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Author Topic: Orthodoxy in the home.  (Read 746 times) Average Rating: 0
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Seafra
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It's in the shelter of each other that people live

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« on: January 01, 2012, 07:14:43 AM »

Hey i was curious about how the orthodox life is lived out in the home. I have heard stories of some who pray together and the father assumes a role of a priest and even blesses the family, i have heard others of simply prayer before an icon corner. I am curious how Orthodoxy is played out in the home and family setting. and even more so about the "Priest of the house" scenario mentioned is that acceptable?
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Jonathan
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2012, 01:50:07 PM »

The husband is the priest of the family. But not the presbyter Smiley A priest is one who offeres a sacrifice. A husband must sacrifice himself to service his family and protect and foster the spiritual life of the family. How this is appropriate depends on the family. It might mean taking the lead in speaking openly about limits on the secular in the house (preventing tv from intruding into prayer time). It might mean setting an example. It depends on whether the wife and children are faithful Christians, willing to follow if the husband leads in the Lord... or of another religion entirely. Wisdom and the guidance of a Father in Confession is essential.

Ideally, families should pray the Agpeya together, read the Bible together, talk about its meaning together. Normally the husband would lead the Agpeya prayer. The husband is ultimately responsible for the spiritual life of the family, and will answer at judgement for failing to properly care for it. Unfortunately though, more often the husband does not lead, and many pious wives pick up the role, leading the children while the husband is too busy.

The husband is not though, the Father in confession for the family. The hidden, personal prayer lives of the family are just that, personal, and should only be exposed to the Father in confession. Any temptation to critique the priest's rules of prayer for the other family members, or to make sure they are following them, must be resisted. Each person must have their own interior spiritual life, that is supported by the family prayers, not replaced by them. Finding the correct balance between supporting and not over-burdening is important.

In the EO traditions, I believe the husband may bless his children, but with his fingers held together, as he would cross himself, not the way the priest holds his hand. I am not aware of any such tradition in the Coptic Church. Also, in the EO tradition incense is offered in the house along with prayers. This is strongly discouraged in the Coptic tradition. An oil lamp by the icons is nice, and perfectly acceptable though.

If it is impossible to make it to Midnight Praise at the Church, this can be said in the home (as can the Vespers Praise and the Doxology of Prime, which are shorter). It is nice to follow a calendar, and to be aware of the seasons and feasts of the Church, especially if it is not possible to attend the weekday Liturgies. A short veneration for the saint of the day can be said in the home. It is nice to follow the seasonal variations for "He has {come/been born/Risen/been Baptised/been crucified} and saved us", and variations around the feasts for the verses of the Trisagion when praying the Agpeya together.

I think that the most important way to live Orthodox Christianity in the home though is through virtue, by loving your family. Marriage is an opportunity to destroy the self will by subjecting it to the needs of your spouse and children. This is training for subjecting our wills to God's. Having love in the family is greater than any formal prayers together. If one is feeling proud, or joy in controlling or directing others when leading family prayers, then a remedy must be sought through confession, and probably delegating more to the other family members to yield control. Great care must be taken because Satan will attack such good works and try to twist them into something harmful.
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Seafra
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It's in the shelter of each other that people live

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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2012, 02:10:31 PM »

yeah i think the situation i had heard was from an EO father ran things and blessed the family... eventually he was removed cant remember why then the wife took over the role... even to where the kids would kiss their hands and such.. to me it seemed it was not fully appropriate. I knew confessions shouldn't be heard by the husband and is only for a private session with he priest (St. Patrick started that) by doxology of the prime do you mean the prayer of thanksgiving or is that something completely different from the Agpeya prime?
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Jonathan
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2012, 02:51:16 PM »

When I say that the temptation to act as a Father in Confession must be avoided, I don't mean not asking them to confess... What I mean is more subtle. It can be tempting to tell a child or spouse, don't you think you should fast a little longer, or come say this one more prayer with us... But this is the role of the Father in Confession, not the husband. The husband's role is to support the family members in following the rule set by the priest, not to think that he knows better than the priest what rule his family should follow. Of course it is different for very small children, where the parents do force them to pray. But later, the children must pray to God from their hearts in secret, and this is not the business of the parents. Family prayer supports this, it does not check of the requirement to pray.

Hand kissing is cultural, not religious. In cultures where it is the norm, there is nothing wrong with children kissing parents' hands. it is simply a sign of respect from an subordinate to a superior. But if it is not cultural, and is because the priest's hand is kissed (as a carry over from what may be culturally lost), and the man thinks that as priest of the house his hand should be kissed, yes, this is a clear error. The husband does not offer the oblation!

