From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Lk 12:48).
What makes for a happy child? According to some recent behavioral research, (Holder, Coleman & Wallace,[i] it is a child who is also ‘spiritual.’ The authors define spiritual in a different way than most Orthodox Christians would comprehend. This article will attempt to outline the core of Orthodox spirituality and see if this understanding can be integrated with these researchers’ findings.
We know that the Body of Christ which is His Church is the most sublime gift given to us by God. This includes, of course, the Divinity emptying itself. The Father sending, that is to say, giving us His Only Begotten Son, to assume human flesh and, as St. Paul has told us, He, “ Christ is the head of the church, his [B]ody, and is [H]imself its Savior.” From the Anaphora prayer of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom we pray (and learn): “[Christ] gave Himself up for the life of the world, .Take eat: this is my Body which is broken for you .Drink ye all of this: this is my Blood which is shed for you .Having in remembrance, therefore this saving commandment and all those things which have come to pass for us: the Cross, the Grave, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the Session at the right hand, and the second and glorious Advent ”
The Domestic Church
In previous essays on marriage and parenting I have pointed out: “In a blessed marriage in the Orthodox Church, the couple is ordained to be the leaders of their domestic church, crowned to be the king and queen of their domicile and granted grace for the "fair education of children" as the Orthodox wedding service proclaims.” (Morelli, 2008)[ii]
The Eucharistic Assembly
We know that for the instrumental priesthood, a person of the male sex, the proper icon of the one true priest Christ Himself, is ordained to be priest or bishop. With this ordination comes the duty of being a servant and a shepherd. Authority just doesn’t happen by ordination as a matter of right or title, rather as recounted by St. Matthew (20: 25-28) by service: “Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and [their] great men exercise authority over them." It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." And as St. Paul told the Philippians (2: 5-8): “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”
Although God, Jesus saw his role on earth after assuming our human nature in much humbler terms. He views his role as that of a shepherd. St. Mark (6: 34) reports: “When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” Likewise, St. John in his Gospel records the words of Jesus (10: 11, 14-15): "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” And what does a shepherd do if a sheep gets lost and cannot find its way? He goes after it. As St. Matthew (18:12,14) tells us: “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
Recent Behavioral Science Research: Personal meaning and spirituality in children
The research by Holder, Coleman & Wallace (2008) [iii] found developmental (age) differences in the spirituality of young children (ages 8-12) in contrast to adolescents and adults. For purposes of this research the authors make a distinction between ‘spirituality’ and ritual, or what Orthodox would call “liturgy.” They define spirituality as a sense of the meaning and value of life, in contrast to ‘religious practices’ such as “attending church, praying and meditating.”
The authors suggest that, "enhancing personal meaning may be a key factor in the relation between spirituality and happiness." They recommend that techniques with the goal of helping children develop personal meaning in their lives - such as altruistic acts, helping others, behaving kindly in word and behavior toward their peers and adults, that is to say, towards others — increase their happiness.
Liturgy: The totality of all meaning
In the Eastern Church, the Liturgy is the spiritual presentment of the totality of the salvific acts of God given to us so we may attain union with Him, that is to say, become “partakers of the Divine Nature” (2Pt 1:4). This can be easily seen in the Anaphora in the Liturgy of St. Basil which traces salvation history from our ancestral creation in paradise, man’s fall due to disobedience and God’s intervention in mankind’s history by the action of the Prophets, to the sending of His Son, Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, His emptying Himself by joining His Divine Nature to our human nature taking on our flesh, who then gave Himself to us in bread and wine changed into His very real Body and Blood and then sacrificed Himself: “[H]is saving passion and life giving cross, [H]is Ascension into heaven and Session at thy right hand, [H]is God and Father ” [iv] Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev (2002) describes the relation between the Church and Eucharistic liturgy as “her foundation, without which the Church cannot be imagined.” The actual work of the Liturgy not only includes the peak element of re-presenting Christ’s love for us, but also the recitation of the Word of God, the Epistles and Gospel readings and our reception of His Body and Blood (which appear as bread and wine). The Eucharist, to quote Paul Evdokimov (2002) is “ the very heart of the Church and reveals itself as productive of the unity that is proclaimed, offered and lived. ”
Alfeyev summarizes Eastern Orthodox Liturgical-Eucharistic theology: “Christ is the one true celebrant. [v] He is invisibly present in the church and acts through the priest. Orthodox Christians believe that the Eucharist is not merely a symbolic action performed in remembrance of the Mystical Supper. Rather, it is the Mystical Supper itself, renewed daily by Christ and continuing without interruption in the Church from that Paschal night when Christ reclined at the table with [H]is disciples to the present day.”
