Honor thy father and thy mother...

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Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

The Fifth Commandment call us to love our parents. It tells us that must love those closest to us before one can love anyone else. In his first epistle to Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes: But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel (I Timothy 5:8).

The prototype of perfect love is Christ's love for his Heavenly Father. And during His earthly life, Christ also showed his love for His earthly parents many times. Thus, while His human nature was languishing in torment before His death, He was grieving in His soul for His mockers. And while His divine nature had turned to Redemption by His passion, He still showed His filial care for His Mother. In the Gospel according to John, we read: When Jesus therefore saw his mother, ad the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home (John 19:2-27).

Sacred Scriptures show that the Christian's recognition of human worth begins in the experience of the family. The family is the unit of community and society. The family is also the school for moral life. In his family, a child first begins to feel moral obligations. The moral well-being of family life determines the well-being of society and the state, which are both made of many families. Respect for parents and attentiveness to their counsel are the prototype of moral culture. Respect for parents is expressed by sacrificial love for them, which must in time take the place of natural attachment. This love shows in profound attentiveness to their counsel, which develops out of the earlier obedience we show them automatically. The internalized respect we have for our parents prompts our concern for them, which increases as they get older.

The breakdown of every society and of every desertion from the Church starts in disrespect for parents. This disrespect was personified by Ham, the second son of Noah. By laughing at the nakedness of his father, Ham became a standard figure of the sinful attitude of a son who does not respect his parents (Genesis 9:21-23).

The connection between a proper relationship with one's parents and the good things of this life-and likewise, long life--can be seen in the so-called "patriarchal families". The spiritual order of such families confers a certain nobility of life on everything. Patriarchal families preserve life from shocks that hurt the soul, and confer greater health and longevity. A spiritually balanced life, God's peace and good morals could be found formerly in Russia among peasants, Cossacks, and Old Ritualists.

©Archpriest Victor Potapov,

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