A New Year's Commitment to Religious Education

What Families Can Do

When we talk about religious education in the home, what are we talking about? Is it parents sitting their children down at home for an hour a week of explanations of the Holy Trinity or memorizing the Twelve Major Feasts of the Orthodox Church? What is religious education in the home anyway?

First, religious education in the home is a set of priorities about religion in life. To say it plainly, it's parents who make their religion a part of their lives, who assign religion a high priority in their lives. It's saying by their actions that attending Liturgy Sunday morning is more important than sleeping late. It's saying by their actions that love of God is important, that forgiveness is important, that worship is important, that the Church is important, that what the Church teaches is important - important enough to be given number-one priority!

Second, religious education in the home is living religion. It's keeping fasts and feasts. It's taking part in the sacramental life of the Church as a family. It's learning more about one's faith - not just the children but the adults as well. It's struggling with temptation. It's [experiencing] conflict with family members followed by forgiveness; it's loving that eventually wins over anger; it's sharing when sharing is hard. It's a family moving toward God together. It's life that has God at its center. It's icons on the walls and grace before meals. It's Bible stories at bedtime for young children, and prayers before bedtime. It's explanations of upcoming feasts and fasts at the dinner table; it's heart-to-heart talks about sex and love and life. It's attending weekday Church services during Lent as a family; it's where the emphasis lies on family celebrations of Christmas. It may be a puppet show about St. Nicholas, making an Advent wreath, or celebrating a "re-birthday" party in honor of a family member's baptism. It's taking Communion together and preparing for Communion together. It's nature walks in spring to see how God renews the face of the earth. It's nature walks in the autumn to enjoy the fruits of God's works. It's facing the hard parts of life together - failure, disappointment, death - with trust in God and faith in each other.

What is religious education in the home? It's learning to live as Christians. It's not always easy - we bring our shortcomings as well as our strengths to the task. It takes time and effort and love. There are lapses, setbacks, resistance, short tempers. There is joy, success, celebration.

Is it worth it? What is eternal life worth? What is living a life in Christian community worth? There was a man who found a pearl of great price; he sold everything he had to possess that pearl. There were twelve men to whom an unknown man coming out of the wilderness said, "Follow me." They followed. You and your family can follow, too.

Excerpted from "What Families Can Do", Newsletter of the Department of Christian Education, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, November 1977, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 6. John Boojamra, editor.

1997 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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