Participation in the liturgy and eucharist is essential
In the Eastern Church, participation in the Divine Liturgy is essential not tangential to attaining the true meaning of life. Without the Divine Liturgy and the Eucharist all personal meaning falls short. Paul Evdokimov (1998) cites the words of St. Gregory Palamas: “For the human soul thirsts for the infinite everything that has been created for its end and the desire of the heart is to run toward Christ.” Of Eucharistic communion Evdokimov states it is the: “[s]ubstantial participation in the whole Christ, unitive by essence”. He then references Nicholas Cabasilas, saying we: “can go no further nor add anything.”
Failing in our marital vocation and priestly ordination: helping our children to go astray
Anything, besides illness, which keep our children (as well as ourselves) away from the Divine Liturgy, is then a Divine tragedy. In this regard I can mention the introduction of the secular world and its values in the lives of Christians. The events that separate us from God (from the Divine Liturgy, hearing Christ’s word, participating at the banquet table and receiving Christ in communion) is thus an evil, however, cunningly and stealthily disguised, as C.S. Lewis (1961) pointed out, as a virtue: Little League or Babe Ruth Games, school athletic practice (basketball baseball, cheerleading, football, soccer and the like). For adults, Sunday morning fishing trips and golf games might make the list. But, in this case, I want to point out, a Church-sanctioned failure.
Church-sanctioned Sin: Sunday morning Church School
It is incomprehensible to me how any parent who considers themselves committed to Christ and who is supposed to know the Mind of Christ and the Church, would allow their children to sit in a church school classroom and miss the Essential Gift God has given to us —-Himself—- in the Divine Liturgy. Is there anything beyond incomprehensibility? If so, then it is the more than ‘incomprehensible’ that those who are ordained as servants and Shepherds of their flock would so devalue Christ and replace Him by valuing classroom time as a replacement for the Divine Liturgy.
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven——” (Ecc 3:1)
Let me be clear, I am not disparaging classroom learning, in fact Our Lord Himself very often went to the synagogue and onto the mountains to teach. As St. Matthew (4:23) tells us: “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom;” and “Jesus went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and to teach them ” (Mt 5:1,2). Thank God, Jesus did not do such things rather than giving us the Passover meal in which He instituted the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist, giving us His very Body and Blood and ordaining His apostles and who passed on to their successors, the bishops and priests of our day, to “Do this memory of Me.” Also thank our Heavenly Father that Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, conformed His human will to that of the Divine will when he said: “not my will but thy will be done.” Thus he freely and willingly picked up His Cross and endured crucifixion for our salvation. On the other hand, Christ could have decided to hold an educational classroom respite. But then where would we be? So, to the caretakers of our children who are in a Sunday Morning Church School and not at Divine Liturgy I pose the same question: Where are they? Not at the communion table, not at the cross, not at the Resurrection.
Behavioral research has found strong support for the influence of modeling in learning and subsequent performance (Bandura, 1977, 1986). Children are especially susceptible to being influenced by modeling (also known as observational learning) although the effects of modeling occur at all ages. For observational learning to take place four conditions have to be present.
- Attention to the model. Paying attention to the characteristics of the model such as: salience; affective valence, that is to say strong or weak emotions aroused; functional value and prevalence; as well as paying attention to the characteristics of the observer such as perceptual cognitive capability, cognitive set and arousal level.
