St. Theophan the Recluse on development of children's spirituality

Site page

St. Theophan recommends using this means (i.e. spirituality) as early as possible, while the children are still in the cradle. It was his deep conviction that the parents' piety and religiosity were the best and irreplaceable means to have influence upon a child. A child's frequent communion of the Holy Gifts, being brought to church, being touched to the Holy Cross, to the Gospel, to Icons, being sprinkled with Holy Water, being censed with incense, receiving the priest's blessing, etc., are all part of a salvific atmosphere that surrounds the child and in a marvelous manner warms and nurtures his grace-filled life. However, all of that spiritual atmosphere can seem weak and false if at the same time the parents themselves do not have a spirit of piety. With that spirit, parents can exert a beneficial influence on the spirit of the child, who, in the first months and even years of his life is not yet moving, so to speak.

Parents have a direct effect upon their child's soul through the heart. The Holy Hierarch states that the best external channel is the glance. While the soul remains hidden from the other senses, the eye opens it to another's glance - a point at which two souls meet. May the souls of the mother and father enter through that opening, into the soul of the little child with holy feelings. All of this together will have a beneficial and salvific influence on forming the child's character, raising up a Christian spirit.

Holy Hierarch Theophan the Recluse says moreover that, having begun such organizing from the cradle, we should continue it throughout the child's upbringing - in infancy and throughout his youth. The church, spirituality, and the Holy Mysteries, are like a tent for children, a tabernacle under which they should always be. Moreover, all other means of upbringing can be and are successfully replaced with this alone. In antiquity, this is largely how people were brought up. As the child grows, abilities of body, soul and spirit, beginning with the lowest and culminating with the higher ones, begin to appear and make themselves known. As a result, parents and educators assume the responsibility for watching over their development and direction. By the way, it is not simply observation, but also active involvement on their part. The awakening of abilities, together with their attendant needs, begins with the physical: nourishment, movement, and neural sensation or motor action. Holy Hierarch Theophan considered these needs not unimportant for life in general, and also for moral life, for the body, as a rule is the seat of the passions. The Holy Hierarch states that it follows that it is essential to set appropriate limits, and to establish and strengthen good habits, so that later fewer disturbances might ensue.

Address of our Cathedral

  • 4001 17th St. N.W.,
  • Washington, D.C., 20011

Phone  (202) 726-3000




Go to top