A child’s soul is divine beauty
St. John of Kronstadt considered love for children to be the foundation of a teacher’s work—a foundation that is very often denied by modern-day so-called technicians of secular educational sciences and activities. He said to the students of the gymnasium where he taught, “You are my children, for I gave birth to you and continue to give birth in you to the good tidings of Jesus Christ. My spiritual blood—my instructions—flow in your veins. You are my children, because I have you always in my heart and I pray for you. You are my children, because you are my spiritual offspring. You are my children, because truly, as a priest I am a father, and you call me “batiushka” (“little father”, an affectionate term for a priest).1
In Fr. John lived a kind of unearthly, angelic love for children, which inspired him and motivated the entire educational process. It was a special gift of God’s grace, which burned in him so strongly that in later years, when he was no longer teaching, he often healed sick children with the power of love and prayer, continually blessing and instructing the
When we talk about the birth of Christ we are speaking of two births. One is the pre-eternal birth of the Word from the Father, according to the divine nature, and the other is the birth in time from the All-Holy Virgin, according to the human nature. This refers to Christ’s two natures: the divine and the human.
“The important thing is that this Word, before His birth in the flesh, is like the Father in every respect. He does not come from nothing. The Word has two births. One birth was before all ages and the other birth was in time, which is the birth as a man, the incarnation.”
This theological fact is revelational and above all it is empirical, as the glorified flesh of Christ becomes a source of life for the members of the Church, particularly the saints.
“It is not only the Old and New Testaments that clearly teach the fact that the Word, the Lord of Glory, Who is God by nature and co-essential (homoousios) with the Father, truly took flesh and was born in His own normal and separate humanity of the Virgin Mary – who is literally, really and truly the Theotokos or Mother of God.
Some 40 or 50 years ago here in America, people decorated their Christmas trees on Christmas Eve. Slowly, through the influence of merchants and media, we started to put up our decorations and trees earlier and earlier each year. As a result, we take them down earlier and earlier, not waiting for the Theophany observances of January 5-7 [January 18-20], which are specifically part of the 12-day cycle beginning on Christmas.
The Advent Season, which began for us on November 15/28, is a time for anticipating the “Good News” of the Lord’s Birth. As with all things in life, Scripture reminds us that we must be careful of being “in the world, but not of the world”. This is especially true of the celebration of Christmas. Many lament that the stores are decorated for Christmas from the end of October – an example of the over-stressing and “early-stressing” of this great Christian Holy Day. But what do we do in our homes? I have noticed that on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, people begin to put up their decorations and turn on their Christmas lights and trees.
Our Orthodox Advent tradition gives us some guidelines of which many of us perhaps are not aware. Within this 40-day preparation period, a slow progression of events and remembrances unfolds. This is seen in the general attitude, hymnology, prayers, and fasting practices which begin to intensify on the Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6/19), and progress through the feasts of St. Spyridon (December 12/25), St. Daniel (December 17/30) and St. Ignatios (December 20/Jan-uary 2). The latter is specifically called “the day of preparation”. What do you think this tells us?