- Retention processes. The encoding processes of the observer: verbal or imagery, cognitive organization, rehearsal skills and memory skills.
- Motor reproduction processes. The ability to replicate the model’s behavior: physical capability and component sub-skills and observation of feedback.
- Motivational processes. The external, internal, hedonistic, social, moral, or religious incentives that motivate the observer to perform the model’s behavior.
The four conditions are met when children observe that they are in a church classroom while some adults may be in Divine Liturgy and, even worse, some important adults they may look up to (such as a parent or other relative) may be at some sporting event or ‘home sleeping in,’ the four conditions listed above are met. The popular adage surely applies here: ‘actions speak louder than words.’
Enhancing young children’s personal meaning of the Divine Liturgy
Recent behavioral science findings suggest that young children are more ‘spiritual’ when the spirituality is part of their “inner belief system.” We can apply these findings literally in children’s participation in the Divine Liturgy. This can be done by engaging the young ones in what each and every petition, prayer, epistle and gospel reading means to them personally.
In other Smart Parenting essays [vi], I have recommended using the Socratic Method with children. That is to say, ask them what they think something means. (Morelli, 2007). Recall in the original Holder, Coleman ,& Wallace (2008) [vii] research the ages of the children studied were 8-12 years. This age range is commonly considered within the ‘age of reason.’ [viii] Some examples of relating the Divine Liturgy to personal meaning:
- What does the word __________ mean to you?
- Give me an example of how you could use (word, example etc.) in your life.
Church school (during a different time than the Divine Liturgy) could be used for this. Children-oriented interactive homilies could also be “led” by the priest. [A little personal side-note: I did this for many years at a parish I was assigned tobefore my current parish. The Children’s lesson took place right before Divine Liturgy. It happened, after time, that the adult parishioners ‘so connected’ with this format that their attendance at the end of my tenure greatly exceeded that of the children. "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Mt 19: 26) ]
A description of some examples
It is difficult to give a specific script of a particular example because a “children’s homily” or church school lesson involves much spontaneous interaction with children wherein the children oftentimes come up with quite unexpected (from an adult viewpoint) associations.
Nevertheless an example of an interactive children’s homily may go something like this:
Example I: A single petition from the Great Litany
Priest: P; Child: C
P: Ok! Lets take the first verse of the Great Litany, you know the first song at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy: “In peace let us pray to the Lord.”
Who thinks they know what this means? For example the word: Peace?
C: Peace means not fighting.
P: Great answer! Does anyone else have any ideas? [Be sure to call on those who raise their hands and gently prompt some silent children, but without coercing or embarrassing them.].
P: What other word is in this prayer?
P: Wow! Great! .. the prayer is linking peace and prayer?
P: Who are we praying too?
C: The Lord, (Jesus, God, etc.)
P: Wow! Really great; Look a link between, peace, not fighting, and praying to God
P: Can anyone tell me what this means to you?” [alternatives: how you can use this in school, at home use this in your life etc.] It should be obvious to parents, church school teachers, and those men ordained as icons of Christ to be servants and pastors the people of God that there is a veritable wealth of curriculum material just in the text of the Divine Liturgy.
Example II: A Gospel Reading:
The Good Samaritan Sunday of 8th Luke (Lk 10: 25-37)[ix]
P: OK kids, we just read today’s Gospel. Who are the characters in today’s Gospel?
P: OK!, Jesus. Someone [a lawyer] asked him a question and Jesus told a story to give him the answer.
P: Who else is mentioned in the Gospel?
C: A guy who got beaten up.
P: Great! [now continue until all the characters are mentioned]
P: Do any of you know how the Jewish people thought about the Samaritan People when Jesus told this story? [Most children will not know the answer, some advanced in age or ‘wisdom’ children may know the answer so the P should explain in terms the children will understand: they were ‘outcasts’ in society .. who are the outcasts around where you live (or at school etc.) that you know? Prompting a child may be helpful at this point: a classmate who looks or talks ‘funny’ etc.]