The doxology of prime is a hymn said after the Prayer of Prime from the Agpeya. It is found in the Psalmody, along with the Vespers Praise and the Midnight Praise.
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Seafra
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It's in the shelter of each other that people live

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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2012, 03:02:22 PM »

ahhh ok you mean like acting as a spiritual consul... Thank you very much for your insight! are there any books or early fathers i could read? I know St John Chrysostom has a book on the familiy...
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Jonathan
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2012, 10:53:04 PM »

The best thing I have seen on practical Orthodox family life was a series of 5 videos on marriage by Fr. John Mack (who was an Antiochain Orthodox priest at the time*) that my priests makes everyone watch before getting married. There is also a book "preserve them O Lord", but I think the videos are better. I believe they are out of print, but if you pm me I can see about loaning you a copy... For general spirituality that is very practical and applicable to daily life, there is "The Way of the Ascetics" by Tito Colliander. It is a book about the spirituality of the desert fathers, but by a layman for laymen, in I think the 1940's. Here is a book on Orthodox Spirituality that is even more contemporary: http://www.stmaryscopticorthodox.ca/content/books/spirituality.pdf . Of course there is also the sayings of the desert Fathers, but those are obviously less directly applicable to family life, and more difficult to understand quickly. Only the books by Fr. John and St. John Chrysostom are directly about family life... But the basics of spirituality are the tools needed to live as a Christian whether in the desert or in the world... And of course as I'm sure you know, while the books help, there is no way to learn Orthodox spirituality without guidance from a Father in Confession (or the priest who is catechizing you, as I notice you list yourself as "hopeful". Of course there are also the standards of "Unseen Warfare" and "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", but they seem more advanced to me, to the point wehre I don't think I have really benefited from them. For dealing with children specifically, I believe there is a small book by Theophan the Recluse.

*Fr. John Mack is no longer in the Orthodox Church, but I do not believe that the message of these videos is in any way diminished by this, it is still authentic and correct.

I hope other people will post replies to your question too, as I'm just making a beginning with my young family, and would love to benefit from the insights and corrections of others with more experience.
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Seafra
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It's in the shelter of each other that people live

Mr.Dougherty
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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2012, 11:00:04 PM »

Thank you for your reply! Although hopeful I an no catechumen yet. I do have a girl that I Cherish however and an hoping to learn how to produce within my self the right understandings, as best I can, as to prepare for the day I do have a family... As well as traditions to make as I myself don't really have a family to carry traditions on from.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2012, 11:07:04 PM »

I would second the recommendations given. My wife and I also used the materials by Fr. John Mack when preparing for marriage and thought they were good. Way of the Ascetics is an excellent book, one of my favorites from a modern author. I would add two other books for consideration:

Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home, by Fr. Anthony Coniaris. This was a decent bookwith lots of practical advice. Here's a description from amazon.com: "In the 'domestic church,' parents, like the Orthodox priest, represent God to their children. Here is a wonderful book filled with ideas to help Orthodox Christian parents become effective religious educators in their own homes.The first part is titled Some Practical Things to Do, and the second part is titled Some Practical Things to Think about and Do."

Women and Men in the Early Church: The Full Views of St. John Chrysostom, by David Ford. I loved this book. It's something of a defense against feminist accusations, but still very applicable information given. From the description on amazon.com: "This book demonstrates once and for all that the ancient Christian writers are not the hyper-misogynists they are made out to be by some hyper-feminists. This is careful textual analysis of the writings of John Chrysostom on all those passages relating to sexuality, marriage, family, children, chastity, equality, submission, leadership, adultery, virginity, and the body. "Was there sexual intercourse in Eden? Was Eve primarily responsible for the Fall? Is sexuality intrinsically prone to distortion? Is the body evil? What reasonable objections may be lodged against absolute egalitarianism in the family? Is there a Christian doctrine of male submissiveness? Do women have a public role? How do women bring glory to men? What special responsibilities do men bear? Should women be priests? "All of these questions were dealt with in considerable detail in the fourth century by John Chrysostom, the most influential biblical commentator in ancient Eastern Christianity."

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I'm not quite sure what to make of the common argument for Christianity that might be rephrased as: "Well, it's better than suicide, right?"
Jonathan
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« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2012, 11:10:10 PM »

I will have to check out those books.

One more that came time mind: Our Church and our Children by Sophie Koulomzin. Very practical guide to how to introduce the faith to children at various stages of development.
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