all in Greek so he doesn’t understand the words yet he still enjoys it and somehow his soul understands it. St.augustine said this before that where some dont understand the language of the liturgy, their soul does.

And there you have it, hopefully this post will inspire you to go visit Jesus in his little house in church. 🙂

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