P: Who do you think Jesus wants us to be in this parable, the Priest? Levite? —-or Good Samaritan?
C: The Good Samaritan!
P: Great answer?
P: Now, think very hard, how can you be a Good Samaritan in (school, with friends at home etc.)?
Example III: Icons and Symbols
In this example, the priest would have to introduce the topic by presenting a brief succinct account of the topic.
Icons: Theme: Icons are windows to heaven and are paintings of the words of Jesus, His parables or the stories He told to teach us a lesson, events in His life or paintings about the lives of the Theotokos, the Mother of God and the saints.
P: Ok, kids! How many of you have looked through a window?
C: Many raise their hands and shout out: I have>br /> P: What kinds of things did you see?
C: The house next door. The tree in the yard. The parking lot. My mom’s car.
P: Good! Johnny, you said you saw a tree. Was the window the tree?
C: No! The tree was outside. I saw it ‘through’ the window.
P: Now answer carefully. If you see an icon of Jesus. Remember an icon is a window. Is the icon or window Jesus?
C: No! Jesus is in heaven.
P: Great answer! So looking at an icon of Jesus makes us look (think of) at Jesus who is in heaven.
P: But an icon is in a way a little different than a window; it is also like a picture. Now let me ask you another question. How many of you have a picture of your Mom or Dad?
C: I do. I have a picture of my sister (brother) too. Etc.
P: Great! Now how many of you think the picture of your mom is your mom?
P: Well! Is your mom, your mom or is the picture your mom?
C: No! My real mom is in church (at home, shopping, etc.).
P: Great answer! Does the picture make you think of her?
C: I can picture her. I have good feelings about her when I look at the picture.
P: OK, Good! So the picture is not your mother, but helps you think about her and feel good. Now let’s go back to an icon of Jesus. Is the icon the real Jesus or the real God?
P: What can an icon do for us then?
C: Think of God and feel good about Him.
P: Very good answer.
P: Do we worship the icon? C: No! The icon is not God, it’s only a picture, a window: God is in heaven.
P: So, who then do we worship?
C: Jesus, God who is in heaven!
P: Great! Hey kids another question: How many of you would take a crayon or magic marker and put bad marks all over your mom’s picture? [The priest has to be careful about this question, if a child has been abused they might indeed have unresolved anger –the question should be asked in terms of someone you know the children you are talking to love are loved by in return.]
C: No! .. I love the picture; I would take care of it.
P: Good answer, you would care for the picture. Now, think about an icon; how should we treat it?
C: Care for it.
P: Great! How can we do this? Have any of you ever seen how we treat icons?
C: Sure, I see them kiss the icon and make the Sign of the Cross.
P: Yes, we call that honor (or venerate) the icons ... let us all learn to do this from the bottom of our hearts ... good job
Incense: Theme: Let us consider a verse from a psalm we pray at every Vesper Service: May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering. (Ps 140 2).
P: How many of you have seen incense used?
C: Most if not all raise their hands and shout: Me, I have!
P: Great! When have you seen it?
C: All the time.
P: All the time? When! Tell me!
C: During Liturgy, The priest uses it all the time.
P: Great! Now when the priest or deacon uses incense, it smells good, but what else do you see?
C: Smoke going up.
P: Now, who remembers the verse from the psalm we just read about before?
C: Incense is like prayer.
P: OK! How about: prayer is like incense.
P: What does that tell us?
C: Prayers should be like smoke?
P: Not bad but a little more what did we say smoke does?
C: It goes up to the sky, it rises
P: Great answer what about ... we are supposed to think of our prayers going up to God ... just like the smoke in incense ..
C: Yeh! ... that’s cool
P: You know the Church uses the things around us to think about God that is what incense is supposed to help us to do.
C: Wow! Pretty cool.
