"The solution is to be found through the sanctification of the parents. Become saints and you will have no problems with your children." Father Porphyrios , Wounded By Love

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Theotokos & Teenagers

Start with an apple. A whole, clean, delicious apple without bruises or blemishes, just sweet and ripe.This apple is going to be the example. If it happens to be red, then we will liken it to she who fittingly is clothed in red, the Most Holy Theotokos, at the END of our lesson. Next, present this apple as a body, one with an inner part, the flesh which is like the soul. Ask what color this inner soul is? Of course, we all know it to be white, the cleanest and most pure of colors.

If this apple were us, we could consider the course of its' life. Let us say that when the apple was 8 years old, it began to say mean things to its sibling....(with a knife, slowly begin to take small bites from the apple)...then as the apple grew older, it experienced a fight on the soccer field, and hurt another player (another large chunk taken away) Then, at age 15, the apple began having bad thoughts everyday for a whole year about a teacher at school....(yet again, more wounds) and at age 16, the apple started to date and become intimate with other apples outside of marriage. (several wounds inflicted for each date.) But in fact, by the time the apple was 19, it had already lost its virginity outside of marriage (unfortunate vary large chunks taken away). Lastly, the apple under much stress, disrespected and abandoned the wisdom of its' parents without apologizing. (one final chunk taken away)

Now this apple is turning 21 tomorrow. It is beginning to think about leaving the supermarket one day, and desires for someone to buy it to take it to its' new home. However, compared to other apples....ours was beginning to look pretty ugly. Its' skin had faults and bruises, large scars and wounds. Slowly, its' inner soul was turning brown with each passing day. You could barely recognize it for the beautiful apple it started as.

What happened? Can you see the effect that sin has on the body and the soul? If I asked you today to think about the state of "your" apple... what do you think it would look like?

Can you image what the body and soul of the Theotokos, the Mother of God, looked like? We can see right here in the icon of the Dormition. Can you find the small child clothed in white in Christ's hands...this is the pure soul of Panagia - just like the inside of the apple! It is unblemished and has a halo of holiness. Do you remember that when the body dies temporarily the soul leaves the body and waits for the Resurrection. This is what we see happening. We see the Mother of God asleep, but the angels are present surrounding Christ to take her soul into heaven!

Let's talk about her life, how she was born, her parents and how she grew up. How did she pass her time, and become a "teenager?" Even afterwards? Do you remember how she honored her son and God, and supported the growth of the Church through the spreading of the Gospel? She became the Mother of all Christians!

The difference between us and the Theotokos is that she kept herself and her life pure, just as God first created her. Of course, she could have sinned, for no one is perfect except Christ, but she was found favorable in God's eyes, and He helped to preserve her. She is an excellent example for us to follow. We call upon her with some of these titles:
  • Pure One
  • More honorable than the angels
  • Only all blameless One
  • You without corruption
  • Bride of God
  • Spotless One
  • Ever Virgin (three stars on shoulders and head for virginity before Christ, during the birth of Christ and all the days of her life after Christ)

Finally, we believe in her as the "Protection of Christians" which means she will and does help us when we ask her to! Although an apple may be irreparable, our souls are not! God can heal our wounds, if we strive to return to our most delicious state of perfection through the Sacrament of Confession and God's great mercy. In our prayers and the hymns of the Church we desire greater strength against temptations and difficulties, to remain pure in our virginity and in our thoughts, so we too can honor God with our lives as did the Panagia.


Lindsay said...

This is great; thank you!! I think I'm going to modify this and use it for our Youth night in September at church.

Summer Kinard said...

I like so many of the lessons on your page, and I'm grateful that you have this site. However, this lesson did not seem helpful to me. It seems to me that the better analogy for an Orthodox Christian would be that we die to sins through Confession and repentance. The apple dies and grows more trees that bear holy fruits. At any rate, I don't think that guilt tripping children will induce devotion to the Holy Theotokos. Rather, if we hold up her virtues, we can ask God to help us produce good fruits of the Spirit, by Her intercession. We don't bear the burden of all of our sins, and that is part of the grace of the good God who loves all people. We are made more and more like God through participation in the sacraments, and our sins slough away like chaff. It doesn't seem best to pretend to children that they are doomed any time they sin, when the remedy and the better way are near to hand in the holy Orthodox Church. Is there another way to hold up the virtues of the Holy Theotokos without shaming children or ignoring the sacraments?

Orthodox Education - Elenie (Poulos) Grasos said...

Thank you for your comment, Summer. Quite possibly, I took this illustration of the apple too far...In its' simplest form, I feel there is value to liken the soul to the apple in that our aim is to keep it pure.

For example, in today's world, our young people often get involved in drawn out relationships before marriage that sit and rot without the blessing of God in His holy Church. What seems good in the beginning, unless protected, can rotten quickly!

Forgive me if the message you received was guilt.
I agree that we want to caution and encourage!!!

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