Romanian Patriarchate – September 2015
At the beginning of the school year, we address the pupils, the parents and the teaching staff our paternal blessings and thoughts of encouragement for a new activity.
Since the basis of education is laid within the family, it is essential that parents, grandparents and relatives of the pupils realise the major role played by them in forming the pupils’ personality, and precisely in forming their characters, in promoting permanent or perennial values, and in protecting children from harmful entourages and some negative influences of the internet.
While the fundament of education is laid within the family, the school has the role to continue the educational act, both by offering a rigorous informational background, and especially by forming the full personality of the pupil, who is eager to participate in the life of the community through real qualities and creative spirit, because informing, without having a spiritual formation doesn’t develop the person open to communion as a relational being. Therefore complete education in the true sense of the word implies also formation in the spirit of communion, including the awareness of belonging to a community of people meant to develop, work and advance together in dignity and creativity.
Self-respect and the respect towards others represent values without which a society cannot harmoniously develop. Parents and teachers must cultivate the talents of children and teach them that they are capable and precious as unique and unrepeatable persons created in the image of God. Each pupil has to be encouraged in order to enhance his or her unique gift received from God, but also to respect the gifts or talents of those around them. At the same time, decency and respect towards the parents that raised the child, as well as towards educators, teachers and professors must be cultivated, not as an obligation, but as a light of the beautiful soul, as gratitude towards those who dedicate their whole life to up-bringing, education and formation of children and youth.
The Church, through her centuries-old educational and guiding role, wishes to meet the needs of the society, by becoming a spiritual guide and a moral support both in good times, and in critical situations. The composite of stimuli, events, and false values often promoted as a daily fashion can confuse the families, and also the school. For this reason, the role of the Church is that of promoting permanent values and authentic marks verified over a long period of time.
Nowadays, in a confused world, the Church is called to offer a spiritual light over the major problems of the society. And this is especially so since the Church is a human community based on a divine-human spiritual communion, which transcends time and space, because she represents the mystical Body of Christ, „Who is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
At present, Family, Church and School as decisive educational factors have the responsibility of increasing cooperation towards the education and formation of children and young people so that they live a harmonious life in their families and in the society, and also to become citizens of the heavenly fatherland, i.e. of the Kingdom of Heaven, because the final purpose of human’s earthly life is preparing for eternal life and happiness in the Kingdom of the love of the Most Holy Trinity.
The year 2015, declared by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church as„Commemorative Year of Saint John Chrysostom and of the Great Spiritual Shepherds within Eparchies” represents an occasion tohighlight once again the Christian valences of pedagogy. The words of Saint John Chrysostom regarding the education of children are and will always be very relevant, because even though times change, the human nature, together with its weaknesses, but also with its qualities, remains the same. “In our own day–says Saint John Chrysostom –every man takes the greatest pains to train his boy in the arts and in literature and speech. But to exercise this child’s soul in virtue, to that no man any longer pays heed.13 19. I shall not cease exhorting and begging and supplicating you before all else to discipline your sons from the first. If thou dost care for thy son, show it thus”. He said these words understanding that education does not mean only knowledge, but alsospiritual formation of the human being or cultivating the goodness of the soul as beauty in his relation with the fellow human beings, with the society.
We pray God to give us all “Wisdomthat sits by His throne” (Wisdom 9:4) and help us inspire pupils who are seeking and loving knowledge the joy of learning, but also the joy of becoming, through a healthy education, worthy and honest, hardworking and generous, in this earthly life, and luminous citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Patriarch of Romania
Saint John Chrysostom,An Address on Vainglory and the Right Way for Parents to Bring Up Their Children, Transl. by Max L. W. Laistner, p. 8