Light: Theme: Discussion of the Resurrection Service: The priest takes the lighted Paschal candle, passes through the Royal Doors from altar to people chanting: “Come ye, take light from the Light, that is never overtaken by night. Come glorify the Christ, risen from the dead” All come forward to light their candles.
P: Ok, Kids, we use light in this and other services. I want to ask you a question. Is the light we use in our liturgy meant to entertain you? —- You know like fireworks on July 4th or if you go to a concert seeing bright lights blinking on and off?
C: I don’t understand!
P: When you see fireworks and dazzling lights, how do you feel?
C: I get all pumped up.
P: Is that what the light in our service means: just to pump you up?
C: I don’t understand!
P: OK! Let’s go over that verse again: “Come ye, take light from the Light, that is never overtaken by night. Come glorify the Christ, risen from the dead” Remember, the priest is holding the lighted candle what does the light mean?
C: I know, I know, Jesus.
P: Good! It is really not about the light, really it is all about Jesus. What is the light, then, supposed to have us think about?
C: That he is a candle?
P: Not bad ... but what is special about this candle? —-remember the words: light from the Light glorify the Christ ”
C: Me, me, I know: It means Jesus! .
P: Outstanding! See, when we use light is not to get ‘turned on’ by light itself ... but to help us have Jesus, because he is the ‘True Light,’ in our hearts.
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi
The law of prayer, is the law of faith [which is the English translation of the Latin words introducing this section]. For the Orthodox, as Zizioulas (1985) states, “the Eucharist makes the Church.” He considers the Eucharist and what brings it about, the Divine Liturgy, to be the ontological-existential locus of salvation. In the Divine Liturgy, all salvation history and Christ, who is God, “ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible,” [x] becomes mystically present in what He accomplishes for us. In the Orthodox Church, because of our understanding of God’s transcendent holiness, we are not free to have guitar services, strobe lights, rap or rock music and the like to make the Liturgy and the Eucharist somehow “personally meaningful’ to our children (or ourselves) [xi]. For even if we did use such things, we would not be experiencing God, but we would be mired in sensual delusion. The holy spiritual fathers of the Church warn us of this temptation during all prayer, liturgical or private.Evagrios the Solitary tells us: “Never try to see a form or shape during prayer. Do not long to have sensory image of angels or powers or Christ, for this would be madness: it would be to take a wolf as your shepherd and to worship your enemies, the demons .the intellect attempts to enclose the Deity in shapes and forms blessed in the intellect that is completely free from forms during prayer.” (Philokalia I). St. Gregory of Sinai tells us: “Thus if we want to realize and know the truth and not to be led astray, let us seek to possess only the heat-engrafted energy in such a way that is totally without shape or form, not trying to contemplate in our imagination what we take to be the figure or similitude of things holy or to see any colors or lights.” (Philokalia IV).
God is found in emptiness, silence and darkness. Evdokimov (1998) points out that God encloses Himself in silence. The Jews asked (Jn 14:8): “ ‘Show us the Father’”? Jesus’ immediate reply: “Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Evdokimov’s comment: “God has come, but it seems [H]e does not want us to perceive [H]is divinity.” God can only be found by the knowing spirit which is centered in the heart. Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy Ware) (1966) writes that the spirit knows “ through a mystical perception, that transcends man’s ordinary rational processes.” St. Theophan the Recluse (cited by Ware, 1966) further explains: “The heart is the innermost man, or spirit. Here are located self-awareness, the conscience, the idea of God and of one’s dependence on Him, and all the eternal treasures of the spiritual life.” As shown in the “Light” illustration from Example III above, children, and ourselves, can be shown that it is not light itself which we focus on in our Liturgical Services but, as we say in our Pre-sanctified Divine Liturgy, it is Christ: “The Light of Christ Illumines all!” All who are frequently afraid of darkness (especially children) can be helped to see that when in the darkness of life it is Christ, our Light, who is our comfort and salvation.
