A Special Prayer for Mothers...
I want to say something about this prayer, which my spiritual father wrote and gave me almost 20 years ago now:
"O Lord Jesus Christ our God Who didst come into this world not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give Thy life as a ransom for many. Help me, I beseech Thee in my ministry of caring for the children Thou hast given me. Enable me to be patient in tribulations, to instruct with a meek and gentle spirit, to reprimand with inner tranquility and a sober mind, and to serve in humility of heart with love. May I thus live in Thee alone, by Thee alone and for Thee alone showing forth Thy virtues and leading my family upon the path of Thy saving commandments. That we may glorify Thee together with Thine unoriginate Father and Thine all-holy Spirit both in this world and that which is to come. Amen."
When our family came into the Church in 1996, large families were extremely rare and very few Orthodox homeschooled. I myself, grew up in a very broken home and desperately desired role models to look up to. As a part of my conversion process to Christianity, I became convicted that children were a blessing from God and that homeschooling was the easiest way to live a God-centered lifestyle and to transmit our growing faith to our children. But at the time, few shared those convictions in Orthodoxy and the Internet wasn't a source of extended community support yet. So rather than providing me other women I could look up to, God provided me a spiritual father who would help heal me from my past wounds and transform our life spiritually. He authored this prayer in one of his especially poignant letters he sent when I was particularly down and depressed. I later received a blessing to share it on the Paidea Classics website as well as a couple of his letters that I also had.
Monasticism has something deeper to offer than peer support. Not only does the ascetic life of monasticism help the spiritual father or mother to understand and have compassion for the ongoing struggle of self-denial and constant serving of others demanded by motherhood, he or she better understands sin and suffering and helps you overcome temptations, and transform sorrows into means of ascent and spiritual growth.
Today, there is a lot more material out there being written and published to help families. But there remains a special chrism of spiritual fatherhood (or motherhood), that cannot be put into books and generally goes unnoticed by the mainstream Orthodox public. But in the case of this prayer, it is important for me that people realize it is the product of a holy monastic life, steeped in ceaseless prayer, and serving others through the role of spiritual fatherhood. It is a selfless gift to the Church by a person who is looking to acquire nothing from it himself.
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A collection of articles and resources useful for Orthodox Christian parenting and homeschooling.