Enhancing personal meaning: the pathway to spiritual holiness and happiness
Helping our children to perceive personal meaning in the prayers of the Divine Liturgy and in the words in Holy Scripture has as its goal to develop a genuine, deep Orthodox spirituality. Thus we can say with St. Peter (1Pt 3: 3-4), “Let not yours be the outward adorning but let it be the hidden heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” In this way they (and all of us) may come to fulfill the reason God made us: to know, love and serve Him and attain happiness with Him in heaven.
“ that according to the riches of [the Heavenly Father’s] glory [H]e may grant you to be strengthened with might through [H]is Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts ” (Eph 3:16-17)
Alfeyev. H. (2002). The Mystery Faith. London: Dartman, Longman Todd.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Bandura, A. (1986).Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Evdokimov, P. (1998). Ages of the spiritual life. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.
Kohlberg, L. (1984). The psychology of moral development: The nature and validity of moral stages (Vol. 2). NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Lewis, C. S. (1961). The Screwtape letters. NY: Macmillan.
Morelli, G. (2007, August 28). Smart Parenting VI: Talking to Your Children About Sex. http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles7/MorelliSmartParentingVI.php.
Morelli, G. (2008, July, 8). Smart Marriage XIII: The Theology of Marriage and Sexuality. http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles8/Morelli-Smart%20Marriage-XIII-The-Theology-of-Marriage-and-Sexuality.php.
Palmer, G.E.H., Sherrard, P. & Ware, K. (Eds). (1979). The Philokalia: The Complete Text Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth Vol. I. London: Faber and Faber.
Palmer, G.E.H., Sherrard, P. & Ware, K. (1995). The Philokalia: The Complete Text Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth (Vol. IV).Winchester, MA: Faber and Faber.
Piaget, J. (1932).The moral judgment of the child. NY: Macmillan.
Turiel, E., Killen, M, & Helwig, C.C. (1987). Morality: Its structure, functions and vagaries. In J. Kagan & S. Lamb (Eds.), The emergence of morality. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Ware, Timothy (1966 Ed.). The art of prayer: An Orthodox anthology. London: Faber and Faber.
Zizioulas, J. (1985). Being in communion: Studies in personhood and the Church. London: Darton, Longman & Todd.
[ii] See all the references to this Divine parenting commission in the articles in the Smart Marriage and Smart Parenting series: http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/Indexes/Morellix.php" title="http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/Indexes/Morellix.php
[iv] From the Liturgy of St. Basil.
[v] In the Divine Liturgy, in the Prayer of the Cherubimic Hymn the priest prays: “for “[T]hou [T]hyself are [H]e that offers and is offered, that accepts and is distributed, O Christ our God...”
[vi] (c.f. http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/Indexes/Morellix.php)
[viii] The age of reason is commonly starts at 7 years and is considered the age at which children can begin to make reasoned judgments. It can be noted that it would be around this age that a child’s first confession would be heard. Based on the seminal work of Piaget (1932), researchers such as Kohlberg (1984) and Turiel, Killian, & Helwig (1987) find that transitioning into this age group is accompanied by an understanding and use of moral rules (e.g. acting fairly and knowing the consequences of harm), social convention (e.g. school rules) and personal rules (e.g. hygiene).
[ix] The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke. (10:25-37)
At that time, a lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read?” And the lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But the lawyer, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The lawyer said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
[x] From the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom Anaphora Prayer.
[xi] Secular culture promotes the idea that in order for something to be meaningful it has to be “exciting.” This is especially seen in advertising media.
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V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist.
Fr. Morelli is the Coordinator of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Religion Coordinator (and Antiochian Archdiocesan Liaison) of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion.
Fr. Morelli is a Senior Fellow at the Sophia Institute, an independent Orthodox Advanced Research Association and Philanthropic Foundation housed at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York City that serves as a gathering force for contemporary Orthodox scholars, theologians, spiritual teachers, and ethicists.
Fr. Morelli serves on the Executive Board of the San Diego Cognitive Behavior Therapy Consortium (SDCBTC)
Fr. Morelli serves as Assistant Pastor of St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Church, San Diego, California.
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